Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 8

This week, the Dance Moms girls competed in the Fire and Ice dance competition in Pittsburgh, PA.

The pyramid, as usual, was first. Kendall was on the bottom row and placed back on probation. Mom Jill freaked out and Kendall started to cry. If Jill had any common sense, she'd shut her mouth - she's the reason Kendall is at the bottom of the pyramid. Abby Lee even admitted that she was upset by Kendall's tears, as she claims that she doesn't wake up each morning intending to hurt children's feelings. (I'm not entirely sure about that, but it's a good sentiment!) At the end of the argument, Jill pulled Kendall out of the dance studio with the pretense of taking her to another dance studio.

Although there was less drama surrounding this, Paige was announced as the second member of the bottom row for her performance in last week's trio. Brooke joined her for being mopey.

Mackenzie, Chloe and Maddie took the middle row, and Nia took the first row for the first time. She got it because of her hard work and determination. All of the girls screamed and hugged Nia, who looked so happy she could cry. For her placement on the pyramid, Nia was awarded a solo where she'd be playing the part of a princess. Her dance was an acro solo to a song called I'll Do Anything For You. Mom Holly looked so proud of her daughter - it was so nice.

Following the pyramid, Abby announced the group number for the Fire and Ice competition: Head Over Heels. The theme was about falling in love and getting married. Abby chose this intentionally because Melissa had a secret, and she thought everyone would figure it out after this dance. Right after we were told that Melissa had a secret, the camera flipped to Melissa in a confessional, in which she told us that she's getting engaged but likes to keep things private. (So...either this is a really fake secret or the story was out by the time the episode finished airing, but whatever. Also, I'm not sure how private Melissa is - she's on a reality show, after all!) Abby said she'd need the girls' dads at the competition because it would symbolize them giving their daughters away to dance.

Jill, who was criticized for being a studio hopper, called Cathy Nesbitt-Stein, Abby's rival, at Candy Apple's Dance Studio to see if she could find a spot for Kendall. Cathy said yes, as long as Jill and Kendall are completely done with the Abby Lee Dance Company. Nevermind that Abby and Cathy's studios are several hours apart - that doesn't matter in a reality show!

Abby told Maddie and Mackenzie that she knew about their mom's engagement and asked the girls if they'd be in the wedding. The girls just stared at her blankly. Chloe, who was also in the room, said she loves the story behind the engagement. Abby tried to bribe the story out of Mackenzie, but she wouldn't give in. Mackenzie said she can't tell Abby because she's a blabbermouth - that was funny!

The women went wedding dress shopping to get inspired for the girls' dance. Christi commented that everyone knows that Melissa's engaged so she should just admit it. I'm going to consider that a consistency slip in the show. There's no way that Chloe would know the engagement story if Christi wasn't told about it! And, according to a source, Christi and Melissa are actually friends, so of course Christi actually knows about Melissa's engagement!

Kendall auditioned for Cathy, and Cathy offered her a solo right off the bat - and Kendall would be competing against Abby Lee's soloists at Fire and Ice. Jill was in heaven at Cathy's studio - she said the moms were welcoming and Kendall got plenty of dance time. One of Cathy's dance moms asked if Abby knew that Kendall went to Candy Apple's, and the answer was no. Oh, the drama! In an even more dramatic turn, Cathy asked Kendall who was at the top of the pyramid. When she said Nia, Cathy inferred that Nia would have a solo, and noted that Nia and Kendall would be directly competing against each other.

The topic of bringing the dads to the competition came up again, and Melissa said neither her ex-husband or fiance would be coming to the competition. She got defensive about it, and Christi criticized Melissa for not having a relationship with her ex Kurt for the sake of her daughters.

The Competition

Abby came face-to-face with Cathy, and noticed that Kendall was with Cathy's team. Despite the rage of the adults, Nia and Kendal engaged in a staged-sounding discussion wishing each other good luck. Nia danced first of the pair. I didn't love her choreography, but she danced incredibly well. Kendall performed to I Think I Like You. She was great. The problem? Abby claims that Kendall was using her routine and her costume.

The Abby Lee group number was next and it was adorable. The wedding dance was so cute and the girls executed it well. The only thing was that the costumes seemed somehow inappropriate - they kind of reminded me of slutty wedding dresses, and that is not something I want to associate with kids!

Cathy's team danced next, and again, her girls were older, with Vivi-Anne and some other young kids thrown in. Her dance was nice as well, though, so she could be competition. Abby criticized Cathy's dance, which was funeral-themed, saying, "Who runs into a funeral and does an arabesque? Vivi-Anne." That was genuinely funny! But on the flip side, who does a flip at her wedding? Hypocritical much, Abby?

Cathy didn't need to worry - Head Over Heels took the overall award for the junior group. Unfortunately for Abby, Kendall took first place in the solo competition, so Nia didn't win. Holly thought it was all a game - she thought that Nia was set up.

The show concluded with an argument between Cathy and Abby. Abby accused Cathy of taking Kendall, while Cathy maintained that Kendall and Jill went to her.

Next week, the girls will perform in a costume that will make them look nude onstage - um...wow, inappropriate much?

Paul the Male Matchmaker: Did Any Of You Watch It?

I recently posted about Paul The Male Matchmaker, a show on Hulu.com. I had some time, so I watched some more episodes today. While I enjoyed the first bunch of episodes, I really loved the second set of episodes that I watched.

I kicked off today's Paul The Male Matchmaker session with episode 6 - Know When You're Simply Too Old. Oh, my gosh. In this episode, instead of setting a forty year old woman up with a man, he sets her up with an orphaned child. Why? He says she's too old to have a baby or get a man, so she might as well adopt. It's wrong on so many levels, but it makes for a pretty awesome episode.

I think my favorite part of the show is Paul's over-the-top personality in contrast to the underwhelmed attitudes of the other characters on the show. Paul does crazy things, like hide in a milk fridge and make really weird noises in a grocery store during episode 7, whereas the other characters look on with a mix of horror and confusion. I think episode 7 is my favorite episode - it's just so crazy that I want to keep watching it and see more details each time.

It's interesting to see Paul's character and the show develop from episode to episode. By episode 8, you love to hate Paul, and you're addicted to the madness that he causes. You can almost imagine yourself in the situations of his daters, although I'm pretty sure most of us would have bugged out at Paul if he tried to match matches for us.

Watch Paul The Male Matchmaker here, and take a look at episode one below.


I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for Paul the Male Matchmaker.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrity Apprentice: I Think We Haven't Seen The Last of Victoria Gotti

Last night, Victoria Gotti became the second person to be kicked off of this season's Celebrity Apprentice.

I was not surprised to see Victoria Gotti go, given that her attitude had been less than stellar, and she threatened to leave her team and go work with the men during this week's episode. Her reasoning is that the women should play the game like men to win, so she'd rather go work with the guys who work, well, like men. This, naturally, offended her teammates, most of which are highly capable, intelligent women.

While I agree with Donald Trump's decision to oust Victoria, I will admit admit that Lisa Lampanelli played a big role in Victoria's departure. Why? Two reasons: Lisa didn't give in to what Victoria wanted (which seemed to be a role in the Medieval Times show) and Lisa and Victoria had a rivalry already in place, which was evident during the first episode of Celebrity Apprentice.

Although Victoria said goodbye this week, I don't think is the last we'll be seeing of her. I say this because I heard news reports of Victoria Gotti and Teresa Giudice getting into major fights on the show, and we certainly didn't see any of that yet. We haven't even really seen Teresa get mad, let alone get angry enough to (truly) flip a table. (She flipped a table as part of her team's sketch at Medieval Times.)

The Celebrity Apprentice Episode: A Quick Recap

If you want a quick synopsis of last night's (2/26/12) Celebrity Apprentice, here it is: the teams were told to put on a show at Medieval Times. The audience would vote on a winner. The men put together a sketch in which Dee Snider dressed up like a queen and the men competed for her love. The guys acted out what they do best, in most cases - Penn Gillette (the team captain) did tricks, Clay Aiken sang, etc. At the end, the winning man took his own life rather than having to be with the queen.

The women did a sketch that was called The Unreal Housewives of Camelot, which was a play on The Real Housewives franchise. Victoria Gotti was told by team captain Lisa Lampanelli that she had the most important role of all: lights and sound, while everyone else would be onstage. I think Lisa's decision was part truth and part spiteful. Victoria did have an important role, and the role kept her away from Lisa. Lisa strongly took control of the group and led the way with the help of Aubrey O'Day. I thought the sketch was good, but Victoria messed up a lot of her cues during the women's show, whereas George Takei messed up a bunch during the men's rehearsal, but pulled it together for the men's performance.

In the end, Dayana Mendoza, Victoria and Lisa were the three in the hot seat. Victoria told some things that didn't seem to be quite true, and her words made her the second person to leave The Celebrity Apprentice, following week one's ousted star, Cheryl Tiegs.

Women: 2 firings. Men, 0 firings. Let's see where we go from here!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

How to Watch "Toddlers and Tiaras" Without Blowing a Gasket: An Insider's Perspective

I discussed Todders and Tiaras and the world of child beauty pageants with a pageant insider. While I won't provide details about this person, I will say that the person is articulate and intelligent, and I highly recommend you read this person's perspective on the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras and the pageant world. The source's words are below.

* First and foremost, remember this is reality TV.  It is not a National Geographic documentary, aimed at providing a factual account of the pageant subculture.  T&T has about as much basis in fact as "Jersey Shore", and nearly as much drama.  That's how they like it.

* Remember, they cast the show the way they do on purpose.  The weirder the family, the trashier the director, the crazier the kids, the better the ratings.  Think back to the episodes you remember -  the moms who screamed at their kids, the kid who got spray tanned at an auto garage, the boys who say "I can turn into girls", the parents who favored one child over another, the director who said "fat kids need not apply"...Every bit of it was intentional and done for the ratings.

* "But it happened!  I saw it!".  Did you?  Yes, it happened, and no, it didn't.  At least, not likely in the manner or context in which it was intended.  Post-production editing is a powerful thing, and many many good intentions end up on TLC's cutting room floor.

To address some common concerns:

* Yes, there are crazy pageant moms, harsh coaches, and kids who'd be better off pursuing another hobby.  Isn't that the case in any kids' sport?  We all know "that Little League dad" who got ejected for yelling at the ref, that dancer or gymnast forced to compete on an injured ankle, that young wrestler who runs the hallways of his school in heavy clothing, sweating to the point of dehydration, to "make weight" for his next meet.  Where's the outrage for these kids?  The reality show on them?

* "All the emphasis is on their looks!!!". No, not really.  Unless it's a "face pageant", there's far more to it than that.  99% of the time, confidence and personality will win over a pretty face.

* "But what about the makeup?  The fake hair? They're just BABIES".  Let me be clear that actual babies usually compete with neither of these.  My granddaughter is a year old.  She competes with, at best, a hint of blush to keep her from washing out under stage lights.  We do use a hairpiece, because she has enough hair to justify it, and I am a huge fan!  Doing her hair takes all of 10 minutes.  All the hot rollers, setting spray, hair spray, and other processing happen to the hairpiece, which isn't attached to the head of an active toddler!  It's a huge time saver, and makes it far easier on the kiddo.  In any case, none of this is unique to pageant kids.  Dancers and cheerleaders wear makeup, eyelashes, and often fake hair as well.

* "But it's so expensive!!!". Yes, it can be.  But so are many other sports in which kids participate.  Have you priced hockey equipment, ice time, and tournament fees recently?  Or dance costumes and private lessons?  And just like any other sport, there are ways to do it, even on a budget.  Many successful pageant kids rent a dress, or buy second hand.  Many get sponsors to help cover their fees and travel expenses.  More than a few "big name" kids have paid for their college entirely through their pageant winnings.

* "They're forced to practice!!!".  And?  Most kids aren't a fan of practicing anything.  They want the glory of competition day, not the drudgery of practice.  If you signed your kid up for soccer, would you make them go to practice, or just let them show up, unprepared, for the game?

In short, pageants are no different from any other kids' sport or activity.
 There are good parents, and bad ones.  Pushy, overbearing coaches, and inspiring ones.   Money-hungry directors, and ones who genuinely care about the kids.  And T&T is like any other "reality" show -  largely staged, and heavily edited to show what they want you to see.  Do you honestly believe everyone in New Jersey acts like Snooki?  No, probably not.  You're smarter than that.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 7

This week on Dance Moms, the girls went to Hollywood Vibe in the Abby Lee Dance School's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Abby opened the show by telling the girls that they have a target on their backs, so they'd be using a secret weapon in their dance: plastic guns. This was followed by a few gun-related references. The dance was called Private Eyes, and the reason for using the guns was to show edginess. The moms didn't love the idea, and there was also question regarding whether the plastic weapons would be allowed in the competition.

The pyramid was as follows:
Mackenzie, Nia, Kendall (for the costume) and Maddie (for her mistake that could have injured her) on the bottom.
The middle was Chloe and Brooke.
Paige took the top of the pyramid for the first time.

The group number featured everyone except Mackenzie. In addition, Chloe, Maddie and Paige would be doing a trio. Chloe and Maddie would each have solos (called Please and Every Little Step, respectively), and they were told that one of them were required to win.

Jill, who had no sympathy when Kelly was upset about Paige not being in the trio in a previous week, suddenly had no sympathy when Kendall was left out. Like usual, she was argumentative with the moms. To add insult to injury, Jill bought a bench for the studio with a plaque that said "To Abby Lee Love Jill and Kendall". Christi did not take it well (with good reason - it was a clear bribe) and called Jill a "conniving b***h". Unfortunately for Jill, Kendall's dance wasn't good enough, and the girl was told to to push ups in dance practice. Jill became combative around this time, and that theme continued throughout the show.

The trio was performing a contemporary piece called and Over and Over. They'd learned it before, so this week's practice should only need to serve as a refresher. When Paige didn't remember the moves properly, she got the wrath of Abby. Kelly also got criticized for coming down to hug Paige when she cried.

The Competition

Chloe's lyrical solo was first, and it was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. Her performance was top notch, her facial expressions were her best ever and her choreography was great.

Maddie performed next, and she was afraid that she's make a mistake again this week. Maddie performed amazingly, but I didn't love all of her choreography. That being said, her moved were executed perfectly, and there were some amazing moves in the dance.

The contemporary trio routine was shown third. Melissa noted immediately that the spacing was off. Abby also noted that the dance was off. I think I saw some moments that weren't perfectly synchronized, but it looked good.

The solo winners were announced, and Chloe took second place. Maddie took home first.

In the trio, the girls took second place. Abby, in her typical fashion, said this means that the girls were first losers. Very nice, Abby.

The group number was last to be featured on the show. I wasn't crazy about it. The girls looked a bit like aliens in their gold costumes with gold guns, rather than the intended effect. That being said, even after her skepticism, Holly loved the dance and said the gun accessory worked for the number.

The group number won the girls first place in the Jazz category. However, it did not win the overall category.

Next week, we'll see Kendall go back on probation, Cathy threaten to beat Abby in competition, and Holly get upset, but we don't learn why as of yet.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Shauna Evans Shares Her Experience on Four Weddings

On February 17, 2012, TLC aired an episode of Four Weddings that featured four women with very different visions for their weddings. From traditional gowns to a daring dress and high-budget affairs to brides on a budget, this episode of Four Weddings is definitely one that all wedding fanatics should take the time to watch.

The show brought us Shauna, whose wedding featured men in kilts, Juli, whose wedding had a fall theme, Ashanti, a sweet, kind hearted person, and Tarisha, a wild child in a red wedding dress.

Less Than Reality caught up with Shauna Moroney Evans to learn what she has to say about her nuptials, her experience on Four Weddings, and her advice for anyone who wants to be on the show.

1. Do you think your wedding and the other girls’ weddings were accurately depicted on Four Weddings? Is there anything you wish the show featured but didn’t show, or anything they showed us that you wish they’d skipped?

There are so many things that were left out of all of our weddings, to be truthful. You know going into the edit that a lot will get cut since they have to take 5 or more hours of wedding down to about 7 minutes. Some things that were left out were for the best; for example, one bride (I won’t say who) was 1 ½ hours late to her ceremony. We were all very upset for her because we knew that it was out of her control, but our director made us comment on the fact that she was late a lot. For her sake, I was glad that this was left out of the show. She certainly didn’t want to have to relive that!

However, we all had really cool bits at our weddings that didn’t make it in. First of all, the show made a big fuss over Juli’s dessert room. However, Tarisha had a candy bar, I had a HUGE Viennese hour (my entire cocktail hour space was filled with desserts), and Ashanti hired a cupcake truck called The Cupcake Stop to give out cupcakes after her wedding. No one’s cocktail hour was focused on, other than Juli’s (and that was mostly to say that there wasn’t enough seating), and everyone knows that cocktail hour is where the best food is! (Honestly, who’s still all that hungry by the time the entrees come out?) I was glad that our Lovespoon favors were shown, but it wasn’t mentioned that Jon (my husband) brewed a special beer, a Chocolate Raspberry Stout, of which guests could take home bottles, and, due to the size of the Viennese hour, we boxed our wedding cake so guests could take that with them, as well.

Also, I was really upset that the show said our guests only had two choices for their entrĂ©e! We had four – there was fish (which was actually my favorite) and vegetarian lasagna as well as chicken and steak. The choice of entrĂ©es was one of the main reasons that we picked our venue. The fact that we had a drummer and a saxophone player to accompany our DJ was toned down, as well, even though Juli’s drummer was featured prominently in the Four Weddings episode.

Basically, since we knew that Juli had won, a chunk of the show was biased towards the better parts of her wedding. Don’t get me wrong – her wedding was awesome, and I pretty much knew that she was going to win, but the editing made the competition appear a little more one sided than it actually was.

There was one thing that I truly wish the audience could have seen - our wedding bands! They only showed us looking at Juli's, but we each admired everyone's. I really wanted them to show ours, because we had them custom made by a Celtic jeweler, R.E. Piland, based on a design that Jon drew. They have a shamrock and a dragon on them to stand for Ireland and Wales. They're gorgeous, and they're something unique that we're really excited about, yet they got left out entirely!

2. What were your favorite moments from your episode of Four Weddings? I loved hearing the other girls say that the men in kilts at your wedding were sexy, and laughed when one of the girls noted her concern about Tarisha’s upper body staying covered.

Despite a lot of things being left out, I was pretty happy with the way the episode looked in the end. I was really glad that none of the girls said anything too negative about anyone. I LOVED Tarisha saying that kilts are sexy and that “bagpipes would have been dope.” Her attempt at English and Welsh accents was also hilarious! Juli also had me laughing when she said she was “tired of hora-ing,” but it came out sounding like something completely different and not as decent! I giggled when there was footage of me noting all the “babymaking talk” during Ashanti’s ceremony. I also loved the footage of the crazy guy dancing with us at Juli’s wedding. That was actually her groom’s brother, who had just turned 21. He was nuts, a lot of over-the-top fun. And who wouldn’t love having your awesome Star Wars themed entrance into your wedding being the opening shot of the episode? That was fun.

3. Now that you’ve seen how the other girls scored each of the weddings, do you agree with the scores? Do you think Juli deserved to win?

At the first wedding we went to, our director told us that we should think of the scores as grades – a 7 would be like a 70, a C, an 8 like a B, a 9 like an A. I really took that to heart with my scores. It prevented me from giving anyone a 6, because that would mean that they had a failing wedding. The bride who’s wedding came first (the weddings were not shown in the order that they occurred) did not get that speech, so I don’t know if her ratings were lowered slightly because of that. So with that in mind, I thought the scores for my wedding were a little bit low. It was like getting two Cs and an F, and considering I ended up coming in second place, I thought that was strange. You could see, though, that for the most part, everyone’s overall scores were within the same range, so I think they were pretty accurate. As I said before, I sort of knew Juli would win. I came home from her wedding and raved about it to my mom. It was a lot of fun.

4. What was it like attending the weddings of three complete strangers? Were you uncomfortable at any point during the other girls’ weddings?

The four of us met briefly six days before we went to the first wedding. Even though we didn’t know each other well, we got along almost right away. I mean, we had something very major and very intimate in common with each other from the beginning. Within the span of a month and a half, we were going to be married, and sharing that formed a real bond between us. There wasn’t a lot of discomfort at the other weddings because a lot of what we did was dictated. We were told when to eat and where to go. It was weird the first time we did it, but we got used to it, and it meant that we didn’t really have time to think about how awkward it was not to know anyone. Also, everyone at all of the weddings knew exactly who we were, so they went out of their way to make us feel welcome, talk to us, dance with us. While you knew it was partially to make their friend’s wedding look the best, it never came off as fake. I think we’re all nice girls, we all have nice, genuine friends, and we all had a really good time wherever we went.

5. Did you get to spend time with the other girls aside from the time spent at the weddings? Did the show give you time to get to know them?

We were not allowed to see or speak to each other outside of the show while it was still going on. They don’t want you discussing any of the weddings or scores with each other. In fact, even when we were together waiting to go into a wedding or an interview, someone from the show had to be in the room with us to make sure we didn’t discuss our opinions. It wasn’t bad, though. That meant that we had to talk about things other than weddings, like jobs, friends, family. I think we had a pretty good sense of each other and got to know each other pretty well as things progressed. There certainly never seemed to be any unease or tension between us. One of the producers even commented that we got along really well.

6. It seems like being on Four Weddings could potentially cost you a lot of time and money. Did you have to provide your own transportation to each wedding? Were you responsible for all of the travel costs? Did you have to pay the per-person fee to have your three competitors at your wedding?

The monetary factors played into whether or not we would participate on the show. Obviously, with 175 or so people already coming to our wedding, my parents weren’t wild about the prospect of paying for three complete strangers to attend. As it turned out, the only thing I had to pay for was my initial trip to the bride meetings. After that, the show took care of everything. The paid for the other girls’ meals at all weddings, and they sent cars to take us to each wedding. Thank goodness! Wedding days averaged around 10 hours each. I’m not a big late night person, so driving back from a wedding that was an hour away at 2 in the morning would not have been fun!

7. Several months have passed between your wedding and the airing of Four Weddings. Have you stayed in touch with the girls on the show?

As soon as we finished shooting, we all exchanged phone numbers and full names so we could be Facebook friends. We’ve stayed in touch mostly through Facebook and text messaging. Tarisha did call me the morning after the show aired, as well, to discuss how ridiculous the editing was. We do want to get together again, but there’s a wide span in terms of where we live, so it’s been difficult. We do plan on at least meeting up in September to celebrate the anniversary of first meeting each other, as well as our collective wedding anniversaries. Hopefully we can find a way to see each other again before that, though!

8. Now that you’ve seen your wedding on TV, what advice would you give someone who wants to have her wedding featured on a television show?

I don’t really have any advice in terms of what you should do in your wedding. We didn’t make any changes to what we were planning just because of the show. The biggest piece of advice I could give then is that you have to know that major chunks of your wedding are going to be taken out for TV. No matter how awesome your wedding was; a show could make it look like a complete disaster, and you have to be prepared for their spin on things.

9. If someone were to ask you if they should apply to be on Four Weddings, what would you tell them? Why?

Personally, I would tell them to go for it. I had a fabulous time with the whole experience. Everyone that we worked with from TLC couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating. I love getting dressed up and going to weddings, so obviously going to the different occasions was a blast for me. A lot of people I know couldn’t believe that we weren’t paid, but I know that TLC invested a lot of money in each of us – the cars, paying for us just to be at each wedding – and I was honored to get to see three other fabulous women start their married lives. We were lucky that all of the girls were very sweet and that we got along well, so we weren’t ever at each other’s throats or bored or anything like that. I guess you run the risk of meeting girls that you clash with when you apply. It was thrilling, though, to see ourselves on television. That was the first time we got to see any video footage from our wedding! I was really worried, when I got onto the show, that if I lost, my wedding would always be tainted by that a bit, but thankfully, by the time we taped the finale, I had been married for a month and a half, and I had that much time for the wonderfulness of my wedding, which really was the best day of my life, to sink in. It wasn’t ruined at all.

Want to know more about Shauna? Check out an article written about her and husband Jon's appearance on Four Weddings, and read her articles about American Idol here.

Celebrity Apprentice 2/19/12: Some Thoughts

I'm not usually one to watch The Celebrity Apprentice, but I decided to give it a try because of the interesting cast this season.

Some of the "celebrities" (and I use that term loosely) had their personalities come out immediately, while others faded into the background. Let's run through the celebrities and their first impressions.

First up is the women's team, who called themselves Forte.

Patricia Velasquez: I'd never heard of her before, but she stepped up as a strong force on the team. She nominated herself as the team leader and fought hard for her team.
Dayana Mendoza: This beauty queen (winner of Miss Universe) didn't take the lead, but she did step up when Patricia Velasquez took control. She's very motivated by Patricia and clearly wants to please her. (It worked.)
Tia Carrere: I'd never heard of Tia either, and this show didn't help. I didn't get much of an impression of her.
Teresa Giudice: Teresa pronounced her last name Gee-you-dee-chay, like she'd discussed doing on Watch What Happened Live a while back. (It was previously pronounced Joo-dice, in an Americanized fashion.) Teresa actually made a good impression. She was responsible and cooked roasted red peppers for the sandwiches in the first challenge, which was probably a bit of a kiss-off to those who say she can't cook even though she has a cookbook.
Debbie Gibson: She was very kind and calm, but made sure everyone knows that she can still sing.
Victoria Gotti: She was very strong willed, and made it known that there's someone on the show she's already wary about. The cameras made it known that she spent a lot of time dealing with non-show related things, like an eye injury and some personal stuff. That being said, I think she will be a strong force in the show, and I look forward to seeing her rumored fighting with Teresa Giudice.
Aubrey O'Day: She came off a bit conceited, but she has a lot to live up to after her past reality TV experiences, so I'm not surprised. I'm not convinced that she'll make it too far in the show. Also, I wasn't a huge fan of her hairstyle.
Lisa Lampanelli: She's funny and entertaining. Not much else to say at this point.
Cheryl Tiegs: It makes sense that she was the first one to be kicked off. She was way too calm and passive for the show's drama.

Something interesting was that when asked who the most recognizable people on the team are, Teresa Giudice's name came up first. It's so strange that a reality star famous for flipping tables is the most famous person on the team.

The men's team, called Unanimous, took the victory in the first challenge. The challenge was to raise more money than the other team selling sandwiches that the teams designed and made at Cafe Metro. Their team was led by Paul Teutul, Sr. of American Chopper, who in the beginning seemed like an underdog, but was able to lead his team to victory by raising a ton of money from an unnamed donor.

Paul Teutul, Sr.: Paul came off as very confident, but as a television viewer, it was easy to doubt him. He said he'd raise $500,000 for his charity, and that seemed highly unlikely. That being said, he came through and led his team to victory. He didn't quite reach his lofty goal, but he did bring in a lot of cash for the Make a Wish foundation.
Clay Aiken: Clay almost seemed to be in a grudge match with America...but in a positive way. He knows we see him as an American Idol runner up, and he's ready to break free of that.
Michael Andretti: He didn't make too much of an impression, but we'll see how that rolls out.
Lou Ferrigno: He was fun to watch and will probably provide comic relief throughout the series.
Adam Corolla: He's funny but not as funny as some of the other guys.
Arsenio Hall: He's really funny...and I can see his jokes one-upping the jokes from the other guys.
Penn Jillette: Penn proved his desire to be on the show by going outside of his team's sandwich shop and attracting people to come in using tricks. He really put himself out there and worked well with Clay Aiken. (By the way - I'm a Penn fan because of the time I was forced to go onstage during a Penn and Teller show. I didn't want to go, but he didn't let me mess anything up so I was happy.)
George Takei: I love his Facebook posts...he posts a ton of funny things. That being said, he's very quiet in person and that was mistaken by Paul for meekness. Donald Trump didn't take kindly to Paul's analysis of George.
Dee Snider: He's great. I doubt he'll win but he'll be great to watch. He was most likely cast as the Bret Michaels of this season, although I doubt that he'll take the prize like Bret did.

The guys won the competition even without this, but their win was assisted by an appearance on the Rachael Ray show, on which Rachael tried sandwiches from both teams and declared the men's sandwich to be her favorite. Money was awarded based on her decision.

Based on the first episode, I think the win is going to go to Patricia Velasquez, Clay Aiken or Penn Jillette. Those three stood out the most to me as strong contenders that will make it through without causing any major interpersonal issues. But who knows? Anything can happen.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Whitney Houston: Is It Right for People to Profit From Her Passing?

Yesterday, the news was almost completely dedicated to coverage of Whitney Houston's funeral and the events surrounding it. While I fully support the love and respect being shown to the late Ms. Houston, there was one issue that really made me think - and I'm not sure that I'm keen on how it rolled out.

So, what's the issue? People unrelated to Whitney Houston were profiting from her passing. Don't get me wrong - I'm not opposed to people buying her music. After all, many of us know and love at least one Whitney song, and this sad event simply reminded us to go on iTunes to download a song that we truly enjoy.

What I'm talking about is random people using this event to make a profit. For example, a news station spoke to a woman standing outside Whitney's funeral, who was there simply to get a glimpse of the events taking place. The news anchor asked what the woman was holding, which was a t-shirt with some photos of Whitney's face on it. The woman presented her item and told the news anchor that she bought it because it 'makes her feel close to Whitney.' Fully respectable. But when the news anchor asked where the woman obtained the shirt, she said from around the corner.

What that means is that people, immediately after Whitney Houston's passing, jumped on the opportunity to create shirts simply to make a profit. Sure, their intentions may be good (to allow people to celebrate Whitney), but in a way, it feels kind of, well, wrong. It makes me sad to think that someone's first thought after hearing of Whitney's fate was to say, "I bet we can sell a ton of t-shirts at this funeral. Let's get on that."

I understand that people love money and money makes the world go round, but it just seems wrong to me that people are using someone's passing as a way to make a few quick bucks. What do you think?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Paul the Male Matchmaker: It's a Match For Me

If you enjoy reality dating shows, comedies that are meant to make you laugh but feel a little uncomfortable, and have a short attention span like I do, Paul The Male Matchmaker will be right up your alley.

As a member of the WB Word of Mouth Marketing team, I was told about a new show on Hulu called Paul The Male Matchmaker. Okay, I thought, it's a show about a male matchmaker...should be interesting. I opened up Hulu and watched the first episode...and was hooked.

First and foremost, this show has a few of the key things that I love to watch. First, it's funny in that "oh my gosh, what just happened?" kind of way. It makes you laugh but feel kind of guilty about it, kind of like watching The Office or other shows of that genre. You laugh but you're also thinking, "Did they really just do that?"

Secondly, the show has elements that are scarily similar (in a good way) to what we see on dating reality shows. If you watched Why Am I Still Single? or Tough Love on VH1 or The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo, you know what I'm talking about. The people on those shows sometimes had to complete tasks that seemed completely insane. Paul The Male Matchmaker does the same, but with an added dose of humor tied in...and the comfort of the fact that the people on the show are actors, not real people that might have to explain their actions to a future employer one day.

Third, the show comes in short, bite-sized episodes. My attention span makes it really difficult for me to stay focused, and this show, with each episode clocking in at just over five minutes, is perfect for me. It's straight to the point, packs a mean punch and then it's over. There's no fluff - it's all good stuff.

After watching episodes of Paul The Male Matchmaker on Hulu, one episode really stuck out to me. In this episode (number 3 of the series), Jillian visits Paul so she can jump back into the dating scene. Jillian, played by Lisa Edelstein, is instructed to practice dating with an inflatable dummy. Instead of walking out feeling appalled, Jillian really starts liking the dummy. Like, a lot. I'm not going to give away what happens, but I highly recommend that you give that episode a try.

Paul The Male Matchmaker is sure to make you think about the bad dating experiences you've had in your life, or at least think about the creepy guys you've known. When it comes to creepy guys, I've met my share. There was the guy who was a summer camp counselor with me, and one day out of nowhere was like, "Want to make out behind the shed?" Um, I don't even know who you are, so thank you but no thank you. And then there's the guy who started writing my friend's name with his last name on his notebook...in high school. And they'd only been dating a week. That didn't last long. Oh, and the time that my friend tried to set me up with a guy that was so boring that it was actually painful to sit with him. So, if you have any interest in reliving your own creepy guy or dating memories (and admit it, they're funny!), watch Paul in action for a few minutes and you'll start laughing at both him and your life experiences.

I highly recommend that you give this show a try. Watch the first episode (embedded below) and then click here to watch the rest of the series.

I have been hired by Warner Bros WBWord division to raise awareness for Paul the Male Matchmaker.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 6

On this episode, the Dance Moms girls planned to go to the Dance Explosion competition in Secaucus, New Jersey. However, that didn't work out.

Kendal was on the bottom of the pyramid because her mom was too needy. Nia, Brooke and Paige joined her. Maddy and Chloe took the middle spots. Mackenzie took the top spot.

Instead of a group number, each girl would do a solo this week...and each mom was in charge of finding her children's costumes. The criteria Abby gave was that she must have never seen the costumes before.

We found out that Abby makes each mom signs a contract every year when her daughter is enrolled, basically saying that Abby owns them for the year.

Next, we saw Cathy's studio, Candy Apple's. First, we saw everyone on the same row of Cathy's 'pyramid' to show equality. Then, she said that her dance school, like Abby's, would be hosting an open call for a new dancer. The difference between Cathy's and Abby's is that Cathy's open call would be a fun one, whereas Abby's was not.

In a clearly cast move, Peyton from Abby's studio auditioned for the Candy Apple's team. Her mom did this for revenge on Abby. When Cathy offered Peyton a spot, Peyton was hesitant - she said she missed her friends and was worried about the drive. When Cathy said that Peyton wasted her time, Peyton's mom Leslie went into confrontation mode and annoyed Cathy. In the end, Peyton did not end up on Cathy's team.

The moms from the Abby Lee Dance Company presented their costumes to Abby for approval. In typical Abby fashion, she didn't like them. This should not surprise any of you.

After all of the training and costume design, Abby got a call telling her that the Dance Explosion competition was cancelled. Fortunately, Abby was able to find a competition called the M.A. Dance Competition in Clute, Texas. Abby was quite let down when she arrived - the dance floor wasn't a stage at all - it was a gymnasium floor.

Brooke went first with her lyrical dance. She did really well. This was one of my favorite routines of Brooke's. Mackenzie was the next to perform from Abby's team. That kid is talented. My only thought about Mackenzie's performances are that Abby really ages her down and plays on her childish cuteness. It's adorable but I think Mackenzie's genuinely talented and deserves better than that.

After Mackenzie's dance, Kendal's mom Jill showed Abby Kendal's costume. It turns out that Jill didn't make the costume - she used an old one. Abby told Jill that she was breaking the rules because she was trying to teach everyone that her girls could win, even when wearing homemade costumes. Jill ended up storming out in a dramatic manner that was strong enough to rival Abby's own drama.

Melissa went to comfort Jill and ask her to come back and let Kendal perform. Jill pulled Kendal out and told her that she wouldn't be dancing. Kendal's response? "I want to dance." Jill said that she wanted Kendal to dance too, but she had to stand up for what was right.

Nia wasn't doing great during this competition. She was hurt, and before she was set to go onstage, Nia had a panic attack. Holly did her best to calm Nia down, and it worked enough to get Nia onstage for her lyrical dance. Nia did great. She's still not technically perfect, but she's improved so much since Dance Moms premiered.

Note: Regarding Nia, Abby said it's okay to dance when you're sore, but not when injured. That being said, I remember Abby saying something different to Brooke when she was hurt. She made her dance no matter what her body felt like.

After that, Abby told Jill to get Kendall changed into a plain white costume, and Jill obliged. Kendal did well onstage.

Chloe danced next. She was awesome. Maddie followed. She was awesome. Her dance had Spanish flair and she pulled it off perfectly...until she fell during a flip and landed on her butt - HARD. (This didn't look staged, but I bet the producers were thrilled to see some legitimate drama on the show.) She had to be carried offstage. Melissa held Maddie backstage, and Maddie cried for two reasons - she thought she'd never dance again and she thought Abby would be mad at her. Abby wasn't mad, and Melissa commended Abby for being kind. That being said, Abby still told Maddie that she second guessed herself, which made her fall. Abby also noted that this was Maddie's first major fall, but it wouldn't be her last.

Paige danced next. She seemed to really come into her own during this dance. She had confidence and style, and she was fantastic. She even had great facial expressions. Even Abby complimented her afterwards!

At the awards ceremony, Brooke took third in the solo competition, Chloe took second and Paige won. Go Paige!!!

Abby joined the moms and dancers backstage in a great mood. She commended the kids (and the moms for the costumes), and noted that now people that didn't know them at all now knew who they were. Abby noted that all of the girls got perfect scores for their costumes. The moms were thrilled.

Before the episode ended, Abby gave Jill an ultimatum: play by the Abby Lee rules, or take Kendal off the team. Jill said she and Kendal would discuss their options. We will see what happens.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catching Up With Michelle Betts of Tough Love Miami

With Tough Love Miami behind her, Michelle Betts has learned a lot of lessons about life and love. Since the show, Michelle has enjoyed a thriving fitness career as well as her newfound fame. She's also experienced love and heartbreak, all of which were portrayed during Tough Love Miami and the subsequent reunion show. Today, we caught up with Michelle to discuss how she's been since Tough Love Miami and her thoughts on love, life and her next steps.

 1. On Tough Love Miami, we saw you move away from bad boys and go for a good guy, Sam, who ended up hurting you before a reconciliation on the Tough Love Miami reunion show. Where has the romance with Sam gone since then? Is he still in the picture? If he's not, is there a new guy in your life?

This is so ironic, and it hurts me to say that Sam, although appeared to be a "good guy", is the worst kind of guy out there, he's really a bad guy.  He used me, the only reason he came back on the show was for television purposes.  As soon as the reunion aired, Dec. 18th, the phones calls became fewer and fewer and he started avoiding a trip due to working so much......something I heard before.  The fact of the matter is, he's pursuing an acting/modeling career in Miami, and never really was interested in me.  Yes, it hurt, but I actually bounced back really fast, and although I regret meeting him, I do not regret the show.  I need to make it known that I do not hold Steve Ward, VH1, or any part of the production responsible.  He fooled them also.

The show was an amazing experience for me and I would do it all over again. Steve Ward really helped me see exactly what I was doing wrong, and why I was doing it.  So, as of now, I am single in LA, and most of all ready to meet a really good guy and have a healthy, happy relationship.  I'm actually inceredibly happy.

2. How has your life changed since Tough Love Miami? Do you get recognized on the street? Has your blog, Michelle Betts Fitness Fanatic, gotten more views? Has your personal training business gained a lot of new clients?

My life has changed DRASTICALLY since Tough Love Miami! I get recognized all the time, my fans have been so kind, reaching out to me and saying really wonderful things.  I constantly get stopped for photos and autographs.  I have a public P.O. Box and when I checked it before Christmas, I had so many cards and presents from fans. Its been such an AMAZING experience and I am very grateful for my fans. I try and reach out to all my fans as best as I can.  My fitness blog hits have skyrocketed, and I've gained many more fitness clients.  I like that I have been able to hopefully help a lot of people reach, or start to reach their fitness goals; that makes me really happy.  I also now, because I have a show behind my belt, have been offered parts and have had television execs, agents, people in the business seek me out, which is nice because in Hollywood, the hardest thing for me has been getting in the door.

I do need to say also that through the show I have made such great friends with so many of my castmates.  I communicate with almost all of them, I love them dearly, and Jane has become like family to me.  I'm so glad I went through this process with this amazing group of women.

3. If someone were to ask you if they should go on a future season of Tough Love, what would you tell them? Why?

If someone were to ask me if they should go on a future season of Tough Love (which has happened), I would 100% say do it.  Steve Ward helped me in so many ways.  Personally, I believe he is almost 100% accurate in what he says regarding dating.  I've used some of his tips dating in LA...and they absolutely work.  I would, however, caution to not go into it thinking that the men would turn into a real relationship, to do it as a learning experience.

4. You're much more than a reality star, so I want to address a topic that's not about your appearance on TV, but about your career. If you could only give people one piece of fitness advice, what would it be? Would it be to work out frequently? Cut your calorie intake? Or something else entirely?

If I could only give one fitness tip it would have to be to stay consistent, to keep moving your body.  Weather it be in the gym going hard, or on a walk....movement gets results and, it only happens with consistency over time. To not get discouraged. Losing weight is hard and it doesn't happen overnight, but if you keep at it, and are consistent, you will see results.

5. What's next for Michelle Betts? What are your future plans? 

What's next for Michelle Betts?  Well, I have A LOT in the works.  I'm currently pursuing a few other shows, and am pretty confident 2012 will bring me another. I also have finished a fitness book that is currently being edited, I developed a resistance band that I would like to launch by the end of the year, I was invited to be a fit fluential ambassador, which is a great honor. I have my own boutique on: TheLookstore.com and lots of meetings planned.  I have an on-going fitness column in a Canadian Publication, On The Go, which is very exciting! So, let's just say I'm not going away....there's lots more of Michelle Betts to come and I want to always keep helping America with our obesity epidemic.

Good luck, Michelle! We wish you all the best. You deserve it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 5

Brooke opened this episode of Dance Moms by talking to Abby Lee about returning to dance. When Brooke tried to explain herself, Abby made Brooke feel awful before ultimately allowing her to return to the team. Abby turned the situation around to be all about herself - she said that Brooke had a talent for dance, but Brooke better never let her down again.

Kendal was then taken off probation after proving herself at the last competition.

This week's competition was the Starbound Competition in Long Island, New York.

Bottom row: Mackenzie, Nia, Paige, Kendal
Middle row: Maddie (Abby claims it's to challenge her), Chloe
Top row: Brooke (This was a shock move to welcome Brooke back, and Jill, Kendal's mom, did not take this well. In fact, Jill didn't take much well - her personality became strong and condescending during this episode.)

Next, Abby broke the news that Peyton would be out of the group. Her mom, Leslie, flipped out and walked out in a huff with her daughter.

Brooke was given a solo, and Abby told her she has to win to prove herself. Mackenzie had a solo as well - an acro routine called The Party Starts Right Now. The group was doing a jazz dance called Avalanche.

Jill approached one of the dance teachers to ask why Kendal didn't have a special part in the dance number. The teacher approached Abby about this, and Abby was less than amused. The other moms seemed less than amused with Jill as well, except for Melissa, who seemed to like her. But Melissa liked Cathy last season too, so I'm not entirely sure of her judgment.

Kelly hosted a party to welcome Brooke back into the group. As usual, this turned into a discussion among the moms about who gets what and what's fair with Abby's studio. Melissa got attacked for all of the private lessons that her kids get, and Jill backed her up - but the other moms didn't take kindly to this. Melissa and Jill were 'invited' to leave. It was made pretty clear that they were not wanted at the party.

We saw a rare emotional moment from Abby during Mackenzie's solo practice. Abby cried because in her mind, Mackenzie stopped being a kid and started being a dancer. In contrast, Abby was less thrilled with Brooke because she'd lost flexibility during her time away from dance.

In a very over-the-top gesture, Jill set up a massage studio in Studio C of Abby's studio, and provided her and one of her teachers (Gianna) with an impromptu massage session. She noted that it was Kendal's idea, presumably to make Abby think highly of Kendal. If that wasn't enough, she made it clear that in exchange for her generosity, Jill expected Abby to make special parts in the dances for Kendal. Abby appreciated the gesture, but let the show's viewers know that this would not, in fact, buy Kendal solos and preferential treatment.

The Competition

Jill talked herself into a hole as soon as Abby and crew got to the competition. Jill made snide comments about how she came to the competition even though Kendal was practically doing nothing.

After some arguing amongst the moms, Mackenzie did her solo. She was adorable. Her form didn't seem 100% perfect at all times, but she did amazing moves and gave a great performance. Brooke danced next. I did not enjoy Abby's overly dramatic music choice for her, but she did well. That being said, she makes some painful faces as she dances. She seemed to have a lot of passion, although Abby said she didn't give it her all.

In the Junior Petite solo competition, Mackenzie took first place.
Brooke took third place in the Top Teen Soloist competition.

The group number was last. It was phenomenal. The girls worked so well together. They moved well together and when each girl did her own part, she stood out in a great way. Like Christi said, I'm not sure if I get what the dance was about, but it looked great onstage.

For their group number, Abby Lee's team took second place in their division. However, the announcer said that they did come close to first place, so their efforts were noticed.

Abby, in an effort to be negative, let the girls know that they weren't good enough. She also said that they should win big, or lose big, but don't come in second.

Abby also secretly put Jill (and therefore Kendal) back on probation. She didn't tell Jill that, but Abby knew what she had to do to re-create the relative peace that was in the studio before Jill and Kendal's arrival...and that may mean getting rid of Jill and Kendal. I guess we'll see what happens next week!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Setting The Record Straight About SaLiz Anderson

The show Toddlers and Tiaras gives us a look into the world of child beauty pageants. While we may think we're looking directly into the lives of parents and kids who participate in the pageants featured on the show, that's not exactly the truth. Toddlers and Tiaras is no different than any other reality show - it's comprised of truth, real drama, manufactured drama and creative editing.

I caught up with Sarah, mother of SaLiz Anderson, a contestant in the Universal Royalty Pageant featured on Toddlers and Tiaras. I have to say - Toddlers and Tiaras did not give Sarah and SaLiz the credit that they deserve. On the show, Sarah and SaLiz both handled themselves with class and dignity, but the show didn't give them enough screen time for us to see what they're really about - we just got to see some short snippets that didn't tell the whole story. From having communicated with Sarah, I learned that she and SaLiz have depth and positivity far beyond what was portrayed in the hour long television program, and I think that deserves to be shared with T and T viewers.

One example of a misinterpretation from Toddlers and Tiaras was the part of the show where Sarah tells us that SaLiz is going to be a star. From the perspective of the trusting viewer, we think that mom wants SaLiz to be a star and is willing to go to any length to get her there. But in reality, SaLiz genuinely wants to be a star, and mom was just stating SaLiz's desire. The creative editing created a negative impression where we should have actually had a positive one.

Additionally, it appeared that SaLiz didn't take home major prizes, when in fact, she did! SaLiz was first runner up in her age group, and she only missed Queen by 1/10 of a point. She also took the prize as the National Ambassador, a big award at the Universal Royalty Pageant. With the power of creative editing, we heard nothing of that on television.

Below is my interview with Sarah, SaLiz's mom. She brings us behind the scenes of Toddlers and Tiaras and tells us what it's like to be a real pageant mom.

SaLiz's name (spelled incorrectly as Saliz on the show) left me with some questions. What does it mean? How was it chosen?

SaLiz, pronounced Suh-Liz, is not only commonly mispronounced, it is almost always misspelled. The correct spelling is “SaLiz”, big “S” and big “L”.  Her legal name is Sarah-Elizabeth. I never intended to name a child of mine after myself. (In all actuality, I think it is rather vain for a girl to be named after her mother; not so with a son named after a father). However, Sarah-Elizabeth became her name because that is the name that God chose for her. I was at a Women’s Conference at church and heard His voice say “her name will be Sarah-Elizabeth”. I was not even pregnant at the time, but I became so shortly after. My husband wanted a unique nickname for his baby girl and came up with SaLiz. It became so popular among family and friends that I thought it would be awesome to use as her stage name; Sarah-Elizabeth is a mouthful!

Do you think that you or SaLiz were misrepresented on Toddlers and Tiaras? One notable example that comes to mind for me is that the pageant actually had a Hollywood theme after a change was made, not an Old Hollywood theme, but the viewers were not alerted of this. This made SaLiz seem like she wasn't following pageant rules, when in fact, she was.

During the airing of the episode, it was announced as Old Hollywood a couple of times. Did anyone notice that it was also referred to as “Celebrity Wear”? None of the paperwork I received said the theme was Old Hollywood, it all said Celebrity Wear. After seeing the episode and hearing some people’s negative comments about SaLiz’s Nicki Minaj outfit, I called the pageant director and asked her about it. She said the theme was originally Old Hollywood but that a lot of people had contacted her saying they were having trouble coming up with ideas for that theme, so to be more accommodating to everyone, the director changed it to Celebrity Wear. Nicki Minaj is a celebrity, not particularly one of my favorites, but a favorite of SaLiz.  My family and I were pleased with how we were represented. One of the things I have said before is that the camera can only record what you give it to record; so what you saw was the real Sarah and SaLiz.

How is a Toddlers and Tiaras pageant different than a normal pageant?

The only way a Toddlers and Tiaras pageant is different than a normal pageant is if you are one of the families followed. When you are followed you give up a lot of your time. The home filming is not bad because you do what you would normally do. On pageant day, it is a totally different story. I made a statement on the show that I was nervous and hated having to rush. The reason I said those things is because we had been downstairs doing interviews and that took away more than half of the time we normally take to get SaLiz ready for Beauty. Generally, my friend and I take about two hours to get SaLiz ready for this category because it is the most important.  Due to the interviews, we only had 40 minutes! You do the math! Had we had our usual amount of time we probably would have changed SaLiz’s hair from being down into an updo. (We both came to the conclusion that SaLiz looks more elegant with her hair up and in curls.)

LTR's response: SaLiz was beautiful on this episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, but this explains why we can sometimes be surprised when the featured girls on the show are more frazzled, less made up and may be slightly less poised than the girls who aren't being targeted by reality TV cameras. They lose the prep and relaxation time that the other girls maintain.

What do you like about the pageant world? What is your favorite aspect?

I like the spirit of competition. When we first got started in pageants on the local level, there were several times that SaLiz was the only contestant in her age group. That would make me mad because I felt I wasted time and money on it because, let’s face it, I could have used that money to buy her a HUGE crown and trophy! It’s all about competition. I also like it when lessons can be taught based on the competition. What I like best about pageants is the joy SaLiz gets from doing them.

LTR's comment: That's something that I can truly respect - mom Sarah enjoys SaLiz's happiness. SaLiz genuinely wants to perform - mom isn't forcing her to perform.

What do you dislike about the pageant world? What is your least favorite aspect?

I dislike the sneakiness and secretiveness of some of the moms. I think it is ridiculous for a child to need acrylic nails, flippers, and fake tans to win a pageant. There are press-on nails for children (that’s what we use). Flippers, I don’t like them, but I suppose I can see where they may be needed. However, if a child can win with braces, why can’t they win with a missing BABY tooth?! Fake tans. Hmm. I would love to know who decided that a pale child did not stand as much of a chance at winning as a tanned child.  Least favorite thing is easy: pageant moms who live through their children. When it is obvious your child does not want to be in pageants, you should let it go! SaLiz wants to do pageants.  Here is my philosophy: a mother has about a two-year window of opportunity during which putting her child in pageants is what SHE wants. Right around ages 2-3, said child develops her own opinions and when that happens it’s time to listen. If she doesn’t want to do pageants, don’t make her because she will be doing it for the wrong reasons. My child is an extension of me, not the other way around.

LTR's comment: I LOVE the quote about SaLiz being an extension of her mom, not the other way around. So true!

What positive traits would you say SaLiz takes from being a pageant competitor? Do you think pageants have helped her so far in life, and how do you think they'll help her in the future?

SaLiz has learned what it means to compete against others and that she will not always be #1 (she’s an only child). I mentioned earlier about her being the only one in her age group at a few local pageants. I remember one in particular, where she did an excellent job. At crowning, of course she got everything. When I commented on that, SaLiz said “of course I got everything; I was the only one there!” She was only 4! She also is learning to take winning with grace (you don’t want to gloat) and defeat with poise. My husband and I are teaching SaLiz to be confident and sure of herself; pageants have a little to do with that, but good parenting plays an even bigger role. As SaLiz begins to win money, pageants will definitely help with her college education and with traveling (she loves going places). They will also help her to handle herself admirably in whatever situation may arise.

How has your life changed since SaLiz's appearance on Toddlers and Tiaras?

Life has changed a little for us, but not much. Society and the media are more interested in the drama, but that is okay, we will remain positive because SaLiz made an impression on somebody out there! People recognize her more often. She has almost 200 fans on Facebook and she has been entered in photo contests by some of those fans. And believe it or not, SaLiz was in the February 6, 2012 issue of Reality Weekly Magazine! There were two pictures of her in her Nicki Minaj outfit! Unfortunately they did not get her name right, but it was her. I sent an email requesting they correct the name, but I haven’t heard from them. I do believe people see that there are some positive pageant families out there so that is great.

If Toddlers and Tiaras approached you again to participate on their show, would you do it?

If they were to ask us to do the show again, MY answer would lean more towards “no”. Not because we had a bad time, but because of the time constraints. However, it is not about me, it’s about my sweet baby SaLiz! She wants to do the show again. And for that reason, if they call, my answer will be yes. I think SaLiz has even more to show the world and if Toddlers and Tiaras is the way to do that, then so be it.  SaLiz was in her element while filming the show and I believe it was a wonderful experience for her.

What do you have to say to critics of child beauty pageants? How would you refute their claims that they are unhealthy or inappropriate for children?

Critics will always find something of which to be critical. Yes, there are some things about pageants that are cause for concern, but overall, pageants are a positive experience for children. When the spirit of competition is taught correctly, children learn they will not always be number one; sometimes they will be second or third or not place at all. There is no difference than if the child participated in a sport. Personally, I do not agree with some of the outfits some of the children wear, but they are not my child(ren). Those who say pageants are unhealthy for children, I disagree. Pageants are not unhealthy for children, some of the things parents allow their kids to eat or drink is unhealthy. It is ridiculous for parents to feed their children pixie sticks and give them all sorts of energy drinks and caffeine. If SaLiz needed all that stuff to compete, she wouldn’t compete. Critics are entitled to their opinions, but I think they should also allow me mine.

I was once told that every child should be able to compete in beauty pageants because any child should be able to win. What do you say to that? I personally think that's not true because there is a standard of beauty in American society, and not all kids fit perfectly into that standard. (For the record, SaLiz does - take a look at her glamour pictures!) In any case, some kids are good at art or sports, not pageant-related talents, and I think those children are better suited for other venues. What do you think - should and can all kids compete in pageants? Or do you think that some kids are talented in other ways and are better suited for other accomplishments?

I believe that all children should be able to compete in beauty pageants. The reason is simple, true beauty is on the inside, not the outside. I feel blessed that I have a child who is beautiful on the INSIDE and the outside. SaLiz is being taught that no matter how beautiful she is on the outside, if she is ugly on the inside it shows through. And truthfully, if “every kid fit perfectly” into society’s standard of beauty fake tans, flippers, overly airbrushed photos, and fake hair would not be needed.

Anything else to add?

SaLiz is a well-rounded child who is also a straight-A student, takes dance, gymnastics, and voice lessons. She plays soccer, swims, and has plans on learning how to play tennis. She enjoys doing pageants and believes she will be Miss America one day. Not only does she believe it, she believes she will be the last Miss America. When I told her there would be one after her just as there was one before her, she said “Momma, I’m going to be so good at it, they won’t want another one!” Someone said she is over-confident, I say yes she is! The pageant director even said SaLiz is the most confident 7-year old she has ever met. SaLiz knows the two things I expect of her at a pageant: 1. Have fun and 2. Do your best! Anything after that is a bonus!

Want to know more about Sarah and SaLiz? Check out SaLiz's Facebook page. I think you'll find that Sarah and SaLiz are strong, articulate, positive competitors in the pageant world who deserve to have the support of pageant fans and followers. They recognize the negativity in pageants, but move past it in order to reach their goals. They've been hurt by unjust criticism, but they don't let it act as a deterrent. They move beyond barriers and push forward to be the best that they can be. You can be sure that I'm 100% on Team SaLiz, and I think that you should be too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Madonna's New Song - I Will Give You All My Hatin'

So, Madonna has this new song "Give Me All Your Luvin'" that she'll be performing at the Super Bowl. She has at least one radio station playing it on the hour every hour, and she insists her $300 concert tickets are worth buying because you'd spend that on a purse or pair of shoes, so why not that? I think someone is terribly misguided.

Here's why I think Madonna's new song is a fail, not a win:

- Luvin' is so far off from the word "loving" that I want to send Madonna a dictionary and tell her that she's worse for proper spelling than texting. Plus, when you Google "Madonna Give Me All Your..." people are spelling Luvin' "incorrectly" as "Lovin", which really, it should be.

- This song is so conceited! I mean, the lyrics are L U V Madonna. Really? Do you have to tell us to "luv" you? Because telling me to do it doesn't mean I'm going to do so.

- It's juvenile. The video features cheerleaders and Madonna with a baby carriage. Madonna seems to be having some serious aging issues, which is evident through her young-sounding vocals and the music video. I didn't like the whole 40-something-doing-the-high-school thing when Gwen Stefani did it with the Bananas song, and I don't like it now.

- Madonna is singing like a child. There's no depth in her voice, no maturity, no nothing. You could put a ten year old in front of a karaoke machine with auto-tune and get the same result.

- Madonna utilizes M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj in her song, which is a good thing if they're there to complement a good song. However, they're the only things that are good about the song. And saying they're good is even questionable.

- Madonna has her song playing constantly on radio stations as a promotional tool. So...wait...you have to PAY radio stations to play your song? Is that really a good sign?

- The song doesn't even sound remotely current. Just saying.

- I can't stand how Madonna says "luv-in" with a gap in the middle. It doesn't sound like one word - it sounds like 'love in'. Like, put some love in that song...which clearly Madonna did not do because of how ridiculously uninspired it is.

- Madonna claims that it's worth paying $300 to see her in concert because you'd spend that on a purse or shoes. First of all, I'd get way more use out of an expensive purse or shoes than her concert. In fact, I'd probably have more fun walking around for four hours with an expensive handbag at the mall than I would watching Madonna wear ill-fitting outfits like the ones she wears in the Give Me All Your Luvin' video. Also, not everyone spends $300 on shoes, you know. I'm a big fan of the clearance racks!

What do you think of Madonna's Give Me All Your Luvin'?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hoboken to Snooki: Stay Out Of Our City!

Okay, so Hoboken didn't really tell Snooki to keep her alcoholic tendencies out of their city, but the mayor of Hoboken did decide that Snooki and J-Woww will not be allowed to film their spin-off in the bar-heavy city.

Mayor Dawn Zimmer cites the safety and quality of life in Hoboken as the reason that Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi and Jenni "J-Woww" Farley aren't allowed to film the spinoff to the MTV show that made them famous in the city. While I am surprised at the mayor's decision, she makes some good points.

Hoboken is known to be crowded (it's a city, after all!) and camera crews filming Snooki and J-Woww 24 hours a day would certainly create more traffic and make life more difficult for Hoboken residents. If you aren't aware, Hoboken has recently become a much higher-end city than it used to be, and I can see why the mayor thinks this would negatively impact the 'yuppie' atmosphere in the city.

Snooki has a retort to the mayor's anti-Jersey Shore stance. In response to Mayor Zimmer's decision, Snooki said, "She was 24 once, she's from Jersey, she was at the shore and she was doing the same exact thing we're doing. She just wasn't taped." If I were Dawn Zimmer, this would be enough to make me ensure that Snooki never films in Hoboken. Why? Well, Snooki's making a broad accusation here. Maybe Mayor Zimmer did her share of partying and drinking, but I doubt she got drunk to the point of being arrested, made out with everyone in sight and started a lot of problems for no apparent reason. I'd also be willing to bet that she did a LOT less tanning than the Jersey Shore stars. (GTL, anyone?)

Snooki also claims that her presence would be positive for Hoboken because it would bring in revenue. I don't think she's entirely wrong about this concept, but I'm not sure if her presence would bring in the kind of attention and revenue that Hoboken is looking for.

The only way I'd like to see Mayor Zimmer reconsider is if Snooki really is pregnant like rumors say she is. (Her rep denies this.) It might be interesting to see Snooki try to raise a baby in Hoboken. Seriously, though, that's a joke. If she is having a baby, that kid deserves to grow up without cameras following him or her around. Give up the filming if you're preggo, Snooki!