While we all now know that Arsenio Hall is the ordained Celebrity Apprentice, the question that 18 celebrity managers and publicists are now asking is: “How well did my celeb score with the public and potential advertisers?” As I write this teams of celeb interns are busily foraging through Twitter posts and blogs to report back on how their celeb came off. Though their celeb may not have won, a good primetime showing could mean millions for their celeb in the form of that next TV deal or Superbowl spot. Here, then, are my big winners and losers.
Before this season’s CA, few knew much about Clay Aiken beyond his being “that gay American Idol singer.” Clay’s amazing showing on CA has totally elevated his public awareness and personal brand. Not only did it reveal his amazing vocal talents to millions of potentially new fans, but it also revealed him to be a super smart, caring, determined, classy, easy-going, and genuinely good, likeable guy. Perhaps, more importantly, it will hopefully help break down negative attitudes that continue to exist toward the gay community.
Arsenio Hall even joked about it himself, “I meet a lot of people who, when they meet me now, say: ‘wow, man, I thought you were dead.” I don’t think he’ll be hearing much of that any more. Like Clay, Arsenio proved that he’s a class act, even with his Aubrey O’Day moment. (I doubt many could blame him) And, who knew the dude could sing! I’m not sure where Arsenio went since his show ended in the mid-nineties, but wherever that was, his great, likeable CA performance should open doors in a major way for him. Woof, woof, woof!
I don’t think anyone knew Dayana Mendoza before this season’s CA. They do now. Despite the negative stereotyping that Lisa Lampanelli did her damnedest to try to re-enforce, Dayana proved that you can be both drop-dead beautiful and smart. Her calm resolve against Lampanelli’s relentless broadside salvos also proved she’s as tough as they come. Though she may not have won the game her personal brand scored huge. Bravo, Dayana.
If this was HBO or an esoteric cable channel Lisa Lampanelli might have gotten away with her condescending, foul-mouthed antics. Not on NBC in primetime. I’m sure she was told as much by her handlers (if there even is such a thing). Even with her 11th-hour attempt at crisis management by coughing up the 10k for Clay’s charity and acting all sweet and self-effacing with her final comments, it was too little, too late. She may have won big bucks for her charity, but she blew it big time to take her career up a notch. Had she been smarter she could have won while staying true to her wickedly, wise-ass persona. Instead, she just came off wicked.
It’s not surprising that Aubrey O’Day and Lisa Lampanelli bonded. Both are talented and incredibly driven. Both are also narcissists who couldn’t help but take every on-camera moment to exclaim how amazingly awesome they were and how amazingly retarded most of their teammates were. That’s not the way to win the game or public favor. Of course, her fans will continue to adore her and she deserves props for her money-raising efforts for charity. However, her “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…and smart…and, did I mention awesomely creative?” attitude won’t score points with the public or major advertisers.