There's a big splashy article on the cover of New York Magazine this week about the post-show afterlife of Bravo reality stars. The point, I think, of the piece is that "success" after competing on Bravo shows is not a given.
The writer, Jennifer Senior, spends a great deal of time talking to a very bitter Jay McCarroll and many many other designers and cheftestants. I can't let the article sit on stands without jumping into the fray and saying how proud we are of our shows and of everybody who competes on them. I always say that it doesn't matter if you're first eliminated or in the final episode, the mass exposure of your craft can't help but help in one form or another. I really believe that. I am not saying everybody who competes or wins is going to turn into a superstar.
But there are notable success stories out there from a galaxy of former contestants. Emmett McCarthy has a boutique on Elizabeth Street and a home shopping deal; Sam Talbot is cooking at Gwyneth Paltrow's kid's (Apple!) birthday party; Matt Lorenz is giving Nate Berkus a run for his money as Chicago's hottest interior designer; Tabatha Coffey's got people flying in from Kentucky and places she's never heard of - all for a TabsCut; Harold Dieterle's packed restaurant has gotten more coverage in the New York Times than 99 percent of the restaurants in Manhattan; Chloe Dao's Houston store has expanded and she's selling on QVC; Michael Knight has a jewelry line (!); even Clay Bowen - first one off of "Top Chef 3" told me people he never expected now want to taste his food. Not to mention Kara Janx, Kara Saun, Malan Breton, Goil, and on and on and on and on.
Senior tries to make some work-camp analogies to our productions. When they're shooting, the schedule is indeed grueling for contestants as well as the crew itself. It's a fact. It kinda sucks but it is also how it works. Sometimes it's really hot ("Chef 2" was shot in a heat wave). And it's a huge time crunch. And the contestants get their cellphones taken away and can't watch TV. And almost always, nobody gets much sleep at all. I can guarantee that - always - the crews and producers are working their asses off trying to make great shows and that the contestants are putting their best work forward under incredibly difficult constraints. I wish the article talked about how much the producers and crew sweat to death making everyone look great and take home a weekly paycheck for the privilege, not a chance for a hundred grand or to hawk a cookbook. And the shows rock as a result. By the way, I thought the article was pretty good and fair... Until I got to what I think is a slam regarding the fact that nobody on these Bravo competish shows are allowed to sex it up together.
Whaaaayt?? I THINK Senior was dissing this??? Or was making a sly comment about it? I don't know, but I feel pretty great that under our watch, you ain't allowed to "do it" with another contestant. We're not the "Real World" and we're not checking for STD's and we're just not in that game. If Tabs gets herpes from another hairstylist that I helped cast, how am I gonna sleep at night!? Design all the dresses you want, but screw on your own clock. Or sign up to be on "Temptation Island".