There are people in the world I call connectors. They eat, sleep live and breathe with other people in mind.
There are some who connect from a place of greed and self-centeredness and who are motivated by a "What can I get out of this? "attitude. And others who simply connect because they see a common passion in those around them and cannot imagine not creating a connection. This is what I call heart connecting.
Living and working in Los Angeles, you meet a lot of "industry" people, celebrities, producers, agents, and publicists --people come and go and they also just disappear. It's part of the mayhem of the star-making machine, and that machine has yet to perfect the whole spitting-people-out-and-forgetting-them-alltogether idea. People keep coming back for more. Welcome to Hollywood!
I spent time working as a producer at one entertainment show, churning stories, prioritizing saucy and sexy versus newsworthy or life changing --and I did so alongside some of the most talented pool of people and I learned a lot. I consider myself blessed, I walked away with a "TV family." I got Geha, Dayna, Lisa, Charles, and Longo out of the deal, and in industry standards, I'm top at the box office, as it's rare to walk away with even one friend. While it's been years now, I am still in some way or another connected with each of them, through our heartstrings.
With company layoffs happening across the country, now more than ever people are faced with the choice to remain connected or not at all. For some it is a is a choice they have to consider, for others, it's simply part of their DNA make up, it's more like breathing. And the king of the heartstring of connectedness is my friend Richard Ayoub.
I call him the über-publicist of all time; I often tell him that if he were smart he'd kick producing for PR because he was genetically built for public relations. He is not a publicist; Richard is just an extraordinary people producer. Richard is one degree from knowing everyone in Los Angeles, and is always thinking in this silent and inspiring way who might need to be connected to whom. Something as simple as "That person is heading to Thailand, he needs to meet this person." His eyes dance when the connect happens, I see it and I want to bottle him.
If everyone who knows and loves Richard picked up the phone at once to make a call, circuits would be busy without a doubt, for days.
This man operates with grace, integrity, purpose, warmth and humor in all areas of his life. I mean, who works 14 hours days and still finds time to adopt a low-income school in Los Angeles (Lockwood Elementary) start a non-profit and also be on the board of a charity like The Trevor Project? Richard.
Richard did a courageous thing a few years ago, he left everything he knew and all his whole Hollywood life to move out to Denver and try something new. He leaped to take a stab at being head of development at a new media online venture called Mania TV. Who does that? I admit, I actually thought he was having a petite mid-life crisis. Maybe he was, and God bless that mid-life crisis is all I have to report. They say sometimes it's God's plan and not your own, and this would be one of those cases.
While at Mania he met two young, aspiring TV guys, Darwyn Metzger and Randal Kirk. As MTV's 18th season of The Real World was being shot in their backyard, they came up with an idea to create a show about homeless people: Homeless Real World.
Richard shared his idea with his friend Amy D. back in LA, she connected him with a kick-ass producer of a guy named Del Bigtree, who happened to have already spent a day undercover as a homeless person in Las Vegas while working as a producer for The Dr. Phil show. And the rest is what we call divine creative coincidence.
This true motley crew , and I mean motley , we're talking a charismatic married guy, an edgy fashion forward dude whose t shirt always matches his kicks, the determined, grounded, guy and a gay man--a Hollywood cast made in heaven. Del, Randall, Richard and Darwyn came together, and shot their idea over a few weeks, following some better-than- Hollywood-could-create characters all over Denver. They bonded closely with the subjects, at times breaking the fourth wall. "The cast and crew became so close that they're still very much in touch with each other," Richard says. "So we can tell you what everyone is doing today."
Homeless Real World was originally deemed too edgy for Mania TV, which has since closed down. The four producers successfully pursued owning the rights to their project and have officially brought it home to Hollywood. Now it's game time in the land of green light.
Look we all love a good real life drama, numbers only support this. From Bravo's Real Housewives brand to MTV's Real World, Survivor, Big Brother, and the "OG" reality show, Cops, raw and real is what we like. It's a taste and a peek into something maybe we wish we had, or would never think of trying or even a fear of "What if."
Homeless Real World deals with concepts so many Americans are facing, from foreclosures and job loss, to stress and uncertainty. This is a journey that combines so much of what we fear: homeless, loneliness, abandonment, rejection, hunger as well as the possibilities that lie ahead: rehabilitation, help, love, friendship and hope.
What if all of the people Richard has connected over the years through his deep heart strings connected and passed this project to ten other people and five more and seven more from there? You get where I am going with this. Call it what you want-- karma, gratitude, networking, pay back, a favor, a smart move, or a risk worth taking. I call it honoring friendship, recognizing passion, doing the right thing, getting a deal and making it happen and being inspired. One heart string at a time.
To watch the Homeless Real World Sizzle Reel, click here.