NEWYORK — Warning: This series may leave you breathless.
Anybody obsessed with Tina Brown or Vera Wang will want to catch Trio’s new reality series, “24w/,” a documentary-style show that follows someonearound for 24 hours, revealing the highs and lows of their typical work day (including before hair and makeup and after hair and makeup).
The series kicks off with Wang on Oct. 19, followed by Brown on Oct. 20. In addition,Damon Dash, chief executive officer of Rocawear, Roc-A-Fella Records and Roc-A-Fella Films will be featured on Oct. 21, and actor-comedian David Alan Grier will appear on Oct 22.
“We looked at Vera as someone who everyone knows her name and who she is,” said Andrew Cohen, vice president of original programming at Trio. “She’s such an icon for wedding dresses and clothes and is actively involved in the designing. But she’s also so funny and smart, and has a handsome husband and a great apartment. The idea was to pick people who you’d want to spend a day with.”
As for Brown, he explained, “People have read about her for so long, but no one has seen her from a firsthand point of view. To be a fly on the wall in her life is very fascinating.”
The segment featuring Brown begins with her early-morning workout with a personal trainer at her Sutton Place apartment and then shows her in her bathrobe serving breakfast to her husband, Harry Evans, and their daughter, Izzy. It then takes her to a taping at Bergdorf Goodman with Isaac Mizrahi, Candice Bergen and Catherine Hardwicke, director ofthe movie “Thirteen,” for her show “Topic A with Tina Brown,” lunch at Cafe des Artistes with writer Stephen Schiff to afternoon meetings with her CNBC team in Ft. Lee, N.J. Her day winds down with a dinner party at her apartment for 42 people in honor of media mogul Felix Dennis and such guests as Barry Diller and Mort Zuckerman.
Breakfast appears to be the way one catches up on the news in the Brown-Evans household. “We are newspaper freaks. That’s what brought Harry and I together,” said Brown. The couple receive 39 newspapers and 10 magazines weekly. Even her daughter is reading the New York Post. Brown said when she goes on vacation she keeps the newspapers coming, and when she arrives home, she’s 20-feet deep in newspapers.An overriding theme is how Brown is trying to adjust to her new life as a TV talk show host. She says the biggest difference is the preparation it takes to get camera-ready for TV, but she’s beginning to adjust to it.
“It’s the tools of the trade. The lipstick is like the laptop. As a print person, I like not to think about lipstick and hair. I’m getting used to that,” she says. “I’m so used to operating at the top of my game in print. I’m not at the top of my game in TV, but I’m learning,” she said.
Reached this week for comment, Brown said she hadn’t seen the finished version, but found the experience “fun.” She was persuaded by CNBC to do it. “I would normally never have done it, but CNBC asked if I would do it, and thought it’s good for the show, so I said, ‘OK,’’’ said Brown.
Asked whether she thought it was intrusive to have a camera in her apartment and at the breakfast table, Brown said, “It was so weird. Sometimes he [Harry] doesn’t pay attention and he was having breakfast, and said, ‘Did I agree to be interviewed for a reality show and she didn’t tell me about it?’”
She said she didn’t ask for anything to be cut, and everything apparently was on the record. “I signed my rights away,” she quipped.
Wang’s segment is even more frenetic, covering breakfast in her Park Avenue apartment with her husband, Arthur Becker, and their two daughters, meetings with her ad agency and licensees, designing bridal gowns, a visit to her hospitalized father and the panic that ensues when Anna Wintour, editor in chief of Vogue, and her fashion team want to come 45 minutes early for a scheduled meeting. By the time Wintour, André Leon Talley, Virginia Smith, Candy Pratts Price and Grace Coddington show up, Wang feels totally intimidated. Fortunately, Vogue seems to love it. “Grace Coddington said she loved it, and that’s good enough for me,” says Wang to her staff after the Vogue crew leaves.“It’s a very invasive thing to put yourself through,” said Wang in a telephone interview Thursday. Although she hasn’t seen the final version yet, she noted, “It’sjust a typical day in my life. I couldn’t get the cameras off, except when I was on the toilet, and we couldn’t get the cameras into the hospital or the school. But there absolutely was no editing power. Zero.”
And how did she really feel about Wintour and her team coming 45 minutes early?
“You’ve got to understand that 45 minutes for us is the equivalent of a week,” she said.
Asked why she decided to participate, Wang explained, “People have a mystique about designers. They think that we look down from on high. We’re from fashion Mount Olympus and judgmental about how people look, and we’re all about style, and our whole life is dedicated to it. But it’s about the passion for your work and trying to make a life for yourself as well,” said Wang.
What impressed Trio’s Cohen was how cooperative both women were. In most cases, a producer would be with them, as well as sometimes two camera crews. “With Vera, we mounted cameras over her desk, and with Tina, we had a camera in the front seat of her car,” he said.
It also was intriguing to see how the couples interacted with each other, Cohen said.
“It’s interesting to see how couples who have been together a long time communicate together. Tina and Harry have a shorthand,” he said.
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