The Insider

Nov 4, 2002  •  Post A Comment

In what The Insider affectionately calls their spare time, B. Smith-the inspiration for a growing multimedia empire that ranges from a 6-year-old syndicated show and three popular restaurants to Vogue home couture patterns, a Bed, Bath & Beyond line of house and home furnishings and an advice column in Soap Opera Digest-and producer husband Dan Gasby have been doing their own version of “This Old House.”
Just about this time last year, they bought an apartment on Manhattan’s Central Park South knowing that nothing less than total renovation would do. “This was a `60s apartment right down to the Frigidaire,” Mr. Gasby said. Out went the pink bathroom, the pack of really old Old Golds found in one wall and the pea-soup green carpeting with a shag “long enough that a Rastafarian wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.” In went lots of stone and woods, 16 different paints, cleverly created closet and bathroom space and imaginatively divided areas and a “brain” that controls such atmospheric variables as curtains, music, temperature and lights. “There are no light switches,” Mr. Gasby said.
With work 99 percent complete, he describes the end result as a Zen-like fusion of Asian and African and contemporary and assorted other influences that appealed to his wife. “In one room there is an 1810 Welsh breakfront and then my `James Bond bar’ and entertainment center out of wenge wood-because she wanted it to be the color of my complexion,” Mr. Gasby said.
The couple see their home on Long Island, their loft in Manhattan and the new apartment as “living labs for style.” The new place will be the star of a special that started with their purchase and will conclude with their first dinner party in the new space. All that’s left is to apply finishing touches, plan the dinner, invite the guests and find an outlet or distributor for the hour-long special being produced by B. Smith Productions.
But don’t expect Mr. Gasby and B. Smith to curl up on couches in their new space for very long at a stretch. They’re already looking for a farm in Virginia they could add to their real estate holdings. The very thought of all this activity leaves The Insider, who has started her Saturday mornings with “Style” for years, breathless.
Making Wiggles room for `Dear’ little ones
The hottest ticket these days is anything that grants entry to anything involving The Wiggles, the four Aussies who rule the children’s entertainment world with a library full of danceable hits like “Butterflies Flit”-no, Insiderettes, that “L.A. Law” plot involved a butterfly flick-and a Web site chock full of Wiggles merchandise. Before they embark on a sold-out concert tour of the United States, the Wiggles are taping an appearance on CBS’s Monday night hit “Yes, Dear.” Twentieth Century Fox Television, which produces “Dear,” and CBS shipped out invitations last week to a Tuesday afternoon “meet-and-greet” press party with the “Dear” cast and a live Wiggles performance. They expected 100 or so kids and their members-of-the-press parents. At last count, there were more than 200 RSVPs, and calls were still coming in from people who not only were not on the invitation list but also were not connected to the press or to 20th, “Dear” or CBS. As one wag joked when The Insider confided she was struggling for a kicker to the item: “As soon as we realized that word of the Wiggles was spreading around Hollywood play groups, we knew we were in trouble.”
VH1’s `Fashion’ fatigue
The Insider hears that the David Gest-Liza Minnelli surreality show is not the only programming getting the hook from VH1. We’re told the “VH1/Vogue Fashion Awards” string has finally run out too. At the very least, the question of whether to continue the event manufactured to bring the fashion and music worlds together is on the table at VH1, where the show is characterized officially as having met expectations. But The Insider believes the very worst, which is that a combination of “lousy ratings and enormous difficulties with the divas at Vogue” on the Oct. 15 edition mean that “Fashion” is out at VH1.
Emeril serves up Insider surprise
Among the notions that television reinforces is that this is a very small world indeed. Last Wednesday, “Good Morning America” viewers saw celebrity chef Emeril serve buttermilk pancakes to the most recent winner of the ABC News show’s “Breakfast in Bed” contest, Michael Piscal.
Mr. Piscal is the principal of View Park Prep School, one of the most successful charter schools in California, and the founder of the 8-year-old Inner City Education Foundation that operates it and three other programs designed to provide quality educational alternatives for minority kids in Los Angeles. He is also the nephew of Kevin O’Brien, who, in addition to being the newsmaking president of the Meredith Broadcast Group, is a member of Inner City’s board of trustees and who, The Insider has come to know, is as big a fan of Mr. Piscal as the more than 300 kids who wrote and sang their principal’s praises in a video to “GMA.”
Who else would tell you these things?