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Not Just Another Rodeo

Lauralee Bell's (Christine, Y&R) latest Web show, JUST OFF RODEO (as in the famous Beverly Hills boulevard) will be different from her first Internet sitcom, FAMILY DINNER, because the actress will not be one of the stars. Instead, Bell is working behind the scenes to meld entertainment and merchandising for a unique shopping experience. Bell's latest comedy takes place in a fashion boutique (called Just Off Rodeo), and each episode will feature two items that viewers can purchase online. Here, Bell, who has owned two upscale clothing boutiques in the past, talks about her show. What is the gist of the show? "Danielle is a very spoiled and obnoxious girl who doesn't want to run the store. Then there's Cat, who went to design school and is so excited to work in the store. She has great ideas and wants to make the boutique huge. They're opposite girls but over time, they start to get a taste of success when people love the energy of the store."



How did you come up with this idea? "I would see articles in magazines on 'How to get that look,' but it was never the exact look. I thought, 'How great would it be if you could watch your favorite show and buy the clothes right off the screen?' Just think if you were watching SEX AND THE CITY and Sarah Jessica Parker was wearing a top that you could have at your door in four days, but you were one of the only 200 who got that top?"



So time is of the essence when you're watching the initial airing of an episode? "Yes. Right below the episode, there are two pictures of the featured items that you can click on. You don't have to leave the site. You don't go off to Limited, Express or H&M."



How do you keep this from coming off as an informercial? "Well, in the first episode, for example, we featured a short gray scarf with our logo on it, and the actress wore it two different ways: across the shoulders and as a turtleneck. We didn't make it really obvious as far as someone going, 'This is such a great item, how do I buy it? 'That's why the setting of the fashion boutique works so well; you don't really need to talk about it."



What will the price range of these products be? "I'm purposely trying to keep these items at a certain price point, with nothing over $45 max, including shipping. In this economy, it's hard to ask people to buy anything, so we have to be smart about it."



There have been two episodes already; when can we expect more? "I wish we could just crank them out, but the manufacturing aspect is a little tricky. It depends what the item is, because I'm guaranteeing that it can be at someone's house very quickly. Since it has to be worn in the episode, we have to make sure it's ready to ship out. So an item has to be chosen and then manufactured with our logo."



Will it always be your products or would you like to use other designers? "Ideally, I want to see other designers. We could have a designer make a line for three episodes or it can be something a celebrity loves to wear and they can make a guest appearance, with their favorite charity receiving a percentage of the sales of the item. I would love to go more into a specific fashion direction, but I just thought of getting the concept out there so that it's very clear."



Where did you shoot the episodes? "We shot it in my old store [On Sunset]. That was so crazy. Luckily, the space hadn't been leased out yet. We had four mannequins that we hadn't sold, so we used those. We sold a couple to nearby stores so they let us have them back. We had to borrow our rolling racks back, too, but our set designer, Gabor Norman, made our store look really good."



What will you do if that retail space gets rented out? "Just like FAMILY DINNER, we can make these mini sets that are lovely. In fact, I would love that challenge. If I had to find a set, I would find a set [laughs]."



Will you ever have any Y&R characters stop in for future episodes? "You never know who might come in. I wouldn't want any confusion, but as long as I'm not in it, maybe there wouldn't be. It certainly would be fun if Mrs. Chancellor came in or how great would it be if Lauren Fenmore visited? I'm open to anything."



You can view JUST OFF RODEO at www.justoffrodeo.com.


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