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Shanghaied, Redone & Loving It!

Jan 12, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Makeover shows have been the rage throughout the cable and prime-time television landscapes for years, but their popularity arguably achieved new highs last year, when series such as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and “Extreme Makeover” took off.
As the popularity of makeover shows has grown, so has that of their signature personalities, such as “Queer Eye’s” Carson Kressley and “Trading Spaces”’ Ty Pennington.
In syndication, several studios are eyeing the genre by developing series for the 2004 season. Only one, however, is confirmed to go in the fall: Twentieth Television’s “Ambush Makeover,” which began a regional rollout last June.
“Ambush Makeover” has its own rising star in stylist William Whatley.
TelevisionWeek asked Mr. Whatley to keep a diary describing a day in the life of a stylist on a typical day of “Ambush Makeover.”
6 a.m. Phone rings for my wake-up call.
6:45 a.m. My producer calls. We need to get to location before people start getting to work.
6:51 a.m. Back to the room-forgot my scissors.
7 a.m. Going to location. This is going to be a run-and-gun day. Very excited!
8 a.m. At location. Getting miked up. See all kinds of great targets.
8:30 a.m. On the streets, trying to get someone to change their life today.
9 a.m. I see a potential target. Her hair is calling me. Help! Help!
9:05 a.m. “You’re on `Ambush Makeover.’ I’m William Whatley.”
“Oh my God!” she screams.
“When is the last time you had a makeover?”
Target answers, “Never.”
9:08 a.m. “OK, you need to change your hair color. It is too brassy for your skin tone. Did you get into a fight with Miss Clairol and she won?”
Target laughs.
“What’s your name?”
“Amy.”
9:15 a.m. “OK, Amy, I want to take you for the day and give you a makeover.”
9:20 a.m. I tell Amy there is only one catch: She has to go with me right now.
9:21 a.m. Amy has a flight in 21/2 hours. She is going back home.
9:22 a.m. “You will need to change your flight, Amy.”
“I can’t miss it. … I know I need a makeover. Can you do everything in 21/2 hours? Or can you come on the plane to finish?”
9:25 a.m. OK … I am thinking.
9:26 a.m. “Sorry, Amy, I can’t do it, but have a safe flight home.”
9:30 a.m. Back on the streets looking for another target! We are starting to get into our makeover time. Got to find a target.
10 a.m. Starbucks!
10:15 a.m. Got my coffee, now just need to get my target.
10:17 a.m. OK, over my shoulder. The lady reading the paper and having coffee on the bench. She has long, straight hair pulled up in a scrunchie. Major roots. Color needs doing. She is dressed in baggy clothes.
10:18 a.m. She sees me pointing at her. She is trying to get her stuff together and run.
10:19 a.m. “Stop! You’re on `Ambush Makeover.”’
She is trying to get in her car.
10:20 a.m. Target screams, “I was just reading about `Ambush Makeover’ in this paper!” She says she read in the paper that the “Ambush” teams would be on the streets this week.
10:30 a.m. All right! I am not letting this target get away.
10:31 a.m. “What’s your name?”
“Tammy.”
“Why were you running from me?”
“All those cameras and people were running at me.”
10:45 a.m. “Tammy, you know you need my help. Your long, straight hair is doing nothing for the shape of your face. I need to take 4 to 6 inches off of the length and color your hair and teach you how to dress for your shape. Are you game?”
10:46 a.m. Tammy is making some calls to get her day freed up.
10:48 a.m. She is going to do it!
11 a.m. I’ve got Tammy at the salon; the Ambush Team is waiting inside. Before we go in, I tell Tammy, “OK, I’m going to give you what I call my Commitment Cut.” I pull out my 12-inch shears that will cut through any thickness of hair fast. She screams, “Wait! Wait! What are you doing? I haven’t cut my hair in four years!”
“I can tell. Just trust me.”
11:05 a.m. I got my Commitment Cut! Tammy tells me now that she has to be done by 5 because she is having dinner with her family and she hasn’t seen her sister in three years.
11:06 a.m. OK, I am freaking out now because I just told Tammy we could do all this in 41/2 hours. Haircut, hair color, makeup, clothing and shoes. She could have told me this before I did my Commitment Cut. No turning back now!
11:15 a.m. Tammy meets Ambush Team: cut, color, makeup. Let’s get started, clock is ticking! Color first.
12:15 p.m. Just put the last foil in her head. Tammy tells me she is business-savvy but a fashion failure. Her sister that she has not seen for three years is the fashion plate. Always telling her to cut and color her hair, how to wear her makeup and stop wearing clothes that don’t fit. Wait until she sees Tammy tonight with her new look!
12:20 p.m. I tell the “Ambush” colorist to put a cap over the foils and color. Have to take Tammy with foils in hair to get clothes. We have less than three hours to get everything done. I am starting to get a little worried.
1 p.m. We are at clothing boutique, but I called ahead with sizes and an idea of what I wanted. They’ve already pulled clothes, so it will save time. OK, Tammy, get in there and start trying on clothes.
1:20 p.m. Need to check color. Yikes! It is processing too fast. I think I am going to have to take drastic measures so that Tammy’s hair does not fry.
2 p.m. We have the look that we are going to take for Tammy. A sexy spaghetti-strap, form-fitting dress that fits perfect for her figure. And a pair of 3-inch sling-back heels that brings the look together. We have to get back fast to get this color off. I am praying to the hair color gods!
2:15 p.m. In the car going back to the salon. I look at the color and it has to come off now. Tammy is getting very nervous and starting to freak out.
“Driver, pull over at that convenience store!”
Tammy asks why we’re stopping. Don’t we need to get to the salon?
2:25 p.m. I tell Tammy to get out of the car. I have 12 bottles of water. She gets out, I start pulling the foils out of her hair and start rinsing her hair right there in the parking lot. We are laughing hysterically, but I wasn’t about to let her hair fry!
3 p.m. Yea! I saved Tammy’s hair, but we are really running out of time. Get back in the car and get to the salon to finish haircut and do makeup. We have less than two hours and we are still 20 minutes away from the salon.
3:25 p.m. We are back at the salon, rushing in. Where is my Ambush Team?
They come over and I tell them we are really running out of time, so this is what I want to do. Finish her haircut to frame her face and shatter-layer the rest of the hair so it will give her volume and movement. Makeup, even out her skin tones and bring out her eyes with soft colors and show her how to shape her lips with a liner.
But the trick is, guys, we have to do this all at once. They look at me like I am crazy, but then they start.
4:20 p.m. Ambush Team is finished. She looks incredible! Tammy hasn’t seen herself completely done, so she is going to see for the first time, right now.
Tammy looks at herself and says, “Oh my God. I never knew I could look this pretty! It was always my sister that looked like this.”
Now off to dinner with her sister and the rest of her family.
5:30 p.m. We are at the restaurant. I go in to find Tammy’s family, apologize for Tammy being late, tell them dinner is on “Ambush Makeover” and get ready to see a new Tammy.
5:35 p.m. “OK, open your eyes!” Tammy’s family screams with excitement. Her sister starts to cry. “I told you that you should have done this years ago. You look beautiful!”
Tammy looks at me and says, “Thank you so much for everything-you have changed my life!”
Finally, 5:45 p.m. Tammy looked beautiful. We changed her life.