Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Amanda Coming Back to Melrose Place

I can't say that I'm surprised to hear that Heather Locklear will be coming to the new Melrose Place. Her first appearance will be on the November 17th episode.

I still haven't watched last week's episode....but this news that the original bad girl will be back has me intrigued.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Season Premiere of Melrose Place Delivers the Drama

I have so many other things that I should be doing, but after watching the season premiere of the new Melrose Place last week, I feel compelled to write up a little update. In part, I'm doing it for Peter Goldmacher, author of the 1990s-era Melrose Update. Although he refuses to watch the new show, he did ask me how I liked the season premiere. Who knows, maybe I can get Peter hooked on the new show via blogged updates. My head is swimming as I think of all of the post-modern implications of this.

So, here goes....this is my very abbreviated 2009-style Melrose Update. Please keep in mind that I wasn't planning to write a recap; so this is very bare-bones:

Season Premiere September 8, 2009 on the CW

I was out last Tuesday night, but as soon as I got home I fired up the TiVo to check out the new Melrose Place.

The opening scene was edgier and more glamorous than the old MP. It was night-time in L.A., with shots of clubs, restaurants, kissing and groping, and someone texting. We see one of the new characters (Lauren) at the hospital where she works. Then there's a shot of the Melrose Place sign. This time it looks dark and ominous.

Sassy Sydney is back and one of her first lines is "I wish you'd known me when I first moved here...We were like a family."

Syd'd definitely embellishing her past at MP just a bit here.... Her relationships with the denizens of the famous apartment complex were always fraught with drama.

She continues, "Now everyone's abandoned me."

Well....blackmail, affairs, backstabbing, and working as a prostitute don't always endear you to others....

So, Syd's moved back to MP. She's the landlady and she has some sort of relationship with a guy named David (more on him in a minute).

Jonah and Riley Brush Their Teeth

Flash forward to the next day maybe. The geeky grad student from Greek/high school teacher from Swingtown is hanging out with another very familiar face from youth-oriented TV (also Greek maybe?). The couple is hanging out in their apartment and the dude shows a romantic video that he made in honor of their 5th anniversary. Right after he pops the question we hear screams.

Sydney--we hardly knew you

Sydney is found dead and floating in the pool.

This all happens in the first 8 minutes of the episode....so we know right away that the new Melrose Place will be all about the drama and intrigue.

We learn that Syd was stabbed and collapsed into the pool. Ashley Simpson appears on the scene and is freaking out. The police question David. We see action at the hospital.

Then, Michael Mancini (who, by the way, was also recently on Greek as the senator/unfaithful dad of one the sorority sisters) drives up in a tricked out Mercedes. His son David confronts him, asking him why he never told him that he lived at Melrose Place. We then hear talk about how Michael helped Syd fake her death 11 years prior (did this really happen? I stopped watching the original, so I don't know).

Michael then goes on to say to David, "When your mother died...." What! Who's David's mother?" He also talked about taking David in.

Then we hear another perplexing statement, with David saying, "You spent 13 years pretending I didn't exist."

So, I'm really really confused about a few things:

1) Who is David's mother?
2) When was David born?
3) When did Michael learn of David's existence?
4) When did Michael take David in?
5) How old is David?

David and Michael Mancini

The original MP started in 1992 and went off the air in 1999 and during that time I was never aware of Michael having a son. His ex-wife Jane had a baby towards the end of the series; but that child would only be around 10 years old now (if all this is taking place in real time).

OK...then we arrive at a party scene. There's a publicist lady and the guy who proposed to his girlfriend right before Syd was discovered dead. His name is Jonah and he's a filmmaker.

Then we're back at the hospital and a patient's son asks out Dr. Lauren.

Then we're back at the Bollywood-themed party and Jonah is there to film it. The publicist encourages Jonah to pitch his personal film project idea to the party host. Jonah takes her advice and the host is outraged that he'd approach him at his daughter's birthday party with a film pitch.

Next we're at a restaurant and David reveals that he blacked out the night that Syd died.

Michael has a flashback involving Syd referencing her "accident" 11 years ago. Then we hear him say that he's happily married (hard to believe).

Dr. Lauren goes on a date with Toby who she met at the hospital. He offers to pay her $5000 for her school tuition if she comes back to his hotel room.

Back at the Bollywood party Jonah manages to catch the film mogul on tape making out with another woman (turns out to be his daughter's best friend). Owing to this embarrassing incident, the film mogul offers to pay off Jonah and keeps upping the ante until finally he's agreed to give him a $100K deal to write a feature film.

At Melrose Place Jonah tells his girlfriend Riley about the film mogul's offer. He tells her that he turned down the hush money. After hearing this, she finally accepts his marriage proposal.

We then see a guy stealing a painting off a wall somewhere (I have no idea what that was all about...and can't keep all the characters straight yet).

Next we get a scene of Michael in bed being spooned by a kid and a lady. Ah, familial bliss....

Ashley Simpson (a red-head like Syd) steals Syd's photo from a makeshift memorial at MP. Is this a portent of her future obsession with Syd?

In a twist that I didn't see coming, Dr. Lauren gets tarted up and heads over to her future benefactor's "Executive Suite" for a presumably paid rendezvous.

Then we see the publicist lady making out with a woman.

Next there's a scene of a man burning bloody items.

So, if you wanted drama from the new Melrose Place you got it. I'll definitely keep watching, if nothing else to find out more about David Mancini's mysterious past and to learn if Ashley Simpson decides to go all Single White Female, reinventing herself as dead Syd. Should be fun!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Return of Melrose Place, But Not of the Melrose Update

The Original Cast of Melrose Place in 1992

Tonight the brand-new Melrose Place premieres on the CW at 9pm and my TiVo is all geared up to record the first episode. Since I'd watched the original MP pretty religiously it was a given that I would check out the new version to see how it compared. Yet, I didn't actually get excited about it until I read a preview in the Wall Street Journal of all places. Dorothy Rabinowitz's piece, "It's the Place to Be," managed to stir up some serious nostalgia for the show. She writes:

"They live in the romantic huddle of apartments that could pass for the dream home base of every young single out to build a life and career--a nest, whether covered by moon glow, the sun, or those occasionally sinister-looking shadows, that remains constant in its promise of excitement."

Although this rose-colored glasses description of post-college life could only apply to the old Melrose Place for a very short period during the first season, it made me a wee bit wistful about the early 1990s.

When the original Melrose Place premiered in 1992 I was in my 20s working at an advertising agency in San Francisco. Part of the show's appeal was that it was an attempt to portray my generation and the industry in which I was working. It was fun to bitch and moan about how ridiculous the people on the show were and how inaccurate their depiction of the ad biz was.

So, as these early 1990s memories starting swirling in my head, I remembered that one of the most awesome things about the original Melrose Place was the fan culture surrounding it. People regularly got together for MP viewing parties and I remember watching at home and calling friends to recap during commercial breaks.

And then I discovered "the Melrose Update." Written by two Oracle co-workers, this emailed episode summary hilariously lambasted the show week after week. Starting out as a quick recap for a friend who'd missed an episode, the update grew and grew and eventually had thousands of subscribers. The "Melrose Update" became its own pop culture phenomenon, with many subscribers admitting that they preferred the updates to the show itself.

In 2009, where everyone is a blogger/critic, it's almost hard to remember those quaint times in the mid-1990s when someone could become famous because of the viral spread of emailed musings. So, as I got myself ready for the Melrose Place premiere tonight I had the nagging urge to find out what ever became of the guys behind the Melrose Place Update.

I tracked down Peter Goldmacher (he shared writing duties on the update with his friend Keith and eventually had primarily responsibility for it) to get his take on all of the Melrose Place nostalgia and find out if he's planning to tune in. Although he spent a good five years (1993-1998) chronicling the goings on of the denizens of MP, Peter said that he will not watch the new show.

Owing to life changes and lack of interest, Peter prefers to keep MP in the past. He said, "I'm almost 40...I'm not the demographic anymore." He also mentioned that he only has about 20 minutes a night where he can watch TV, so he's more selective about the programs he chooses, preferring Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to other options. He added, "my wife dominates our DVR."

Peter also told me that he's perplexed by the resurrection of TV shows from the 1990s, saying that he is not nostalgic for that era. He said, "it's not old....it's not retro," adding that it was a "lost decade." He said, "I think it's too current to get nostalgic." Although he rhetorically asked me if I was nostalgic about my 20s, I have to admit that I definitely am. I drove by my first San Francisco apartment yesterday, keep thinking about how weird it was that I was at Burning Man in 1993, and laugh about the early days of the Internet and the length of my very first work email address (Waits*=20Jennifer=40CHGomsm#%forwarder@fcb.geis.com).

I think Peter is more nostalgic than he thinks, as he admitted to me that he has a book compiling all of his Melrose Updates that he'll occasionally look through. He said, "It was a point in time" and was "great while it lasted." He also pointed out that it's funny to read the old Updates, but that they really can't stand on their own today, saying, "it was funny because of the time...and in tandem with the show."

He added that he's dubious about the new Melrose Place, saying that it's a "too thinly veiled attempt....to retread old ideas." When I told him that Sydney would be back as the landlady and that Ashley Simpson was in the cast he said, "there you go!"

Like me, Peter is now a parent and added that this also changes what he can watch on TV. He said, "I'm really into penguins...Madagascar."

Fans of Peter's old Melrose Update will be happy to know that he hasn't lost his snarky sense of humor. He told me, "There's no TV show that's worth watching," something that could easily have come from one of his old updates.

Sydney Andrews at the center of the old Melrose Place

I asked Peter if it's weird to think about the fact that he was ahead of his time as far as being an Internet TV critic goes. He joked, "I was the Internet!" He added, "I had content before content was king...before websites." Peter said, "talk about timing" and went on to speculate that if it had been a different time he may have ended up with syndication deals writing for other websites. However, even in that limited world of the early days of the Internet he had over 3000 direct subscribers (not to mention those who got forwarded copies). He said, "I was always amazed....by how pervasive [the Update] was" and told me that people continue to bring up the Melrose Update even today, telling me that he probably gets asked about it once a month.

Since we won't be graced with new Melrose Updates from Peter, here's a look back at a choice tidbit from a 1995 update to get you in the mood for the new series:

"This week's show opens with Michael enjoying the fourth movement of Beethoven's Ninth symphony as Kimberly slips deeper and deeper into the clutches of permanent sleep. But before we get to Schiller's 'Ode to Joy,' Syd interrupts this masterful scene and discovers Michael's timely forgetfulness of his Hippocratic oath. Busted, Michael works feverishly to revive his loving wife and is fully disappointed when he is able to do so. In the heat of moment, Syd takes Kimberly's suicide note and slips it into her jacket...Kimberly decides she wants to frame Michael and enlists Syd's aid..."

I'll be watching tonight, looking for references to the Melrose of old. I'm glad to hear Michael Mancini will be back. He was the sole original character who remained with the old MP for its entire run and he was sure a sleaze-ball. I wonder what else will be in store. Will someone get thrown in the swimming pool? Does D&D Advertising still exist? What's up with this new adult son of Michael Mancini and who's the mother? And, as Peter might ask, does anyone else besides me in Generation X still care?

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

2008 YPulse National Mashup Recap

Last week's 2nd annual YPulse National Mashup was lots of fun, if the schwag pictured above is any indication. Lots of fun folks, pop culture tidbits, and fantastic discussions. There was a ton to distill and I've already written two bite-sized summaries on Spinning Indie about Teen Music Trends and the Go-Gos and MC Hammer, Chess and Hip Hop.

Similar to last year's Mashup, I was struck by the rapid changes in technology over the course of a year. During the conference, attendees were glued to laptops, Blackberries, and iPhones. Secondary conversations took place on Twitter (as Mortified's Dave Nadelburg pointed out, the youthful act of "passing notes is now done through Twitter"), in the YPulse chat room on Meebo, and through blog comments. I spied one young attendee toggling between LinkedIn, Flickr, and Twitter as he listened to a panelist and indeed, we heard much about all of these social networking tools.

In terms of mobile, the speaker from Blyk pointed out that people say they'd rather leave their wallet at home than their mobile phone and Mei Lin Ng from mig33 said that for many young people, first access to the Internet and email has been via mobile devices. Jacqueline Lane from research group Teen Eyes told us that teens typically send between 50 and 70 text messages a day.

Many have summarized this conference already, so I'm just going to focus this post on my favorite tidbits from the Mashup.

1) American Teen is Required Viewing

American Teen: Attendees were able to catch the premiere of this amazing documentary about teens at an Indiana high school. It was artfully done and did a great job of capturing how teen life today is different from the days before mobile phones, digital cameras and the Internet. Harassment takes on a whole new level with these tools. Most of the stars of the film were on hand to answer questions afterwards, although the break-out star Hannah was unfortunately unable to attend.

2) 100 Young Americans is Required Reading

100 Young Americans: The author of the book 100 Young Americans, Michael Franzini, gave an excellent presentation about his project of interviewing 100 young people from all over the country. The book attempted to provide portraits of all types of teens and young adults, encompassing a wide range of subcultures. Franzini said that there is "an unprecedented lack of understanding of teens by parents and young adults" and blames it on the "biggest generation gap in 50 years," which he says is mainly due to technology.

3) Technology Has Changed Teen/Parent Communication

Because of technology, teens and parents have both more ways to communicate with each other AND more buffers and barriers to communication. Speakers at the YPulse Mashup addressed both sides of this issue.

John Poisson, CEO of Tiny Pictures talked about Radar, a real-time photo sharing service. He mentioned that in their community, young people are sharing photos with family members and parents and that some send parents "photo alibis" when they are away from home. Pretty ingenuous. Similarly, during the "Casual Games" panel, Min Kim of Nexon said that in Korea parents often play online games using their kids' accounts while they're in school in order to help get them to the next level, thereby making the kids "heroes" to their school pals. Others added that many kids and parents play online games to bridge the miles and communicate when a parent is out of town.

It was a bit more controversial when Stephen Saiz from Disney's mobile division said that young people "don't want to communicate with parents directly." I hope he didn't really mean that kids don't want to talk to their own parents. I've certainly heard before that kids do not want to talk to other kids' parents. It's been pointed out that back in the day one had to deal with the gatekeeper parent on the phone, but that now kids are able to bypass that by texting, IMing, or by calling on personal cell phones.

Michael Franzini also acknowledged that there is less parental control today than during Generation X's childhood (he mentioned the example of Gen Xers having to call friends on their parent's landlines, so parents were more aware of friends, etc.). Stemming from this, he said there is more difficulty today with teen/parent communication and based on his presentation, that may in large part be due to technology.

Nikol Hasler and Guy Clark discussed their humor-based "Midwest Teen Sex Show, " an online show where teens can get information about sex and sexuality. They've received very positive feedback from parents and said that that their online episodes can be conversation starters for parents and teens who typically have a hard time discussing issues surrounding sexuality. As with all of these examples, there's an important reminder for parents to not fear new technology. As Linda Burch from Common Sense Media argued during the "Cyberbullying" panel, parents really need to "...understand...kids' media and embrace it."

4) Online World IS the World for Teens

Don't underestimate teens' online experiences, as they are an integral part of their lives. They've grown up with technology and take it for granted. Adults may think about "going online," but for teens, the online world is just as real as the offline world. Online boyfriends and girlfriends are just as real as offline love interests for many. During the fabulous "Are Girls the New Geeks" panel, Ashley Qualls of Whateverlife addressed this generational difference when she pointed out that the term "geek is almost outdated..." For older folks computer whizzes may have been ostracized, but today, being tech savvy is normal and necessary. According to Ashley, "the Internet is our new lives."

5) Teens may not be Watching TV on TV, But It's Still TV

I participated in a great user-generated lunchtime discussion about television. Among the many interesting folks at my table were staff from BBC, Disney, the Kaiser Family Foundation, Saatchi and Saatchi Advertising, and Youth Intelligence. Someone at the table mentioned that teens like to say that they don't own a television or watch TV, but at the same time they have no qualms about viewing TV on iTunes. This may be part of the reason why TV execs are so perplexed by the amazing popularity and buzz around the low-rated "Gossip Girl."

At the table we talked about the relationship between online and offline TV content, including examples of shows like "Quarterlife," which generated buzz online and was then moved to network television, only to fail miserably (and now is an online community). Additionally, there have been online shows like Mark Burnett's reality show "Gold Rush" and the upcoming ABC Family documentary series Plain White T's Meet Me in California (premiering July 30th). Network TV shows are also creating vibrant online communities, such as the ABC Family show "Greek" and its "Virtual Rush" site full of contests and social networking tools. People at the table agreed that "Lost" has one of the best companion sites.

6) MTV is Still Relevant -- Especially Come Election Time

It was great to hear from MTV and to be reminded that they've been very involved in elections and social causes for years and years. According to Ian Rowe of MTV, "Since 1992...we've played a huge role...demonstrating that young people...can be a force [in elections]." Their goal this year is to get 30 million young people to vote. Right now they have a project called Street Team '08, where they've hired 51 citizen journalists from all over the country to cover local and national issues relevant to young people in every state.

Monday, July 21, 2008

BlogHer, Michelin Man and KY

I spent Friday and Saturday at the massive BlogHer conference in San Francisco, where 1000 folks (overwhelmingly gals) met to swap tales of life in the blog-o-sphere. I'd been too intimidated to attend BlogHer in the past, as I didn't have a regular blog of my own until recently and I'd always imagined that it was a a hipster, early-adopter, geeky (in a good way) scene full of those ChickClick pioneer-types who'd come over to the web from the indie 'zine world.

Well, I was correct about one thing---these ladies are wired. In one session that I attended, a show of hands revealed that the majority had blogs and were already monetizing them in some way. One presenter asked how many in the audience used Twitter and the vast majority (maybe 80%) raised their hands.

But, the crowd wasn't nearly as edgy as I'd expected because I'd neglected to realize that blogs are everywhere. Women all over the country are blogging like mad about their their lives, parenting, food, spirituality (I met 3 women with blogs in this topic area), poetry, fashion, romance, and pop culture. The women who I met personally at BlogHer were writing about the topics that I just listed, but in the sessions I heard from women writing about business, politics, entertainment, the law, and many other topics.

So, it should be no surprise, really, that the advertisers were out in full force, trying to attract the attention of the ladies who blog (many of them mamas). On Saturday we heard a very obvious pitch from a Michelin representative before the morning keynote. Sesame Street hosted a suite that was filled with free merch, puppets in conversation, and character cupcakes. And, at the closing progressive cocktail party at Macy's, attendees milled about the purse section while drinking Villa Sandi Prosecco (yes, it was delicious!), spied upon shoes while chowing on ceviche and sipping Starbucks, and lingered in the lingerie department while grabbing free K-Y samples.

The stuff that I blog about is much more niche (college radio & indie music on Spinning Indie and music reviews by my 2-year-old on DJ B's Library Tour), so I spent much of the conference wondering if there were others there who blogged about my specific topic areas, since the majority of the folks who I met said that they wrote either personal blogs or parenting blogs.

Despite not really finding my "people" at BlogHer, I did learn a ton during the 2 days. I picked up tips on technology (like Kirtsy, sort of a Digg for gals), learned about affiliate programs and advertising, got the low down on book deals and agents, picked up very helpful advice about how to improve one's blog from blogging guru Elise Bauer, and I heard some amazing, inspirational stories from entrepreneurial women and superstar bloggers like Heather Armstrong and Stephanie Klein.

I also caught a bit of that early DIY spirit of BlogHer during the "Swap Meet" on Saturday, where blogger ladies sold handmade items like T-shirts, knit sweaters, and awesome bear art.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Teen TV Premieres

Most of my writing these days is focused on radio and music for my SpinningIndie blog, but I am still obsessed with youth culture. I couldn't help myself and did a guest post on YPulse today about all the great teen TV premieres this week, including "Greek," "High School Confidential," and "America's Prom Queen." Did you watch?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ypulse Mashup 2007 Post 2: Teens are social while in isolation

Throughout the Ypulse Mashup I was feeling older and older. I use email, which definitely marks me as an adult. It became clear that as an adult I am communicating with the world quite differently than teens. We heard over and over again that young people rarely use email and the primary use for email is to communicate with adults and business people. Teens may say that they "emailed" a friend, when in fact they mean that they communicated through a MySpace or Facebook page because they connect with these social networking websites throughout their days.

Cell phones also seem to be more of a lifeline for teens than they are for me and many of my GenX cohorts. 18-year-old teen entrepreneur Aseem Badshah of Scriptovia.com said that he has his phone with him at all times and even made a cuddling gesture while telling the crowd that he sleeps with it and brings it into the bathroom when he showers. He made an interesting point about youth, saying "we like to be social when we're in isolation."

This desire to be always-connected is striking to me about our culture in 2007. It wasn't all that long ago that people walked down the street without phones or iPods, and, yet, today, it seems rare to see people who are walking/driving/waiting alone without some form of technology to connect them or entertain them. Even groups of young people often walk down the street while each is on their own separate phone.