Article published in Dropline.biz on April 17, 2006
By Sarah D. Goldstein (co-authored by Dino M. Zaffina)
Network and Cable television broadcast talk shows ad nauseam. There are shows being televised with a wannabe singer and an actress that is so busy she doesn’t know what set she is on; or four yentas who sit around a table bashing each other; or a washed up federal prosecutor who could not make it in private practice.
The Style Network has broken the negative streak. They deliver to home audiences, television’s “No. 1” refreshing, energetic, and informative talk show, with today’s most fascinating women. Modern Girl’s Guide to Life is a fun series that delivers useful tips for the modern woman.
The show is based on the book of same name, authored by Jane Buckingham, who is also one of the hosts. Just like the book, Style Network’s Modern Girl’s Guide to Life provides information on entertaining, etiquette, housekeeping, basic home repair, decorating, sex, and beauty, everything that today’s young woman should know, but may not.
Finally, there’s a show that tackles daily challenges with a take-charge attitude. Buckingham, along with fellow Modern Girl’s Eva La Rue, Claudia Jordan, and Jess Zaino—hosts this weekly treasure trove of practical advice. Not sure how to buy a quality piece of jewelry? Don’t worry, the Modern Girl’s Guide shows you how! Can’t tell the difference between a crock pot and a stock pot? These women will enlighten you on that, too. Each episode covers questions women are afraid to ask, on topics from beauty to fitness to travel and more. Many members of the show’s fan base consider Modern Girl’s Guide to Life their big sister with all the answers—their very own cheat sheet to living well!
Modern Girl’s Guide to Life is entering its third season. The same wonderful women will be returning as hosts and the source of invaluable information. Each episode will be filled with the four women learning something new, that they will share with the home audience. For example, during the second season, the Modern Girls learned about and discussed the subject of “Be Your Own Man.” The hosts dove into “manly” activities, including topics of beer, right-hand rings, barbecue, how to be a handywoman, and more. Another episode discussed “Boy Toys for Girls.” The Modern Girls got playful with cars, girl golf, purse-size technology, a girls’ gun club, and lots more. (See Season Two Episodes).
Meet the Modern Girls
Jane Buckingham is president of the New York and Los Angeles-based market research firm The Intelligence Group (formerly Youth Intelligence), recently acquired by Creative Artists Agency (CAA), the world’s leading talent and literary agency. Jane has been studying and interpreting America’s youth for more than a decade, helping companies, educators, and parents better understand 7-35 year olds.
Youth and trend expert Buckingham founded Youth Intelligence in 1996. Building upon quantitative and qualitative analysis, the company provides marketing consulting, trend forecasting, and market research to determine today’s concerns and tomorrow’ trends. Clients of the firm include Levi’s, Microsoft, Nike, Bank of America, and L’Oreal, among many other major marketers. The Intelligence Group publishes the leading trend forecasting product, “The Cassandra Report.” The Intelligence Group also created trendcentral which includes a daily e-mail and comprehensive Internet trend site about 12-35 year olds, covering fashion, beauty, lifestyle, technology, and entertainment.
Jane was destined to be an author and journalist. She graduated from Duke University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, but not before writing the book “Teens Speak Out,” at age 17 and “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Life” only a couple of years later. Her new book, “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Motherhood” is available now. Jane is a contributing editor to Cosmopolitan Magazine; and has been featured in The New York and Los Angeles Times, Fortune, and The Boston Globe.
Eva La Rue is one of Hollywood’s busiest television actresses. In addition to co-hosting the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life, La Rue joined the cast of CSI: Miami for the 2005-2006 season in the role of “Natalia Boa Vista,” a Lab Specialist with a knack for grant writing.
In 2004, Eva was awarded a Gracie Allen Award and received her second Daytime Emmy nomination, this time for best original song, “Dance Again With You,” on All My Children. Eva joined the cast of All My Children in March 1993 and departed in 1997, shortly after her marriage to co-star John Callahan (“Edmund Grey” All My Children). She later returned to the soap in 2002 after her first daughter Kaya McKenna was born in December 2001. Her first Emmy nomination was for her portrayal of “Dr. Maria Santos,” which also earned her a NAACP nomination. Eva’s performance of the good doctor won her an ALMA for Outstanding Actress in a daytime drama.
Eva La Rue lends her celebrity to benefit charities, but one charity that is near and dear to her heart is Edwin Gould Services for Children and Families. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) launched a public awareness campaign to help parents learn more about the importance of measuring their child’s social and emotional progress in the first few years of life. “Learn the Signs. Act Early” is designed to educate parents about early childhood development, including potential early warning signs of autism and other developmental disabilities.
Claudia Jordan is most recognized for her series regular role on The Price Is Right. Along with her hosting duties on the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life, Claudia is currently working on NBC’s top rated game show, DEAL or NO DEAL.
Born and raised in East Providence, Rhode Island, Claudia started modeling in 1994. Shortly afterward, she won the title of Miss Rhode Island, eventually becoming a semifinalist in the 1997 Miss USA pageant. She booked many national commercials before booking parts in the movie Simone, as well as the television shows That’s So Raven, City Guys, Jack & Jill, and The Bold and the Beautiful.
Claudia has hosted several television shows, including Living Large and 54321. An accomplished journalist, Claudia aspires to cover the NFL and track and field as a sports reporter. This All-American track and field runner enjoys cooking, painting, and working on her home.
Jess Zaino was meant to be on television and among the cast of Modern Girl’s Guide to Life. Born and raised on Long Island, Zaino moved to Manhattan to attend Marymount College (on a full theatre scholarship) and City University of New York at Hunter College for Television and Film. She has studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, HB Studios, and The Upright Citizen’s Brigade Theatre. Zaino is especially proud to be the youngest apprentice to work at the prestigious Williamston Theatre Festival.
Fashion has recently become Jess’ new muse. After landing a hosting job on a music show on New York’s Metro Channel, Jess began to realize that her fashion sense and creative abilities appealed to the show’s audience, especially teenagers. Jess had here sights set on becoming a MTV VJ. That did not happen.
What did happen was that Jess received so much fan mail based on the clothes that she wore on the show, that she decided to start her own clothing line. Modestly, she explained, “It wasn’t anything big. It was very grassroots, fun, do it yourself kind of project where I would sell ten pieces or so in Brooklyn boutiques.”
While working on her clothing line, Zaino continued to create other projects. She created a show called She’s Crafty which was a punk Martha Stewart. While pitching the idea to a friend of hers in Los Angeles, who at the time was producing Tristan and Ryan’s Wedding for Fox, her friend asked her to come out to L.A. so she could try and sell it out here. Zaino liked the idea, especially coming from a friend of hers that was working on a lot of big projects. So, in 2003, Zaino picked up and traveled to Los Angeles. She found out quickly that her show would not get picked up as fast as she had expected.
In a very Hollywood fashion Jess made the rounds meeting with people. They responded to She’s Crafty, but nothing to where anything moved forward. After a short while, Jess realized that if she was going to stay in L.A. she would have to make some money, so she got herself a job serving food.
One night, while Jess was working at the restaurant, one of her customers asked if she was Jess from the Metro Channel. She said, yes. The customer told her that he loved watching her on that show. Jess was skeptical of her customer; however, he became increasingly believable when he was able to quote all of her funny pieces that she produced. He had always wondered what had happened to her after the show was cancelled. The customer asked Jess about her current projects. Feeling comfortable about this person, Jess began to tell him about She’s Crafty. Her idea was well received. The customer told her that he was the CEO of Eye Film and that he wanted to buy it. Jess’ first reaction was, “Yeah right”; however, being a positive person, Jess decided to accept his business card and to see if his offer was real. She agreed to a meeting at his office. When she entered the board room, she was quickly excited by the twelve people sitting around a conference table. After pitching her idea, the receptive audience decided to pass.
Fortunately for Zaino, this was not the end of the line. The gentleman that got her to this point was still interested in the project and assisted her in getting a meeting with Jason Newman of Untitled Entertainment, the company that produces Punk’d for MTV. Newman was excited about the idea, but he too passed. Zaino realized that her dream of being on MTV was falling short, yet again.
Not being a quitter, Jess continued to pitch She’s Crafty. Her manager got her tape to a casting person at E! This led to a meeting with five additional casting people at E! Jess felt so good during her pitch. She said, “Everything just fit and it felt right from the beginning.” They women in the room asked if she was a stylist. Without missing a beat, Jess anxiously replied, “I am a stylist!” Jess was offered a spot as a stylist on How Do I Look? (hosted by Finola Hughes). She did a good job on her first performance, so they called her back for another episode. Viewers were responding to Jess on the show, so the Style Network kept bringing her back. They liked Jess so much that they put her on Style Court and The Look for Less.
Zaino auditioned for the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life. She wanted this job so bad because she was already a fan of Jane Buckingham and was so excited that she was getting the opportunity to go from being the guest expert to being a host which is what she had always wanted to do.
The audition process went on for several months. Finally, Jess received a call letting her know that she was chosen to work on the pilot. Jane, Eva, Claudia, and Jess worked well together. Even though the Style Network thought that they would have an answer within a few weeks, it turned out to be more than six months.
During this time, Zaino oddly enough was hired by NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), even though she is a smart young lady, it was not for a rocket scientist. She sang in a rock band. Zaino was hired by NASA to sing about science. The group was called “FMA” (Force = Mass x Acceleration). They toured the country for about six months singing about science to children in schools. Zaino enjoyed performing for teenagers. She said, “I love teenagers. They are so creative. No bones about it, they will tell you what’s up. They are far from being jaded like adults. It is a really special thing to connect with people like that.”
Upon returning to L.A., Jess received the news that she was not going to be hired for one of the four hosting spots on Modern Girl’s Guide to Life. She had trouble believing it. Ironically, the Style Network kept bringing Jess back in every time they held an audition for the fourth person. Jess thinks that they didn’t hire her because they were going in a different direction; possibly a Paris Hilton type (i.e., blonde hair, thin, party girl).
Every time she auditioned, Jess just brought it and brought and did her best. She kept telling herself, “That is my frick’n part and I’m going to get it.” After months of auditioning, her wish came true. Jess became the fourth member of the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life.
Commenting on her first season on the show, Zaino said, “What is really crazy about the show is that across the board we are different women, with different backgrounds, and different sensibilities, but we truly come together as one group of girls when we are doing our show.”
For more information on Jess Zaino visit her official website at www.jesszaino.com.
Meet the Women behind the Modern Girls
A new set and look is not the only thing new for the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life. The third season welcomes the producing talents of Patty Ivins and Julie Pizzi. “This is the first year that they decided to have the show produced out of house, and that is how Patty and I ended up with it,” Julie said.
Patty and Julie have been working together in reality television and news/documentary for about ten years. Together they have produced over one hundred hours of television. Ivins and Pizzi co-executive produced Fox’s The Simple Life Reunion. Before that, Ivins was the supervising producer of the hit series The Simple Life and Pizzi was a creative Vice President at Bunim-Murray Productions for five years. While there, Pizzi spearheaded development and executive produced several high-rated seasons of MTV’s Road Rules, Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and VH-1’s Born to Diva. Ivins also spent time at Bunim-Murray Productions where she produced and directed various shows including MTV’s Making the Band, Road Rules, and Fox’s Who Wants to Be a Playboy Playmate?
About two-and-one-half years ago, Patty and Julie formed PB&J Television. Since then they have executive produced NBC’s Sports Illustrated: Swimsuit Models Search, TLC’s L.A. Riding Club, Showtime’s Reversal of Fortune, and now Style Network’s Modern Girl’s Guide to Life. They are currently in preproduction on several projects for TLC and CMT, including Finding Miss America, a reality series scheduled for release in January 2007.
In addition to reality television, both Ivins and Pizzi have produced many hours of documentary programming for Showtime, A&E, AMC, TLC, and Discovery.
These talented women have not produced a talk show format before; however, since they both started in news, they do not believe that this should be a complicated format for them to jump over into.
Patty and Julie are very happy to be part of this show. “The women have such amazing personalities. We were both lucky to inherit a group of women that are so dynamic and so much fun. They are really seasoned, so they’ve been a real pleasure to work with.”
Modern Girl’s Guide to Life episodes are a half hour long. There are ten episodes per season. The show’s season starts on April 21, 2006. A new episode airs several times during the week on the Style Network.
For more information on the Modern Girl’s Guide to Life visit the official website at www.stylenetwork.com.
Color photos taken by Mike Rozman Photography
© 2013 Dino M. Zaffina. All rights reserved.