Thursday, June 27, 2013

Humility, contrition, personal responsibility, apology

Michael Levine has been in the PR business since 1983 (his firm is called the "Oscar" of PR and has represented Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and Cameron Diaz). This expert has weighed in on how a celebrity should handle a crisis (or f-up, if you will) as big as Paula Deen's. His four tips are interesting, and pretty spot on. Here we go:
1) Respond quickly to problems: Though Deen cancelled her originally-scheduled "Today" interview, opting to record her own videos — which were much maligned for being obviously edited — Levine says she can make up for it during her Wednesday appearance. "I don’t think it was wise [to cancel], but America is basically a forgiving nation, so I think if she goes on the ‘Today’ show and confronts it, this will be a good thing for her."

2) Respond with humility: "We've already started seeing her make her apology," says Levine of the self-recorded videos in which Deen apologized “to everybody for the wrong that I’ve done,” saying she's made mistakes and calling her language "inappropriate and hurtful." But Levine says she will need to continue to appear remorseful when speaking to Lauer. "She's begun the healing process, but it's a process and you have to keep doing it again and again until you get it behind you."

3) Respond with contrition: "If you make clear that this is not who you are today, and you show some degree of sincerity about it, over time you should be fine," Levine opines, though adding changing the public's new perception of her will not happen "in an hour, day or week." Though he does believeAmerica could see Deen back on its airwaves in the course of a year or two if she appears sincerely sorry.

4) Respond with personal responsibility: Levine says one of the biggest goals of her "Today" appearance should be to own up to her actions without making excuses. "She can't belittle and blame others," he says, citing O.J. Simpson as an example of how not to address a crisis. “He responded arrogantly, slowly, and belittled and blamed others and did not do well with the public." Instead, Levine recommends Deen follow Hugh Grant's lead back in 1995, when he appeared on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" to publicly apologize for having an affair with a prostitute, famously saying, "I did a bad thing." The actor went on to have continued success.

"If you do those four things — if you go fast, humble, personally responsible with contrition, and apology, you're going to basically be OK," says Levine.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rest in peace, Lorna Tuck Colbert

When your son gives a eulogy like this, you know you've done a good job.

Stephen Colbert's mother had eleven children, mostly boys. When Stephen was 10, his father and two of his brothers were killed in a plane crash. This single mom didn't let tragedy bring her and the rest of the family down. Colbert describes a demonstrative mother who, despite a gaggle of kids, was not afraid to let her hair down around her children. "Hugs never needed a reason in our house," Colbert says. Singing, dancing and even pretending to faint on the kitchen floor were encouraged.

"She was fun," Colbert says. "We were the light of her life, and she let us know it 'til the end."

Canadian readers.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How to be on T.V.

Next Food Network Star shows just how hard being in (and staying in) the spotlight really is.

Food Network's popular reality show is a guilty pleasure for many fans of the network. It's also the most comprehensive anthology ever compiled detailing exactly what it takes to be a great on-air host. Hint: Little of it has to do with how good of a cook you may be. What's fascinating about this show is how acclaimed chefs who have had grand successes in the restaurant industry so often emerge as absolute failures when they have to deliver a 2-minute cooking segment facing a camera, while the boy next door who only knows how to make a great sandwich or grill up some steaks often emerges a winner.

Now in its ninth season, Food Network Star is still about the basics: Do you have what it takes to get your mug on T.V.? Is your story compelling, are you a good teacher, are you smooth and engaging and comfortable with the cameras? Do people like you and want you to cook in their kitchens? One by one the hosts cut the chefs until they decide on a winner, who gets their own pilot.

This season features an endearing Chicago native, Chef Lovely, whose "glam up the kitchen" style of cooking is sassy and fun. Rumor has it she stirs with jewel-encrusted spoons back home. Lovely has a passion for kids, and in her spare time can be found supporting Michelle Obama's initiative to bring better food to schools. "Sometimes we just have to step outside ourselves to make a difference," says Lovely. Go, Lovely!

Next Food Network Star airs Sunday nights. Watch full episodes online here.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Freshman Class

The Cooking Channel's new reality show is a glimpse of big dreams and the perseverance to grab hold of them.

Every once in awhile a reality show comes along that actually has something important to say. In 1995 it was The Farmer's Wife. In 2001 it was 1940s House. In 2002 it was To Be and to HaveAnd now on the unlikely little Food Network spinoff network the Cooking Channel, it's The Freshman Class.

This six-episode documentary follows a small group of students who have one thing in common: they want to be chefs. The students face various challenges. One woman is in her 40's, has raised children her whole adult life, and now dreams of having a real "career" before it's too late. Her goals, however, clash with what her husband wants. Another is a 22-year-old single mother who wants to stop pole dancing and do something her four-year-old daughter can be proud of. Another, Jared, is an Iraq veteran who was made nearly deaf in an explosion. And lost his best friend.

Jared's story is perhaps the most moving. After seeing so much death and destruction, he vowed he would just do something he loved when he got home, and that was cooking. Jared wants to open his own restaurant. The name of the place? Purple Hearts. (Watch this deleted scene where Jared talks about the explosion that took his hearing, and his best friend.) There are plenty of documentaries about war, but few that explore the aftermath of a soldier coming home. We're rooting for Jared. This is a must see.

The Freshman Class airs Mondays on the Cooking Channel. Watch the first episode here.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Former child stars on Katie Couric

Katie will interview those who have been there before about Amanda Bynes and the hardships of growing up in the spotlight. Guests include Mara Wilson (Mrs. Doubtfire and Matilda), Candace Cameron (Full House), and Jaleel White (Urkel!).

Monday afternoon, June 3. Check local listings.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The aftermath of fame: death threats, rape threats, drive-bys

The Little People's reality show made them famous. But was it worth their comfort and safety? 

Matt Roloff says although most of their interactions with the public have been overwhelming positive since he and his wife and kids first put themselves on TLC eight years ago, occasionally the Little People, Big World family has had their problems. The past several weeks though they have been receiving death threats via Facebook, disturbing phone calls from a person or persons, and creepy drive-bys to their farm.
The Roloffs with repoter Anna Canzano, who successfully
brought awareness to the seriousness of the threats.

The Roloffs said they have struggled to get the police to take the threats seriously, but at first the police would only send a patrol car out to swing by. One brave local reporter, Anna Canzano, decided to take matters into her own hands, and messaged the Facebook users herself. What she got back was a deeply disturbing threat not just against the Roloffs this time but against the governor of Oregon, the police chief, and "community volunteer" areas in Portland. The messages also called Molly Roloff "sexy" and threatened to rape her and Amy. Canzano took the new threats to the police, who now say they have "people of interest" and that computer forensic specialists and the FBI are involved. The FBI indeed confirmed they are looking into the incidents. Great job, Ms. Canzano. Watch one of her pieces on this disturbing story here.