“The Broadroom“, a Web show collaboration between MORE magazine and Maybelline about women in the workplace from Sex and the City scribe Candace Bushnell, premiered last night on Maybelline.com. We were at the premiere at Fred’s, the eatery inside Barney’s flasgship where Bushnell and the stars of the show, Jennie Garth (“Beverly Hills, 90210”), Jennifer Esposito (“Samantha Who?”), Talia Balsam (“Mad Men”), among others, were all expertly working the red carpet.
After about 45 minutes of meeting and greeting, MORE editor Lesley Jane Seymour took to the podium to welcome everyone and introduce Bushnell. The lady of the hour thanked the various corporate marketing departments that brought “Broadroom” into being: MORE magazine, its parent company the Meredith Corp. and Maybelline. A quick thanks to Ellen Gittelsohn, the shows director, her agent and the cast, and then viewing commenced.
Earlier in the day, we had the opportunity for a quick phone chat about the show with Bushnell and Garth, the show’s leading lady. The interview and, as always, more pictures from the event after the jump.
“Broadroom” actresses Lauren Devereux, Esposito, Garth, Mary McCann and Balsam pose with director Gittelsohn and Bushnell at the premiere last night
Right off the bat, we were interested to know how the Web show came into being.
“This came out of a lunch I had with MORE exactly a year ago,” Bushnell told FishbowlNY. “We knew we wanted to do something together, but we didn’t know what. Eventually it turned into this and we thought, ‘Let’s give it a shot!'”
Bushnell has already mastered television with some of her previous creations — most notably “Sex and the City” — but “The Broadroom” sees her venturing into the wild west of the contemporary media landscape: webisodes.
“Network TV is one experience, cable is another, but webisodes are a completely different animal,” she told FBNY. “There’s always a limited budget on TV and the budget is always paramount, but it’s much, much bigger on network and cable.”
She described the largely pared-down environment in which “Broadroom” was created.
“There was an oven fire in the original script and the producer said no,” she said. “I just wanted to burn, like, a hot dog or something, so I said, ‘how about a grill?’ It was still a no go. There was also an amusement park set that had to get cut. We had two sets in the end — a boardroom and a bathroom.”
Bushnell at last night’s “Broadroom” premiere
But the show’s lo-fi feel only enhanced the end result, Bushnell said, “It’s great. It’s like a play. It’s this nebulous place where women come together to discuss the things that impact their lives.”
As for Garth, we wanted to know how it felt to break away from the role most viewers of a certain age and experience will associate her with: that of Kelly Taylor on the original (and current) “90210.”
“I love being associated with ‘90210’ and I have a lot of great fans that identify with me and travel with me to other ventures,” Garth told FBNY. “But this is a different character, period. She’s got kids and a home and she’s the sole breadwinner for her household. A lot of the women who watched ‘90210’ are the same age as I am and can really relate to this experience.”
Back in the day, Bushnell famously described “Sex and the City”‘s Carrie Bradshaw as her alter ego. And we couldn’t help but wonder: who is her alter ego on “The Broadroom”?
“That’s a much longer discussion,” she laughed. “Carrie came very much out of my own experience. Writing this, I was really trying to put myself into other people’s heads. There are female characters, there are male characters, and I love them all.”
It’s hard not to. Though each episode is just a few minutes long, the characters speak directly to the audience, and viewers connect with them quickly. There are, of course, plugs for Maybelline. But when the show is viewed outside of a party environment heavily draped in the cosmetics company’s marketing materials, the advertising will probably be less noticeable.
In the end “The Broadroom” is a neatly packaged and delivered treat for Bushnell’s target demographic. That audience, mainly comprised of white women of a certain age and income, will surely enjoy this diamond in the rough.
MORE editor Seymour
Esposito and Garth on the red carpet
–by Greg Wasserstrom