Adages - Relocating the office: Ben misplaces his product

By Published on .

Most Popular
Ben Silverman, the irrepressible Hollywood producer and macher behind the NBC product-placement showcase "The Restaurant," may be a little out of his element in his next endeavor. NBC and his production company Reveille are now developing a U.S. version of BBC hit "The Office," a mockumentary about an inept boss and the daily grind at a tedious paper company in a British burb. Ben tells Adages the NBC version may be located in New Jersey. Not in Newark, says Ben, the stomping ground of Tony Soprano. "We're thinking somewhere even worse, like Parsnippity."

Of course, there is no Parsnippity in Jersey, but there is a Parsippany, about 28 miles west of New York. The tongue-twisting name comes from the Lenapi Indians, who called the area Parseponong, meaning the place where the rivers run together. Now it's the place where the highways run together: Interstates 80, 287, 280, U.S. routes 46 and 202, and state highways 10 and 53.

"I hope they don't want to shoot `Sex and the Suburbs' here," says Mimi Letts, Parsippany's mayor. "We're the office capital of New Jersey. Lots of drug companies. Tell that producer to give me a call."

Blow me down

Parsippany is not the only appellation Ben has been mangling. He calls his next product-placement project "Blow Out," a reality series about a Beverly Hills hair salon. The show is being produced for Bravo. But Ben's partner, Robert Riesenberg, the famed producer late of Magna Global Entertainment and now with ad giant Omnicom Group, tells Adages he doesn't like the name and says that he's been lobbying for another title with the word "blow" in it-one we can't print here.

"I think we'll get much better ratings with that name," says Robert of his provocative suggestion. Of course, Robert is joking; however, on a serious note he says of "Blow Out," "I don't think we'll stick with that title. I don't love it. It may change." Ben is surprised to hear this. "No, it's `Blow Out' for now," says Ben. "Because you kind of blow out your hair, and `Blow Dry' is like a boring title. And `Blow Out' suggests action and it's male-female, you know it's kind of got some angularity to it."

Sorry, Ben but to Adages ears, "Blow Out" sounds like a punctured tire.

Lunch with Harry and Tina

Last week, Harold Evans and Tina Brown opened up their apartment on Sutton Place in New York to a horde of journalists for the National Opinion Awards, a brand-new contest established by Dennis Publishing's glossy news digest The Week to toast the best news columnists in the U.S.: Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman (both of the New York Times), Tommy Tomlinson (Observer, Charlotte, N.C.) and Joshua Micah Marshall (of Talkingspoints-memo.com). The next day a couple of local columnists-who obviously didn't win an award-excoriated the gathering as a "cadre of left-wing media heavies and their fellow travelers" (New York Post) and a cabal of Bush-bashers (New York Daily News). Adages was there and didn't hear one political harangue. The guests seemed bitter not about Republicans, but about the fact that the hosts cleared out their salon and library to make room for lunch tables. People wanted to check out Tina's taste in furniture. "New York real estate is pornography to these people," observed one of the organizers.

We deserve an opinion award at rlinnett@crain.com

In this article: