CLARK: So much reality, it's becoming surreal

pclark@modbee.comApril 29, 2013 

Caption: FASHION STAR -- "What's Your Story" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jessica Simpson, Luciana Scarabello -- (Photo by: Tyler Golden/NBC)

NBC

For a gal who never really liked reality television — who's blasted a lot of it on several occasions, actually — I sure watch a lot of it these days. Blame an unhealthy addiction to certain cooking competition shows.

It hasn't helped that a bevy of people from the greater Modesto region have popped up on any number of reality shows over the past several years, furthering my interest — and/or need — in watching. Most are shows I likely never would have latched onto if not for the local connection.

Case in point, "Fashion Star." After a single viewing last season, I just didn't care for this new spin on a "Project Runway"-style contest between fashion designers that airs on NBC.

But I've been a faithful — sort of — viewer this season, thanks to the addition of a former Modestan who's currently competing. That "sort of" is tossed in there because the show remains a little draggy, a little obnoxious. The new host, for example, is even more fish-out-of-water than the one who appeared last year. Clearly, she was listening a bit too closely to her speaking coach's instructions to POP certain words for EMPHASIS, even if those words have NO BUSINESS being EMPHASIZED.

So there's a lot of fast-forwarding through scenes that don't include said ex-Modestan, JesseRay Vasquez and his partner Garrett Gerson.

(We'll have more on them later.)

Similarly, since I never warmed to the Fox drama "Glee," there's little chance I'd have considered watching competition show "The Glee Project" without Modesto native Robert Ulrich at the helm, or without co-Motown native Lindsay Pearce as part of the fledgling season competitor ranks. Yet, I ended up loving the series.

(More on this later, too.)

The Modesto region has had locals in competitions from dance to survival to singing to cooking to designing to acting to racing to dealing with Rachel Zoe.

OK, so that last one isn't a competition show, but Modesto's Jeremiah Brent did have to keep proving himself in all sorts of ways to the over-the-top celebrity stylist on her Bravo reality series "Project."

(Wait for it ... wait for it ... that's right, more on Brent later, too.)

Following the progress of all those regionally connected people is beginning to make this column feel as though it's slowly morphing into one of those reality TV recap blogs that pepper the Internet. That's not the aim, but there's a lot to report on the locally connected, whose profiles have shot higher thanks to their TV exposure.

So, here's the latest:

Let's start with "The Glee Project" on the Oxygen channel. It was disappointing to read Internet reports that this show might be rendered obsolete because the renewal of "Glee" itself was stalled at Fox.

With the mother show's fate up in the air, there was no reason to green light a competition whose sole reward is a guest-role arc on the original. Hence, "Glee Project" was nixed for what would have been its third season this summer.

I emailed Ulrich, Emmy Award-winning casting director and all around nice guy, about the status of "The Glee Project" last week and he confirmed it won't return this summer.

But, as it turns out, that same day — last Friday — "Glee" was picked up, for not one season, but for two more by Fox. While it was too soon to confirm anything about "The Glee Project's" return, Ulrich said he was hopeful it would follow suit.

So we'll miss "Glee Project" and Ulrich's masterful mentoring of young TV star hopefuls this summer, but look forward to it's possible return at a later date.

As for Jeremiah Brent, the former Rachel Zoe whipping boy emerged from her reality show with much success. We've reported that Brent has been dating celebrity interior designer Nate Berkus and that the pair was spotted antique shopping in Oakdale.

According to the Internet rumor mill: Brent and Berkus now are engaged. I'd love to confirm that with Brent and chat about how his design business is going, but have had no luck making contact with him over the past several weeks. We'll keep trying.

On "Fashion Star," Vasquez and Gerson continue to hang in there. After a shaky starat in the first episode, the duo has been selling their designs to two of the major shopping chain judges — Macy's and Sak's — pretty consistently. But the third, Express, had no interest in their work, which threatened their ability to win the competition.

That changed last Friday when both Macy's and Express bid on their design. The Macy's rep bowed out quickly, though, to allow that all-important buy from Express. It was a magnanimous move and she added to the boost by telling them she wanted to see them continue and that she's "a fan."

P.S. Me too. Their knitwear truly is lovely.

And, finally, former Modestan Megan Camerena and her partner dodged a bullet a couple of Sundays ago on CBS' "The Amazing Race." They came in last in a leg — usually the exit door for competitors. But the couple that came in just before them didn't follow all the rules and incurred a 30-minute penalty. Camerena and partner ran in before the penalty was up and snuck back into the race by the skin of their teeth.

Reach Scene editor Pat Clark at pclark@modbee.com.

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