Spoiled Brat

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Postby beftek » Fri Aug 22, 2003 3:41 pm

Someone sent me this article:

Piggybacking on reality

By Elysa Gardner, USA TODAY

Don't envy Jessica Simpson because she's young and pretty and is a multiplatinum-selling recording star. Envy her because Nick Lachey, her fellow pop singer and husband since October, always remembers to leave the toilet seat down after using the bathroom.

"Nick is amazing around the house," Simpson gushes. "He has done his own laundry and ironed his shirts since he was in third grade. Whereas I'm totally spoiled my mom used to make my bed, and I got used to staying in hotels where I could just leave my towels on the floor and know that a maid would bring fresh ones. So the usual male/female roles are reversed with us."

Fans will be able to see that reversal up close Tuesday night (10:30 ET/PT), when Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica premieres on MTV. The series arrives the same day as Simpson's new album, In This Skin, and three weeks before Lachey, a member of the boy band 98 Degrees, releases his self-titled solo debut. The show will intimately chronicle the couple's lives during their first year of marriage.

How intimately? According to Simpson, she and Lachey have been filmed by television crews and cameras installed in their home "pretty much every day, from when we wake up till we go to sleep." Only their bedroom and bathrooms are off limits, she says "unless something funny happens there that we could use."

Newlyweds might have been dismissed as a recipe for domestic disaster had its formula not already yielded the most successful family-based series of the new millennium: MTV's own The Osbournes. Simpson says her show will be different: "There won't be as many bleeps though it's hard never to say a cuss word. I've told Nick to tone it down."

But the basic premise driving The Osbournes that viewers enjoy watching noted personalities confront the same issues faced by the regular folks featured on other reality-based TV programs seems to have struck a chord with artists and network executives.

In addition to Newlyweds, the upcoming season includes two new sitcoms in which hip-hop stars play characters whose lives reflect their own sensibilities and concerns. In Eve, which makes its debut Sept. 15 on UPN, rapper Eve is cast as a single fashion designer who, she says, "feels the same way I do. I'm happy with my career, but everybody's looking for love."

Romeo!, which premieres Sept. 13 on Nickelodeon, co-stars performer/entrepreneur Master P and his son, 13-year-old rapper Romeo, as a single dad working in the music biz and his child, who harbors his own dreams of fame.

"We're bringing some real-life experience to the show," says Master P, also the series' co-creator and executive producer. Nickelodeon general manager Cyma Zarghami says that although Romeo and P differ from their characters, "the dynamic between them as father and son helps make the show special."

Other rappers with TV projects include Snoop Dogg, whose variety series Doggy Fizzle Televizzle premiered on MTV in June, and Bow Wow, who plans to play a boarding school student from the inner city in a sitcom being developed for the WB. "I'm really going to be playing myself, only with no music," Bow Wow says.

Pop stars have, of course, enjoyed a synergistic relationship with television for decades, dating back to the series that made stars of Ricky Nelson, The Monkees and the Partridge Family. Will Smith, who is co-executive producer of UPN's new All of Us, launched a successful movie career after parlaying his rap persona into the hit '90s sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, and country star Reba McEntire's TV vehicle, Reba, is now entering its third season as WB's top-rated comedy.

But the triumph of The Osbournes, coupled with the general popularity of reality TV shows, seems to have heralded a new willingness among celebs to reveal aspects of their private lives on the small screen. Lois Curren, executive vice president of series and movie development for MTV, says Simpson, Lachey and singer/actress Brandy, a former teen TV star whose pregnancy was documented by the network last year, are embracing a growing trend.

"Music television opened up this whole new dimension of accessibility, and the walls just keep getting torn down more and more," Curren says. "It's about making extraordinary people a little more ordinary, so viewers can almost reach out and touch them. Watching The Osbournes, they see that Ozzy has to take out the trash, and Sharon runs the vacuum cleaner before she gets made up and looks gorgeous. And Kelly and Jack fight with their parents but also love them. It's basic human emotion."

The chance to capture such emotion lured Lachey, who concedes he had some initial doubts about Newlyweds. "I'm a fairly private person, but this is a unique opportunity for Jessica and me to show people that while our careers may be different, at the end of the day, we're normal people."

Curren maintains that MTV is "sensitive to the privacy" of its famous subjects. "It's a collaborative effort, and we would never air anything that would make them uncomfortable. But knock wood we always seem to have been on the same page."

Indeed, Simpson says, "you don't really want to edit yourself. The moment when you think a fight's going to start, or you're going to do something stupid or embarrassing, is when you really want the cameras there. Because that's when you're going to get great TV and ratings."

Cultural critic Mark Crispin Miller isn't surprised that someone belonging to Simpson's generation, which came of age with proto-reality fare such as MTV's The Real World, would espouse this philosophy. "That show forged a widespread sensibility," Miller says. "Now kids live in a universe where they feel they are always on display, and that if people aren't paying attention to them, they don't really exist."

That feeling is compounded for young artists who are trying to establish themselves in a culture in which fame seems increasingly ephemeral, and sustaining it can require mastering multiple media. "If people aren't selling as many CDs as they used to for various reasons, they need to be more creative about how they get their names and their music out there," Blender's Craig Marks says.

Tom Calderone, executive vice president of music and talent development for MTV and MTV2, concurs. "With the amount of visual and sonic assault people get daily from television, radio and the Internet, it's getting tougher for everyone to get enough exposure. So you have to, as they said in Spinal Tap, go one louder. And if that means doing a reality show or a big weekend stunt on MTV, you do it."

Eve and Bow Wow both acknowledge that part of their inspiration for launching TV shows was the belief that, in Bow Wow's words, "you can't just rely on your music career, because you never know when everything can suddenly stop." Eve adds that hip-hop careers "aren't always long, so it's good to be able to branch out into other things."

Yet some observers worry that in their efforts not to fade in the public's eyes, these young stars may court overexposure. "There seems to be this operating notion that the more coverage you get, the better off you are," says former Spin editor Alan Light, whose new music magazine, Tracks, premieres in November. "But I think you can burn out any kind of interest or allure by being so omnipresent.

"Think of a band like Led Zeppelin. They were never on television or in newspapers. You couldn't see them on their album covers. And as a result, 30 years later, they still have this unassailable cool and mystique because they never blew that mystique. You couldn't imagine a model like that now."

Granted, some contemporary celebrities expose themselves with more discretion than others. "You're probably not going to see A-list stars with TV camera crews greeting them when they come out of the bathroom," Marks says.

Still, in a world where approachability is fast surpassing glamour as a showbiz virtue, and being on TV is seen as a more desirable and attainable goal than ever, the love affair between pop stars and reality TV hardly seems a mismatch.

"Stardom has become all about providing people with an idealizing mirror of themselves," Miller says. "It used to be that stars had something we admired and wished for. Now rock musicians are packaged as reflections of their audience, and TV celebrity is mostly about vicarious success, where you look at someone on the screen and say, 'I'm him' or 'She's me.' The media is imbued with fake populism."

Simpson, predictably, has a different perspective. "I have to give back what's been given to me," she says. "People would die to be in my shoes, so I feel this huge burden, or opportunity, to better someone else's life. I want to be an inspiration. I think that's what being a celebrity is about."

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Postby aprilbaby » Fri Aug 22, 2003 8:38 pm

beftek wrote: "I got used to staying in hotels where I could just leave my towels on the floor and know that a maid would bring fresh ones. So the usual male/female roles are reversed with us."

How Very Christian of Jessica! it's just the lowly maid who's gonna clean it up.

Yeah right! Everyone wouldn't leave towels all over there hotel room! Everyones knows that poor woman works hard enough as it is plus probably has to go home to a family! Everyone knows maids have it hard enough, therefore you shouldn't make as much of a mess as possible. Plus they get paid squat! Jess if you're reading this, please try to think about others!

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