How E! Got Eaten Alive By The Kardashians and Became The Enemy of Entertainment
Entertainment isn’t fun anymore. It used to be such a seductive portal of fantastical goodies — that I gobbled up with the notion that I belonged centerstage — doing something that would grab people’s attention in a way that would be affirming.
While attending primary school in Lagos, Nigeria — I was exposed to the enthralling aspects of performance art through the guided influence of our spectacular music teacher — Mrs. Masha — a White American lady who married a Yoruba man and left her world to embody his.
I was already immersed in the wonderment of musicals like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and The King and I — thanks to the impressive movie library that my parents had amassed— like a fortress of knowledge and whimsical attainability. And those countless viewings prepared me for the roles that Mrs. Masha bequeathed me in such hits like Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat — which is a musical extravaganza like none other.
My lust for entertainment became even more urgent when I discovered the Oscars and enjoyably gawked at the decked out stars on the red carpet — who were able to freely experiment with the most righteously obscene garment. It was the early nineties — and the residue of the late eighties still resonated in ways that gave permission for blissful gaudiness — which the actresses too full advantage of — and thank God for that!
Billy Crystal was the longstanding host — and he perfected the art of turning the ceremony into big blow out — complete with outlandish musical numbers and ambitious skits — that always evoked hearty laughs that kept the tone of boisterousness. There was always a theme attached to each show that serenaded the nostalgic vibes of the past and present.
As much as the Oscars helped to entice my palette towards the world of entertainment — the renderings back then seemed too out-of-reach. It took my entry into the States and the onset of adulthood to prep me for another outlet of pure joy.
That was the E! Network — which I discovered after college — during the period when cable TV was both an optional luxury and the necessity to help fuel dreams.
When I peeped the talent at the top entertainment outlet in the nation — I was convinced that I could do exactly what they were doing. But, while I fantasized about joining head anchors — Jules Asner and Steve Kmetko — I also studied the weekly offerings with intensity.
The results of my assignment led me to the discovery of what gave E! the edge when it came to their stellar reputation in an industry that constantly evolves without advanced notice. It was all in the delivery of items that may seem uneventful in the realm of hard-hitting news — but the formula in place at E! News made everything sound newsworthy.
The general aesthetics was both pleasing and seamlessly authentic and it had a ton to do with the talents that were recruited for strategic purposes.
Asner and Kmetko both exuded a level of maturity and authority that made E! News a beloved and respected staple — and watching them do what they did best — increased my appetite and ambition to combine my love for entertainment with the regality of journalism.
Then my world shifted when I delved into the splashiness of Wild On! and became entranced at the idea of traveling the globe — in search of the regions that only the wild and wilder know about it. Model Brooke Burke had the job of a lifetime as she galavanted with her crew to the laser shows of Ibiza and the lit up castles in Greece. It was a memorably gorgeous affair that ended too soon — but it was enough time to seal my destiny.
I moved to Los Angeles in the fall of 2004 — in search of E!
I mean it wasn’t the sole reason why I left New York City — but it definitely was a top contender. I was determined to begin a career in television and couldn’t think of a better place to host my preliminary attempts.
Back in those days — the only way to get your foot in the door was through the endorsement of a contact. It would take a few more years for the blessing of Twitter to arrive and change the game in ways that translated into the possibility of being hired — based off of a single Tweet.
In my case — my mother’s longtime friend who graciously opened her home to me for a temporary stay — happened to be on good terms with someone who worked for the HR department at E!
Once the meeting was setup — I immediately impressed the woman who was supposed to change my life — and she eagerly arranged for me to meet with the producers of E! True Hollywood Story. That was the show that featured the lives of Hollywood stars — by revealing dark secrets and the juicy scandals that eclipsed their careers. I was confident that my longstanding relationship with the series would work in my favor.
It didn’t. I can look back and wonder how differently things would’ve turned out if that meeting had happened today — with all the pressures of diversity in tow. I had no regrets about my performance — and thankfully I didn’t have time to obsess because my next interview was with the former head of the now-defunct Style Network — Salaam Coleman.
I was in line to be her executive assistant — and expectedly this would be the position that would open endless doors if I worked my ass off and proved my loyalty. When we met — my disposition was elevated by the fact that she was African-American — and my immediate thought was the honor of having her as a potential mentor. I have fond memories of our conversation and there was no doubt that I left her with the impression that my love for E! and its sister network — was strong enough for the both of us.
Then I met with her Number 2 — a White man who didn’t seem that wowed by me. It wasn’t an unpleasant encounter — but there was need to worry. My fears were realized when I got the bad news and the reassurance from the HR rep that my loss was no reflection on me — and more of an internal logistical decision.
That was the abrupt and bitter end of my unrequited love with E! and ironically enough it was also the beginning of the gaping hole between the once legit network and the entertainment industry.
By 2006 — the talents at E! that had given it the good name that flourished for a decade were mostly gone and the new recruits weren’t horrible— but they lacked the ability to maintain the traditions of their predecessors — with the exception of Joel McHale who infused The Soup with his brand of humorous irony — and Chelsea Handler whose late night show was too good to last.
The only bright spot was the red carpet which was still under the expertise of the dynamic duo —the late iconic comedian Joan Rivers and Melissa Rivers. The hardest working woman in show-business and her equally astute daughter helped to transform the red carpet into a sea of delight — as celebs were treated to a uniquely divine ride that made viewers swoon at the non-stop hilarity.
But — even that phase came to an end and made way for the family of non-talents that would eventually overtake the landscape of E! before conquering the media community-at-large.
Keeping Up with the Kardashians invaded E! back in the fall of 2007 — and never left. The show about Los Angeles socialite Kim Kardashian — who was singer Brandy’s former stylist — also featured her immediate family of siblings, her momager Kris Jenner and stepfather — Olympian — Bruce Jenner.
It was just dumb luck — that a show about a bunch of over-indulged and fame-starved groupies would activate a gold-mine that contained the beginnings of acute narcissism — at a level that was required to fuel the next decade of mindless entertainment — that would eviscerate prior evidence of better days.
The Kardashian/Jenners had to be the inspiration for Instagram and any of the other platforms that are dedicated to users who can’t get enough of themselves — and therefore need the attention of a willing audience to score their every move.
The Klan basically ate E! alive — as their presence rapidly graduated into a full-blown enterprise that gave their ailing network a blood transfusion of spin-offs — that birthed other similarly themed shows that are disgustingly uninspiring and fraught with the symptoms of social ills.
The existence of E! staples like WAGS (Wives And Girlfriends of notable sports personalities), Botched and all the other eyesores that stem from the influence of the Kardashian franchise — are all cohesively manufactured to demean the spirit of a genre that should be handled with the care and dignity it deserves.
The E! network has not only lost its way — but its fanbase both at home and on the red carpet is dwindling — as evident at Oscars 2018 — when old-timers Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic were barely able to summon A-listers to their stations. Seacrest is currently battling sexual abuse allegations — and despite being cleared by an investigation that E! independently conducted — his mere presence wasn’t received well.
There’s also the case of ex-employee Catt Sadler — who left the network some months ago — after finding out that her male colleague — Jason Kennedy who joined E! around the same period she did — was making substantially more in salary. Sadler’s plight became public and went viral after she garnered support via social media from the likes of Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence and Debra Messing. The network executives later issued a statement expressing regret at Sadler’s resignation — while refusing to admit their fuck up.
Aside from those controversies — E! Television has undeniably become a major buzzkill.
The virus is so infectious that entertainment has stopped being fun. It’s now a black hole that recycles the shitty shit that we’ve been forced to accommodate — regardless of our constant mood.
Whether we watch the entertainment network or not doesn’t matter — because its offspring can’t be avoided. We have to tolerate Bruce Jenner’s grooming into Caitlyn Jenner and how that motivates a misleading TV show and a major sports award that wasn’t earned.
We can’t override the bombardment of silly updates about the newest biracial member of a family that will never go away — as long as we continue to mimic their every move.
The landscape of media is like a Kardashian/Jenner script that is bloated with scenes that shouldn’t be believable enough to make the cut — but here we are.
E! killed entertainment and the hate between the two might the realest thing the network has ever faced. Hopefully it will stay that way.