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Annie Duke: Joan Rivers is a Full of S*** Drama Queen

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
May/04/2009

Last week saw Melissa Rivers melt down, letting loose with a tirade like nothing I have ever seen on national TV. We also saw Joan Rivers quit and had a week of wondering if Joan would be back. Well, I knew Joan would be back because I figured she only quit for the drama anyway. It didn't really matter because either way there was no upside for her to quitting. If she didn't come back she looks like a diva drama queen who has to fight her daughter's battles for her. If she does come back, she looks like a diva drama queen who is full of shit when she threatens to quit. Either way, she is a quitter. And I thought the one cardinal sin that you do not commit on The Apprentice was to quit. Tionne got fired for merely volunteering to come into the boardroom and support Melissa. I get that the quitting appears sympathetic because she is quitting over her daughter. But she knew when she signed up for the show that she would be against her daughter. She knew her daughter would be fired first (afterall she is Joan Rivers). And she knew she wouldn't like the firing (who ever does). She signed up for that and knew what she was getting into. So that deep into the show when faced with the reality of what she signed up for she quits. In my book that still just makes her a quitter.

Now Melissa and Joan's tirades came, in part, because the Rivers thought that I was manipulating Brande in some sort of conspiracy to get rid of Melissa, who they believed to be my stronger competitor. The opposite could not have been more true. Brande was by far my stronger competitor and I went against what would be good short term game playing to stick by Brande's side. Against Melissa, Melissa has to be project manager so if we lose the next challenge she goes home since she would have PM'ed and is not an effective fundraiser. Against Brande, on the other hand, I have to be Project Manager so if we lose I go home since Brande is such an effective fundraiser and I am the PM. I knew that going into last week's challenge. I knew it was to my advantage to take Melissa with me. But Brande deserved it more. Brande was my friend. She was the better player. So I went against my short term best interest in recommending Melissa get fired but I really felt it was in my long term best interested because I could then live with myself after the game.

Well, we go into task delivery and man, I have this big moment of regret on that decision. First, of course, Joan comes back in grand entrance style. Then we find out we are writing a jingle and a 30 second spot for Chicken of the Sea. A jingle? WTF? With Clint Black, grammy award winning songwriter on the other team? Are you kidding me? I know we have lost before we even start. I know I am going home. And somehow I feel it is justice. I recommended Melissa get fired when it was in my interest to keep her, the weaker player, around. With Brande on my team I am, indeed, PM which means we cannot lose the challenge. Period. Or I go home. I have been more than willing to take credit where credit is due me for what I do in the tasks (too much for most people's liking, agreed). So it is some sort of poetic justice that I am going to die by my own overconfident sword.Whatever. I deserve it.

So Brande and I immediately are in the crappiest of crappy moods. I mean we are total BITCHES because we are in the depths of despair. We are already facing the boardroom in our minds. And we don't like it. We get it together just enough to research Chicken of the Sea before our meetings with the execs. What we found out in that meeting was that the execs 1) like radio spots that are more serious and informative 2) Chicken of the Sea is bought by moms overwhelmingly and 3) The jingle should be catchy for kids because it is their moms who by the product.

Okay, so that meeting got us some focus and I immediately tasked Brande with putting together the 30 second spot while I went to work on the jingle. On the van ride over, I find out that while I always thought of myself as the least musical person on the planet it turns out that crown would go to Brande. I actually forbade her to sing!  So I gave myself the jingle job by default. During the van ride over, me and Brande's attitudes really changed. I think we realized the absurdity of what we had been tasked with. And we just decided to try to have as much fun as possible with the whole thing. I mean, I jsut got it into to my head that if I go home from The Celebrity Apprentice because I lost in a song writing challenge to Clint Black. Whatever. I could hold my head up high. From that point on we wpent much of the day just laughing our asses off.

In the midst of all the laughter, we did get our work done. Brande and I discussed the 30 second spot being a conversation between two moms on a playground and after we had the concept she went to work writing it and rehearsing it with Maddie (our singer). I went to work on the jingle and was dismayed to find out that despite the fact that we had professional musicians they were not allowed to write a single note for us. Dammit. I had some fantasy that we would write the lyrics and kind of hum a little but the musicians would do the actual work. Not so. Had to write every damn note.

So, Brande left me alone with the guy on guitar and I can't explain what happened. Don Jr. had come by earlier and said he liked our lyrics. I figured out that lyrics to jingles just really have to mention the brand name a lot of times and I just went with that in writing it. That boosted my confidence some. But I still to this day don't have any idea how I wrote the song. I just started humming notes and was trying to think contemporary yet nostalgic and out popped this jingle. Here are the lyrics:

Moms they want it fresh
Kids they want it fast
Chicken of the Sea is the name you can trust
Chicken of the Sea is the tuna that you know
For a healthy choice anywhere at home or on the go
Ask any mermaid you happen to sea
What's the best tuna, Chicken of the Sea

I pretty much went with jingle writing 101 there (after researching jingles on the internet). I hit all the brand points of health and convenience moms and kids and repeated the brand name three times. Brande included all the same brand points in her 30 second spot and also included all the different products in the product line, like the fact they also carry other seafoods like salmon. Between the two I think we hit all the messaging and Brande did amazing voice over work for the 30 second spot.

After watching the reaction of our musicians to the jingle we had done I really came out of the depths of despair and found my hope again. They really liked what we had done. At that point I knew that if we lost it was not because we had given up, given in to our hopelessness in the task. If we lost it would just be because we couldn't beat Clint Black in a songwriting challenge. And if that was how I got fired from Celebrity Apprentice so be it as I said before.

Before the boardroom, in my private interview, I teared up when asked about the challenge because this one was so stressful. I knew that if we lost, and at the beginning of the task I thought the possibility of that was 100%, I would be the one with my head on the chopping block having to argue myself vs Brande. And I didn't want to have to do that. I had no desire to fight for my spot vs Brande. All I wanted was for the two of us to be in the final two together and I was stressed out at the prospect of both arguing against Brande and knowing I was going down anyway as PM of the project.

When we went in the boardroom, we got to hear KOTU's  jingle and commercial. When I heard the jingle I thought we really had a chance. I don't think country was the right choice because it is a very narrow demographic. But more importantly I thought the song was not uptempo enough and didn't say enough about the brand. I also didn't think it was a song little kids would like as much as our jingle. I also didn't like the commercial they did. That is my personal opinion, of course, but I didn't think it was funny or informative enough. The executives did like the KOTU commercial in its tone and I am not going to argue with them on that. Their opinion matters more than mine. But they agreed that the brand messaging just wasn't there.

The moment I knew Athena had won was when Don Jr. gave the positives and negatives of our jingle and commercial spot. All they said they didn't like about it was we didn't get in that the product also comes in pouches. That was it! One tiny thing on the negative list! The list of negatives for KOTU was pretty long and, yes, we did pull the victory out! At that moment Brande and I just grabbed each other in disbelief and friendship and solidarity. We had pulled through this thing together to get to the final four and we couldn;t believe we had managed to overcome such huge odds. I am embarassed that I cried in the boardroom but I was really overwhelmed by the whole two day experience.

I have to say that Clint was such a gentlemen in this challenge. He was so encouraging in that boardroom in saying that everyone has music in them and they just need to find it. He really menat that and you could see how much he just really loves what he does and really believes everyone ahs a little of that in them. And he was very gracious in the loss. The really great side of Clint really shone through that night and I hope everyone can see that, despite his drawbacks, there is a good and gracious man in there. I thought he exited with amazing class and grace. An interesting contrast to last week's exit.

So, now we are down to the final four and we all have to go get interviewed by Piers. Before the interviews, while in the war room, Joan pointedly ignored me and Brande. And I mean pointedly. They didn't show it but when we went in to argue for the final four in the boardroom Joan claimed to Trump that we had ignored her. WTF? I was so mad about that and glad they showed how she ignored the two of us on TV. Anyway, we go in to get interviewed by Piers and Brande is first to go. I thought it was unfair that Brande got painted as not bright enough for the final 2. Nothing could be farther from the truth. She is very smart. She runs her own business (Financially Hung) and I think she played the game brilliantly to get to the final four. In the end, the proof is in the pudding. And depsite both of the Rivers women coming at her with guns a blazing she managed to outlast Melissa quite nicely, even when it was in my best interest to have Melissa stick around. I wish people would give Brande Roderick more credit for that. But Piers didn't see that, unfortunately so Brande ended up getting fired first.

When Piers interviewed Jesse James he mainly just pushed him on his lack of fund raising and really got on him about not leveraging his marriage to Sandra Bullock. I feel kind of two ways about this. First, I deeply respect Jesse for keeping his personal life out of The Apprentice and we should all respect his right to keep his private life private. But, on the other hand, I am disturbed by him saying that he was holding back for the end. I really felt all the charities were super important and all deserving of a share of the money raised on the show. I came out strong with the money because I really wanted to raise a lot of money for charity full stop, not just my charity in particular. So I think Jesse made a mistake there because it is really about the charities in the end. So Jesse got fired because he wouldn't leverage his relationship with his wife. I think that is unfair. But what is fair is that he admitted to holding back. And that is a fair reason for the firing.

So that put me against Joan. When Piers interviewed Joan he gave her every opportunity to retract her statements about Hitler in regards to me. He gave her every out to say that was uncalled for and over the top. But she wouldn't even admit those comments might have been just the littlest bit out of line. Gotta love a woman for her conviction, I guess. But Piers clearly was not happy about how personal she made her attacks and clearly agreed with me that the mother daughter thing had no place in business when they both knew what they were signing up for. In my case he just kept asking me about strategy and how I might have gotten my opponents to do what I wanted them to in the game. He also asked if I talk too much. I gave him a big fat YES on that one. No arguments there. When he asked me what my biggest fault is, which they didn't show, I said that it is that I suffer fools so poorly. He actually said he thought that was a good thing since he is like that too. But I think it really is my absolutely worst quality. That and I talk to much 

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