Our latest goddess comes to us from Germany and to my attention via Graham. Like many Americans, I had never heard of the enchanting Verena Wriedt and it was certainly my loss. But G took pity on my ignorance and pointed me towards a broadcast of the German Touring Car series, aka the DTM, a sort of Formula 1 for the Big 3 German automakers and their top sedans. And there was Verena doing superb work reporting from the pits.
Ms. Wriedt working her day job
Not only is the fetching 40 year old perfectly fluent in English with just the barest hint of a sexy accent but, at the risk of pointing out the very obvious, the camera absolutely loves the blond beauty.
Combining readily apparent smarts and quick wits with an upbeat and humorous approach to interviewing her subjects, it’s clear that if the sports networks here in the States were wise they would do well to import Ms. Wriedt and let her work her magic on American television.
In fact, she got her master’s in broadcast journalism from Emerson College in Boston — magna cum laude, no less — so the lovely lass from Wiesbaden is already familiar with the American scene as well as the European one. Further adding to her international credentials as a true woman of the word, she’s also lived and studied in the Philippines and in England.
It’s easy to envision Verena covering not just motorsports but also, say, the Olympics, equestrian events, big time skiing and sailing and even fashion if only some network honcho makes the obvious move to lure her away from the DTM. Because with that face, those brains and that talent, the sky’s the limit.
Leonard Nimoy, an actor who became a worldwide cultural icon with his multifaceted portrayal of Mr. Spock in the groundbreaking 1960s sci-fi series Star Trek, died this past Friday at the age of 83. Nimoy’s characterization of the starship Enterprise’s First Officer functioned as the calm, intellectual super ego influence on Captain Kirk in diametric opposition to the id persona of the hyper-emotional Dr. “Bones” McCoy. The only alien crewmember in the original series, Nimoy gave creative life to the Vulcan philosophy of anti-emotionalism, logic and intellectual rigor and portrayed the consummate outsider bemusedly observing the confusing passions and paradoxes of the human species. In the series, the Vulcan race had long ago determined to exercise rigid control of their emotions in order to put an end the destructive internecine conflicts of their race. But as a mixed race man whose mother was from Earth, Nimoy also gave subtle expression to the human impulses beneath the surface of Spock’s greenish, pointy-eared exterior, which he sometimes struggled to control.
With its futuristic vision of the USS Enterprise as a powerful but peaceful galactic explorer, representative of a vast United Federation of Planets including an Earth that had survived near-apocalyptic conflicts in the 20th and 21st centuries, Gene Roddenberry’s idealistic creation was not an overnight sensation. Slowly but inexorably it gained in popularity, growing from a cult following during its short 3-year 1966-69 run on NBC into a global phenomenon, the relentless result of non-stop syndication, animated spin-offs, novelizations and popular paraphernalia & technical literature. By the time Star Trek was reborn cinematically a decade later in the aftermath of the mega-success of Star Wars, an entirely new audience was ready to receive its tales of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural space adventure, which Roddenberry sometimes slyly referred to as simply a “Western in space.” As the myriad sequels, prequels and entirely new associated TV series proved, Star Trek may have started out as geek culture but there was a hunger across a large segment of the world for this intelligently thought out future of our civilization and its flawed but noble heroes and charismatic super villains. And as geek became chic and the brainy outsider became the unlikely hero of a new industrial revolution in the Computer and Internet Age, it’s no great stretch to believe that it was Nimoy’s characterization of Spock, cerebral and outwardly implacable with hidden reserves of humanity, that helped inspire future computer titans like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in their youth. Building upon The Space Race mania of the 60s, Star Trek helped make science and technology as cool and appealing as the astronauts did — just ask all those fans who wound up working at NASA and in other engineering and technological fields. And, as not only the Enterprise’s First Officer but also its Chief Science Officer, no one was cooler than Mr. Spock.
The cast of the original Star Trek series and creator Gene Roddenberry meet the Space Shuttle Enterprise
Leonard Nimoy was also the cast member who had been with the franchise the longest, predating William Shatner’s Kirk and DeForest Kelley’s McCoy. Continue reading →
Dear ad agency creatives & account people,
I’m sure you’re tired of your friends and family telling you how much they hate the commercials you lovingly write, produce and work so hard to get your clients to grudgingly green light, not to mention the random vitriol from total strangers. Or the many dates that have ended in tears when you mention your work. Or maybe you’ve begun gradually obfuscating your profession in polite conversation, claiming you are in a more nebulous field like “marketing” or “branding” rather than owning up to the fact that you are, in a lot of peoples’ minds, a worthless suckfish clinging to the sleek and noble underbelly of their favorite TV shows.
Fear not! There is a simple way to regain pride in your work and earn the plaudits of your fellow man. You see, the majority of what you produce does not at all deserve such vituperation. In fact, most of it is quite amusing and well-crafted. In the best of your work, only one or two viewings create an indelible connection between the product and its benefit in the potential customer’s mind. And that should be a good feeling for you, shouldn’t it?
But here’s the rub: once we the viewing public see your little bit of genius 5 times in an hour, well, even the sweetest rose will begin to stink like a freshly opened can of lutefisk. And that not only tarnishes your formerly sterling work but also drags the client right into the crosshairs of our discontent as well.
Take, for example, this typically funny commercial for DIRECTV featuring Rob Lowe and his super creepy doppelganger.
Well done & kudos! Except that there are only two spots in this campaign so far and they have been played to death already. Continue reading →
With the iconic 1960s advertising series Mad Men winding down to its final episode, it seems entirely fitting that we pay tribute to one of the loveliest actresses to grace that or any other television series, the stunning Jessica Paré. With her lean and lithe body, huge green eyes gazing out from above high cheekbones and mischievous gap-toothed smile, Ms. Paré is at once a classic beauty and a unique one.
A native of Montreal, Quebec, the 33-year-old ingénue was raised bilingual in French and English and caught the acting bug as a child helping her father, a drama teacher and actor, rehearsing his lines. She quickly found success in Canada with 2000’s satire about beauty and fame, Stardom, opposite Dan Ackroyd. This led to more featured roles in 2001’s adolescent lesbian love story, Lost and Delirious, and her Hollywood debut in 2004 as Josh Hartnett’s jilted fiancé in Wicker Park.
After keeping busy if not quite breaking through in subsequent years with good parts in the TV series Jack and Bobby, the vampire comedy Suck and memorably topless in Hot Tub Time Machine, Jessica made a massive impact when she debuted as Megan Calvet in 2010’s Season 4 of Mad Men. Looking stunning in mod costume, Jessica imbued her fellow French Canadian character with coltish naiveté balanced by observant ambition. In short, Megan Calvet was a revelation and it’s no wonder Don Draper proposed to her after she was so good with his kids in Disneyland despite it shattering the lovely and intelligent market researcher Faye Miller’s heart (played by the lovely and intelligent Cara Buono). And in a case of life seeming to imitate art, or at least art imitating itself, it seemed as if the show ditched January Jones in subsequent seasons almost as completely as Don ditched the former wife, Betty, that she played to such early fame.
With Megan separated from Don in Hollywood and the entire cast of characters facing an uncertain future at the dawn of the 70s, Jessica Paré has done her finest, most emotionally challenging work to date this season. We’re not sure where she’ll pop up next but we’re fairly certain that even bigger things are on the horizon for this brunette beauty. We’ll certainly be watching the final Mad Men episodes with interest and hoping that certain Charles Manson/Sharon Tate-related rumors about her character’s fate are not true. And if we were lucky enough to be Megan’s chosen mate, we’d probably give up New York for the sunny L.A. climate and that beguiling, uncorrected smile. Heck, we might even give up advertising entirely. It’s not that hard with such a sweet incentive.