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One day I will run a trashy tabloid. Until then, this will have to suffice.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Laguna Beach woes the New York Times

Image hosted by LOS ANGELES, Aug. 29 - Last November, Lauren Conrad, 19, attended a celebrity-filled function thrown by Teen People magazine, a perk of being a central character on MTV's popular reality series "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County." There, she encountered another perk: she spotted one of her favorite pop singers. "I was like, 'Oh, my God! Ashlee Simpson's here!' " recalled Ms. Conrad, who, last season, was the dejected party in a love triangle that also included a model-pretty surfer named Stephen and his swaggering younger girlfriend, Kristin. "I was freaking out, pretending like I didn't see her. Then Ashlee Simpson walked right up to me and was, like: 'L.C., love your show! I watch it every week with my friends!' " The third perk. Judging from the ratings, Ms. Simpson and her pals are not the only ones tuning in to MTV on Monday nights at 10. The series, a glossily photographed chronicle of a year in the lives of eight perfectly tanned teenagers at Laguna Beach High School, slowly continued to pick up speed until the first-season finale drew almost three million viewers. To lure back its audience after a seven-and-a-half-month hiatus, MTV employed some of its time-honored tactics: raining teen product - signature "Laguna Beach" key chains, flip-flops and back-to-school notebooks - upon its target 12-to-34-year-old demographic, while airing plenty of catch-up marathons before Season 2 began on July 25. Since then, the show and its fusion of unscripted entertainment and night-time soap opera has become an unqualified hit for the channel. Last season, the show averaged 2.2 million viewers; this year, the average is 3.1 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. But MTV did not build that kind of "Laguna Beach" love with just promos, reruns and logo-bearing tchotchkes. It began a campaign that gave its audience the feeling they were already living in a "Laguna Beach" all-media universe. For those who did not catch the three-minute "Laguna Beach" commercial playing in 2,200 movie theaters across the country, there was a compilation CD. The "Laguna Beach: Complete First Season" DVD included bonus features that ranged from behind-the-scenes material (original casting tapes, deleted scenes) to old film that had been enterprisingly repackaged (a clip reel titled "Laguna Looks" featured show regulars in close-up as their trademark expressions - hound-dog lust, raised-brow surprise, squinty-eyed jealousy - register on their camera-ready faces). [NYT]


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