Monday, August 29, 2011

Bachelor Pad: Some Random Tidbits from the 8/29/11 Episode

This week on Bachelor Pad, Jake Pavelka went home.

At least he did it with a bang. First, he said that they sent the wrong guy home. He told the group that in order to win, they need to take out the power couples. He then said that it was awesome to meet Kasey or something and bowed to Vienna and said something about forgiving her.

When Jake went home, Kasey called himself the greatest strategist. The only problem? He said stra-TEE-gist. You know, the not STRAT-a-gist, the correct pronunciation. But I highly doubt that anyone who dates Vienna is smart, so I shouldn't be surprised.

Fortunately, Ella realized that Kasey's being a snake, and Erica already knew it, so it seemed like the tables were going to turn.

The contest was a kissing competition.

Some people got all high and mighty about how it's gross and they won't do it, while others were all for it. Kasey talked about how Vienna would hate him kissing other girls, and Vienna acted like she's all that and too good for this.

Blake was crazy when he kissed Holly. It was a hardcore kiss. All the girls had fun with it until Vienna, who no one wanted to kiss. Michelle removed herself from the competition.

Erica was the first to kiss the guys, and she gave crazy kisses to everyone except Kasey. She said all the girls said he had bad breath.

Ella and Blake won with overwhelming majorities. Ella took Kirk on her date. Blake took Holly, despite the fact that it meant betraying partner Melissa, and Melissa would likely go home. Melissa went nuts. Like, crazy nuts. She claimed Holly was flirting too much with Blake and lots of other ridiculousness. This made her a major contender for being kicked off Bachelor Pad this week. Clearly, she blames Blake, even though she's the one who went crazy. Melissa tried to get people to vote for Erica, which was not cool - Melissa deserved to go home (only second to Vienna, of course).

Elimination

Ella and Blake, as the competition winners, handed out the roses.

Graham got a rose first.
Michelle was second to get a rose.
Michael was third.
Vienna was fourth.
Kasey was fifth.
Erica was sixth.

That left Melissa and William to go home and leave the Bachelor Pad house.

Overall, I was happy with the results. I was happy to see Erica stay and Melissa go. However, I would still have been happier if Vienna and Kasey went home in place of William and Melissa. Should Blake have saved Melissa by giving her a date and a rose? Strategically, yes. But he took a personal risk, and that's admirable in a way.

The Millionaire Matchmaker 8/29/11: We Actually Had Two Great Millionaires!

"He could never get Blake Lively. Maybe fat Jessica Simpson, but not Blake Lively." - Patti Stanger, quite unfairly, about millionaire Daniel.

Daniel was the first millionaire on this week's episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker

Daniel Kibblesmith is a dorky new millionaire. He's a humor writer for Groupon, and it's evident that he's good at his job because he's a genuinely funny guy. His longest relationship was six months, due in part to the fact that he gets wrapped up in his own life so doesn't actively seek out dates. He also likes comics, which is probably a turn off to some women. While Daniel was clearly an awesome guy, Patti Stanger was quick to insult him. It's probably because he looks dorky and acts the same way. I see what Patti's saying in the love department, but I think she was still too harsh. Does Daniel seem romantic? No way. But does he seem like an awesome guy? Absolutely. (He actually stepped up and showed a romantic side later in the episode.)

The always tactful Patti Stanger (Sarcasm.)
Patti's first order of business was to get Daniel a makeover. She took him shopping and made him shave his face and get a haircut. She said he looked much older than his 27 years, so she wanted to make him age appropriate. He cleaned up pretty well! Despite his new appearance, he was still intimidated when he found out that the other guy at his mixer is a prince.

Prince Max was the second millionaire

Max is a German prince. Literally. His claim to fame is that whoever he marries will be called a princess. He says he doesn't want someone to like him only for his title, but he flashed it around as soon as he talked to Patti. He also introduced himself with his full name: Mario Max Oliver Edward George, Prince Schaumburg-Lippe. (Try saying that three times fast!) He loves traveling and runs his own fashion, alcohol and fragrance company. At first, he seemed incredibly full of himself. He said he didn't want a girl who wants him just to get famous, but the thing is, he probably wasn't really at all famous in America until he appeared on this show.

The Mixer

Daniel looked really overwhelmed and lost at the mixer. He told a girl that he has a pet turtle that's the size of a dinner plate. So funny, but really awkward.

For his mini-dates, he chose Shereena and Krystyna. Shereena and Daniel seemed to get along - she seems to be a bit over the top, but Daniel's also a creative type, so it worked out well. On his mini-date with Krystyna, she convinced Daniel to step out of his shell and dance. He was weirded out by it because they were dancing without music, but he was a good sport. Daniel chose Shereena for his master date. At the time, I thought this was definitely the right choice.

Max was great at talking to all of the women. He said it was great not to be known as the prince, despite the fact that when he said it to Patti, he listed his whole royal name. During the mixer, he wasn't allowed to mention his royal roots, and he stuck with it. For his mini-date, Max chose Erika and Clark. His mini-date with Erika was awkward - there were a lot of silences and Erika had to carry the conversation. Max's date with Clark was a lot smoother. They were able to make the conversation flow easily. Max chose Clark for his master date, which was also the right choice.

I feel like this is one of the few episodes where both millionaires make the right date choices...or so I thought at the time.

The Dates

Daniel took Shereena out in LA to some art galleries. She started out awkwardly by saying that usually bodybuilders and Guidos are attracted to her. (Classy, right?) In any case, she seemed interested in Daniel's art knowledge, which was cool. After that, the date went a bit downhill. Shereena (who lost points in my book around this point) took Daniel to a local bar for shots. Daniel reminded her of the two drink minimum, but she didn't seem concerned. He said that the Old Fashioned that Shereena convinced him to drink was a mix of tuxedos, motorcycle fuel and alimony payments. This guy is awesome at analogies!

After a few drinks, Shereena went nuts. She told Daniel that she lost her virginity at 18 and that she can help him loosen up. She also started looking a bit crazy. At this point, I took back the thought that Shereena was even remotely right for Daniel.

When Patti called Shereena after the date, she said the date was great. However, she said Daniel wasn't aggressive at all. She essentially said that Daniel tried and he and Shereena could be great friends (meaning not in a relationship). Daniel was not ungrateful for the date - he said he learned a lot. However, he and Shereena did not continue to date.

Max took Clark ballroom dancing. He presented her with a dress to wear while dancing. He picked out the dress himself, and it was an incredible dress. For a guy that originally came off as conceited, he really seemed to be a great guy as the episode progressed. He ended up revealing his status as a prince to Clark, and she loved that. He then opened up, saying that he was glad that he didn't tell her right away, because often girls like him for his title.

Clark said her date was a lot of fun and would go out with Max again. When Max showed up at The Millionaire's Club to meet Patti, he looked so happy. Max and Clark seemed like a good couple. They are still dating at this time.

Takeaways

I think both millionaires this week were cool guys. Usually, there's at least one that's completely unlikeable, but on this episode, both Daniel and Max seemed to be genuinely good guys.

Patti came off much meaner than usual on this episode. I'm usually a fan of hers, but during this episode, she was just plain rude.

Online research shows that Prince Max is not actually a prince. His mom married someone in the royal family, and he is not recognized in the royal lineage.

On his Bravo blog, Prince Max claims that Clark was using him to further her career and they are not dating, contrary to what was noted at the end of the Millionaire Matchmaker episode.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Attention, Nannies Who Want To Be Famous! Lifetime is Holding a Casting Call for A New Show This Sunday, 8/28/11 in NYC

Are you an all-American nanny who thinks she has what it takes to make it on TV? If so, come to the casting call for the new Lifetime show "America's Supernanny".

The casting call for "America's Supernanny" will take place at:

The Muse Hotel
130 West 46th Street
New York, New York

8/28/11, 10 AM - 3 PM

If you're a nanny, teacher, child specialist, parenting coach or other child/family expert, you are encouraged to apply. Please bring a photograph, a resume and a filled out application that can be found at ShedMediaUS.com. It is recommended that you email nannysearch@shedmediausa.com in advance for priority consideration. In the email, please provide your full name, contact information and a photograph.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Toddlers and Tiaras: National Gold Coast Grand Finals Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada

Toddlers and Tiaras took us to Vegas this week for the National Gold Coast Grand Finals in Las Vegas.

We met Desiree and mom Katie. They said they're 100% Vegas, which includes being glitzy and gaudy. Katie was realistic - she said the odds of winning at a pageant are slightly higher than winning at a casino. Katie makes all of Desiree's costumes, which involves doing a lot of research to make things just right. Desiree aspires to be Miss America, but if that doesn't work, she wants to be a showgirl. For this pageant, at the advice of her coach, Desiree wore colored contacts to make her eyes green.

Kayla was next, along with mom April. April was a 3 year old diva. She said she'd beat all of the other girls because they're ugly. April said that doing Kayla's makeup can be really easy or really difficult, depending on her mood. For the Gold Coast pageant, she was clearly feeling difficult.

Kailia and Marcy were third. Kailia comes from a showbiz family. I'm pretty sure that Kailia said she doesn't win, she'll beat the girl who does. Kailia was pretty good about getting her makeup done, even though she wasn't a fan of her false eyelashes.

All three girls had professional coaching for this pageant.

The Pageant

Kayla was adorable on stage. She did a great job, especially for someone her age. Kailia did great for her beauty routine. She had fantastic poise and stage presence. Desiree did a good job as well, but her flipper made her smile look a bit strange.

Swimwear was next. Kayla had a ton of personality. Kailia performs like she's much older than she is - she has great stage presence, but she looks like a miniature adult. Desiree had a whole swimwear routine. Her mom described it as theatrical. During her routine, her flipper slipped, but she was able to get it back into place.

Wow Wear closed out the pageant. Kailia's mom and coach Cambrie decided to not dress Kailia as a showgirl because it was too predictable, so they dressed her as Jessie from Toy Story. Katie and Desiree went the traditional route and chose a showgirl outfit. Kayla was a Dallas Cowboys cheerleader. All three girls did well.

Crowning

In the Gold Coast pageant, they do double crowning, which means you can win your age division and a Grand Supreme title.

Petite Miss Division:
Second runner up: Bailey
First runner up: Alyssa
Winner: Kayla

Alyssa and Kayla placed for higher titles.

Tiny Miss Division:
First runner up: Kailia
Winner: Alyssa

Both girls placed for higher titles as well.

Junior Miss Division:
Third runner up: Valera
Second runner up: Desiree
Winner: Madrid

Grand Supreme: Kayla (She started crying when she got on stage, but mom said she was happy)

Ultimate Grand Supreme: Kailia (who looked like a star as she accepted her prize)

Dance Moms 8/24/11: Starpower at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut

In the beginning of Dance Moms tonight, Abby complimented the kids but insulted their mothers. She said, "I also am very proud that all the moms kept their mouths shut and didn't say anything to me. See how much nicer it is when everything goes so smoothly?"

This week's competition was Starpower, held at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. Abby Lee made some strict requirements: the kids had to dress a certain way every day that they're at the competition, and they have to work harder than ever before.

The pyramid was different this week. I believe it had Maddie on top, but all of the other girls, except for Mackenzie and Vivi in the middle, as they were on the bottom.

Minister Dawn, who caused a scene and had to be removed by the police last time we saw her, was back in Abby's studio this week. Abby told Dawn that she had to pay the rest of her bill, and Dawn said she doesn't have to pay because Abby kicked her and her daughter out and she never finished her contract. Abby threatened to take her to court, and then gave us this gem of a quote: "Thou shall not lie, thou shall not steal, and thou shall not disrespect Abby Lee Miller."

Abby let the moms and kids know that there would be a dress code for the Starpower competition. Abby said it's so she can easily find the kids, but she also said that it's so she can grab the kids at any time for photographs. Since the dress code was for the moms and kids, Cathy had a hissy fit and said that she's not a team player. She said that wearing black and white is not appropriate for her, since she bought a fuchsia dress and Candy Apple dresses in style. She went on to tell us that "I'm smarter than the average bear". My first thought was 'well, yeah, you're smarter than a bear, but maybe not most humans.'

Cathy later went on to tell Vivi that she wants her to enter the contest for the best contest because you enter a photograph, and Cathy did that kind of thing when she was a kid. Much like she's told us that she doesn't really want to dance, she also said that she doesn't want to be a model.

Abby Lee started getting really frustrated with Nia. She said Nia keeps making the same mistakes and it was getting on her nerves. In the confessional, Nia told us that she tries to do everything right, but sometimes it's too hard.

Abby showed up with the costumes. Nia's was presented first. Per Abby, it was supposed to be a satire of a drag queen image. Nia's mom Holly showed up right at costume time. She immediately noticed that Nia (the only African American child) was dressed in animal print. To add insult to injury, Abby said that Nia has to wear an Afro. Holly was horrified. Holly said she respects the lifestyles of others, but an Afro is not part of who she is, and she thinks it's wrong to do that to Nia. Abby defended her actions, saying that Nia has an advantage over the other girls because she can play different ethnicities.

The Starpower Competition

The Starpower competition was running thirty minutes early, so the girls had to rush to get ready. Melissa got frustrated with daughter Maddie's attitude. Abby noted that when things don't go Melissa's way, she gets frustrated, which gets her daughters frustrated.

First up for the Abby Lee Dance Company was the group number. The girls were dressed in black and gold. The outfits were a bit skimpy, in my opinion, but the dance was good. During the dance, Nia was off her mark, and Abby was not pleased. Maddie also was upset at Nia's performance, but instead of throwing Nia under the bus, she told Abby that she hurt her ankle. (Note: Last week Abby told the girls they should only cry when their arm is falling off or someone dies, but she was okay with Maddie's tears.) The girls did not win the competition (I believe they came in second), and Abby and the moms did not look happy.

Despite her initial aversion to modeling, Vivi-anne started having fun with her photo shoot and made all kinds of fun poses. It was nice to see her actually enjoy something. Unfortunately, the judges ripped the picture apart: the makeup was wrong, her eyebrows were wrong, the photo wasn't good, Vivi wasn't centered - they said it was all wrong. Cathy immediately blamed the photographer for the photo being bad, but to be fair, Vivi's hair was messy and her facial expression looked more like a snarl than a smile.

Maddie did a lyrical dance called Angel. She said she was doing it for her grandmother, who is watching her from heaven. Maddie's dance was amazing, and she did this incredible movement that looked almost like a forward-facing cartwheel, but her hands never touched the ground. If anyone can tell me what that's called, I'd greatly appreciated it. Maddie took home the grand prize for her division.

Nia was given what Abby called a 'character piece' called Laquifa (not sure about the spelling). Abby decided that since she's African American, she wants to teach her ethnic dances. Ultimately, despite her reservations, Holly gave into Abby when it came to Nia having an Afro and got her an Afro wig. To her face, Cathy agreed with Holly, but behind her back, she said that she thinks this is getting to Holly too much. Kelly said that she doesn't think it's bad that Nia's being typecast because Brooke experiences it too - since Brooke does acro routines best, that's the only style of dance assigned to her. I'm not convinced that it's exactly the same thing, but I see how she makes the comparison. When Holly saw Nia's performance, she was angry - she said that Nia looked great, but she was walking on stage, not dancing. Holly brought her concerns about the wig to Abby after the dance. She said it was stereotypical, and Abby agreed, but she said that it's a special, positive thing. Holly went on to say that everything Nia is given has a bit of a negative, stereotypical undertone, so Abby told her to pick her own music and a new choreographer. Abby insinuated that Holly can't afford to go to her studio and Nia keeps messing up her dances.

The episode ended here, so I'm guessing that Nia didn't win anything. But we can be sure that the drama didn't end, and we'll have lots more to watch next week on Dance Moms.

This Week In Reality Television: Mini-Reviews

Bachelor Pad

This week on Bachelor Pad, the girls and guys each competed in synchronized swimming routines. This was funny, and definitely makes the show worth watching. Even better than that was the Erica Rose and Jake Pavelka pairing...this was awesome.

Not so awesome was the scene where Vienna Girardi once again told boyfriend Kasey Kahl he's supposed to be protecting her. This went down after Kasey got upset because Vienna was being nice to Jake (despite the fact that she talked a lot behind Jake's back). Keep in mind, Vienna is the reason that Kasey has to be rivals with Jake, even though they would otherwise be cool with each other. So Vienna being nice to Jake is kind of a slap in the face to Kasey, who she requires to be 100% anti-Jake.

In any case, the Jake/Erica pairing is over and the Vienna/Jake fight is over (at least for now) because it seems that Jake was kicked off this week, even though the show ended with a cliffhanger. Spoiler alert: While I wish Jake had outlasted Kasey and Vienna, this article states that the pair does not win and take home the cash, so that's a good thing, at least.

Note: Bachelor Pad host Chris Harrison is speaking out against Vienna, stating that she plays the victim. That's not a surprise, although it's cool that Chris was willing to come out and say it.

Real Housewives of New Jersey

On this episode of RHONJ, Teresa Giudice didn't like anything. She insulted Kathy's goddess party, including the theme, food and anything else she could think of insulting. Even when Kathy gave her a compliment, Teresa said it was backhanded. Also during the episode, Teresa noted to Melissa Gorga that she was upset that she and Kathy Wakile became friends with Kim Granatell because they knew Teresa didn't like her. Melissa defended herself saying that Teresa never told her that and they weren't really speaking much at the time that she met Kim, so she didn't know about the issues. Teresa pretty much attacked Melissa when she said that. She got so defensive, saying that they did talk and Melissa was at Audriana's party. Melissa backtracked, saying that they didn't talk on the phone much, but Teresa kept with it. After a while, Melissa said that she wouldn't listen or talk when Kim insulted Teresa, but apparently that wasn't good enough. Kathy broke up the scene by bringing in a belly dancer as a surprise, which Teresa also didn't like.

I really want to continue to be a Teresa fan. I think she's awesome! But this season on RHONJ, she's just been so insulting to everyone, and it's getting excessive. I feel like it's a defense mechanism because of everything that she's going through, but still, she needs to take a step back and realize that she's alienating everyone in her life.

On the topic of people causing trouble, Jacqueline Laurita finally got so fed up with daughter Ashley Holmes that she kicked her out. I understand having attitude problems, but Ashley also takes it to an extreme.

Thicker Than Water

I guess when Bravo realized that it could rake in cash by making shows about Italian families in New Jersey, it put together Thicker Than Water. While the Marino family on the show looks like a great family, the show just wasn't cutting it. Since it's a special and not a series, I think Bravo filmed the show as a pilot and then decided that it wouldn't take off, but I could be wrong. I also think Bravo will have more luck with its upcoming show Newlyweds: The First Year, which will follow six couples through their first year of marriage. While this show seems to follow more of an MTV formula than a Bravo formula, I think it will be successful.

Teen Mom

This week on Teen Mom, both Farrah Abraham and Maci Bookout seemed to have lost their minds. Farrah said she wants to move away from her family to California and open a restaurant, and Maci Bookout said she wants to have a baby with boyfriend Kyle King.

Farrah went in to full on brat mode when talking to her parents about her move. I'm not saying that I blame Farrah for needing space - her parents are very overbearing. But they also realize that Farrah moving away could be hurtful to Sophia, who loves her grandparents. I know it's hard for Farrah to see, but when she had Sophia, she agreed to do things in her baby's best interest, and staying home is the best decision Farrah can make. Farrah wanted to work and go to school in California - it seems like Sophia would spend 12 hours a day in childcare.

Thankfully, towards the end of Teen Mom, Maci realized that having a baby would be a bad idea. Unfortunately, it took the advice of all of her friends and family to get her to that point. I hope she doesn't change her mind anytime soon.

Amber Portwood actually did some good stuff in this episode, like setting up a home and great room for daughter Leah. Catelynn Lowell and Tyler Baltierra also made good decisions. Tyler talked about starting college since he finished high school, and the two showed strong family values as they hung out with Tyler's dad (who is also Catelynn's stepdad), Butch.

Downsized

Downsized opened with Rex struggling with an asthma attack and mom feeling guilty about if the circumstances of his birth caused it. This was a genuine concern, and I feel for mom Laura Bruce. It was nice to see everyone support Rex when he came home. After all was said and done, Rex said he was grateful for everything he has, which is a great sentiment, but it represents exactly what I can't stand about this show: even when things are awful, they throw in some lines about everything's all peachy and happy. Of course, after that, Laura and husband Todd Bruce worried about money, because that's the point of the show.

The whole Todd wants a house, Laura wants to wait argument came back again this week, and I'm still over it. Then, Bailey's car had problems, which is so predictable because the production team probably made it that way, and Todd magically fixed it. Then, Bailey magically ignores Todd and doesn't buy a battery and the car dies. She tells Todd he's not her dad so he can't yell at her. In the end, everyone's happy. Again, everything wraps up neatly in a little box. Boring.

My favorite part of the show was when the girls went out to dinner to flirt with guys and a girl at an adjacent table started problems with them. When Heather went to get a drink, the waiter started flirting with her, and the girls at the other table started insulting Heather and the other girls. After a while, one of the girls came up to the Bruce family's table and told the girls to shut their mouths. There was some yelling, but the scene was over quickly after that. If the confrontation wasn't staged, the girl probably just wanted to be on TV, and to be fair, it worked! After that, the show returned to the reason that I don't like it: random 'coincidences'. Bailey left her lights on and SURPRISE! her car died again. Then someone had jumper cables and it was fixed, and the girls made it home, but after curfew. The manufactured drama after that was whether the girls should confess about the car of sneak in. Todd caught them sneaking in and they got lectured. Blah, blah, blah.

The open items at the end of this episode were that insurance wouldn't cover Rex's hospital bills and Todd didn't get the job he applied for. I'm sure they'll get wrapped up next week.

Famous Food

Ashley Dupre got called out for leaving during the last episode for what she called a 'family emergency'. However, Mike and Lonnie called out because it was her birthday and her boyfriend was in town...what a coincidence. She then said she was trying to balance her work and personal life, which makes sense, but this really wasn't the appropriate time. It's a shame that Ashley's messing up because she had so much potential during the show's earlier episodes, like coming up with the picnic concept for the restaurant.

DJ Paul stepped it up this week and had a shirt made for the restaurant. He also had a menu. For someone that seemed to not make too much of an impact in the beginning of the show, he really stepped it up in the later episodes.

Scott managed to screw everyone over again. He's lied, asked for more money than planned, and promised things he doesn't deliver. If I remember correctly, he was Danielle Staub's pick, and so far, she hasn't exactly made the best decisions. Juicy J was so angry that the restauranteurs paid for more tables and chairs than they could fit that he threw and broke some of the chairs.

As usual, Danielle had a hissy fit about money and other things. This is nothing new. I really don't understand why she has to freak out about everything. I understand that it's hard to work things out when you disagree, but Danielle's been causing trouble since the beginning. Danielle flipped out at Ashley because she said something about her kids, and Danielle talked about how she does what she does for her children. (Keep in mind, she's embarrassed them on national television and by becoming a stripper. Just saying.)

Ultimately, Juicy J got crazy drunk, was fired and started to break things in the restaurant right before the soft opening.

The basic overview: stuff went wrong in the restaurant, Danielle yelled about things, money was an issue, end of story.

Outrageous Kid Parties

On this episode of Outrageous Kid Parties, mom Kimberly wanted to plan a huge end of school bash for her three daughters: Payton, Kennedy and Reagan. The party theme is the 80's, which mom Kim said her kids know nothing about. Kim and husband Joe are ice cream truck drivers.

Right from the start,you can tell that Kim's a fun, over the top mom. Her kids seem to have inherited her fun spirit, and the family seems very happy. Although I do hope mom is playing up her personality a bit for the cameras - I can't imagine living full time with someone with so much energy!

To announce their party, Kim and Payton went into the kids' school and handed out cassette tape invitations. The teacher called mom "Crazy Kim". She told the students that they had to dress up in 80's costumes to attend the party.

The girls were given an original song to perform at their party. The girls also got break dancing lessons. When the girls performed the song, Kim came onstage in a cone bra. Her daughter said it was the highlight of the party.

The party itself was, well, outrageous. There were tons of kids, a photo booth, a bubble machine, break dancers and all kinds of other things - all for kids who have no ideas what the 80's were like.

The party cost came out to $30,000, which, for the record, was more expensive than my wedding.

I'm still not a huge fan of Outrageous Kid Parties - the show itself is over the top, and it's crazy to see how much people spend on parties for children. But I guess if you can afford it, you might as well enjoy yourself, right?

Monday, August 22, 2011

My Email Interview With Erica Rose, The Coolest Contestant From The Bachelor, You're Cut Off and Bachelor Pad

In every group, there's one person who's got others wrapped around her little finger without them even knowing it. On You're Cut Off and Bachelor Pad, that person is Erica Rose.

Photo Courtesy of TheEricaRose.com
I feel like a lot of people don't give Erica enough credit. On the surface, she shows a princess persona, but I believe she's very strategic and is always planning her next move. When she's on a reality show, she's in it to win it, and she'll do what she has to do to get what she wants. And that is freaking awesome.

I was lucky enough to score an email interview with Erica, and here's what she had to say:

Of the three shows you've done (The Bachelor, You're Cut Off and Bachelor Pad), which was your favorite and why?

Bachelor Pad was def my fav to film! It was so fun to have hot guys around all the time and it felt like summer camp.

Do you plan to continue doing reality television? If not, what else do you want to do?

I def want to do more tv! I love entertaining people. My goal is to have my own show called "Legally Erica".

How have your friends and family members reacted to your appearances on reality TV?


Some moments are really tough for my parents to watch like the egg toss challenge bc they get defensive for me and so do my friends, but they love the funny moments like tonight's epi!

Note: this is in reference to the 8/22/11 episode of Bachelor Pad 2.

Do you think you've made long term friendships with the people you've met doing reality shows?

I've def made great friends from all 3 shows! I love it.

I can only speak for myself, but I would love to see Erica Rose get her own "Legally Erica" show. She is the quintessential real life Elle Woods. She knows what she wants and she goes after it, all while overcoming obstacles (like on tonight's episode of Bachelor Pad) and making friendships in the end.

If you're an Erica Rose fan, follow her Twitter at @LegallyErica or visit her website at TheEricaRose.com. Team Erica!

The Millionaire Matchmaker 8/22/11: A Guy Who Sells Baseball Cards With Pictures of Women, and Another Who Thinks He's Perfect

The first thing we learned on The Millionaire Matchmaker this week was that Sex Toy Dave got married! He took the lessons he learned from Patti and found his match. That's awesome!

Destin brought in Brian Wallos, a guy who runs a company that makes baseball cards, but they feature women instead of baseball cards. His business is worth at least $5 million. His goal is to show that he can be monogamous while still being around beautiful women. Patti said he doesn't know how to court a woman and make her feel special, but he was willing to try.

Rachel found a guy, Dave Mehzeritsky from Vancouver who wants a Russian girl. He works in the motorcycle industry and is worth more than $15 million. He's never had a long-term relationship. He said that he thinks he's almost flawless and isn't used to women telling him what to do. So, he's arrogant and sexist. Awesome. (Sarcasm.) Patti wanted Dave to see that a woman can have a career but still be a good wife at home. For Dave, Patti put together a small dinner with three girls that would make good matches for him.

Patti took Dave to meet Tori Spelling, in what seemed to be a way for Tori to plug her fame: she said she does all of her work so she can work from home and raise her babies. I'm not saying she isn't telling the truth or anything, but it does seem like a way for Patti to help Tori by giving her some screen time.

After Patti interviewed lots of women, six women were brought in to date the guys.

Annaliese
, Catherine and Stephanie were brought in for Dave. Cassie, Cynthia and Deborah were brought in for Brian. For his master date, Brian chose Deborah, who was a good match for him. Dave chose Stephanie, the girl he found most physically attractive.

Brian and Deborah seemed to have a good date, despite the fact that Brian talked about how women tend to be jealous because of all of the beautiful girls that he's around. Deborah actually seemed to understand it and was unfazed. When all was said and done, Deborah had a good time except for the fact that some girls Brian knew from work came to the table. Brian and Debra continued to date.

Dave didn't have as much luck with Stephanie. Dave took Stephanie to a cold sauna (negative 110 degrees!) in which she and Dave would be for three minutes. The person at the front desk said that they'd feel like they just had sex when they leave the sauna. Rather than feeling sexy, Stephanie was mad. She did seem to warm up to Dave after they got out (bad pun, I know) and things got better. It seems that Dave and Stephanie broke Patti's rules and had sex on the first date. Patti said that she was done with Dave and she wouldn't try again. Dave and Stephanie did not date again.

What does this teach the millionaires? Listen to Patti. She knows what she's talking about!

Also, Patti will be making an appearance on Drop Dead Diva this week. Check it out on Lifetime.

Random: If you're a fan of reality TV and all other things pop culture (movies, Harry Potter, etc.) check out What's New With Lina. She does awesome podcasts. She's a great speaker, and lets us learn about her and her interests. Definitely give her a listen!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Glee Project Finale 8/21/11: Glee-ality

This week on The Glee Project season finale, Samuel, Lindsay, Damian and Alex battled for their prize: a coveted spot on hit FOX television show Glee.

This week's topic was Glee-ality, and the performance song was Don't Stop Believin' by Journey. Immediately, we saw Samuel and Lindsay's excited attitudes, whereas Alex seemed more subdued and Damian blended into the background.

Samuel made a good point about what the producers were looking for: "Not who's good, who's Glee." This makes sense, after all, because they make a big deal about this not being a singing competition.

Ryan Murphy was the guest of the week. When he came in, it was clarified, once again, that the winner would get a seven episode guest spot on Glee. That being said, I think the winner will end up with more than seven weeks if they work out, but the show just wants to protect itself if the person doesn't work out.

As soon as Damian started singing, Ryan Murphy stopped the song. He asked if the group had done choreography, which they hadn't been doing. Then, he said the contestants needed some help. He opened a door, and the eliminated contestants, even quitter Cameron, were back. They all sang backup for Don't Stop Believin', and the spirit was instantly much higher.

Damian did well, Lindsay was ecstatic and rocked it, Samuel was understated but very much himself, and Alex was over the top, but really good with it. At this point, I so wanted Lindsay to win. She wants it so bad and makes it known. And, she's come a long way towards finding herself.

There was no homework winner that day, because the rest of the episode would be dedicated to finding the winner. All 12 of the contestants would be taken to the top of a skyscraper to perform Pink's Raise Your Glass. After that, the four contestants would do last chance performances for which they'd select their own songs.

The group found out that they'd be performing of a helipad. Alex noted that he'd be scared that one of the contenders would push him off. He was half kidding, but I'm pretty sure there was a hint of real concern behind it.

All of the contestants danced together, and Samuel noted that he thought people were wondering how the top four turned out the way it did. I can understand this - I would have preferred to see Marissa and Hannah over Damian and Alex. I would definitely keep Samuel and Lindsay, though.

Lindsay struggled with singing Raise Your Glass, and that was noted. Damian actually did a way better job than I expected. Samuel struggled with the pitch, and was told that he was holding back. When Samuel said he struggled with the "Come on in" lines and gave warning, Alex said, "Maybe it's just you." Ugh, Alex, trashy!!! Unfortunately, Alex was told he did the "Come on in" lines the best of all, which was annoying after his arrogance towards Samuel, and Samuel advising him to do them well.


The Final Group Number

It was noted that Samuel is too intense. It was also stated that Damian is accessible and the underdog, whereas Lindsay 'can't be found' and has to convince Ryan that he's believable. Alex tends to be unprofessional.

Samuel looked awesome in the video. Lindsay was intense and stood out like no one else on the screen. Alex came off a bit too character-ish and not real enough. Damian was good, but didn't stand out. The big group dance was awesome. It was great to see everyone working together. When Samuel did the "too school for cool" it was fantastic. Lindsay's line was great too, but I found Damian and Alex's a bit weaker. Marissa also had strong stage presence, which further cemented my theory that she shouldn't have been cut.


Last Chance Performances

Ian Brennan, co-creator of Glee, would be joining Glee castmates and former competitors in the audience for the final performances.

Lindsay chose to sing Gimme Gimme from Thoroughly Modern Millie because it's vulnerable, which is what Ryan wants to see from her. Lindsay was told that she can have a great voice but without heart, she won't connect to people. Lindsay came in with great style and attitude. Her song showed great personality and versatility. She finished her song very strongly, and you could hear her passion, strength and desire coming right through her voice and overall performance. Again, Team Lindsay! Ian Brennan actually said this was the best vocal performance that he's heard from Lindsay. Lindsay is incredibly talented and I think even her critics would agree on that.

Damian dedicated his song to Hannah and Cameron. He chose
Beyond the Sea
by Bobby Darin because he wants to see Damian as a lead. Damian was told that he's not the best singer, actor or dancer (ouch), but the competition is about finding someone who Ryan and the producers want to write for. Once again, Damian wasn't nearly as good as Lindsay, but he was funny and played into his strengths. He also made the song work for his voice - he kind of talk-sang through it. It worked great! While I still don't think Damian should claim the role on Glee, he did a great job showcasing his talents tonight.

Samuel chose Jolene by Dolly Parton. He said he doesn't want it to be perfect, just organic. He wants to be in his own little world. In response, he was told that he should let people into his world. In my opinion, Samuel was a bit disconnected during his performance. However, that may just be my interpretation because I don't love the song. I think even the audience members looked a bit disconnected, though. I think Samuel put himself at a disadvantage because his song wasn't as much fun or intense as Damian's or Lindsay's. That being said, the producers enjoyed it.

Alex sang I Am Changing from Dreamgirls. He said he is doing it because he wants to branch into female type roles. Alex decided to dress as a female and admitted that he was taking a risk by coming out in drag, rather than as himself. While I admit Alex's risk, I also think he's doing himself a disservice because I don't think he'll be cast in a female role. He could be cast as a male who dresses in drag, but I don't think he'd be chosen for an actual female character. Alex's singing was intense. While I'm not normally an Alex fan because of his over-the-top attitude, he really made it work for him in this piece. You could really see how much he wants to win The Glee Project, and I have to respect that. The response to his performance was that it was amazing.

Ashley Fink liked them all, and Dot-Marie Jones complimented Lindsay, Samuel and Alex. Darren Criss said Lindsay would be great foil for Rachel Berry and Harry Shum Jr. said Samuel could give Puck a run for his money. Max Adler said that Alex could represent an underrepresented group on TV.

Erik White said Lindsay was the best actor. It was noted that Damian could be a foreign exchange student that morphs into much more. Samuel could survive on television, not just Glee. Lindsay was noted as being very powerful and she finally found herself at the end. Alex was said to be always good, but great in drag.


The Big Decision

Alex was told that he's moving and supports the concept of being himself against all odds. Alex was told first that he wasn't the winner.

Ryan said he'd been hard on Lindsay, but tonight she brought it and came the farthest in the competition. She was told second that she was not the winner.

It came down to Damian and Samuel.

Samuel was told that he's fascinating, wholesome and intense all at once. He has an indie rock spirit that Glee doesn't currently have. Samuel was told that he won The Glee Project.

Damian was told that he was the whipping boy in the competition, but he did whatever he was asked with humility and improved each week. When Damian heard that Samuel won but was told that he was also special, he said that Samuel deserved the win. Then, in a surprise twist, Damian was told that he's also the winner.

After that, Lindsay and Alex got surprises as well: they'd each get two episode arcs on Glee.

They all freaked out in happiness. With that, season one of The Glee Project concluded.


Takeaways and End Notes

There are going to be auditions for the next season of The Glee Project. Go to Oxygen.com for info. I tried to visit the site, but apparently so did everyone else - I got a 'server too busy' message. This is a good move on Oxygen's part - the show attracted a ton of viewers, which is great for Oxygen, which doesn't exactly find every single one of their shows to be a huge hit.

This ending seemed to have been predetermined before the final episode was even taped. Why do I say that? Because no one was kicked off last week, so the producers clearly knew that everyone would earn at least some kind of role on Glee. Were the two full winners and two partial winners specifically selected ahead of time? I'm not sure. But the planned outcome with all four finding a place on Glee definitely was.

While I'm happy that we'll get to see four Glee Project contestants on Glee, I'm a bit bummed by the cop-out of an ending. All of the waiting to find out that all four of them are winners? I feel like I should have skipped the first fifty minutes of the episode and just flipped to the end to hear the "Yea, everybody wins!" message.

Cameron was chosen as the Bing Fan Favorite. This is ridiculous because he quit. Not cool, voters!

Cast Members of The Real Housewives of New Jersey: Involved In Lots of Bankruptcy and Criminal Activity

The latest news in Housewives history is that Teresa Giudice may face jail time...along with Ashley Holmes' dad and stepmom.

Teresa Giudice
may be facing jail time for omitting information during her bankruptcy proceedings. She reportedly received the contract for her Skinny Italian cookbook before entering proceedings, but didn't sign it until afterwards. She also seemed to be hiding assets from her clothing website, TGFabulicious.com. This was probably done because any earnings brought in before bankruptcy proceedings can be slated to pay debts; earnings after bankruptcy remain the property of their owner.

Ashley Holmes' dad, John Madison Holmes, (AKA Matt Holmes) was recently arrested for charges of arson, leading to insurance fraud, for burning down his own home. He was also charged with money laundering. His wife, Jodi Sue Holmes was arrested for money laundering as well. Their house, which was undergoing renovation, was said to have been set on fire by John in order to collect insurance money. Which he did, for the record - $429,000 of it. The investigation is ongoing but it's not looking good for the Holmes family.

Rumors have also swirled that Chris Laurita has been facing monetary problems, which may play a role in why Jacqueline Laurita and Ashley Holmes are leaving the show. In fact, banks have won judgments about Signature Apparel Group, the company he and his brother own. Additionally, creditors are trying to force Rocawear, one if its brands, into bankruptcy due to debt. I'd still say that Jacqueline and Ashley's exit from RHONJ has more to do with the drama among the housewives and Ashley's awful behavior than this, but I'm sure it played a role.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

H8R: The Show That Pairs Celebrities With Their Enemies

Mario Lopez has made many fans - and many people who are not fans - throughout his career. That makes him the perfect candidate to host the new reality show H8R, which lets celebrities meet with people who don't like them.

H8R will premiere on September 14th on The CW. The show will feature celebrities including Eva Longoria, Leah Remini, Kat Von D, Snooki and Kim Kardashian and Barry Bonds.

In a way, this show looks like it will be fun. I'd love to see the celebrities try to win over people who strongly dislike them. I think in many cases, they'll be successful, because they'll get to show people that they're more than the persona that they portray on television. On the other hand, it would take a lot to convince me to be a fan of Danielle Staub, so I'm not sure it will always work out.

The idea behind the show is to give celebrities a chance to rehabilitate their ailing images and show people that they're normal, just like the rest of us. (You know, except for being about 10,000 times more rich and famous.) The show is said to be a 'feel good' show (kind of like the feelings evoked from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition or Undercover Boss), so I highly doubt any of the episodes will end in a dramatic fight or anything like that. Although I wouldn't mind seeing one or two, to be honest. Life isn't always cake and roses, so I don't see any reason why all of the celebrity meetups should be the same. Except for the fact that Mario Lopez and the other producers probably only cast people who could easily be won over, of course.

Something interesting about H8R is that it will features those who insult and troll the featured celebrities online in a hidden camera segment as part of the show. I question how this would work since people have to be cast and sign releases to be on TV. I'm sure there must be some kind of trick to this, like telling people that they are being featured in a show about bloggers or something. According to producer and host Mario Lopez:

"(The Internet) provides a forum for cowards, quite honestly, because they’re in their home and probably chilling out in their underwear and saying all these vicious things. And then we thought it would be interesting, what if this person confronted the person they’re bashing, and would they say it face to face? Would they still have the guts to tell them to their face? And that’s what we’re going to find out, but because of the Internet, we’re able to find a plethora of haters."

I wonder how the producers at Warner Bros. found the online haters and trolls. Maybe they just checked blogs and things? I wonder if I'd be considered a hater for some celebrities...although I'd say I'm probably not nearly as vicious as the people that will be featured on the show.

I will definitely be giving H8R a try. I think it'll be interesting to see celebrities have to play nice with normal people. My guess is that some, like Eva Longoria, will come off as genuine and kind, and others, like Snooki, will seem a bit more fake and strained.

Friday, August 19, 2011

This Week In Review: Some Random Stuff

The Real Housewives tour tickets went on sale today! I think it'll be really interesting to get women from the different shows together. Can you imagine Vicki Gunvalson and Caroline Manzo on the same stage? Or Melissa Gorga and Jill Zarin? I bet there will be at least one big onstage argument during the three venue tour.

Russell Armstrong of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills unfortunately lost his life to suicide. Also unfortunate is that Danielle Staub took the opportunity to make this all about herself. She talked about how she's been suicidal too and reality TV ruins lives. Which is fair, I guess, but this is from the woman who clings to the spotlight like a child does to a teddy bear.

We finally got to hear Deena Nicole Cortese say the line we've been waiting for on Jersey Shore - "He actually speaks well English." Seriously, Deena? I understand that some grammar is hard to grasp, but this is a bit silly, don't you think? Then again, the show also brought us the quote "So you're winning, but you're twinning cuz you've got two twin chicks," so I shouldn't exactly be expecting brains or class from this group.

Speaking of Jersey Shore, Abercrombie & Fitch took advantage of Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino's popularity by posting a press release asking him to not wear their brand because it hurts their image. While Mike actually seems offended, sales are up, so the advertising team must be onto something! (The stock did drop, as The Situation was quick to note, but so did practically all stocks, so that's hardly an indicator of the company's current performance.) Actually, Mike should be thanking Abercrombie: Jersey Shore viewership went up too!

Toddlers and Tiaras is over for the season, so I got to focus fully on watching Dance Moms this week. Once again, Abby Lee was totally over the top with the dance she had her students perform. While that was not surprising, what was surprising is the mixed reactions to the dance. People seem very divided on whether it was amazing and artistic or completely inappropriate for the kids to perform. I tend to trend towards the latter, especially because the kids didn't seem to understand that their dance was focused on child abduction, bullying and suicide.

Degrassi: Now or Never continued it's soap opera style run. I can't stop watching the show, but I also can't wait for the season to end. Four episodes a week is just too much. I have to say, this is the first week that I've seen some really good, raw acting from Aislinn Paul. I do have to question, though, if Munro Chambers thinks the writers are doing the right thing for his character Eli. His storyline is getting a bit over the top, especially regarding Christine Prosperi's character Imogen. Then again, the whole Holly J storyline is much, much weirder. It's pretty obvious that the writers didn't plan to make Holly J adopted until now, which is evidenced by the lame "We were going to tell you that you were adopted on your 18th birthday" storyline. In any case, I guess even with the storylines, I'll keep watching Degrassi because it's addictive. I still miss Ellie and Paige, though!

Old Navy is having a major sale on jeans this week. As a member of Crowdtap.com, I scored a pair of Old Navy Dreamer slim flare jeans in dark denim, and now I'm addicted to Old Navy jeans. The jeans are great quality, which was proven when I tracked the bottoms of them through the mud when I went camping and they stayed intact. (There's nothing like ruining your jeans right when you get them...it's maddening! Fortunately, that didn't happen.) Anyway, I think I'm going to stock up on a bunch more jeans because they fit well, look great and come from the Gap family of brands, which is definitely one of my favorites. I'm typically a Piperlime addict most of all, but I think I'm switching over to Old Navy for my future denim purchases.

In unfortunate news that turns out somewhat positive because it generates even more buzz for her, Kim Kardashian was forced to un-invite fifty people from her upcoming wedding to Kris Humphries. Word has it that the cut family members came primarily from stepdad Bruce Jenner's family. Heaven forbid Kim un-invite celebrities!

Linda Perry, a big name in the music industry, slammed Katy Perry and her music. She likened it to microwave popcorn, which seems to mean that people like her music now, but it's not going to create any long-term musical influence. While I do agree with Linda and do not personally find Katy Perry to be especially talented, her songs are catchy and I definitely sing along with them in the car. The album set a record for having the most #1 singles on one album for a reason.

Ames Brown, Jackie Gordon and Gia Allemand all left Bachelor Pad this week. Jackie and Ames were happy with their exit, claiming that they're winners because they found each other and found love. Unfortunately, the pair has since broken up, so the love doesn't seem so worth missing out on $250,000, now does it?

On a 'that's not cool' note, no one went home on The Glee Project this week. I think that was a cheap way to keep everyone in for the finale. I stand by the fact that it was Alex's turn to go home because he didn't bond with the kid he was supposed to work with. If he can't play nice with a kid or his castmates on The Glee Project, how exactly is he expected to work well with the Glee cast?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dance Moms vs. Toddlers and Tiaras

Dance Moms shot onto the reality television scene with a vengeance. It instantly grabbed our attention in the same way as Toddlers and Tiaras: we're half enamored and half horrified. While the shows feature many similarities, they are very different as well. In this post, we will compare Lifetime's freshman show with TLC's multi-season sensation.

Overall Flow of the Show

Toddlers and Tiaras
and Dance Moms both have formulas that follow a format from episode to episode. In Toddlers and Tiaras, we meet the girls and their moms first, see their home lives and watch them practice. Then we head to competition, see the girls throw tantrums and compete. Finally, we see the pageant crowning.

On Dance Moms, we learn about the dances for the upcoming competition, hear some mama drama, listen to a mom yelling or hear Abby Lee yelling, see the girls dance and see the awards presentation.

The episode format for Dance Moms pretty much just gets to bypass the introductions we see each week on Toddlers and Tiaras because we already know the girls. This means we get more content and less filler. That is why the winner for the better overall flow is Dance Moms. The reason for this is that we have to see the introductions each week on Toddlers and Tiaras, and when the girls just aren't interesting, this part can get choppy and boring.

Believability

Toddlers and Tiaras brings us new pageant contestants each week. We get to know them and either love them or hate them. One thing is for sure: we see real, raw emotion on this show. We see devastated kids, harsh tantrums, spray tans at an inappropriately young age and tons of makeup being put on young children.

Dance Moms is about real kids, their moms and their dance teacher. While there are obviously elements to Dance Moms that are very real, there are also some things that I believe are obviously fake. Take Cathy, for example. Does she really believe that daughter Vivi is super talented? Did she really think it was okay to improvise a dance in the middle of a performance? Did she really need to criticize Christi's wrinkles and nose for no reason? She feels just a bit too scripted to be real.

Toddlers and Tiaras takes home the prize for believability. This is because we've seen some people that are just too out there to be fake. Take Ava's dad, for example. He cried when his young daughter didn't place in a pageant because that meant she didn't improve. I can also cite the example of Jamie Sterling, who rose to the ranks of most hated TV moms for the way she pitted twins AshLynn and BreAnne against each other.

Talent

One of my favorite things about watching Toddlers and Tiaras is that many of the kids just are not talented. I like it the most when their moms truly believe that their kids are awesome when they're really not. I often wonder why some of the kids are even in pageants. Most kids are cute, to a degree, but some of them just don't have the 'it' factor. Take, for example, the pageant kids that look like they're snarling when they try to smile. And the kids who sing for their talent but are completely tone deaf. Not every kid is talented, so not every kid is good enough to win a beauty pageant.

Most of the kids on Dance Moms are talented. Some are given more of a chance to shine than others, and some shine more naturally than others. I think even Vivi could have potential if she had the proper training. That being said, Brooke's acro routines are astounding, and Maddie and Mackenzie have amazing stage presence.

The talent winner is Dance Moms. All of the kids (with the exception of Vivi-anne) are extremely talented and have the potential to be great dancers as they grow up.

Connecting to the Cast

On Toddlers and Tiaras, we remember a few of the girls and boys, but many of them can easily fade from our memories. Of course, we'll probably remember Braxton and Alaska, but that's mostly because their mom was awful. Remember when she said that because her son is biracial, she prayed while she was pregnant that he had nice hair? Priorities! We may also remember Saryniti, in part due to her awful name and the fact that her stepmom said she was praying about something just about every fifteen seconds.

On Dance Moms, we can connect to the cast because we see them week after week. This gives them a strong advantage against the Toddlers and Tiaras contestants. However, we don't get to know the girls that well on the show - we're more focused on Abby Lee's madness and the infighting between their moms.

That being said, I think Dance Moms gives us more of a connection with the cast. We see a lot of determination from the girls, and you really want to root for them in a way that is not always present on Toddlers and Tiaras.

Celebrity Making Factor

As much as the moms who feature their kids on Toddlers and Tiaras are seeking fame, the odds of them finding it outside of the Toddlers and Tiaras franchise are slim. Eden Wood recently left the pageant circuit for Hollywood, and while she's a cute and talented kid, I'm not convinced that we'll see her in movies just yet. However, if anyone does make it, it will probably be her...but none of the others.

The Dance Moms girls could actually land movie roles after this. I can see Maddie or Chloe starring as dancers in some kind of dramatic 'I'm finding myself' type of movie. You know, like the figure skaters who struggle to find their way or the gymnasts who have to decide between competing and having a normal life. I can also see the girls finding spots on Broadway.

Dance Moms definitely has more potential to create celebrities than Toddlers and Tiaras. Since we are getting to know the girls over time, Dance Moms fans are likely to watch other things just because the girls are featured in them.

Trainwreck Factor

First and foremost in the trainwreck category, the kids on Toddlers and Tiaras have way worse names than the kids on Dance Moms. In one episode, we met Mckenzie, Bayleigh and Kragen. We've also met someone named Chatham. But worst of all, we met Sparkal Queenz. You heard that right - a child was actually named Sparkal Queenz. Dance Moms brought us mostly normal names, with the exception of Vivi-anne. Kids are named Maddie, Chloe, Mackenzie (note that the spelling makes sense this time, Nia, Brooke and Paige. All correctly spelled and not made up names.

Also, the Toddlers and Tiaras girls throw temper tantrums like it's nobody's business, whereas Abby Lee actually told her girls that they should only cry when someone dies or their arm is ripped off. It's a bit dramatic, but you hear a whole lot less whining from the dance girls when they have to put their makeup on.

Toddlers and Tiaras wins by a landslide in the trainwreck category. While you really get to like some of the girls, there are way too many inappropriate outfits (like a cone bra on a kid), scream fests and briberies with Pixi Styx and Red Bulls to make this show anything less than a trainwreck.

Multi-season Potential

Toddlers and Tiaras has multi-season potential, obviously, because it's been on for several seasons already. And while I think it can continue for many more, viewership may dwindle as people realize that we're watching the same show week after week. Switch out the state, the girl and the stage mom, and you've got basically the same episode for seasons on end.

Dance Moms has a future, but probably not the way it is now. We'd either have to see a different group of girls, a different studio or a change in the way the dancing and studio are run after a few seasons. Yes, the dances are beautiful, but there's only so long that Maddie and Chloe can battle it out onstage.

Overall, Toddlers and Tiaras has more potential to stay on the air. With pageant moms clamoring to get their kids on the show, TLC can keep filming for years without spilling a lot of cash to film it.

Spin-off Potential

I can see Toddlers and Tiaras giving someone like Eden Wood a spin-off, but I don't see that having long term potential. Dance Moms, on the other hand, could let Maddie spin off into her quest to become a famous dancer. Or, Dance Moms could create a spin-off to feature another dance studio that we can compare to Abby's. Or, we could see Christi and Chloe finally take enough of Abby's madness and go to a new studio where she won't have to play second string.

I think that Dance Moms has more spin-off potential. It's still new, so the producers can decide where to go with it and where to spin it off into a new show, should they choose to do so.

Are both Toddlers and Tiaras and Dance Moms fun to watch? Absolutely. They're both strong shows that keep you stuck to the TV, even when you want to look away. And, as noted in the beginning of this post, while they are very similar, they're different enough that you still want to watch both of them.

Abercrombie and Fitch Makes an Enemy of Mike Sorrentino; Gains Massive Publicity

Water cooler gossip must be running rampant as those who normally don't care about Abercrombie & Fitch are clamoring to talk about the brand today. Why? The clothing brand offered to pay Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino not to wear their clothes. I say it's an elaborate publicity stunt, and a pretty good one, at that.

Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is famous. And if you ask reality stars or clothing brands, pretty much any publicity is good publicity. So when Abercrombie & Fitch offered Mike Sorrentino money to stop wearing their clothes because it hurts their brand image, it was a bit mind boggling...until I gave it some thought.

I read a while back that Abercrombie & Fitch has an unlimited advertising budget. While that's probably not true, the company probably does have deep pockets and invests a significant amount of their cash in advertising. This led me to my theory of how this whole anti-Mike Sorrentino (which is actully pro-Mike Sorrentino) campaign went down. I will explain this in a simplified dialog.

The Abercrombie and Fitch advertisers sit around in their office trying to think of new ways to advertise their brand.

Advertiser 1: Ugh, I can't think of any new, edgy ideas. We've already shown half-naked people in our catalogs, so I've got nothing.

Advertiser 2: Okay, well since the half-naked thing is done, we need to figure out how to advertise in a way where people are actually wearing our clothes. Who wears our clothes these days, anyway? Any celebrities?

Advertiser 1: Mike Sorrentino from Jersey Shore wears our clothes. This could be a good situation! Lots of people like him, so maybe it's a good thing. Yes, yes, the silly 'situation' pun was intended.

Advertiser 2: I got it! Mike's crazy popular right now, so let's capitalize. We've got lots of money to spend on marketing, but we may not actually need any of it. Let's make an offer to Mike Sorrentino not to wear our clothes. We'll say we're offering him loads of cash (that we may never have to pay) to never wear Abercrombie again. And we'll issue a press release and send it to the media, so that way even if we do have to pay up, we'll gain tons of publicity and build up our sales during the back to school season.

Advertiser 1: That's an awesome idea! Let's do it!

And an idea was born.

While Abercrombie and Fitch saw their stock dip as much as ten percent after issuing the Mike Sorrentino-related press release, and the MTV star may challenge the company by actually accepting their cash offer, the publicity stunt seems to be well worth it. Per New York Magazine:

CNN explains the stock's activity had nothing to do with The Situation, but guarded comments by the store's management following an announcement of gains — a 23 percent sales increase and 64 percent increase in net profits.

The bottom line? The publicity worked. And as for the stock price, pretty much the whole stock market's dropping these days; I would hardly say that Abercrombie & Fitch would be immune to that, with or without this publicity stunt.

If you need any more proof that Abercrombie actually does support Jersey Shore, their clothing line includes a GTL (Gym, Tan, Laundry) shirt, which is a slogan that became famous after the Jersey Shore cast spouted it repeatedly on national television. The company also sells a shirt that says "Fitchuation".

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dance Moms: The Starpower Competition, The Last Regional Competition Before Nationals - 8/16/11

On this episode of Dance Moms, Christi had to decide between seeing her ailing grandmother and taking Chloe to the last regional competition before a national dance competition.

Abby Lee began the episode by assigning new solos, and Nia's mom was upset that her daughter once again did not get chosen. Christi, on the other hand, was thrilled that her nine year old daughter Chloe would not be competing against eight year old Maddie.

Abby had a crazy idea for the group dance number, which was called "Where Have All The Children Gone?" It is based on all of the children that go missing, or become victims of bullying and suicide. The goal of this dance is to tell a story, not just be a dance, and it was intended to be dark, haunting and creepy. Abby's goal was to stand out at the competition, and I think this does, but not necessarily in a good way.

Chloe noted that she doesn't understand the concept of the dance, but she says that Abby said that they were giving a message to parents about being safe. She did say she liked that the dance was creepy and cool.

Whereas Chloe seemed fine with the dance (although Abby reprimanded the kids for not interpreting the dance, despite the fact that they hardly understood what it was about), the moms were less than enthralled.

Holly confronted Abby about why Nia isn't given solos. Holly explained that she wants Nia to feel special. Abby countered that Nia needs private lessons to get to the next level. It seems like Holly eventually caved and said she'd do whatever it takes to get Nia to earn her solo dances.

Kelly's Birthday

Cathy insisted that for her 40th birthday, Kelly gets Botox. She then insulted Christi, saying that even though she's the youngest, she's got awful lines on her face. Despite the insults, the three women ended up going and having a good time. Although Cathy didn't actually get the Botox, saying she didn't need it. After the Botox, the women had lunch. First, Cathy managed to insult Christi again, saying that she needs a nose job.

Later, the women met up to continue celebrating Kelly's birthday. This was one of the only times that the women seemed to have fun and stop fighting over their kids and dancing. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't stay this way later in the episode.)

Christi's Grandmother

Christi got a text saying that her grandmother was rushed to the hospital, and her grandmother is like her mom. She's been Christi's strongest mother figure. When she went to visit her grandmother, she brought Chloe to show her where she grew up.

Christi then said that it's so important for Chloe have a place to sign onstage, and during this scene, it became evident why she feels that way. Christi used to dream of taking dance lessons, but her grandparents weren't able to provide them for her. She's passing her dream onto her daughter.

Fortunately, Christi's grandmother's health improved, and Christi knew that she'd made the right decision to accompany Chloe to the Starpower competition.

Regionals

As Chloe and Christi were preparing to leave for the dance competition in Long Island, Christi got a call that her grandmother was unconscious and on a ventilator. Christi broke down. She wasn't sure what to do: go with her daughter to regionals or go to see her grandmother. When she thought it through, she knew her grandmother would have told her to go with Chloe, so that's what she did.

Remember how happy Christi was when she learned that Maddie and Chloe were competing in separate categories? Abby went ahead and crushed that. She bumped Maddie up to the next age division, which, as you can guess, pitted her against Chloe. Even Chloe was disappointed because she thought she'd finally have a chance to win since she wouldn't be competing against Maddie. Christi took this as a personal snub, saying Abby did it just so Chloe can't win.

Brooke put on her costume, and it looked atrocious. The best solution was to take the top from Vivi's costume, and Cathy was mad because Vivi's costume was custom made. After making the decision to share the costume, Cathy decided she changed her mind. She went up to Kelly three dances before Brooke went on and caused the scene. Kelly told Cathy to go back to her studio (Candy Apple), to which Cathy replied that she's at Abby Lee's studio to stay. The argument continued as Kelly said that the girls all share costumes. While Kelly did give Cathy the costume back, she ripped out the stitching she'd done and told Cathy to do it again herself. It was ridiculous that Cathy created the drama that she did so soon before Brooke's dance. At this point, I really hope Cathy was just planted on the show for drama because she causes so many problems.

Chloe's solo was first in the competition. I think she was supposed to be some kind of French mime. Maddie was next, and she was prepared to win against her older competition. Her dance was fantastic. In the end, Chloe claimed second place, and Maddie took first place. Maddie won by half a point. Christi, of course, was angry. Even Chloe was disheartened because she was so close to winning. Fortunately, taking first and second place qualified both Maddie and Chloe for Nationals, so at least Chloe would get her change in the spotlight.

Brooke
's acrobatic dance was crazy...in a really good way. She had these ridiculous acrobatic moves that normal people can't even remotely do. Brooke said that Cathy's drama caused her to mess up a bit, but she definitely still did well. Brooke ended up in sixth place, and Cathy claimed that it's because she wasn't good, not because she was shaken from Cathy's ridiculous outburst.

Cathy demanded that Kelly fix Vivi's top, and Kelly did, despite the fact that Cathy (and therefore Vivi) didn't deserve it. It astounds me that Cathy purposely messed up Brooke's dance, yet she still demanded that Kelly finish putting Vivi's costume together. Selfish, selfish, selfish.

Next, we saw "Where Have All The Children Gone?" It was not my style, to say the least. First of all, Vivi just sat on a swing the whole time, which I guess was good because she is not a good dancer. Secondly, Nia had to pretend she was choking, which instead of being artistic, looked like something out a low-budget horror movie. Someone pretended to be stabbed or something, but even after all that, the scariest part of the dance was seeing how scarily skinny Paige is. The dancing was great and the concept was haunting, so I do give credit for that, but I still am not convinced that the overall concept and performance were as great as some people are saying it is. The girls ended up winning first place for this dance, which is surprising to me, but that's probably why I'm not a dancer or a judge at a dance competition.

I think it was interesting that when the dance took first place, the one of the moms said, "That's why we trust Abby!" Yes, she hit it spot on this time, but did you completely forget about the completely inappropriate outfits we saw earlier in the season? Not everything she does is a hit. It's interesting how quickly people forget about the negative aspect when something positive comes through.

Takeaways

Abby Lee was cruel when she put Maddie in Chloe's age division. It really wasn't necessary. Maddie's obviously a good dancer, but there was more of a risk of her not winning when she's up against older girls. It didn't work out that way, but if Abby really only cared about her girls winning titles, she would have left Maddie in her own division.

I still hope that Cathy was planted on Dance Moms simply to cause drama. I actually can't believe Abby Lee allowed her to be on the show, since her daughter clearly can't dance and she's causing problems for everyone. I stand by the fact that she must have been planted for TV ratings because I feel like Abby would have destroyed her and kicked her out of the dance studio after her impromptu dance solo in last week's showcase.

Abby ended the episode by saying that things were tough, but they are going to get tougher. And while I can respect that the kids are training to be professionals, I think Abby's hard enough on them now. I can't even imagine what will come next.

It looks like Abby Lee is going to get some serious heat from Nia's mom Holly next week when she dresses Nia in leopard print and puts her hair in an Afro. (If you aren't aware, aside from Vivi, Nia's the only girl who isn't Caucasian in Abby's competition group.) Can we say that this is going to get nasty? I think it will.

Is Reality TV Partly To Blame For Russell Armstrong's Suicide?

Being on reality TV is like living life with a magnifying glass in front of your face. You're still you, but everything around you is bigger.

In real life, some people like you, and some people don't. If life gets tough, you often have the option for change: meet new friends, move to a new town, get a new job, whatever. But when you're on reality television, everything is bigger. Millions of people think they know you. Lots will like you, but others will hate you, and will have no problem blasting your problems all over the media, often with a negative spin. And as much as you may try, you can't escape.

This brings us to the story of Russell Armstrong, husband of Taylor Armstrong, and cast member of the hit Bravo show The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Russell committed suicide on Monday, August 15, 2011. At the time of his suicide, Russell was facing emotional and monetary trouble, which likely would have occurred even if he didn't appear on RHOBH. But because he was a reality star, his troubles became public and the media attacked him.

Not too long ago, Taylor Armstrong went to the media with the fact that she was divorcing Russell due to physical abuse, and the media seemed to believe her 100%. I'm not saying that Taylor is lying about Russell, not at all. But in the case of the spousal abuse, it's her word against his, and her word was the one that people wanted to hear.

On top of his relationship issues, Russell, a venture capitalist, was facing financial troubles. At the time of his passing, he had no assets and had incurred millions of dollars in debt. Because his issues were so public, Russell probably felt like he had nowhere to go to get away from this, which led to his self-inflicted death.

Before his death, Russell blamed his troubles on his appearance on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Russell, regarding his relationship with Taylor, said to People magazine that the show "pushed us to the limit." Also, his friend Tom Vickers spoke out after his death, stating:

"He was down in the dumps over the latest allegations that he had abused Taylor. I told him people don’t believe everything they read and he told me, 'It’s funny how a reality show can ruin your entire life.'"

Russell's ex-wife Barbara Frederickson disagrees with the fact that reality television ruined Russell's life, stating that Taylor is to blame for his demise. She states that Taylor made him break down by causing him severe money-related stress. (Which, for the record, could have been perpetuated by her need to look super rich on her reality TV show.)

It has been stated that the Housewives show should be cancelled because of this, but I don't think that should be the case.
People have a choice as to whether or not they appear on reality television. We can't live in fear of filming unscripted television just because one of many people went to an extreme place. That's like saying that mad cow disease was so bad that we should never eat beef again...it just doesn't make sense, and it's not what society wants. Do I think reality television perpetuated Russell's grief, which ultimately led to his suicide? Absolutely. But should this incident make us live in fear of reality shows? Of course not...that would be ridiculous. That being said, Bravo hasn't decided yet what to do with season two of RHOBH (either delay or re-edit), because Russell and Taylor's marriage problems are featured in the episodes.

Update: Word has it that Russell's family is considering suing Bravo. Seriously? While the loss is awful, Bravo is in no way responsible for Russell's death since he participated in the show voluntarily. I think that's going to be a ridiculous lawsuit. Also, Danielle Staub, ever opportunistic, spoke about her own suicidal thoughts in response to Russell's suicide. Read my thoughts on her response here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Downsized: Season Two Premiere 8/16/11

Season two of Downsized premiered on WeTV tonight. While Todd was offered a job n Missouri, it fell through and the family was stuck in their tough financial situation.

The first move to bring in cash was mom Laura taking a job as a waitress with daughter Bailey. Heather, Todd's daughter, along with many of the other kids also work.

Bailey took a jump and bought a car with her savings. The seller asked $2,800 for the car Bailey wanted, and she bargained him down to $2,700. Bailey's mom and brothers were appalled - they weren't convinced that she got a great deal. Laura called Todd, and it turns out that neither parent knew that Bailey was going to go out with Heather to buy one without their input. Todd told Bailey that she did a good job, but said in the confessional that it's a piece of junk.

The House Discussion

Todd noted that since the family has so many cars now, which could make them incur fines from their homeowner's association, they need to buy a house. Todd said this would help Laura build credit since it would be in her name, and they could potentially pay less in a mortgage than they would in rent.

Laura was unconvinced about buying a home so soon after their foreclosure experience. Because of this, Laura and Todd went to see their financial planner. During this meeting, the family shared the news that the down payment for the house would come from income earned for being on Downsized.

With this statement, the show's intent became questionable.

The point of Downsized was to show a family building their way up after a financial crisis. While I fully believe that the family should earn money for their appearance on reality television, it kind of kills the point of the show. The family obviously isn't as wealthy as they once were, but I'd hardly say that they dug themselves out of the hole in an authentic way. (You know, working for a living like the rest of us.) The season opened by telling us that the family no longer uses food stamps, and plays it off like they dug themselves out of the hole through hard work and determination. But really, WeTV was what pulled them out of financial ruin. It was luck, not work, that did it.

Anyway, despite Laura's wishes, Todd told the kids that he wanted them to look at a house that he was interested in purchasing. It was a fixer-upper, at the very least - it needed a ton of work. The house was listed at just under $200,000, and while it could potentially save money on a monthly basis, it was smaller than their current house and required a lot of work. And, Todd wanted to buy it with 10% or less down, although it would be smarter to wait and buy it with at least 20% down, given the past financial troubles. In the end, Laura gave in to Todd's wishes and decided to make an offer on the house. Then, she felt uncomfortable about it. It felt like we were going through a rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat dishwasher cycle or something.

In this episode, we found out that Bailey and Johnny broke up. They have parking spots next to each other at school, which made parking Bailey's new car each day awkward. We also some of the boys pile dirt into a truck for $50. This part of the show was beyond unexciting. Then we saw Rex suffer from allergies and get picked up by an ambulance. While the show was weak, it did show the family that despite their recent surge of cash for appearing on reality TV, buying a house might not be the best idea when they could be facing major medical expenses.

Takeaways

I think Downsized has run its course and could have ended with season one. It was novel, in a sense, to watch a family try to build themselves back up after a financial crisis, but now we're just watching a family. A normal, unremarkable family. I could sit in anyone's house and see the exact same thing.

Todd and Laura deliberating between owning and renting a home was mundane, at best. It can be tied up in a quick summary:

Laura: A house would be bought on my credit. I'm not ready. We don't have enough money. We're in survival mode.
Todd: No, no, no! I want a house now with the $18,000 we have! I found a fixer upper and I WANT IT!!! We are getting fees for having cars parked in the street so we should move!

Overall, this show was a waste of time. I enjoyed the beginning of season one, but midway through the season, the show got boring...and continued the trend of boredom into season two.

Hollywood Darlings: Episode 2, My So Called Prom

On Hollywood Darlings (which is an improvised comedy, not reality), the girls drank a charcoal drink, which Jodie hated. Someone came up to ...