Sunday, March 13, 2011

My Time in the Tower

There are certain things that I agreed to not talk about in my contract concerning my appearance on “The Celebrity Apprentice,” but there are some things I can talk about, so here it goes.

When I showed up, I didn’t know which team I was working with until about 15 minutes before I met them, and I didn’t know how far into the season my episode was. As of this writing, I do not know which team won the challenge.

When I arrived for the shoot I brought a bunch of supplies with me, (such as swatch books, markers, and tracing paper) but I was not allowed to use any of them. They wanted the teams to have the exact same supplies, and since the other illustrator didn’t bring anything, I couldn’t use what I had brought. That was kind of odd to me because this is considered “reality TV” and in real life your chances at winning are better if you are prepared.

One of the things that surprised me was how little prep time we had the day of the shoot. We arrived early and checked out the computers and scanners to make sure they had everything working right. Soon we had mics put on us, and in a few minutes they said, “You’re on,” and sent us through the doors to meet the celebs on camera. Oddly, I wasn’t nervous about being in front of the cameras. I walked into the room, met the team, and was briefed on the task. If there’s one part of my life where I feel like a stone cold professional, it’s my illustration. I know what I’m doing, and I can work fast. I was able to tell them what I needed, and we got to work right away.

Yes, the Celebrities really did write the story by themselves. I was not allowed to help, or even guide them. In fact, they didn’t know that I was a writer. I desperately wanted them to make the story shorter, but I didn’t have a say in the matter. And, yes, I drew an entire 24-page book, in color, in about six hours. I did have help with scanning the images, and setting them up. In fact, I could not have completed the project if it weren’t for the amazing designer I worked with. He did most of the scanning, set the type, and prepared everything for the printer.

We had a hard deadline, and once it hit we had to stop no matter what. We finished with minutes to spare.

Most people really want me to dish on the celebrities, but there’s really nothing to say. Everyone was professional towards my work, everyone was very nice and they all seemed to respect what I was doing for them. In fact, at the end of the day, they all gathered around me and thanked me and shook my hand and made me feel quite appreciated.

While having Marlee Matlin buy me lunch ranks high on the day’s stand-out events, the real highlight was having a big long talk with LaToya about “bling,” and how she liked a lot of “bling,” and how much “bling” our character in the book should have. I have to say, while everyone was very friendly, LaToya was a real sweetheart.

Sadly I did not get to meet Gary Busey or Meatloaf.

I’m sitting down to watch the episode in 30 minutes. I think I’m more nervous now than I was on the day of the shoot. I know it’s kind of goofy, but I really hope my team wins!


  1. Sounds like a memorable experience. I was shocked at the outcome. The book from the men's team had an inadequate story arc, unless that was just the way it was edited for TV. It also had blatant message-preaching from "Mrs. Canseco" and weak, predictable rhyme. I was surprised that Holly and Margery thought the "be yourself" theme of the women's team was too sophisticated for four and five year olds. It's basically the theme in Ferdinand. I think perhaps they mistakenly attributed that comment to Margery but she did not really concur.

  2. I was amazed at how quickly the illustrations were done! Well done!

  3. That's incredible, the time. I liked your illustrations much better, Michael. You did a great job!

  4. I just watched the episode on Hulu. Your illustrations were wonderful. Great job! I think your team should definitely have won.