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The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Episode 1 MVPs and LVPs: Corner Office and Mailroom Assignmentsby Sandy McFarland -- 09/27/2005
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This is the weekly Apprentice: Martha Stewart column dedicated to Most Valuable Players and Least Valuable Players, where I will share my thoughts on which contestant gets banished to the mailroom versus pampered in the corner office. For a full recap, please check out Betsy Wasser’s amazingly amusing and dead-on article.
Let me start by saying how much I already love this show, especially as we get to see the softer side of Martha! Being that I consider myself a Martha wannabe, meaning I wanna be as rich and successful as she (without spending time in any kind of prison or having to wear an ankle bracket other than one that is 14k gold), makes me the perfect writer for this commentary. Shoot, I have even made Martha’s recipe for cold lentil salad, which sucked so badly that the only thing that could choke it down was my garbage disposal. Anyway, let’s just say we all should learn something from our mistakes. I have learned to never serve Martha’s cold lentil salad, and hopefully Martha has learned to never partake in insider trading.
Moving on to the show, Martha instructed the 16 contestants to divide into two teams, which they found relatively easy. Half of them were creative while the other half were corporate. How neat and tidy was that? (I betcha Martha was proud!) Those who considered themselves “creative” were: Jeff, Jim, Dawn, Marcela, Bethenny, David, Shawn, and Chuck. Those who considered themselves “corporate” were: Dawna, Jennifer, Leslie, Ryan, Amanda, Sarah, Carrie, and Howie.
Right away I was impressed that Shawn shook Martha’s hand upon meeting her. She seemed comfortable in her surroundings and not intimidated or awestruck. I liked the excitement she shared with us. The next person that impressed me was Carrie. She was at the head of the pack, as the contestants found their way to the loft, and was the person to lead the toast “to all good things.”
Once the teams settled into picking their names, the show pretty much stuck with the “creative” group. I can honestly say that Jim was the first person to get under my skin. His first suggestion of Team Go, followed by his rant on the Flair name (“Flair is so silly it makes me feel like a limp-wristed silly boy”), immediately made me give him the hairy eyeball. When he suggested the Mamas and the Papas as their title, with his “just kidding” crap, I realized he was going to be one really obnoxious bore who may well find himself on a permanent mailroom stool. I was glad to find that I wasn’t alone with my feelings as Shawn, too, was rolling her eyes. Dawn also had concerns with Jim – she couldn’t hear her brain over his voice!
Jim continued on his downward spiral when he told us that he has a problem with people who want to control his actions. Saying, “You don’t control my actions, I control your actions! Get it right!” really ruffled my feathers. Thankfully, he can’t control my writing, so he may soon find his nasty attitude along with his big mouth, now with nary a stool, in the mailroom. But, hey, I am getting ahead of myself.
Bethenny earned her first grimace from me when she explained her relationship with Martha’s sidekick Charles’ family. She was his daughter’s roommate for a couple of years in Paris, and dated his son. Wow, I don’t think I would have shared all that information. In fact, I expect I would have downplayed it a bit. Either, way I wasn’t impressed.
We didn’t really get to see how the “creative” team came up with their team name, Matchstick, which I also really liked, nor how the “corporate” folks decided on their handle, Primarius, which I didn’t like. But I guess that’s neither here nor there.
The phone rang at the loft and Marcela answered it to find Martha on the line. Marcela took copious notes (in very neat handwriting, I might add). They would be meeting Martha at Random House to receive their first assignment. The wannabes found their way there and Martha asked how they liked their new digs. Jim yelled, “Fantastic!” over the others’ voices. Already he had made me cringe.
After the project managers (Jeff for Matchstick and Dawna for Primarius) made themselves known, Martha explained the task. The two teams were to adapt an established, well-known fairytale, making it pertinent to today’s children. The book was to connect both with the children and their parents. The teams were given a designer and an illustrator to help them along. In the end, both teams would have a beautifully bound book, which they were to read to a bunch of first graders. Whichever book was the most well-received would win the task.
All the contestants seemed pretty hyped about this assignment. Carrie, of the Primarius team, threw out “Jack and the Beanstalk” as a possibility for their book. I liked that she compared it to Harry Potter with its magical nature. Leslie took that idea one step further and thought it should take place underwater! This group really seemed to be enthusiastic, which project manager Dawna found a tad frantic. On the plus side, Dawna also added her ideas to the group and suggested that the giant didn’t have to die. Carrie, Leslie, and Dawna all scored a few points in my book. They were bouncing off each others’ ideas wonderfully.
Anywho, to cut down on the team mayhem, Dawna wisely delegated half of the team to find a bunch of first graders for a preview reading. She wanted to be sure the kids loved their book. Maybe she overreacted a bit to the noisy brainstorming, but she found a terrific solution and reminded her team that the ultimate task was about the children loving their book. It looked to me that Sarah, Carrie, Howie, Leslie, and one other that I didn’t see hit the streets to pull in their main audience, with as much vigor as was shown during the brainstorming session. Parents and children alike were eager to be a part of the focus team.
Meanwhile, the Matchstick team listened on as project manager Jeff decided they would rewrite “Hansel and Gretel.” I was immediately shaking my head. Does this guy have kids? He explained that it’s all about running away, so he wanted to put it in an urban setting where the kids could run away to the city. Ooo-kay!
Dawn was first to ask what kind of message rewriting “Hansel and Gretel” would send to the kids. She was obviously not comfortable with the story. Even Jim piped up about trusting strangers’ missteps and the darkness of the story. Marcela also said that Jeff’s storyline was not fit for young kids. Jeff chose not listen to his team - they were to “shut up, right now, and listen!” Obviously, I only get to assign the mailroom or corner office, but Jeff clearly deserved to be thrown out the door! I even wanted him to land face down on the pavement!
Dawn was selected to be the story writer, due to her experience in the publishing business. That Dawn immediately laid her cards on the table and asked for a little peace and quiet didn’t bother me. What did bother me was that maybe she doesn’t work well under pressure. Jim told her they would whisper, then pulled out a very long knife for a verbal back stab. Jeff went on another rant and decided that he would write, and Dawn could have the honor of looking over his shoulder. Was she supposed to give him a noogie if she saw a typo? I don’t know what the rest of the team was doing, but I do know that someone should have been stepping up to the plate in her defense. Maybe Dawn just doesn’t work well with asinine jerks.1 2 Next-->
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