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In less than a century, television has evolved from a projection of static and sound into a veritable showcase for society. Everyday people are performing extraordinary acts like raising children or loosing weight and, lucky for us, we get to follow every exhaustive detail.
It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to wait so long to watch a group of the East Coast’s best and brightest as they soak in a well-deserved retreat on the New Jersey coast. That begs the question, though, how does one top a series about a group of orange-faced, 20-somethings savoring their summer?
“A$pen the Series” answers that with a scripted, satirical comedy about a group of socialites, celebrities, and trust-fund babies making a reality show in a mansion on Aspen’s elite Red Mountain road. Executive producer and creator Greg T. Simmons, an Aspen local, thought of the idea while attending the HBO U.S. Comedy Arts Festival, hosted in Aspen.
“The show is really about the characters more than the reality show,” Simmons said. “In creating the show, I wanted to mirror “Friends,” but instead of yuppies in New York City, I preferred the stereotypes in Aspen.”
Those stereotypes are a combination of the local and national perspectives of opulence and glamour that characterize Aspen. The show’s characters include a television writer, Internet porn star, and a freshly rehabbed, Oscar-nominated movie star.
In the pilot, the main character, a cranberry juice mogul played by Pat Finn, has a supermodel girlfriend who creates the reality show by bringing together the group for her boyfriend’s 40th birthday present.
“The characters are all very representative of Aspen’s culture. All five are likeable and sympathetic, with a few brats mixed in,” Simmons said. “Aspen has always had a certain Hollywood element, so the movie star character was organic and including a star, just out of rehab, was a necessity.”
In one scene, Bodhi Elfman’s character, a neurotic television writer named Lenny Markowitz, asks Donald “Ducky” Livingston, the trust-fund baby played by comedian Bill Dawes, what he does. Ducky says with complete sincerity, “preferably very supple gymnasts.” Rephrasing his question, Markowitz asks what he does for a job, to which a now distraught Ducky replies, “he said the ‘J-word’, I do not like your friend,” then turns his back and shields his face.
The writing team is headed by Larry Levy, a two-time Emmy nominee, “Seinfeld” writer, and Writers Guild of America award winner. Much like HBO’s current hit, “Entourage,” “Aspen the Series” will have a strong focus on cameos. Appearances are already arranged for Paris Hilton, Carmen Electra, Tracy Bingham, Gisele Bundchen, Playboy playmates, Ms. America & Teen USA winner Carrie Stroup, bikini model Ashley Smith, and 2008 World Alpine Skiing Champion Bode Miller.