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POP INTERVIEW: Ryan Danz on Life After “The Apprentice”

On The Apprentice several years ago, Ryan Danz found himself pitted against the toughest cookie in all Manhattan: Martha Stewart. Here, he chats about the amazing self-monikered Mrs. “M. Diddy,” his co-star, Bethenny Frankel, his love of jiu jitsu and what he’s doing now.

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On The Apprentice several years ago, Ryan Danz found himself pitted against the toughest cookie in all Manhattan: Martha Stewart. He chatted via e-mail about the amazing self-monikered Mrs. “M. Diddy,” his co-star, Bethenny Frankel, his love of jiu jitsu and what he is doing now.

Ryan Danz 1

You’ve been on two completely different reality shows. Obviously, producers like you. What do you recommend for aspiring reality TV talent so that they get a pilot picked up or are chosen by producers if it’s a competition show?
Well, I am not a casting producer or even had much dialogue with casting departments for either Apprentice or Amazing Race. My insight as to why I was selected is only based on assumption or presumption. For Apprentice, I filled a role as an ‘up and coming’, ‘not yet proven’, ‘sound educational background w/o much real life experience’ that producers thought would translate well. Take this recent law school graduate from a moderately small city without much real world experience and drop him in the epicenter of the business world (NYC) and watch him get swallowed up or conversely gain the confidence that he’s emitted during application/interviews and become a force to be reckoned with. For Race, I believe Abbie/myself were selected because that once relatively innocent and sheltered 28yr old kid had turned into something of an uber-competitive, win-at-all-costs man who wasnt afraid to speak his mind, ruffle feathers and essentially make for great tv. Producers love conflict. These shows are not as much about business or racing as they are about relationships and the turmoil that ensues when stress is placed on the contestants. In Apprentice, it was a lack of sleep, quick turnaround times for project deliveries, intense scrutiny by a very very powerful woman (Martha and her cohorts) and kill or be killed conference room interactions with teammates and opponents. For Race, it was a lack of sleep, extreme physical and mental deprivation/exhaustion, also kill or be killed gameplay and more generally the tremendous lack of the unknown as to what was coming next. With all of these things unfolding, it’s easy to capture on camera the breakdowns between even the lovingest of people and couples. As ‘dating-divorcees’ with only 1.5yrs of shared life experience, abbie and i were already assumed to have less invested in the relationship than say, sisters or parent/child, and therefore would be more likely to ‘snap’ or put the relationship at risk. That didnt happen, but that was an expectation when we were casted.

So in short, you have to fill a role of sorts. You can’t just be Tom from data processing who likes to play golf. You have to be Tom who throws his putter when he misses a putt and has such a bad gambling problem that he’s taken a second mortgage out on his home and hasnt told his wife.

Your “Apprentice” was a very special edition thanks to the lovely host, Martha Stewart. What did she teach you about working with women positively?
My selection on Martha’s version of the Apprentice was actually part of the interview/audition process. I was asked which of the two franchises (Trump v Martha) did I want to be on. I chose Marthas because it was her first exposure out of prison, I thought ratings would be similar to Trumps first season and I was generally more interested in working w/ and for her if I was going to win. My time on the show, and time with Martha was very limited. Because I was on the winning team (my recollection being tested here) but approximately 6 or 7x, I only got face time with her when she was a part of the reward. I’ll never forget the first reward, a sushi dinner, in her test kitchen at her offices, prepared by head chef at Nobu. In each instance when we interfaced she never was gender specific in her comments. I always sensed she saw herself as one of the boys, or at least, not caught up in a woman vs man business society. Her words of wisdom were gender neutral. Granted many of her associates and work environment tended toward the female, women did play a major role in her enterprise, but it just never felt spotlighted. My learning of the how/why of women are so vital to the workplace and the workforce came from having a mother who was integral to our own family business and other positions she held in outside companies. Nothing will be more powerful than seeing my own mom handle the books for our small family owned used bookstores in San Francisco while also managing the seminar logistics for a family law seminar company.

What was the most exciting moment for you on the show?
I was most excited when my idea for a mobile advertising/marketing campaign for a then-new Tide product (Tide-to-go) was so highly applauded by one of the leading iconic advertisers in the world who was a judge on the task (Peter Arnell) that he said “this could go to market today.” That reinforced that I was not a fish out of water, or too unprepared to play in the same waters as people like Bethenny, Dawna Stone, Marcela Valadolid and others who were well established, or on their way to becoming household names in their own right.

Ryan Danz

Do you think she lived up to her “Mean Girl” status? No, not my words, really. I just read an article depicting her as Regina George, I believe “Time,” where the example used was her allegedly telling the Macy’s CEO how her leaving was good for his stores.
Martha was extremely protective of her image at that time. She was literally still on house arrest while we were filming, still adorning her ankle bracelet and very very much aware of herself and how she’d be portrayed in the media as she was set to make her comeback to her own audience and the general tv/radio audience at large. We as a cast, and probably production, were hoping to see “the” Martha we all had heard about, but instead she was very reserved. For a Wednesday night prime-time program, she did not live up to the viewers desires and the ratings showed. The casting was probably one of the best reality tv casts ever assembled, just based on the star and success power many of the contestants went on to later, but this show was all about Martha. Martha would determine the success based on how she was going to let loose or stay reserved. Ultimately I think there was other aspects to why she did the show in the first place – having to do with her day time show and who would produce that show and help in her comeback on that front. Apprentice may have been more of a favor or a quid pro quo as it pertained to the more important day time television show which was really her bread and butter.

Among your co-stars? None other than Bethenny Frankel. Who knew she would be where she is now looking back! If you could tell her anything, what would it be? And what did she gain from doing “The Apprentice” that lead to her current success?
Well, I’m fortunate to still have a relationship with Bethenny so if I want to tell her anything, than I can just pick up the phone or drop her a text/email. That being said, those days in 2005 living together in Chelsea things were A LOT different. I certainly saw a burning desire for success for herself back then. None of her successes today surprises me. I dont know that I wouldve predicted the route she took, but ultimately if I had to pick one superstar from that cast, it would be Bethenny. She was a hustler, but in the street-smart sense of the word. She could do anything she wanted. I loved being around her. She also at her core was much softer and gentler but it took trust and time to get there. I wish I had more of that because getting to that place with her is quite special. We would sit up on the roof at Martha’s office building (Starett Leigh) where we lived and just talk while watching the ships pass down the river. I could talk to her like she was one of the guys and she could proffer advice in a way that you’d expect from a parent/grandparent without ever feeling talked down to. She also had a tenacity that very few men or women that I had been around at that time had. It was almost like she enjoyed being told ‘no’ or that she couldn’t do something or have something b/c that re-energized her further. That’s probably the one thing that has worn off on the most. I almost smirk when someone says “no” because it means I’m one step closer to a yes.

Now, you’re doing a lot work about jiu jitsu. What benefits does this have unavailable with doing other sports?
Well, Jiu Jitsu is the most incredible ‘thing’ i have ever done and goes way beyond “sport.” IT’s a transformative experience on so many levels. In my book I go to great lengths to describe the mental, phsyical and emotional benefits it has provided me. Everything in my life has changed because of my practice of Jiu Jitsu. Im less egotistical but still have a wonderful sense of self (is that egotistical in itself?? lol), im calm and relaxed where I used to be anxious and erratic. My body is lean and muscular and feels explosive whereas I was once bulky and a little doughy and generally unfit. Most importantly I am more aware of who I am, what I want, how to be as a person and clearer about my journey. All of this is a process, Jiu Jitsu just allows me the ability to reconnect with myself, get deeper into my mind and body, develop friendships well beyond the mats and have a purpose outside of building my empire 🙂

I get the sense jiu jitsu work is not all you want to be doing forever – you want that and more. You’ve hired a publicist. You went on “The Amazing Race” last year. What do you really want? And how are you going to achieve your goals using everything you’ve learned from reality shows?
Jiu Jitsu is a part of my being but in now way is a goal. In Jiu JItsu you learn you never reach any goal – its a constant process to improve self while bettering every facet of your being. Jiu Jitsu is everything and conversely it is nothing. My experience on the Race and desire to take part was because I thrive on adventure and experiences that are unique. I would have done the race if it was for $1, was broadcast on radio (not tv) or not broadcast at all. What I realized though was that I enjoyed the world of television. I liked being in new situations on a daily basis. I dont get that from being a financial services company owner, or a lawyer. But from that Amazing Race experience I was so fortunate to be approached by the American Bar Association and asked to provide a proposal for a book that would highlight the value of Jiu Jitsu in terms of balance for those lawyers (and other professionals) that are so immersed in their working lives that they forget or neglect their souls. The proposal was accepted, the manuscript due date is June 15 and by this fall i should be a published author. As these opportunities unfold, I will explore others and pursue those that fulfill me.

Celebrities

Watching Mayim Bialik Learn TikTok Dances Is Pure Joy

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It is so fun watching this mom’s viral dance moves blossom.

Nowadays you can’t go on social media without being introduced to some new viral dance craze and I am only salty about it because I was given the curse of two left feet. Once in awhile, however, I come across a video so entertaining that me and my sense of incoordination can’t help but to put our jealousy aside and let the amusement take over. And that has happened with Mayim Bialik’s latest post on her YouTube channel.

While we know the actress from her charmingly quirky roles in the hit tv shows Blossom and The Big Bang Theory, Bialik spends her days like most moms just trying to keep up with the latest trends that have her children so captivated. In her video entitled “My Son Teaches Me TikTok Dances” the mom of 2 makes it her mission to learn some of the viral dances sweeping the popular app from her teenage son. Bialik starts the video by calling the app “Tik-Toke” so you know we are in for a treat. The Ph.D (yes she has a Ph.D in neuroscience) then describes Tik Tok as being “impossible” to explain only for her son to quickly inform her that this is a very simple explanation of how the app works. It’s going well. Oh and Bialik is wearing a Pokémon t-shirt throughout the entire video…which should automatically make her TikTok famous imo.

Rather than just join the app and potentially humiliate herself and become a meme, Bialik decided to post her dance attempts to her own channel. Who would dare meme this queen!? The tv star then goes onto learn and demonstrate some of the most viral videos we’ve seen recently such as “The Renegade” and “Say So.” The video will keep a smile on your face for the entire 10+ minutes and is definitely worth sharing. We need all the good vibes we can get nowadays and trust me they don’t get much better than this!

Check out the charmingly quirky video below!

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Celebrities

You Can Now Purchase An Official Big Cat Rescue Mask From Carole Baskin

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More like Carole Maskin’.

Are you a cool cat? More of a kitten? Either way, you can now jump on the Tiger King craze and purchase an OFFICIAL Big Cat Rescue mask for yourself. Carole Baskin and her big cat organization took to Facebook over the weekend to promote their newest bit of merchandise. Capitalizing on the pandemic-induced need for masks, the Netflix star boasts two different color options available for purchase. For just $11 (before tax and shipping) you can choose between a black or leopard print mask emblazoned with Carole’s favorite tag line, “Hey all you cool cats and kittens.” Truly a steal for anyone obsessed with the buzz worthy docu-series.

In case you’ve forgotten, Carole is the arch enemy to Joe Exotic as portrayed in the Netflix docu-series Tiger King. She’s been making headlines lately as the series has launched renewed interest in the “disappearance” of her second husband. After watching the series, fans began speculating that Carole’s ex-husband didn’t disappear, rather that she murdered him. Just this week, reports were made that the signature on her ex-husband’s last will and testament may have been forged. Because of all these allegations, the case of Carole’s missing husband has been officially reopened.

But all that’s neither here nor there because there are adorable, trendy masks for sale! If you would like to jump on the craze and snag a mask for yourself, check out the post below!

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Broadway

Lin-Manuel Miranda Just Shared The Original Demo For ‘Moana’ Hit Song And It Features A Big ‘Hamilton’ Star!

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Another gem from the wonderful world of Miranda.

If there are two things musical lovers are forever grateful for it’s Disney and Lin-Manuel Miranda.

Disney scooped up Miranda to write songs for the 2016 hit film Moana which told the story of a young princess chosen by the ocean to reunite an ancient relic with a powerful goddess. Unsurprisingly, the film’s standout song “How Far I’ll Go” won the Oscar for “Best Original Song” because everything Miranda touches turns to gold. What’s even more exciting than the award winning content Miranda creates, however, is the glimpses into the creative process he often shares with fans. After Hamilton became a smash hit, Miranda shared countless original demos and compositions of songs from the musical just to show fans the growth of his creativity. Well, moments ago Miranda took to Twitter to once again give us a peek into his process but this time it’s for the hit Disney film.

While Hamilton was still in it’s pre-Broadway run, Miranda was writing songs for Disney. He enlisted the help of his costar Phillipa Soo, the original Eliza Schuyler, to record the demo for “How Far I’ll Go” from their dressing room at the Public Theater. Finally after all these years, Miranda has decided to share the demo with us and it’s enough to make any theater geek freak out! In his tweet he apologizes for making the demo so “high” but applauds Soo because she “can sing ANYTHING.” And by the sound of this demo she really can!

Check out some Disney magic…or Miranda magic…or both(?) by listening to the original demo below!

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