Get ready, fashionistas, one more reality TV series just made the cut.
It's called "Split Ends" and is the Style Network's upcoming, fish-out-of-water reality series for the scissor-wielding style set.
Each episode covers a different "chop swap," where two stylists switch places for six days in each other's salon. The series mixes well-recognized names such as Beverly Hills' Giuseppe Franco Salon and Los Angeles' Allen Edwards Salon and Spa with virtual unknowns, such as Tangles Salon in Rancho Cucamonga and Marlene's Hair Salon of Cary, Ill.
"The drama element in hair salons is something we are all, especially women, familiar with," said Elaine Brooks, senior vice president of development for the Style Network, a unit of Comcast Corp. "Everybody probably has a character in their lives like that, and it lends itself well to television. The stylists were certainly ready to take the plunge, that's for sure."
Green-lighting the coiffure-based content wasn't a tough call for the Style Network. Brooks said that the natural drama in hair salons is something that had clear appeal for the network, especially with females 18 to 49 years old as a target demographic.
The celebrity stylists from chic salons, including Bhava in West Hollywood and Warren-Tricomi in New York City, are taken out of their respective elements and plunked into unfamiliar surroundings; Marlene's small salon is in rural Illinois and Melvina's Golden Touch Barbershop is a distinctly urban outfit in Inglewood.
Yasmin Giles, a stylist from Melvina's, which handles a mostly African American clientele, said her styling swap at Warren-Tricomi was "phenomenal," and funny, too.
"People always play the race card when talking about hair styling, you know, ethnic hair being more difficult than white hair," Giles said. "I have never considered myself ghetto, but I had to do a blow out with a blow dryer in one hand and a brush in another, and honey, please, we usually use a comb attached to the dryer on black hair, then use a flat iron."
One big difference, she said, was that at the New York salon, everyone has a specialty cut, color, specialty 'dos where at Melvina's, each stylist does it all.
"You see what you are capable of," Giles said. "Now I'm much more comfortable doing hair of all different ethnicities."
Forget race one of the swaps even crossed species barriers.
"(The visiting stylist) was cutting one client's hair a woman who had one of those little million dollar dogs in her lap and she asked (the stylist) to cut the dog's hair. So, she trimmed the damn dog's bangs, with the same comb and scissors she used on the woman's hair, if you can believe it," said famed Beverly Hills stylist Giuseppe Franco of one funny incident. "I pulled her aside, off camera, and said I don't care who you are working on, you have to tell her 'M'am, we can't trim your dog's bangs.'"
Franco, a tough-talking New Yorker with a soft touch, certainly has the Hollywood chops for a Tinseltown show. His silent business partner is actor and childhood friend Mickey Rourke, and longtime client Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made a cameo in his salon's episode.
"From a business standpoint I can't see how participating would hurt," he said. "Half the people who watch will hate you, half will love you, but if you don't do a first show, how can you do a second?"
The exposure certainly counts, he said, but it won't make or break him from a business standpoint. His salon has been thriving in its same Canon Drive location for 26 years. His favorite clients, he said, are not the celebrities, but rather "the lady from Canoga Park who has saved her money and comes in to treat herself."
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