Tuesday, January 18, 2005

The Look

In a previous post, I shared some thoughts about "it." I think having "it" is often confused with having "the look" although it is possible to have both.

When I worked in Milwaukee, I had a cousin who once asked "Do you know so-and-so?" He continued on to basically say "she's really hot, that's why I watch that station." All things being equal, there are people who choose to watch the more attractive face. And why not? That's what sells all those magazines at the grocery store, right? That and proof that Roseanne actually gave birth to a three headed alien baby, but I digress.

Usually people in TV fit a certain look. To stereotype for a moment: the hair is close to perfect, the teeth are straight, they're clean cut and look fresh. I think that is fairly standard for most (not all) of the people you'll see on the local news in any market. Again, not always, but they are usually what much of society considers attractive, in many cases above average as looks go.

Then there are people who look like stars. They look like supermmodels or"A List" actors... on camera. There is something about their faces... the combination of their eyes and ears and mouth and hair. They have features that make them attractive in person, but are enhanced even that much more by the camera.

Of course who people find attractive is all subjective. I'll use myself to explain the difference... so as not to pick on anyone else. I don't think I'm unattractive, (and really, it only matters what Shannon thinks, right?) but I don't have "the look" of which I speak. The fact of the matter is my nose is flat. It is. I'm not cutting myself down. I readily admit this. It means I don't have to worry about getting hit in the face. My parents point out that my nose is flat. Heck, it's their fault. Stupid genetics. In fact, we had all hoped my kids would get my wife's nose... but that didn't happen. Amazingly, they're still cute. So maybe my nose is okay.

In reality, there is nothing wrong with my nose, but on camera it can tend to look really flat and at times seemed to get lost because I wear glasses. Am I being overly harsh? Maybe a little. But it's small things like that or unmanageable hair, a few extra pounds, bad teeth etc. that separate your average television person from the ones who can attract additional viewers based in large part on just how they look.

While some of what I've written may seem silly or shallow... keep in mind that when you work at a station, people will call in to complain about hairsyles, clothes or earrings an anchor is wearing, even though those things have absolutely nothing to do with how they deliver the news. And news directors sometimes watch a tape for ten seconds. You're told thirty seconds in school, but in conversations I've had with two big market news directors, if they don't like tape within the first 10-15 seconds, they're popping it out. This is a visual medium. Looks (and how you sound) matter.

So here are the two people in MARKET 117 that I think, on camera, have "the look."

Paul Ferrante - Paul just looks like an anchor, doesn't he? Great skin tone, hair that ages him a bit (which if his goal is to be a main anchor in a larger market isn't a bad thing) and of course the teeth. I don't know if WHOI's demos have improved since he's been here, but I'd guess it would be with women 13 to whatever. By the way ladies, he's engaged.
Disclosure: I've met Paul a couple of times when visiting the WHOI newsroom and actually interviewed for the job he eventually got. It has worked out quite well for both of us.

Jill Henriksen - Jill doesn't get a lot of face time, although she's starting to do more fill in work for Sandy on the morning and noon shows. She is blessed with a look that will open lots of doors. I've told her that she just needs to be more confident. Jill has taken some anonymous criticism from people who read Jeff's blog, (some of it has to do with conflict at her old station, which I don't know enough about to comment on and I'll bet some of it is jealousy). Here's the reality. Jill will put in her time here just like eveyone else. She will get more experience. Eventually, with all things being equal, she will get calls for jobs that others won't... because of her look.
Disclosure: Jill did weather graphics at WEEK when I first started there and I have done a tape critique for her.

There have been others since I first moved here... Aimee Nuzzo and Frank Vascellaro come to mind.


Chris C. said...

Hey, great blog, Gar. Chris Casquejo here. I think in our cases, Asian guys will rarely if ever be told they have "the look." That's not whining, but just broadcast reality. And I would argue that they will also be less likely to be singled out as having "it," because of the negative stereotypes of Asian men. William Hung did more damage to AAJA than he probably knows!

Until the Asian guy in the movies gets the girl, I don't see it changing.

Edgar said...

Thanks for checking in, Chris. I think I know, but remind me of where you are now.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have a thing for white girls. Anything that Jill might have in the looks department is ruined with her lack of ability to report. You might date a girl for her looks, but if she has no personality or brains or substance behind her cosmetically painted face, wouldn't you get sick of her eventually? There are much better looking girls in the market... Amy Paul for one if you want to stick to blondes.

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