Task Nine Objective: Team will write, produce and direct a 90-second demonstrational video to highlight LG's smart home appliances and home entertainment.
I loved this task!
We were in the final stretch and the tasks were getting more and more intense. The city was just coming back to life, but we were still operating with half a crew, and it was now our fourth task in one week's time. No wonder it got a little crazy in there! Everyone was excited to see Joan Rivers, because it's always a party when she's around. I've met her many times over the years (dates available on request) and, beyond her being an icon and a legend, she's a force of nature and really rocked it on the second season of Celebrity Apprentice. I was looking forward to her humor and insights during this task because she knows this game!
Being a marketing genius and director, it was a no brainer for Lil Jon to step up and be the PM for this task. We brainstormed ideas in the van on our way to the studio, and I told the guys how especially techno-challenged I am now that my son Nick has gone off to college. As we drove and drove and drove to our location, I realized we were heading to Kaufman Astoria Studios where my other show Unforgettable is shot. I knew Team Power's time crunch was going to be worse than ever, especially when Plan B's studio was on 31st St. and much closer to the editing facilities. At first it seemed unfair, but when the producers realized how disadvantaged we were because of the location and traffic, they promised we could have it at the back end. Always good to hear, but that meant we'd work until later that night, which did not make some people happy. At this point of the game, you've got to be really organized and thinking faster than usual.
When we got to our studio we realized that even though they gave us state-of-the-art cameras and a first-rate crew, there was no depth to our set. It was super flat like the apron of a stage (for those of you who know theatre jargon). We were, therefore, limited to tricky camera angles because with no fourth wall, you have to shoot it like a sitcom or a play. No easy task when your hero product is a television mounted on a wall. But Lil Jon "Spielberg" was camera-smart enough to foresee the problems and chill enough to work it out so that no more time was lost. We worked our butts off all day writing, working with the other actors and figuring out the camera angles in preparation for the first shot. When Joan Rivers got to our studio to check on our progress, she couldn't believe how far away the studio was located. It took her over an hour to get there, and when she saw how little was in the can at that point, she didn't think we would finish in time. She said our idea sounded great, but she could not believe how much we still had to do.
The whole shoot was ambitious, to say the least, especially when you consider that in the real world of commercials this would take at least a week instead of six hours. We thought that if we could get most of the story points to make sense AND feature the products in an appealing way, we could slam-dunk this thing. So Lil Jon tightened his shot list and we forged on. I really wonder if people watching can understand how crucial and ridiculous the time element is on this show. It's a race from the moment you wake up 'til your head hits the pillow... if it ever does!
When Lil Jon and I got to the editing facility we heard strange animal sounds emanating from another room. "Are we sharing with Animal Planet?" Nope. It was Gary Busey! Trace had arrived earlier to start working on our piece and explained to us that word in the hallway was that things were crazy with the other team. I didn't know what he meant until I ran into Lisa in the ladies room and she said, "You're not going to believe it! He turned into a mad man! He banished Penn and me. You just can't imagine. He was screaming at me. He told me to sit down and shut up. There was nothing Penn or I could say or do. He was the director, the writer, the actor, the star, the accountant - everything!" Lisa just kept hugging me. (I LOVE her and she is definitely the Gary Whisperer!)
Probably one of the most fascinating aspects of playing this game is that the teams, for all intents and purposes, are sequestered from one another, so you never know what's going on with them until you watch it on TV or, in this case, run into someone in a common area, which is rare. I've been shocked many times while watching the other team's actions, especially when it's high drama. The teams I've been on have had less screen time, but it has less to do with me than with the more dramatic characters being featured that week (i.e. Omarosa or Gary, after she left).
I was thrilled with the results in the boardroom and very appreciative of all the wonderful things people said about my contribution to the task. I really think this was the funniest episode of Apprentice ever, and, of course, Gary Busey is one of the greatest characters, real or written, in the history of television. But I've got to hand it to Trace Adkins for my personal favorite line of all time, uttered when he saw my hummus and crudité: "You eat what food eats!" Marilu
Please feel free to make comments or ask questions. And please follow me on Twitter @TheRealMarilu and at marilu.com.