“The OC” comes to D.C.
Late Night Shots, the infamous D.C. social networking website, is helping to put young Georgetown elites on a new reality show.
Illustration by August Pollak
A slice of Washington, D.C.‘s young socialite scene is about to be exposed on a new reality television series set to begin filming this summer. Modeled after “soft-scripted“ hits like “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills,” the show will follow the lives of wealthy, conservative youngsters who chronicle their bar hookups, polo matches, and career aspirations on an invite-only social networking site called Late Night Shots (LNS).
Until recently, LNS served mainly as a vehicle for the very local navel-gazing snark that burbles up among warring cliques in D.C. Bloggers and reporters make hay with the website’s crass forums and debauched real-world behavior, usually drawing the conclusion that the city’s future leaders are a bunch of “douchebags.” And LNS members respond in kind, with crude dismissals of said journalists and bloggers. A story I wrote about the real-life LNS scene elicited a host of amazingly nasty comments on my sex life, immigration status, and tendency to plagiarize. (For the record, I don’t.)
It didn’t take long for California producers to take notice. With a gold mine in sight, Santa Monica producer Havva Eisenbaum saw a ready-made cast for a new twist on the docu-soap. The ranks of LNS are composed of a cadre of good-looking, eager twentysomethings, with friends and enemies, Pollyannas and scoundrels. The show will be like “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills,” with rich and beautiful stars who also happen to be smart and career-driven, said Eisenbaum, the director of development for PB&J Television. The company has produced shows like the “Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search” for NBC and “Miss America: Reality Check” for The Learning Channel.
Last December, Eisenbaum approached LNS’ founder, 27-year-old Reed Landry, who agreed to act as a guide to A-list young people and places (mainly bars and clubs in Georgetown) discussed in the online community he started in 2006. A call for applicants hit D.C. in February and netted about 70 headshots from LNS members. The producers, a group that includes the director of photography from “Laguna Beach,” have spent the last few weeks circling around a dozen finalists, and will come to town this week to winnow down the applicant pool to three or four stars. Eisenbaum won’t say who the contenders are, but says they are all “movers and shakers” in their mid-twenties. “Some are corporate honchos, some are just starting,” she says.
The series will be directed toward a female audience and will focus mostly on the stories of the female characters. Eisenbaum says the narrative will emerge naturally from the stars’ daily lives. Story editors will sift through hours of footage—from the workplace, home, and out on the town—and nudge the characters in the direction of the best potential story lines.
If the chosen stars don’t fit the bill fresh out of the box, they will by the time Eisenbaum gets a hold of them. “We’ll glam up these kids,” she says. “Whether they’re jet set or not, that’s the way we’ll play them.” The show’s main characters will be paid for their time. Eisenbaum says the sum won’t be phenomenal, but “it will be worth their time.”
Eisenbaum says she has no intention of focusing only on the raunchy behavior alluded to on LNS message boards. “It’s very one-note to have a show about guys being obnoxious at bars,” she says. But that doesn’t mean bad behavior will get edited out of the so-called script.
“In a show like this, there’s always a villain,” she says. Someone will be cast in that role, she says, and they’ll “be comfortable with it.”
“There’s always going to be the fight or whatever,” Eisenbaum says. But she contends that the show is really about something more meaningful: “the journey of these people who are young and beautiful…as they come into their own in their mid-twenties.”
Eisenbaum says she’s had nibbles of interest from networks. If all goes well, the show will start shooting in D.C. this summer. Several clubs and restaurants have already offered to make their spaces available.
News of the prospective series has been met with skepticism on some D.C.-focused websites. Sure, the LNS is an evergreen source of local gossip and humor, but can Georgetown rich kids, with their embroidered khakis and pearl* earrings, really draw the attention of TV viewers accustomed to bronzed California hotties? One commenter on DCist wrote, “Hopefully this is just a rouse [sic] to get all the LNSers to show up at the same time at the same place. Put a padlock on the door and problem solved.”
Other commenters were equally as harsh. “I just threw up in my mouth a little,” wrote one after reading about the show. “Great,” wrote another. “Yet another reason for others across the country to think of DC-ists as a bunch of uppity wankers.”
Angela Valdez is a staff writer at the Washington City Paper.
* This text has been edited from the original.