Thursday, July 12, 2007

A Reality Check With ... Jeff Ballard (Bravo's "Hey Paula")

Just out of high school, Jeff Ballard formed Jeff Ballard Public Relations in 1982. JBPR has handled public relations for both new and established actors and actresses, not only from motion pictures and television, but in the recording industry and on the Broadway stage as well. RealityCheckByGina sits down with Paula Abdul's publicist, Jeff Ballard, one of the stars of the new Bravo reality show, "Hey Paula".

RC: How does someone become a publicist?
Jeff: I started out, when I was in high school, I started interviewing people on television shows for my high school paper. Back in the day, you could just pick up the phone & call Robert Wagner or Angie Dickinson & they’d come to the phone! I sucked those people in, they didn’t have agents! I’d go interview them & then hang out to wander the studios. I ended up on the show “Eight is Enough” as their publicist. I was still in high school! Everything kind of snowballed from there.


RC: When did your working relationship begin with Paula?
Jeff: I met Paula when I was in high school. She was dating a friend of mine. When she did her album, she had a publicist. I think that publicist left to go do something else. She called me saying, “You’re the only publicist I know!” I’m not a music publicist, that’s a very specialized thing. We’ve worked together for 6 months & then, when American Idol came around, I was handling Ryan Seacrest & she hired me for Idol.

RC: Have you or do you currently represent other celebrities?
Jeff: I’ve worked with Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen, Matthew Perry, Forrest Whitaker, Zach Efron, different soap opera stars … quite an eclectic bunch.

RC: A publicist isn’t used to being the one at the center of attention. How did you adjust when the camera crews came in for “Hey Paula”?
Jeff: It was very awkward to me because, as a publicist, you have a peripheral vision where you see the cameras. You’re more about keeping the cameras away. I’m not an actor & there’s a reason why I’m behind the camera. But I’ve improved since the first episode. After a while, you get used to them. It’s hard when you’re in a limo with a camera, light person, sound person there in your face. But when you’re walking around, you get used to them.

RC: Is the show accurate?
Jeff: Reality isn’t real, bottom line. It’s all scripted. What they did with her show was shoot for 3 or 4 months before they knew what each episode was going to be. They look over all the footage & say, “Oh here’s a good storyline!” There’s stuff that I did in January or April & it looks like it’s the same day. I wanted to cut my hair for the summer & they said I couldn’t. It had to match. But the show pretty much accurately portrays here. There’s always drama & they tie it up really nicely at the end with a bow on it.

RC: Whose idea was doing “Hey Paula”?
Jeff: I think that she had a producing partner & came up with the idea. They thought it would be a good forum to show Paula other than the judge on American Idol. It shows her enterprises & endeavors: her jewelry line, her perfume, her clothing line. This was her chance to show people, “I’m more than just that image on American Idol”. It also gave her a chance to explain why people think she’s a little whacky. This girl goes 24 hours a day.

RC: I imagine with someone like Paula, that’s this is a 24 hour a day job for you as well.
Jeff: It is at times! For dramatic purposes, it looks like I’m much busier than I am. But she lives 2 miles up the street so I can be at her house in 5 minutes. We have a very good relationship. We fire each other every other week but at the end of the day, I really like her. It’s not about a check. I can make plenty of money handling not nice people. I choose to work for nice people.

RC: Paula has a new season of Idol coming up – what else can we expect from her?
Jeff: She’s got a whole new line of jewelry. She’s in London working on that & selling it over there on their version on QVC. She’s got her new perfume called Sexy Thoughts. Idol starts in a few days starting with the auditions in San Diego. She’s got some other shows coming up. Next week, she’s got Letterman, and she’s co-hosting The View.



A new episode of Hey Paula airs tonight on Bravo at 10pm EST

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I'm not surprised by how much they edit the show. I'll keep watching though. Her publicist seems like a cool guy and I'm sure the rest of the season will be interesting ... afterall, it IS Paula we're talking about here!

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