Back in the days of yore, when MTV was a powerhouse breaking new artists and playing videos during the day instead of 2-6 A.M. (I wrote ‘yore’ already people!), I was working on an upfront tape with my boss, Fleminator, who never wears underpants. (If I have to know you all have to know! Imagine the fun looks that info got when he came to visit me at Disney Channel…!) The head of marketing’s assistant, @jrjeffrey called to get the tape to messenger to Mr. Fancy Pants in LA for a meeting. Upfront tapes help sell advertising by showing off the best of the programming and adding some hot little figures to lure in partners.
I convinced @jrjeffrey to entrust me to FedEx the tape to Mr. Fancy Pants because Fleminator and I weren’t done with edits. He begrudging complied. The package went AWOL due to a FedEx blunder and Mr. Fancy Pants launched screaming fit heard around the world (or at least bi-coastally), causing a chain reaction that included a FAX of the air bill to prove I had written the address correctly so that @jrjeffrey didn’t get sacked.
Thus a friendship was born which only deepened when @jrjeffrey to move into the same building as me in LA when we both moved out there for other jobs. It has spanned the test of demanding bosses, dieting, an arch nemesis named Carrie (we love you Carrie!) who said she would rather kill him than lose him to Tori Amos, countless job changes, me breaking his screen door – opps, multiple moves, a shared love of George Michael, a tiki doll, creating a themesong for his dog’s bowel movements, a roadtrip that included 9 hours to prepare for seeing Bjork in concert (no, nine hours really isn’t enough especially when you book a hotel you can walk to the show from!) and one to Vegas listening only to five songs from Madonna’s Light Years all the way there and back to LA.
Without further rambling, five questions with my Follow Friday pick of the week, @jrjeffrey.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Vocation: Story Producer/Writer/Fabulist
Sign: Very Virgo
1) What is a fabulist and how can I earn that title?
Okay, the word fabulist actually means “a person who invents or relates fables” as well as a ” a teller of tales or liar.” Being related to fables, it is pronounced as such. However, I prefer to pronounce it like “fabulous,” and in turn, have come up with my own unique definition:
fabulist: anyone who observes all that is fabulous in life and shares it with others.
By this definition, you are already a fabulist.
I just always liked the word play of “fable” and “fabulous.” The origin of the storyteller goes back to the fable. I think all great stories teach a moral lesson, whether overt or subtle. The “fabulous” part adds some fun to it. Writers are observers first, and tellers second. Anyone who writes knows there is a fabulous quality to that process.
2) As a story editor of reality shows, what is an example of a scene that may have been as simple as two people making a sandwich that got turned into a huge fight with the use of music and edits:
In my experience, it is very difficult to cheat a fight in reality TV. There has to be some existing drama going on in the footage. In fact, the problem with reality TV fighting is often the opposite: how do we edit this fight down so that it makes sense to the audience & fits into the time we have for it? In real life, peoples’ fights are messy & inarticulate. They are not always on point. A good story editor/producer works with an editor to capture the essence of the fight in the clearest & most dramatic way. I would personally add to that “in an ethical way as well.”
The bottom line is that when you watch raw footage it is, for the most part, very boring. Think about watching hours upon hours of someone else’s home movies unedited. Big trip to Boring Town! Much like documentary film, the footage needs to be carefully selected & woven together to tell a cohesive & compelling story while remaining faithful to the inherent truth of what’s going on.
Often, the most manipulated scenes are comedy ones. Humor can definitely be edited together with good shots & great music. I’ll give an example from one of my favorite shows that I’ve worked on, “Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica.” I had to watch hours of Jessica Simpson training her new puppy. After watching it all, it was pretty evident that Jessica was not going to be the next “Dog Whisperer.” So, we took the most ridiculous moments of Jessica attempting to get Daisy to obey her commands, combined it with some comedic music & then cut to Nick sitting on the couch engrossed in a football game, but giving Jessica kudos for her excellent training skills. If you watched the couple hours that it all took place in, you’d be bored out of your mind. Instead we got you to laugh & enjoy it by culling the comedy of it for you.
3) As a lover of ‘ladies with piano’ (Tori Amos, Regina Spektor) who are some of the new artists you’ve fallen in love with this year?
Oh drat! I must say, I don’t know if its my laziness when it comes to sussing out new music or just a current lack of artists that are grabbing me, but I only have a limited list of newbies.
In the old-but-new category:
1- Amanda Palmer - one half of the lovely band, Dresden Dolls, has a great solo album out there. She’s an all-round artist whose performances often verge on avant garde. Her sound is unique & she loves to twitter!
2- Dolores O’Roirdan – her latest solo album may have been eclipsed by the announcement that she will be re-uniting with The Cranberries to tour. But this second solo effort is really good in my opinion. It has so much more life than the first solo album did.
3- Noush Skaugen – a bit more guitar than piano, but she did an awesome “Couch Series,” in which she covered songs by bands like Oasis & Foo Fighters. You can watch them at http://www.noushskaugen.com
4- Gossip – okay, I was way late to this party, but I dig Beth Ditto & their overall sound
5- Bat For Lashes – sort of an ethereal sound that harkens back to ’90s Alternative music
6- Florence & the Machine – I’m just starting to listen to her now & I’m having that feeling I had when I first heard Adele (although their sounds are worlds apart). She’s got an amazing voice. I missed her performance in LA, but heard she was AMAZING! Right now, she’s got me the most excited.
4) You’ve been a dog owner all your life and currently have a very adorable rescue dog, Kennedy. What advice would you give to people about selecting a rescue dog?
First off, find a good rescue shelter. Not all rescue shelters are created equal. Some well-meaning folks are in over their heads & running less than stellar facilities. Research the rescue shelters online before visiting them to make sure they don’t have complaints against them.
I adopted Kennedy from Pet Orphans in Van Nuys, CA – an amazing rescue foundation that’s been around for years and has a well-established reputation in the Los Angeles area.
I suggest visiting reputable no-kill, non-profit rescue groups over city shelters because often times they are getting their dogs from the city shelters themselves. The benefit is that the rescue shelters have trained personnel who can match you with an appropriate dog. Plus, an empty space in the rescue shelter means they can save another dog from the city shelters.
Bottom line is that cute dogs catch attention quick, but you will know intuitively if it’s the right fit. Keep an open mind. Be honest with yourself & get a dog that suits your lifestyle. For example, if you’re not an active person, don’t get a dog that requires a lot of exercise to stay calm & healthy.
Sometimes it takes a little time to find “the one,” but it is so worth it in the end. (Turns out, this last one guidleine also applies to finding a good man.)
5) Who would win in a fight Madonna VS. Angelina VS. Oprah VS. Ellen for your heart strings?
Oh wow! At least, you didn’t throw Tori in the mix. I’d never be able to decide.
The truth is that each of them are amazing women who have brought something much bigger than themselves to the table. BUT, I hate being indecisive, so I will choose.
Oprah. Mainly because she so clearly operates from an intuitive place & that has guided her to great things that have touched so many different lives. I have always been attracted to her spiritual nature. Her greatness comes from listening to that little voice inside.
Okay, I was gushing a bit there. So, let me step back & clarify that’s not to say she’s infallible. No one is. However, she has proven that staying true to your self is one of the surest paths to happiness. And to me, happiness is life’s greatest success!