This clip isn’t in the reel. Man, are you missing something.
Well, it’s an old but decent reel that’s been re-stuffed with my CBS stuff and some Shark Tank tidbits. Solid upholstery given a new fabric.
Video editing is not my forte but apparently being a camera hog is, because I had hours of stuff I rejected to boil my media appearances into this fast-paced somethin’ that covers live network stuff, live IFB hits, location shoots, and hosting.
I am sort of stunned by the amount of stuff I have done, actually. And I thought this kind of thing made me nervous. Guess not.
I have permanently embedded this sucker in the sidebar to the right, so if you don’t watch it now just feel free to ignore it there.
Deceptively careful not to derail the Entrepreneurs
One aspect of my AfterShark coverage for the second season of Shark Tank was to catch the entrepreneurs as they prepared to enter the Tank or just after they left.
Not so easy. Still, it’s leagues easier to be face-to-face than it is to conduct interviews by Skype, as I had to do during the first season of AfterShark. With Skype, the person being interviewed can’t see you. They’re instructed to stare at their webcam so that they don’t end up looking shifty on camera, and that eliminates all the normal body language and visual clues that normally pass in a conversation that let a person know who’s about to speak next. After one segment published last year, a reader wrote in to bitterly complain that I interrupted my guest too much. I wanted to reply that he never heard me clearing my throat and starting to speak, so I had no choice if I wanted to be able to ask more than a single, monologue-starting question. But I didn’t reply to the reader to say that. I let them have their say. See? Not an interrupter by nature.
For season two, I thought it was crucial for me to be mindful of how these entrepreneurs were feeling. Most of them had flown in from other parts of the country to pitch the Sharks. Most of them had never been on TV before.
So I was obsessed with not being too cavalier or challenging. I never wanted to give anyone a hint about how to pitch, so to get around that, I’d ask if they had seen the show before. I was also keenly aware that my questions should not be too leading, lest I cause them to second-guess themselves and throw off their game plan at the last minute. These people were potentially at a crossroads in their lives.
The last thing I wanted to do was change the outcome by rocking their boats and being and ass. I respect the production, and these people, far too much to risk that. Consequently, there are a lot of “Which Shark are you targeting” and “How much of your own money have you put into this so far” questions.
You’d think that after all the Shark Tank interviews I’ve done that I’d be able to predict the winners. Not a chance. In some of my chats, I can read my own face: “Oh, boy. This one’s a dud. Treat him/her gently.” And many times, I was dead wrong with my faulty first impressions. It takes the dissection of the business plan and balance sheet by the Sharks to determine the success stories. I can, though, usually spot the ones who are going to cry, and I go even easier.
Now and then, as with HillBilly Brand and SweepEasy, I got to talk to them after they came out of the Tank, so I knew how they did. So there’s a mix of pre- and post-Tank interviews, which is fun.
We grabbed chats wherever we could in the alleys and streets of Sony Pictures Studios. Later, we found out that even though we had permission, apparently we weren’t really supposed to be doing it, so this is a rare thing to see. Now and then, you’ll see a golf cart zip by. It was a quiet day on the lot, with Mr. Sunshine shut down, Wheel of Fortune out of town, and Spider-Man gearing up but not yet shooting.
I actually did many more interviews than you’ll ever see — some really fun ones about great products, and one shot in the “stew room” that the entrepreneurs sit in before they head to the soundstage next door and into the Tank — but you won’t be seeing them anytime soon, if at all, because their segments haven’t run yet. They shoot many more pitches than they have time to air. There are a lot of reasons a segment could be shot but not scheduled. It may not be entertaining, or there could potentially be a legal issue, or the whole episode could get bumped. (That’s what happened with the THINgloss episode that finally ran in mid-April; it was supposed to run in the second set of shows for season one, but the Haiti telethon bumped it for more than a year.)
You’ll also notice the flag of a website I used to work for on the microphone. It’s there because when we shot these segments, they were originally going to publish there, but its recent merger changed its editorial production practices, so my creation, AfterShark, is back with me for this season. Next time, it’ll probably be in a third place. Such is the modern media. Even Friday Night Lights bounced around.
Here are a few of my favorite pre- and post-show interviews from Season Two:
This is the creator of Onesole Shoes, a clever and inexpensive way to give a single pair of shoes a wide variety of looks. She’s a pharmacist from Florida. My videographer, Ken Shadford, felt terrible about accidentally having the dumpster behind her head in the first section of this video, because she’s such a great lady, but we corrected her dumpster head by the time it was over.
This is my most popular one. [A month later: The one you just saw has surpassed this one.] Probably because the owner of SweepEasy had such a spectacular success in the Tank, his video has more than four times as many views as any of the other entrepreneurs I interviewed.
Next we have the unforgettable Aldo Orta, a Mexican-born jewelry designer. One thing you’d never know (but might guess) from this interview was his, shall we say, dramatic use of cologne. I think that’s actually a good strategy. Swaddle yourself in a smell you love and it’s like showing up in front of the Tanks in armor. Smell has a powerful effect on the emotions and on your nerves. The well-lotioned Aldo certainly had confidence in his brand.
I had fun shooting this one, for a cleaning product called PureAyre (hey — are Shark Tank entrepreneurs allergic to spaces in their product names?). The inventor kept waving an ammonia-sprayed tissue in my face during his eager product demonstration. I got some good cracks in (“a frat house” is my favorite) while still allowing him to say what he wanted to get out.
There are tons more, including my segments from season one, on YouTube under my channel, Bastablejc. Click here, on my YouTube channel home page, and scroll down the column to the right to see the full list of my videos.
Cameraphone moment behind the Shark Tank chairs as Aldo Orta prepares to deliver his pitch for his jewelry line. Entrepreneurs are shown their marks but are not permitted to speak to the Sharks until the pitch begins.
Visiting TV sets is always a thrill. It’s not because I am a pure fan. I mean, I am not necessarily always pinching myself in disbelief over being there. Of course I knew Chandler and Joey’s apartment was an existing set when I toured the home of Friends at Warner Bros.
No, for me, the thrill is strangely historical. Just as I love going to Westminster Abbey, where kings and queens from the storybooks still lie, I get excited to be in a place that I previously knew only as an image or a symbol. It’s where received information clicks into reality.
That’s the way it was when I was on the Shark Tank set. It’s always a mind-twist to see how the shapes and distances and perspectives that you see on television are so different in the flesh. It’s odd to see how a room you thought was so familiar in fact does not feel the way you thought it would. First, of all, it has no ceiling other than the industrial soundstage ceiling, many feet above. It’s also a good reality check to see how a good TV set operates no different from a set in a community theatre production — it just takes a lot more money to design and build.
And more than anything, I love the heritage of the soundstages. Look up at Sony Pictures Studios, which used to be MGM, and staring back at you are wooden rafters that were silent witnesses to some of the world’s most recognized performances and faces. Even the dust is historic there, and unlikely to have been swept away. The soundstage in which the Shark Tank crew and cast ate lunch one day was the same one in which Flying Monkeys were filmed in The Wizard of Oz. “Singin’ in the Rain” was shot on Stage 27. Name a famous MGM movie, and those aged soundstages, so hollow most of the time, were where they happened, shot by shot.
They are the warehouses from which our American culture was shipped to us.
From a historic perspective, that’s a very intense thing to hold onto. Everything you see on camera has to happen somewhere, but when it comes to movies, we tend to accept that they’re in a spatial limbo. Yet cameras captured something that happened on that very spot, and afterward, every sign of the event was cleared away, leaving the soundstage as a shell. It’s the only thing left to witness those vital moments of American history.
Just being in that place, for me, makes The Wizard of Oz true. Not a story that happened, of course, but a thing that was cared about and created and hammered out, shot by shot and minute by minute, by working people who got hungry and sweat and yelled and got stuck in traffic on the way home. Movies become records of real events (of fabricated scenarios) that happened to be snatched in seconds-long increments. Being in a studio brings me out of the mindset of a consumer and irresistibly into connection with the people of the past.
Shark Tank‘s second season was shot on stage 22, and its “holding” room for entrepreneurs was built in Stage 8 (which means that when you see someone stewing ahead of their appearance, they’re not actually in the same stage; when the time comes, they have to run outside, across a lane, and into Stage 22.) My time roaming the soundstage was among my favorite during my season two shoots.
During my recent trip into the Shark Tank, I reconnected with the informercial whiz Kevin Harrington, the resident of the first seat. Rather than pitching him a business, I asked him about what it’s like to get pitched, particularly in this recession.
He must have been pumped up for the day’s meal of entrepreneurs in crisis, because in this interview — which was terrifically hectic because they were re-setting in between business pitches, so bear with the noise the way we had to — he was surprisingly candid about where he’s making his money these days and what types products fill his wallet the most.
I should have asked him where he gets his tans. I want to live there, even if it means days spent golfing.
Here’s a shot with Kevin (and Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec) from a satellite media tour I covered during the first season of Shark Tank.
A guppy among Sharks (Robert Herjavec, Barbara Corcoran, Kevin "Solid Tan!" Harrington)
True story: Daymond John saw this and tweeted, "I tried to watch...but Kevin O'Leary's bald head was so damn shiny! I had to throw sand on the screen to kill the glare!" My head is cropped out, so it must be true.
After I interviewed Shark Tank Sharks Kevin O’Leary and Robert Herjavec (click here to watch that interview, which dates from my Traffic Cone Professor sartorial period), a debate emerged in the comments section. The two also appear on the older, Canadian version of ABC’s fish-themed angel investor show, Dragon’s Den, and the bickering began: Which show is better?
Judging by the comments, you’d think Dragon’s Den has the edge, but the numbers probably aren’t representative. After all, Canadians are more likely to be vocal about their preferences since American culture has a way of dominating North America. They’ve got to be louder than the Americans when a comparison is at stake or else they risk not being heard at all.
O’Leary and Herjavec think the crucial difference between the two shows has a lot to do with that imbalance. After all, they’re business, and they think in terms of market potential:
Those with an inattention to detail might think that Barbara Corcoran and I are related, but there’s no mistaking the fact that I love her. Outrageous, conservative, tough as nails yet soft as pudding, simultaneously fearless and sensitive — she’s diverse and memorable. I’ve interviewed her several times before, including in her office and at a satellite media tour. I was even her fifth wheel/Ed McMahon in a miniseries of self-help video segments we did for a website I once worked for.
Here, we chat on the set of ABC’s Shark Tank in between pitches.
Fans of Barbara ( like me) can double up with this video of her, made on a different day of the Season Two shoots, describing her successful investments from the first season of Shark Tank.
This season on Shark Tank, two new men join the lineup of Sharks: Mark Cuban and Jeff Foxworthy, both of whom rotate in Kevin Harrington’s chair when he’s not there.
I met Foxworthy, who hosts another of producer Mark Burnett’s shows, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader?, at the dawn of his first day on his new job. I learned a couple of interesting things when I did my pre-shoot homework. One is that he lived in the same town that my grandparents did: Hapeville, Georgia. (I wonder if he used to go to the Richway, like I did.) The other is that 25 years ago, his job was to maintain mainframe IBM computers.
As it happens, I realized, fellow Shark Robert Herjavec, who immigrated to Canada from Croatia as a kid, got his beginnings selling IBM mainframe computers during the same period. It’s hard to get a scoop in the over-covered entertainment universe, but I was pretty proud of finding that one. You can see Robert Herjavec learning about it for the first time on yesterday’s video interview with him.
By the time I met Foxworthy, the next day, Herjavec had already filled him in on their shared origins in the make-up room. Took my scoop and used it to make a fast buddy! If they go in on a business together during the second season of Shark Tank, I’d like to think I brokered the friendship between them that allowed it all to happen. Hey, Robert — it’s on camera.
Some people may wonder what a stand-up comic such as Foxworthy is doing on a panel of self-made titans, but that’s where they’re wrong. As I pointed out when the casting was first announced, Foxworthy has created a multi-milliondollar merchandise franchise out of his personal brand.
He’s certainly canny, and a dark horse among Sharks, but does he have the teeth to hang with his flesh-eating colleagues? You be the judge:
I caught up with Robert Herjavec, one of the Sharks from ABC’s increasingly popular show Shark Tank, as he was preparing to step onto set in the early morning at the start of the day’s shooting. When the glint of something caught my eye, he handed an assistant his cup of coffee to show off: a pair of solid gold, shark-shaped cuff links with diamond eyes that were made by a British jeweler. Robert wasn’t telling precisely how much the paid for them, but the number he threw out was around $15,000 in U.S. money. “What is that? Is that like a couple minutes’ [work]?” he joked.
Yesterday, I posted my interview with his rival Shark, Daymond John, whose “doorknob” diamond earrings may have out-Sharked Robert’s bespoke jewelry for sheer blingitude. There’s a story about how John got those, too, but he wouldn’t tell it on camera.
And then there was their boss, Mark Burnett. His outfit — white button-down shirt, rolled-up sleeves — was defiantly unassuming. As one of the most powerful people in TV, he had nothing to prove. We all knew who had the most power on that set.
The first time I met Daymond John, I had the temerity to think I could dress as well as he does
Daymond John is one seriously smart man. He likes to pretend he isn’t, but that’s one of the things that makes him so clever — he takes you by surprise when he swoops in. When I was on the set of Shark Tank‘s second season, I had a chat with him. (I first sat down with him at the very start of Shark Tank‘s first season). He reveals what he keeps by his chair at all times during the shoots and just what he’s writing on his pad when the entrepreneurs are delivering their pitches.
He is also one of the sharpest dressers I’ve ever met. Check out those earrings!