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Bravo's 'Blow Out' "docureality" featuring stylist Jonathan Antin premieres June 8


By Wade Paulsen, 06/04/2004 

How important was executive producer Mark Burnett to the success of NBC's The Restaurant? Beginning June 8, we'll have a chance to find out.

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Hairstylist Jonathan Antin -- who has worked with such high-profile celebrities as Madonna, Kate Bosworth, Jay Leno, Tobey Maguire, Jewel, Alicia SIlverstone and Tiger Woods at his West Hollywood salon -- pursues his "dream" of establishing Jonathan Salon in Beverly Hills in Blow Out, a six-episode original series from two of the three production companies behind The Restaurant -- but substituting Big Brother producers Arnie Shapiro and Allison Grodin for Mark Burnett. Blow Out will premiere Tuesday, June 8 at 9 PM ET on the NBC-owned Bravo cable network.

The concept for the show is a clone of The Restaurant, with the sole exception of the substitution of Antin for chef Rocco DiSpirito. Like The Restaurant, the main reason for the show's existence is product placement. Show production was funded by principal sponsors American Express (providing the business loans, as in The Restaurant), Revlon (providing the hair and beauty products) and LensCrafters (did you know how important the right glasses and contacts are in your total look? We expect Jonathan does).

As a teenager, Antin was inspired to become a stylist by Warren Beatty's role as the hypersexed George Roundy in Shampoo. He dropped out of Beverly Hills High to enroll in the Fairfax Beauty Academy, where he quickly landed a job at a trendy West Hollywood salon. Within a few years, he claimed the salon as his own, garnering a list of celebrity clientele rivaling the best in the business, according to his press releases.

Joining Antin as he turns his sights on Beverly Hills are a hand-picked team (from casting calls) of stylists, colorists and makeup artists -- all young, trendy, and hungry to make their impact on the beauty world and the TV audience. Crucial to the success of the salon will be how they work together as well as the business they bring in -- although the casting call asked for stylists who already had an established clientele, which minimizes the risk.

Given the pressures (especially from TV) and the mix of personalities, Antin's longstanding policy that he must be the sole focus of his salon, since it's his name on the door, will be put to the test. Nevertheless, the proximity of the West Hollywood salon to the Beverly Hills one makes this whole endeavor seem (at least from a distance) more like an expansion than a new undertaking.

This is the second hairdressing-focused reality show to be announced in the U.S., but the first one to air. Back in the fall of 2003, Fox TV Studios announced a docureality entitled Making the Cut, focusing on a group of apprentice hairdressers, fresh out of cosmetology school, who go to work at a new hair salon In downtown Manhattan being opened by top New York hair stylist Rodney Cutler. Like Blow Out, the show was going to be funded through product placement -- from Redken, in its case. However, no further word about this show has been forthcoming, and Blow Out has now beaten it to market.

Although Jonathan Antin's quest promises to have its interesting moments, early reviews have been less than glowing. For example, our old friend Peter Carlin from The Oregonian quotes Jonathan from the first episode as saying, "This is quite possibly the best idea I've ever had or the worst mistake I've ever made" -- and then notes that the show "gravitates toward the latter half of that equation. So much so, in fact, that it's actually kind of amusing."

Carlin goes on to say that "the worst, or perhaps best, thing about the show is how phony its moments of high drama seem to be." That's something that has rarely been said about Mark Burnett's shows, which have featured real injuries, real illnesses and real legal battles in addition to staged sequences. But we'll have to see for ourselves how the Shapiro/Grodner team compares to the "Burnett touch."

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Blow Out is produced for Bravo by Reveille LLC, Magna Global Entertainment, and Shapiro/Grodner Productions.

Reveille, a joint venture between Ben Silverman and Universal Television Group, develops, produces and distributes new and non-traditional programming formats for television and motion pictures across a variety of genres, including comedy, drama, game, and reality. In television, Reveille develops projects for broadcast and cable networks, including such current projects as, Adrenaline X, The Restaurant (season 1 and 2) and The Office for NBC. Cable projects include Nashville Star (season one and two) and House Wars for USA Network. Reveille distributed the internationally renowned and award-winning 911 documentary. Reveille also identifies integrated marketing opportunities for leading advertisers and develops alternative financing paradigms. Reveille is a unit of Universal Television Group, a division of Vivendi Universal Entertainment (VUE), the U.S.-based film, television and recreation entity of Vivendi Universal, a global media communications company.

Magna Global Entertainment (MGE) is a division of Interpublic's Magna Global USA, which represents over $32 billion in aggregated Interpublic worldwide media billings. Less than three years old, MGE is already the industry leader in advertiser-supplied programming. MGE has produced 62 hours of original programming and over 175 hours of total television viewing on seven networks for 15 clients. Notable successes include the 6-time Emmy Award winning Johnson & Johnson Spotlight Presentation Door to Door, as well as NBC's hit series The Restaurant.

Shapiro/Grodner Productions brings together the talents of two of network TV's most respected, successful and prolific reality and documentary creators and executive producers. Among Arnold Shapiro and Allison Grodner's credits are the CBS series Big Brother; HBO's searing America Undercover special, "Small Town Ecstasy;" MTV's Flipped series; the Emmy Award-winning documentary series, The Teen Files; and last summer's reality series, The Family, hosted by George Hamilton. In total, Shapiro and Grodner have 19 Emmys, and Shapiro received an Academy Award for his groundbreaking teen-education documentary, Scared Straight! (which also happened to be Arnie's first major credit -- not a bad way to break into the business).

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