While it was a bit more subdued than usual at Michael’s today with some of the glitterati off to Cannes and a few others up in Greenwich watching Prince Harry play polo (our invite must have gotten lost in the mail), the usual mix of editors (Anne Fulenwider, Lucy Danziger) and media moguls (David Zinczenko) were in full power lunch mode celebrating each other’s successes and hatching their next big deals.
I was joined today by Kimberly Cherebin and Alaska Gedeon, stars of the new docu-series Newlyweds: The First Year, which premiered May 6 on Bravo. Also in attendance were the network’s PR marvels, Jennifer Geisser and Julia Nietsch, as well as the happy couple’s manager, Camille White Stern. The show is a hit, having snagged over 1 million viewers for the first episode. With Kimberly stuck in traffic en route from the studio where she was styling Justine Skye‘s new video, I got a chance to chat with Alaska first. I asked him what in the world would possess anyone to allow cameras to follow them during their entire first year of marriage. He told me he’d been absolutely opposed to doing the show at first, and Kimberly asked him “about six or seven times” before he finally agreed. Looking back on the experience (shooting wrapped earlier this year), Alaska said having the details of your daily life play out for all the world to see “forces you to raise the standard of who you are: how you treat others and especially how you treat your wife.” He then added brightly, “It’s like a mirror and like therapy.” So did he like everything he saw reflected back at him? “I just don’t think I’m that big of a jerk,” he said with a laugh. (After meeting him, I’m inclined to agree). “My sarcasm doesn’t always read well on camera.” He also told me that it wasn’t until after he viewed the scene where he and Kimberly discussed their bi-coastal marriage that he realized just how “heartbroken” Kimberly was at the prospect of their separation.
When Kimberly arrived, I asked her why she was so enthusiastic about doing the show, and she admitted that she didn’t exactly know what she was getting into. “At first, I thought it was one of those David Tutera>-type ‘planning your wedding’ shows, and I thought that would be fun, but it was nothing like that,” she explained. Once she did understand that she and Alaska would be agreeing to 10-hour shooting days over the course of year and be required to use their ‘Couples’ Cam’ on each other to capture intimate moments (not that kind, silly), she remained undaunted. “It seems like when you see marriages on TV you either see these fairy tales or something pretty terrible. We have really ‘extreme’ careers, and this was a chance to show how you balance it all.”
The show’s use of the ‘Couple Cam’ when the production crew isn’t there gave Kimberly and Alaska some feeling of control during production. At one point early in filming when they got “into a slight scuffle,” they turned them off and dealt with real life off camera. “I was glad we could do that,” recalls Alaska. Still, he maintains, most of the important milestones of the couples’ first year were captured on camera for the show.
>Unlike a lot of reality show wannabes Kimberly, 29, and Alaska, 30, are already well established in successful, high-profile careers. He runs the talent development agency A&R (Artist and Repertoire) and helms Blak Book Management which represents stars like Grammy winner Bridget Kelly. Kim is a stylist whose clients include Mary J. Blige (“She has exquisite taste”) and Usher. Both of them told me they have no desire to have a career in front of the camera, which seems odd for two people who signed on to be part of Bravo’s highly watched fishbowl of a network. “[Being on the show] has a value in that it raises our profiles for what we do,” explained Alaska. It seems he was bitten by the showbiz bug a few years back when he was modeling, a little fact he neglected to tell Kimberly about. She discovered he’d been a model when she saw him on television in an ad for Adidas. “I thought, ‘He’s a liar!'” Kimberly said with a laugh. Alaska chimed in and told me, “She also thought I was gay!”
What’s a few secrets betwen lovers? >The couple, who look like they’re barely out of college, met at Lotus on the dance floor where they spent three successive weekends dancing with each other before going their separate ways when the music stopped. They were introduced by mutual friends a short time after they first encountered each other at the club. After that, they spent eight weeks virtually glued to each other. One night, recalls Alaska, “I got a little tipsy and kissed her, and she kissed me back! I thought I had found ‘the one.'” Oh, to be young and in love!
Both Alaska and Kimberly agree that the show’s depiction of the first year of their married life is “very, very close” to the real thing. In listening to the couple recount their feelings about doing the show, it appeared as if they’d traded opinions by the time filming wrapped. “They didn’t tell us what to do or say. It’s the real thing,” said Alaska. “Bravo’s cameras invaded our home but were still very respectful.” For Kimberly, the experience was “exhilarating at first, but after a couple of weeks it got annoying.”
While both Kimberly and Alaska are outspoken about what they want out of life and have no problem saying what they feel, so far it’s Kimberly who has taken a lot of heat. In the first episode, she told her bridesmaids to slim down before the wedding, but says she still has no regrets. “I stand behind that,” she told me. “I told them, ‘When I met you, you were all 10 pounds lighter.’ I wanted my day to be perfect.” Her supportive hubby chimed in, “Who doesn’t want to lose 10 pounds?”
For his part, Alaska has already learned the importance of always being camera ready. During a recent visit to H&M to buy underwear, he was approached by two enthusiastic fans who wanted to give him a hug. “I was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses — my every day clothes and they still recognized me and asked me if I was on television.” (Yes, they got their hug) Kimberly isn’t looking to step into the spotlight any time soon. The last time she was styling a client on the red carpet at this week’s ABT benefit, a reporter asked her about her own outfit much to her surprise. “I was just there to work!” she told me. “I’m more of a behind the scenes person.” For now.
Since the title of the show is Newlyweds: The First Year, it’s safe to assume that the couples on the show this season will not be back if the docu-series is renewed for a second season. So there won’t be Newlyweds: Our First Baby? Absolutely not, says Kimberly. “We are really concentrating on our careers now. Our parents keep talking about babies, and I’m not even 30 yet! I want to establish my career first before I think about that.” We’ll just have to wait and see if those persuasive powers that be at Bravo (Andy Cohen, we mean you!) will want to talk the couple into hanging around (a spinoff perhaps?). Stay tuned.
Here’s the rundown on today’s crowd:
1. Marie Claire editrix Anne Fulenwider, looking stunning in a burgundy Lanvin sheath, hosting a lunch for Jessica Buchanan, whose new book Impossible Odds chronicles her experience being held hostage by Somali pirates as they roamed the desert (Can you imagine?) and is excerpted in the magazine’s June issue. Jessica has been recounting her harrowing tale all over town these days having appeared on 60 Minutes this week and Charlie Rose just last night. Also in attendance: MC‘s executive editor Riza Cruz, Abigail Pesta, Buchanan’s literary manager Sharlene Martin, Atria publisher Judith Curr, The New York Times‘ Laura Holson, MSNBC’s Chris Jansing, The New York Post’s Stephanie Smith and Brad Wieners from Bloomberg Businessweek.
2. Showtime’s main man, Matt Blank. Check out the piece in New York magazine’s absolutely brilliant Television Issue for the back story on how the cast of Homeland got their jobs. And, while you’re at it, don’t miss Lynn Hirschberg‘s riveting interview with Michael Douglas, either.
3. Sony’s Steve Mosko
4. Producer Freddie Gershon
5. Peter Brown
6. The ‘Imber Gang:’ Dr. Gerald Imber, Jerry Della Femina, Michael Kramer and Jeff Greenfield
7. Bravo’s SVP and manager of communications, Jennifer Geisser and Julia Nietsch, with Newlyweds‘ Kimberly Cherebin and Alaska Gedeon, their manager Camille White Stern and yours truly
8. Former New York City Council president Andrew Stein, who looked a bit perplexed by all the photo taking that was going on at our table, with a table full of pals
9. Author Wednesday Martin and counter-terrorism expert Stellan Hessler
11. Real estate maven Carol Mack with, so we’re told, “some real estate people from New Jersey”
12. Kathy Lacey
14. James Chanos with Bloomberg’s Trish Regan
15. Andrew Robertson and Mitch Kanner
16. Self‘s EIC, Lucy Danziger
81. David Zinczenko and Jennifer Rudolph Walsh, who heads up William Morris’ Worldwide Literary department. These two old friends must have had plenty to talk about now that Dave got his own imprint, Zinc Ink and helms Galvanized Brands custom imprints with his clients. (You can catch up with what Dave’s been up to in last week’s ‘Lunch” column where he gave us the scoop). Last night, Dave celebrated the relaunch of Men’s Fitness with a swanky party downtown at The Standard with AMI’s David Pecker, his business partner Stephen Perrine, publisher Patrick Connors and the magazine’s re-energized ad sales staff.
17. HeadButler’s Jesse Kornbluth and Paige Peterson
18. Rubenstein’s Aurora Kessler
20. Act One: Kay Koplovitz; Round Two: New York Social Diary‘s David Patrick Columbia
21. Kenneth Cole with fashion flack Lisa Hellman
22. Warner Bro’s Elizabeth Tumulty
24. Ad man Martin Puris (Loved the Belgian Shoes!)
25. PR guru Tom Goodman, who introduced me to his longtime pal Ken Frydman, CEO of Source Communications. It turns out in the usual six-degrees-of-separation that is Wednesdays at Michael’s, Ken and I are connected. A longtime politico in the the know, Ken once worked with Rudy Giuliani and his longtime aide Beth Hatton, who just happens to my best friend from high school. Small world!
26. Jordan Ringel
27. John Arnhold and Oxygen co-founder Gerry Laybourne
29. Lionsgate Television CEO Sandra Stern
30. DDG’s managing director, Scott Singer, with Keli Lee, EVP of casting for ABC.
We’ll be away on assignment next week. See you back at Michael’s on May 29th!
Please send comments and corrections to DIANECLEHANE at MEDIABISTRO dot COM and LUNCH at MEDIABISTRO dot COM.