I'll start this out with this confession.....I like Martha Stewart. I do. I recall flipping channels one day, and getting caught up in her making cocktail napkins out of $35 a yard Irish linen. Having an interest in textiles I got sucked right in. She was so precise, everything was so perfect, she even had hand rolled hems! Soon I was yearning to make my own Irish linen cocktail napkins to use at my next dinner party. Then I came to my senses, bought a roll of Bounty paper towels and a fifth of Maker's Mark and here I am. Want a swig? Don't worry about drinking after me...the alcohol kills the germs.
We're treated to a brief history of Martha, which I'm sure that everyone knows. But, for those of you who have recently awoken from a 20 year coma, it goes something like this: Martha wrote some books on entertaining, cooking, and whatnot, signed to K-Mart, published magazines, got a television show, became a billionarie, went to the slammer, got released, and got another television show.
Martha takes us around the offices of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and so far I'm struck by two things...the really cool wall decoration made out of thousands of what looks like paint samples, and the way she talks like her jaws are wired shut. Cue the fantastic theme song "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" by the Eurythmics, and we're ready to go. It's interesting how they show a few of the candidates while the lyrics "some of them want to use you, some of them want to be used by you" are being sung.
The candidates go with Martha into the conference room, and are introduced to Martha's daughter Alexis Stewart, and Charles Koppelman, Chairman of the Board. They will be the "Carolyn and George" of this show. Alexis says that she's the original apprentice and hasn't been fired yet. Charles says that it's a small world, then turns to Bethenny and makes a comment about knowing her, that Bethenny is a friend of his daughter's. Later in the show we find out that Bethenny also dated his son. They make a big deal about saying neither one of them knew about the other's involvement in the show, showing us common viewers how fair and impartial they are. Charles kind of reminds me of that butler from "Joe Millionaire" and he holds an unlit cigar a lot, which to me, seems rather phallic. I'm not sure what that says about me.
Martha tells the candidates that money can't buy what they're going to learn there. She tells them a story about how in the Renaissance people paid artisans and craftsmen to learn their ways, and she then directs them to an adjoining surgical room where each person will have a kidney removed to be sold on the black market in payment for her knowledge. Okay, I'm kidding about that last part. Really it's just part of their livers, as that goes better with fava beans and a nice Chianti.
Everyone finally gets to go to the loft, which is on the same floor as Martha's offices, and decorated in designer K-Mart. They pop the champagne, and toast to "all good things". There's a note from Martha, telling them to split themselves into two teams and find something that each team has in common. They quickly sort themselves into "corporate" and "creative". Now for the names!
The creative team is throwing names possibilites around, and Jim suggests "Team Go". That gets shot down and someone else suggests "Team Flair". Jim declares that name "frilly" as he flaps his wrist around. Next he suggests "The Mommas and the Poppas" and says he's had it in his head for years, and doesn't know why. Maybe from doing hallucinogenics and getting into his parent's record collection, I'm not sure. They finally settle on Matchstick, which I find strange. There's already Matchmaker, Match.com, heck there's even the little matchstick girl. Why pick a name associated with fire, that could be associated with your team going down in flames? Ah, whatever, at least it's better than "Team Go". Matchstick consists of Jim, Bethenny, Dawn, Shawn, Chuck, Marcela, David, and Jeff, who will be the project manager.
The corporate team wastes no time selecting a name, or if they did we didn't see it. They choose Primarius. This name makes me think of the hybrid car Prius by Toyota, and of the band Primus, with the huge-thumbed Les Claypool thumping his bass. For those of you clueless to what I'm talking about, they sing the South Park theme song. But I digress....back to business! Primarius consists of Leslie, Carrie, Sarah, Jennifer, Amanda, Ryan, Howie and Dawna, who is project manager.
The teams met up with Martha in the lobby of Random House books. Martha is flanked by Alexis and Charles on one side, Chip Gibson and Ann Schwartz on the other. Chip and Ann will be deciding on which team makes a better book and presentation. The task is to adapt a well-known fairytale to make it pertinent to today's children, and they're instructed on the importance of connecting with your customer. They will each make a book and read it to a group of first-graders.
Primarius heads into the Rudyard Kipling room, and jump right into things. Immediately Jack and the Beanstalk is chosen as their story, since kids like magic. Dawna splits her team up, sending some of them to the streets to find kids to come provide feedback for their ideas. I assume they'll find the kids' parents as well, lest they want to face some charges. The rest will remain there and work on the book.
Matchstick goes into the Dr. Seuss room, where Jeff proposes "Hansel and Gretel" in an urban setting. Dawn is selected as the writer due to her background, and she immediately says "Shut up and stay away from me if you want me to write!" Well, she doesn't say it exactly like that, but that's what her teammates hear. They yak around her, as she melts down. Jeff decides that he's going to draft it, while Dawn looks over his shoulder. There's a lot of tension between Jeff and Dawn, and I suspect it's because they are wearing the exact same glasses.
Primarius gets their little focus group of children ready, and test drives their story. It goes over well. Matchstick gets into a deep discussion about the dark turn their story has taken. The whole team tells Jeff their concerns, but he puts his foot down and says that it "floats his boat". The Tidy-Bowl man had a boat, too, Jeff. *flush*
Matchstick has chosen Dawn as their reader, and Jeff says that she's been at the loft for 12 hours to prepare. 12 hours to prepare to read? Does she have to go through the entire Hooked on Phonics or something? Jeff wants Dawn to read through the book in front of the rest of the team, but she stalls, saying she wants to eat a banana. The rest of the team is mortified about her banana-eating desires, and Bethenny declares it disrespectful. This is not quite the image that comes to my mind when I think of someone being disrespected with a banana. After more insults sans fruit, Jeff reassigns the reading duties to Shawn.
Matchstick reads to the first-graders first. Shawna is pleasant enough, but this is one warped version of Hansel and Gretel. It rhymes badly, the characters run away from home, change their names and talk to strangers. The reader for Primarius is Howie. He reads them their version of Jack and the Beanstalk, but in this version the stalk goes into the ocean and there's even a chocolate castle. The winner is already clear.
In the conference room, Chip and Ann weigh in on the books, and Primarius is officially declared the winner. For their reward, they get a sushi feast from chef Tadashi Ono, owner of Matsuri restaurant. During the meal, Martha comments on Howie's reading of Primarius' book. In a side interview, Howie says he could possibly be falling in love with Martha Stewart. Perhaps that's a good angle, if you can't be the new apprentice in the boardroom, be the new apprentice in the bedroom. But don't forget, Howie, Martha demands perfection. That's a lot of performance anxiety right there.
Matchstick team members run around, talking about who they think should be cut. There's lots of talk about Dawn, due to her negativity and brazen banana-eating. Jim actually employs some strategy, saying that Dawn is easily expendable later, but this may be the only chance to get rid of Jeff. Bethenny is having none of that, and refuses to listen. In a side interview Jim says this game rocks, that it's kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, and "time to sacrifice some lambs". baaa
Time to find out who goes, so it's back to the conference room. Martha doesn't like their story, Alexis and Charles agree. Lots of finger pointing goes on about Dawn's negativity, with a little to Jeff's direction. Jeff picks Jim and Dawn to go back into the conference room with him. Jeff then makes the mistake of splitting blame between Dawn and Jim, while Dawn and Jim both blame Jeff. It's two-to-one, and with the law of averages, Jeff doesn't stand a chance. After a small speech on not connecting, Martha says her catch phrase of the season......"you just...don't...fit...in" and with that, Jeff is history.
Right after Jeff leaves, Martha whips out her stationery and jots out a letter to him..."Dear Jeff, I just saw your sorry ass in the boardroom ten seconds ago, and I'd like to remind you that you FAILED but I really enjoyed meeting you." All so Jeff can relive the rejection all over again. I wonder what Emily Post has to say about firing someone and then sending them a letter?
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