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Friday, July 24, 2009

iCarly: "...a scissors..." – HUH?

Okay, okay. It's time for me to respond to the many people who have been asking why Freddie said "a scissors" as in "Hey, do you have a scissors I can borrow?"

If you saw the episode "iTwins" then you heard the following run of dialogue...

FREDDIE: Hey. Can I borrow a scissors?

CARLY: Don't you have a scissors?

FREDDIE: Nah, my mom says they're too dangerous to keep around the house.

SPENCER: I think we've got a scissors in the kitchen drawer.

After the episode aired, I got all kinds of emails from people asking me WHY the characters said "a scissors". Then I saw people questioning it on Twitter, YouTube, and other sites with iCarly forums.

AND NOW... the time has come for an explanation from the guy who wrote that dialogue.

Me.

For me, it's completely natural to say, "Hey, do you have a scissors I could borrow?" That doesn't sound weird to me at all. But it seems to sound weird to a lot of people. Basically, almost everyone who's not me.

When I noticed so many people asking about it, I sent out an email to about 20 friends and co-workers of mine, asking them how they'd say it. And... it turns out that very few people say "a scissors".

In fact, I only found two people who DIDN'T think it sounded weird: 2 of my 3 sisters – who (obviously) grew up in the same house I did.

So, I think the phrasing "a scissors" must be a regional thing. It's either a southern phrasing, or it comes from Rhode Island (where my mom grew up). Because I know for sure that in my family, when I was growing up, it was common to hear, "I need to borrow a scissors."

The only other explanation is that my family and I are, simply, freaks – which is completely possible. :)

Oh, and one of my friends thinks it might just be a "older" usage... like saying "ice box" (instead of refrigerator).

Anyway, now you know why you heard "a scissors" three times on that episode of iCarly.

–iDan

P.S. Make sure you watch iFight Shelby Marx on Saturday night, August 8th. Absolutely one of the best iCarly specials ever!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

L.A. Times Article about Hungry Girl (Lisa Lillien)

Hungry Girl Delivers To Diet-Conscious Fans
Lisa Lillien's quirky, savvy daily e-mail blast of low-calorie recipes and product reviews has attracted legions of followers.
By Rene Lynch, Los Angeles Times

July 22, 2009

Lisa Lillien considers the bowl of cocktail wieners simmered in a quick-fix barbecue sauce as if she were appraising a fine wine...

First, she swirls -- to evaluate the richness. Then, she sniffs. Tasting a spoonful of the sauce, she nods approvingly. Then comes the moment of truth: She bites into a wiener. Wrinkles up her nose. And pronounces it awful.

"The sauce is incredible," she says. "But the dogs are rubbery."

Standing in the middle of her Woodland Hills test kitchen, wearing jeans and a hot-pink track suit jacket, Lillien, 43, might not look like she leads one of the most rabid, devoted and willing-to-spend-money armies out there.

That would be women on a diet.

But Lillien is the creator of Hungry Girl, that bouncy cartoon character that dispenses calorie-saving recipes, health and diet tips and tell-it-like-it-is product reviews in a daily e-mail blast. Lillien started in early 2004 with roughly 70 subscribers -- all of them friends and family. Today, there are more than 750,000 subscribers, and Hungry Girl is on track to have a million subscribers by year's end.

With the traffic has come success. Among the website's regular advertisers are Weight Watchers and Dreyer's light ice cream line. Her first book, “Hungry Girl: Recipes and Survival Strategies for Guilt-Free Eating in the Real World,” came out last year and shipped more than 600,000 copies. Her straight talk about calories helped drive her second book “Hungry Girl: 200 under 200” -- 200 recipes that clock in at less than 200 calories per serving -- to the No. 1 spot on the New York Times' bestseller list earlier this year. "There is no case of 'second-book-itis' here," said Matthew Shear, senior vice president and publisher of St. Martin's Press. "The second book is selling slightly better than the first."

She has two more books on the horizon, a TV project in the works and an endorsement deal with General Mills' FiberOne line. (They inked a deal after learning that Hungry Girl pulverizes the cereal and uses it to add crunch to seemingly everything, whether the coating on faux-fried chicken dishes or the crust on low-cal cheesecakes.)

Lillien has been brainstorming with personal advisors who want her to seize this critical moment. They'd like to see her relinquish the time-consuming, hands-on control of the daily e-mail that is at the heart of her empire and instead focus on money makers such as subscription-fee-based diet plans, or expanding the advertising base.

Instead, Lillien has another plan: Taking on nutrition labels.

She wants the Food and Drug Administration to crack down on packaging that misstates -- or, more likely, understates -- the number of calories and nutrients contained within. She also wants labels to more accurately reflect the calories in real-life serving sizes, something likely to shock consumers.

Lillien recently told readers -- mainly women but also some men -- she plans to take food items to a lab for analysis to see how their calorie counts compare with the labels. She asked them to recommend products for scrutiny. Within a few hours, she says she had 400.

"People really want this information," Lillien says. "And I'm like their crazy friend who will actually go and figure this out."

Lillien's e-mail blasts are wrapped in a sherbet-meets-Miami color scheme and a peppy, punny, OMG-writing style punctuated by lots of CAPS and exclamation points.

It's a carefree, bestest girlfriend style that she honed over a career that began with the Long Island native's first job out of college: editor in chief for Tutti Frutti, a Tiger Beat kind of teen celebrity magazine. She later moved into TV, working as executive producer for TV Land Online and director of convergence development at Nickelodeon Online.

Alongside her career successes, Lillien found herself constantly struggling with an extra 20 or so pounds. Then, in 2002, "I just said 'Enough!' " She lost the weight by walking on her treadmill, cleaning up her diet and taking a long, hard look at trigger foods -- like potato chips -- that always seemed to send her diet into a tailspin. She also played mad scientist in the kitchen, concocting low-cal snacks and substitutes for foods that always gave her trouble.

When she began sharing her results with family and friends, they demanded more.

"I knew I was on to something," she says.

She decided to quit her job and see if she could turn Hungry Girl into a business. "I told my husband, 'If after a year, this is just an expensive hobby, I will go back to work.' " (Her husband, Dan Schneider, created and executive produces the 2-year-old Nickelodeon hit "iCarly," and the couple live in Encino.)

Hungry Girl quickly built a following. "We've never spent one penny to advertise it," says Lillien, who adds that she chose an e-mail blast because she wanted people to want it, to sign up for it, to pass it along -- not just trip over it on the Internet. As the subscribers grew, so did Lillien's staff. She now has nine employees, including a graphic designer, recipe developers and researchers. But the essence is still Hungry Girl.

"She really brings humor to it, and you can totally relate to her," says Danica Pike of Fairfield, Calif., who has been a Hungry Girl subscriber for more than four years and appreciates Lillien's easy recipes and honest reviews. "She's not like other diet blogs that will just plug any product."

With Americans reportedly spending well over $35 billion a year on weight-loss products, the niche world of low-calorie snack foods clamors for Lillien's stamp of approval. A flood of new products arrives on her doorstep each week in the hopes of getting an e-mail shout-out.

Lillien's clout comes from a personal code of ethics. She does not accept payment in exchange for a review or mention in her daily e-mail. And she recommends or accepts advertising dollars only from products she personally uses.

But if she endorses your product, well . . . let Keith Belling tell it.

Belling, co-founder and chief executive of PopChips -- a baked alternative to fried potato chips -- sat down at his desk one morning to find his in-box jampacked with product requests.

"I'm like, 'What is going on here?' It was Hungry Girl." And a rave review. Belling said he used the e-mails to better gauge the potential audience for PopChips and called or contacted nearly everyone who wrote. He said he was struck by their diversity. Young. Old. Professionals. College students. Kids in high school. Stay-at-homes.

Belling would not discuss how the Hungry Girl stamp of approval has affected sales, but he said the endorsement is "priceless" because a traditional ad campaign could never reach such a swath.

Lillien, who looks disconcertingly like her cartoon image sprung to life, including the feline-green eyes, gleaming white teeth and swing-y brown locks, is curled up in a chair in her Hungry Girl office. It's really the master bedroom suite of a rental unit in a posh apartment complex. Lillien set up shop in the unusual digs because of a floor-to-ceiling pantry for storing those products that keep arriving, and a spacious kitchen that lends itself to recipe testing.

Critics say that her recipes may be low-cal, but that doesn't mean they are healthful. Wrote one online commenter: "I am not a fan of Hungry Girl. She advocates processed foods in landfill-filling single serving packages, Splenda, cooking spray instead of olive oil etc. It's the same dieting nonsense that has made the U.S. fatter each year. . . ."

Lillien argues that her critics are missing the point. She says Hungry Girl subscribers are well-versed about nutrition -- they don't need to be lectured. Instead, they're looking for low-calorie ways to scratch a snack itch without blowing their diets.

Others applaud such a balanced approach: "Of course, the best diet is whole foods, fresh fruits and vegetables, and grains, but this can help people who have cravings stay on track," says Angela Ginn-Meadow, a spokeswoman and nutritionist with the American Dietetic Assn.

Lillien's reaction is the same to both the criticism and the lobbying of those who push her to expand Hungry Girl in new directions.

The way she sees it, her credibility, her voice is all she has.

And if she were to nibble away at that -- by handing the e-mails over to someone else, or taking advertising dollars for products she wouldn't use, or putting her name on a fee-based diet plan -- she'd run the risk of turning off her friends, which is how she sees her followers.

"People would see right through that," she says. "That would water down the power of the brand."

She added: "[Advisors] keep telling me, 'One day you'll need to decide what you really want to focus on.' But they don't understand that that's exactly what I'm doing."

**********************************

To sign up for Hungry Girl's free daily email, go to Hungry-Girl.com

Follow @HungryGirl on Twitter.

END.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

iCarly: Fun Facts about "iTwins"

by Dan Schneider
iCarly Executive Producer/Creator

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

Here's all the cool behind-the-scenes scoop about iTwins, which airs tonight (Saturday) night at 8:00 PM – 7PM Central.

iTwins is an exciting episode in lots of ways. It begins as a story about Freddie being gullible... or at least Carly and Sam thinking he's gullible.

And we have the return of Spencer's arch nemesis: Chuck (the 11-year-old boy who lives in the building and often torments Spencer).

Now, about these fun facts...

...if you're an iCarly super-fan, you'll probably get a kick out of reading this stuff. If you're a casual fan, you might not care so much. But even more importantly...

DON'T READ THIS BEFORE YOU WATCH THE EPISODE IF YOU DON'T LIKE SPOILERS!!!! YOU'VE BEEN WARNED!!! :) Remember: You can wait and read this stuff after you watch the episode.

SCENE-BY-SCENE FUN FACTS

[ When you're done reading this, please tell any of your friends who like iCarly about these fun facts, and that they can come here to read them. Thanks! ]

iTwins

*** Scene 1 ***
Scene begins with Carly and Sam watching a cute model train go around a circular track.

• Pretty cool when the BIG ROCK crushes the table, huh? Cheers to our special effects guys and our construction department for rigging that gag.

• Carly triggers the big rock by pulling on a red rope. But in reality, the red rope isn't connected to anything above. There's a man overhead who you can't see. He watches the scene, and when Miranda yanks the rope, he releases the big rock. The illusion looks very realistic, doesn't it?

• Just curious – can anyone guess what the blue lighted rods are that stick up from Freddie's laptop and his camera? I know. Do you? :)

• I think this is the first reference to the "Cheesecake Warehouse" since it was first mentioned (and shown) in the episode "iWin A Date." In a future episode, I'd love to go back to the Cheesecake Warehouse, because the enormous servings make me laugh.

*** Scene 2 ***
Scene begins in the Ridgeway School hallway, with Carly and Sam talking about something that Sam is upset about.

• This is the very first time we ever hear of Sam having a sister. And Freddie reacts appropriately by saying: "You don't have a sister!" When Sam insists that she does, Freddie asks (mockingly), "Then how come I've never heard of her?" Good question, Freddie. If Sam really does have a sister, wouldn't we have heard something about her by now? And... if Sam really does have a sister, wouldn't Carly (and even Spencer) have to be aware of her? Hmmmmm...

• This is also the first time we hear about Freddie's uncle who's an avocado: Uncle Green-Mush. ;)

• Mr. Howard is back! Just for a fun, quick little joke at the end of this scene. I really love the Mr. Howard character who's wonderfully played by actor David St. James.

*** Scene 3 ***
Scene begins with Carly studying at the kitchen table.

• When Spencer enters, he's carrying two grocery bags (the paper kind). Those are not real grocery bags! They're a special kind of PROP grocery bag that looks real, but doesn't make any crinkle noises when you move them around. By using them, we're able record the actors' dialogue more cleanly, without all the crinkling noise you get with real paper bags. Cool, right? The irony is... sometimes in post we then add the sound of the bags crinkling! Ha. It's true. That may seem silly, but it gives us more control over the final audio mix.

• As Spencer says, "Ah, that's so nice of you" – something unusual happens. It's something you won't see in most sitcoms. It's one of those little extra touches we do at Schneider's Bakery to keep things real-looking. I wonder if you'll notice the cool effect.

• When Spencer says, "Good 'cuz you owe me 24 bucks for the pork roast" – I love how he sort of "shampoos" Carly's head with his hands, making her giggle. That was not scripted. On the last take we did, I just whispered to Jerry that he should do that. He did, and I thought it was really cute and fun (how Miranda reacted), so I used that take in the show. By the way, Carly's reaction – the way she laughs and says, "Stop... stop it" – she's not acting! That's Miranda's real, natural reaction because she didn't know Jerry was going to do that. :)

• Chuck is back! Ahhhhhh!!! I love the Chuck character. He's played by Ryan Ochoa, a truly awesome kid actor.

• I love that Spencer refers to Chuck as his "arch nemesis" and scolds Carly for allowing Chuck to penetrate his inner sanctum.

• This episode has a funny recurring joke of Carly telling Spencer he needs to take a bath to calm down. It's so odd, and Spencer's reactions to it are pretty hilarious.

• It always makes me laugh when we get to Chuck's line, "Yay, I'm learning!" That line got a big laugh in the table read and the run-throughs. Ryan Ochoa ("Chuck") delivers it perfectly.

*** Scene 4 ***
Scene begins with Carly and Spencer on the couch watching television.

• If you watch my TV shows a lot, you've probably noticed that I often start scenes with some funny little joke (or bit) that has nothing to do with the scene at all. Just some random little funny moment. This scene begins with Carly and Spencer watching a show called "Elephant Love". I love the randomness of it, and the line, "The male elephant offers the female elephant a peanut."

• Speaking of random bits... shall we talk about this little run of dialogue?

FREDDIE: Is that a new necklace?

CARLY: Yeah. You like it?

FREDDIE: Can you return it?

CARLY: No.

FREDDIE: It's nice.

That dialogue was not scripted. I added it while filming. Why? Because Kris (the lady in charge of wardrobe and jewelry) was sitting next to me while we were filming the scene. I was teasing her by making fun of the necklace Miranda is wearing in the scene. Kris said, "What, you hate it?" And I replied (smirking) "Oh no, it's nice." And then I laughed and Kris pouted, because she knew I was making fun of the necklace. And then... I ran onto the set and added this dialogue for Carly and Freddie:

FREDDIE: Is that a new necklace?

CARLY: Yeah. You like it?

FREDDIE: Can you return it?

CARLY: No.

FREDDIE: It's nice.

And I put it in the show. :)

• In this scene we meet Melanie, Sam's sister. Or is she? Freddie says it's obviously Sam just pretending to be Melanie. My favorite thing Freddie says is: "Okay, this is the stupidest thing ever." I love that Freddie is showing some attitude by refusing to be tricked, and telling them he's not as gullible as they think. Don't you like when Freddie stands up for himself?

• But would sweet Carly really participate with Sam in playing a practical joke on Freddie? Would Carly do that? Well, she did in the first scene with the "Clown Day" and "lettuce" scams. So... hmmm...

• Freddie's mocking valley girl voice when he says "Uh, okaaay" makes me laugh every time.

• Some people say iCarly is never educational. But hey! At the end of this scene we learn something VERY important: Never play dodge ball naked. See? iCarly does educate. ;)

• Ha. Notice... not only does Spencer fail to return the orange juice carton to the fridge... he doesn't even put the cap back on. As my wife Lisa might tell you, that would not be uncommon behavior for me.

• Uh-oh. Chuck...

*** Scene 5 ***
Scene begins with Freddie going home with the scissors, and Sam entering the hallway.

• The writers and I have fun coming up with new rude names for Sam to call Freddie. In this scene, we proudly introduce: Dishrag.

*** Scene 6 ***
Scene begins with Spencer yawning as he emerges from his room.

• Jerry's comedy reactions are priceless in this scene. I'm not sure that, right now in 2009, I could name any adult actor who's funnier than Jerry Trainor. And I don't say that lightly. Jerry is the best.

• After Chuck enters and says "Hello" – Spencer takes a very funny fall. This was not scripted or rehearsed. We just tried this out as we filmed the scene. Obviously, it worked well and was really funny, which is why it's now in the show!

• Yikes! Another suspicious liquid from Chuck?!? What is it? Most people guess: motor oil.

• The way Spencer screams "Carleeeeeeeee!" at the end of this scene is one of the funniest iCarly moments ever. He delivers it so much like a 4-year-old little boy.

• It was not scripted for Spencer to taste the suspicious liquid at the end of the scene, or for him to say, "Aw, why did I taste it?" I added that on set as we were filming.

*** Scene 7 ***
Scene begins with the iCarly gang hangin' at the Groovy Smoothie.

• And yet another new Fred-based name that Sam calls Freddie. Yep. This time it's "Fredduccini". While I was editing this episode, it occurred to me that I should have had Sam call him "Fredduccini Al-Fred-o". Oh well. Perhaps I'll use that in a future episode.

• T-Bo is back! And this time he has pickles on a stick! If you're feeling depressed about anything, just watch this episode of iCarly. Because you can't be depressed when you're watching T-Bo holding a stick of impaled pickles.

• In this scene we see both Sam and Melanie... though not at the same time. So Freddie asks what we're all asking: "Isn't it interesting how Sam had to leave right before you showed up here?" But Freddie says he is impressed with how Sam changed her clothes and hair so fast.

• How great is T-Bo's facial expression (looking at Freddie) when this scene ends???

********* COMMERCIAL BREAK *********

*** Scene 8 ***
Scene begins with Carly and Chuck on the couch, studying math.

• There was a funny line (from Carly) that I cut just before I finished editing this episode. After Freddie says, "Don't waste your time, kid. I've been barking up that tree since 6th grade" – Carly responded, "Neutering is always an option." It got a big laugh on set, but I decided to cut that line because I felt it slightly crossed the line in terms of being appropriate for the younger iCarly viewers. Was I right to lose the line? Or should I have left it in?

• The lines between Carly and Spencer: "Don't taste it!" and "Right!" were not scripted. I added those lines on set, as we were filming the scene.

• This scene contains one of the funniest physical "attacks" on Spencer in iCarly history.

*** Scene 9 ***
Scene begins with Spencer and Carly running into the little hallway by the iCarly studio.

• Spencer uses a new style of Pear laptop computer we've never seen before on iCarly.

• There's a special, very hard to spot DanWarp in this scene. Can you find it?

*** Scene 10 ***
Scene begins with Chuck on the couch, then Carly comes downstairs.

• Have you noticed that Seattle's "Space Needle" building (tower) can be seen out the big window? Located at the Seattle Center, the Space Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair. (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

• Get ready to learn about a new International math law regarding "derf".

*** Scene 11 ***
Scene begins at an under 21 dance club.

• The two drinks Freddie has in his hands are NON alcoholic. Swear. ;)

• Just to clarify... Sam hates stripes on most GUYS. She likes stripes on herself, or on other girls.

• You gotta love the look on Freddie's face after the kiss.

*** Scene 12 ***
Scene begins with Carly and Sam on the couch playing "tennis" with a balloon.

• Carly and Sam's conversation about the letter Q is the kind of randomness I love on iCarly (and on my other shows).

• I think you're going to enjoy the victory that Carly and Spencer have in this scene. And when one of my writers suggested the name "Camp Addemup" I thought it was brilliantly funny.

• Why does Carly want Spencer to shave his toes?!? Even I don't know!

• A new Penny-Tee on Freddie. And yes, fries do matter. They're my wife's #1 favorite food. But she rarely indulges. :(

• Sam calls Freddie a diphthong. I love it. It sounds so abrasive and crude. But do you know what a diphthong really is? It's "an unsegmentable, gliding speech sound varying continuously in phonetic quality but held to be a single sound or phoneme and identified by its apparent beginning and ending sound, as the oi-sound of toy or boil." Yay, we're learning!

• And finally... finally Freddie walks out feeling victorious over Sam. In fact, Sam even admits defeat to him! It's so rare that Freddie can go to bed at night with the feeling of satisfaction that he's actually beaten Sam at anything. But tonight, it happens. Freddie will go to bed with a winner's smile on his face. ;)

------------------------------------------------

And that concludes the fun facts and behind-the-scenes info for this episode. As always, thanks for watching iCarly!!!!!!!!!!

–iDan :)

P.S. Remember: If you know of any iCarly fans you think might enjoy reading these fun behind-the-scenes faces, please send them this URL: http://tinyurl.com/lamv2r

P.P.S. Please tell your friends who like iCarly (or don't know about it yet) to follow my Twitter: @DanWarp