The path from socialite to reality TV star isn't an easy one. A pilot rarely leads to a full series. And even if it does, there's no telling what may be required to stir up the necessary amount of drama. (See here and here for a recent example of the lengths some will go.) That certainly hasn't stopped every other member of the social set from seeking out a TV deal, of course. To get a little perspective on the socialite-reality TV madness, Douglas Marshall took a few minutes to chat with power publicist Alison Brod and socialite Emma Snowdon-Jones at last night's Solerno-sponsored screening of Robin Baker Leacock's new documentary, A Passion for Giving, at the Four Seasons.
DM: So there are a bunch of reality shows about socialites that are either on the air right now or are coming up. You're a publicist. What do you make of it all?
AB: The last seven people I talked to today have pilots in the works and they all have camera crews following them. What I think is that no one really knows who the next "housewife" or next "real" anybody is going to be. Only a handful of these shows are going to get picked up. But it's definitely the chic thing these days. Camera crews are the new Birkin bags. It's the new status symbol to say that you "have a crew." But it's who gets a show that really matters.
DM: Some people seem to think that if you take part in a reality show, it's a sign you're over. There's a show on the CW coming up that stars a popular socialite who apparently signed on thinking she could get all her friends to join in. But the producers have had to pull out all the stops to get people to appear on the show.
AB: They're pulling out all the stops because a lot of the socialites who they asked turned them down. And that's because many of them want their own show.
DM: And they don't want to play second fiddle.
AB: In the beginning, it used to be, "Oh, no, we would never want to do a reality show," and "We would never do that." But now they all want their own show.
DM: Do you think someone like Tinsley Mortimer is sort of squandering her brand by doing a show? Is it worth it in the end?
AB: I'm not sure she has much of a choice. Unless you extend yourself beyond New York—and I think Tinsley is a beautiful, lovely, terrific girl—that's the only way to create a bigger brand where you're in a position to get big sponsors and big deals. She has to go national. You cannot make enough money by keeping yourself limited to Manhattan. A reality show can take you to that national level.
AB: [Emma Snowdon-Jones appears.] This girl has wanted a reality show before she even knew how to talk.
ESJ: That's the last thing in the world I would want!
AB: Emma lies!
DM: So have you pitched a show, Emma? I imagine that if you wanted to do one, you would have tried by now.
ESJ: I don't want to do a show.
DM: But don't you love the camera?
ESJ: I do love the camera. But video manipulates and they can edit it to make you look one way or another.
DM: So, Alison, do you have any plans to appear on a show?
AB: No, I don't.
DM: You wouldn't do a reality show?
AB: I'm the PR girl. I'm the behind-the-scenes person. But I want all my clients and friends to become famous so they can take me to the top with them.