The Spin Crowd -- TV Review



As the adage goes, journalism is like sausage: If you like it, it's best not to see how it is made. Thanks to "The Spin Crowd," now you can say the same about Hollywood publicity.

Not that this show renders an entirely honest picture of the process. It's obvious in just a few minutes that "Spin Crowd" has been sanitized, prettified, glamorized and oversimplified for the benefit of the celebrities who appear on it as well as the celebrity-obsessed viewers of E! In short, it depicts the real world of celebrity publicity about as faithfully as those happy California cows depict dairy farming.

Even the name is a little deceptive. The show looks at Jonathan Cheban, head of Command PR, a New York film opening new offices in Los Angeles. Other cast members are five employees of the company. It's more like a smattering than a crowd.

Although you might not be able to tell from the opener, Cheban is the real deal. He knows lots of tabloid darlings and has made a career of trading on those relationships. If you want to market your product to those whose biggest dream is to be like Paris or Khloe, Cheban is the one to see.

During the course of the season, he and his employees will put together a number of parties and events, including a charity event for Kim Kardashian, who is listed as an exec producer of the show and reportedly came up with the idea for it. E! tested the show in February, calling it "The Spindustry."

If the latest episode is any indication, these events will come off beautifully with practically no behind-the-scenes drama. Even if the pilot isn't exactly a primer on how a celebrity event comes together, it should be required viewing for anyone curious about what constitutes a hostile work environment.

At a company staff meeting, Cheban pounces on rookie employee Erika, fresh out of college, for dressing in too casual a style. Then he pressures her to get collagen injections to thicken her lips. He pays for the appointment, and she tearfully complies.

"You're homely," he tells her. "No offense. This is like Hollywood. You need to step it up."

Second-in-command Simon Huck helps rein in the boss' more extreme impulses and even gives Cheban a dose of his own egotistical medicine. It's fun to watch, but it doesn't erase the conviction that Cheban is a shallow, self-centered bully who gets away with being a jerk only because his employees (except for the indispensable Huck) are too frightened to speak up.

In the premiere, a manufacturer of a tanning lotion wants a celebrity spokesman to show off the product at a media-saturated event. Cheban courts Mario Lopez, who laughs at the irony. "Being born Mexican, I already have a tan going," he responds.

For terms not disclosed, Lopez agrees. Commando PR gets him to pose bare-chested with the product. Eventually, a camera crew from "Extra," which Lopez guest hosts, makes an obligatory appearance.

Does that constitutes a success for "The Spin Crowd"? Yes, if you spin it correctly.

Airdate: 10:30-11 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 22 (E!)
Production: Bunim-Murray Prods
Executive producers: Kim Kardashian, Jon Murray, Jeff Jenkins, Gil Goldschein
Co-executive producer: Russell Jay
Line producer: Erica Paige
Supervising producer: Katherine Brooks
Segment producer: Briana Vowels
Supervising story producer: Grant Richard
Producers: Erin Paxton, Amy Elkins
Production manager: Michael Potts
Director of photography: Marc Weichel
Editor: Ben Salter
Art director: Brad Lublin
Music: Michael Stone