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The Apprentice: Los Angeles Weekly Performance Review, Episode 13by Brian Towers -- 04/20/2007
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The show tossed me a bit of a curve. I’d been led to expect there were interviews with executives this week, followed by a double firing, and then the end of the episode, some hoopla showcasing the choosing of assistants for the final task. My tipsters are FIRED! But at least we got to see a little more of the actual task this time.
Instead, we got part one of the finale, with all four applicants still in the running for the title. And true to the nature of this season, we end with a Hollywood task instead of the traditional charity event, or, God forbid, a real estate task.
This week’s task had our duos creating a one-minute commercial for a favorite product of The Donald’s mom, Renuzit. They had access to all the skills and materials needed to produce a top-quality piece of work.
Results would be shown live at a local theater. Also on hand to judge were Ivanka and Don Junior, plus two Dial execs. This was the second appearance this season for the makers of Renuzit, Dial. The subjective opinions of the four provided input into Trump’s final decision.
A pair of previously fired contestants assisted each team. More on that later.
There were many similarities between this task and the one back in episode 9 when Muna was fired. Too many. This task had a larger budget, many choices in set, access to props and costumes, plus more people to coordinate, albeit cooperative ones. But this was a much simpler project than what we’ve become used to in a finale.
So what was missing, compared to the usual end-of-season challenges? How about hands-on, hard-to-please sponsors? Volunteering celebrities… and this in LA! Receptions with VIPs being feted. Charities receiving much-needed funds! Trump, making a grand arrival and needing to be “received.” And because all those things were missing, there were often insufficient activities to keep all members of a four-person team active. I was hoping the Yahoo! extras would show me how the minions were secretly being utilized, but there’s nothing to report from that source.
Enough. It’s on to the final four, listed in the sequence they presented their mini-movies.
This was another strong performance from the duo who best used teamwork to combine their complimentary skills and lead a well-functioning unit.
Right off the top, I thought they made intelligent choices for partners. Aaron is probably the best first choice they could have made, especially with the other side removing Tim and his issues from the equation. The inspired pick of Angela had the potential of filling the gap left when the partnership lost workhorse Frank… had such needs ever surfaced.
It may have not made it through final cuts, but Yahoo! clips showed us Angela played the role of “juror number nine” and Stefani provided some voiceover work.
It was said that James and Stefani co-managed their project. Stefani was controlling the use of resources and monitoring the time, so I’d say she managed most of it. She tried to give James all the freedom he needed as a director, but finally she had to be firm and take control of the situation like a good producer would.
Stefani took on a lot of tasks, including hiring the actors, arranging for props and costumes, and keeping the project on schedule. Teammate Angela was very impressed with Stefani’s ability to see the big picture, and the way she paid appropriate attention to details yet still completed every task on time.
Stefani made another short but smooth presentation. The Dial execs had good words for Trump about her, recognizing the organizational skills exhibited by running the show from behind the scenes. Aaron added to that in the Boardroom by extolling her contribution in “keeping the train moving.”
Although necessary so the “Jameses” of the world can look good, I’m not sure Trump is seeking “behind-the-scenes” skills. He did finally acknowledge Stefani as “a sleeper,” but is she making her true value known too late in the game? An EXCELLENT rating is the result of this week’s efforts, but her “never having led” is still the elephant in Stefani’s room.
James received positive comments from Trump throughout the episode, beginning with Trump complimenting him alone on his performance on the last task. James also received good words from the Dial execs, who called him “terrific” and “motivating” to the actors, and they acknowledged his energy.
As a director, James was definitely too particular in gathering too many takes of the simplest of scenes. As it was, the Yahoo! clips show us that even with Stefani rushing James along, they ran out of time and didn’t get their last shot. Further, in the Yahoo! clips James realized he missed taking some necessary angle, cutaway, and close-up shots. This led to unclear characters and storyline, as Aaron pointed out.
To his credit, James took personal responsibility for these problems. In a creative burst no doubt fueled by blind panic, James took over the editing direction. Refusing to sleep, he was able to recreate the commercial from the available footage to make a tight, understandable video. It was clearly his shining hour.
In the Boardroom, James was the first to made sure he gave credit to the whole team. Also in the Boardroom, Aaron cited James as a perfectionist. I think was meant as a compliment, though in Muna’s case, it wasn’t!
James dug himself out of the hole of his own making very effectively. Since all worked out in the end, the recovery overshadows the event and his rating is GOOD. I give him the inside track, but he’s not a sure bet.
This team got in trouble as soon as the teams were picked. More on that later.
I was afraid that this team was going to collapse in the editing phase. Nicole, after stepping back all day long, suddenly claimed the task as hers and resented Frank’s input. A somewhat biased Tim thought Frank was the negative factor; I’d like to hear a more neutral opinion like Surya’s myself. Fortunately, they were able to resolve the issue when Frank backed down.
This commercial seemed very disjointed to me, like two stories in one. There was a boring “in the business office” story, followed by the making light of a minor family crisis in a hospital. However, they did get the key message of “air, fabric, and carpet” across much more directly.
The Dial execs made one significant comment about this duo, saying that they didn’t use teamwork to compensate for their individual weaknesses.
Both Nicole and Frank lauded each other in the Boardroom, but it seemed more political than genuine. In fact, no one on either team seemed to want to make a bad comment about another else in the early phases of the Boardroom. More on this later, too.1 2 Next-->
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