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HSN, Kelly Ripa to team up for reality TV series

HSN has signed up for an entrepreneurial reality TV series called Mom, Inc. that's set to air on TLC next winter.

The series will feature moms who dream up products, get them manufactured, then get them sold on the TV shopping channel.

Morning TV talk show star Kelly Ripa will host the series developed by TLC and Milojo Productions, which Ripa co-owns with husband and former soap opera star Mark Consuelos, who has bay area connections.

Reading about women turning "kitchen table ideas into million-dollar businesses" was the inspiration, said Consuelos, who grew up in Valrico and holds a marketing degree from the University of South Florida.

"Kelly gets sent products all the time from women who want exposure for them" but have no idea where to go with them, he said. "The plan is to work with the woman in her home so she doesn't have to uproot her life. We'll get them exposure and teach them how to be successful businesswomen."

Judgment Day — trying to sell the products on HSN — will be filmed at network studios in St. Petersburg.

"It's great exposure for us that reaches well beyond our current audience," said Bill Brand, HSN executive vice president of programming, marketing and business development. "Many of our most successful products were developed by moms sitting at the kitchen table."

It's the second reality show for HSN, which was the backdrop for Made in the USA, a 2004 USA Network reality series that more resembled The Apprentice.

Proving cable TV producers see more in the bay area than the Bolleas on Hogan Knows Best, Mom, Inc. becomes the third recent national cable reality TV series to showcase a local business.

Local infomercial producers Billy Mays and Anthony Sullivan star in Pitchmen, which premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on Discovery. Meanwhile, Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. recently pocketed $2 million for an 11-part Discovery series documenting the Tampa shipwreck salvor's quest and wrangle with Spanish authorities for a sunken treasure ship off the coast of Portugal.

For Odyssey, the series is part of a corporate marketing strategy borrowed from Jacques Cousteau and Indiana Jones that spins deep sea treasure-hunting more as high-tech science and archeology than profitable pillaging.

• • •

In an arms race you probably never knew existed — services offered at mall concierge desks — International Plaza in Tampa has forged ahead.

"We surveyed every mall in Florida to see what services they offer to see what we could add to set us apart," said Gary Malfroid, who manages the upscale mall for Taubman Centers Inc.

Among the new extras: branded packaging for the second- and third-most-requested items after store directions: paper tissues and adhesive bandages for relief from ill-fitting shoes. IP now hands out a purse-sized selection of each packaged with the mall's name.

The service desk now is stocked with a bowl of free fresh fruit filled by retailer Fit2Run. A word of advice: Staffers say the supply often is gone by midafternoon.

• • •

Some big changes are lurking just inside the front door at local Toys "R" Us stores.

In a concession to the recession, the big-box toy store chain added an aisle of 100 new items priced at $1 to $3.

The selection includes $1 dinosaur puzzles, $2 paint-by-numbers sets and $3 washable neon tattoo kits.

But much bigger is the R-market, which replaced the kids clothing departments at several Tampa Bay Toys "R" Us stores. It's a convenience-store-sized selection of about 1,000 food items, cleaning products, diapers, candy, juices, bottled water and snacks designed for parents on the run. Prices are equal to or a bit higher than at grocery stores, with an emphasis on organics not found elsewhere, or green cleaning products.

In-Store Marketing, a trade publication, last week spotted a similar switch in three Toys "R" Us stores in Chicago.

The company isn't talking about R-market yet.

Mark Albright can be reached at albright@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8252.

HSN, Kelly Ripa to team up for reality TV series 04/13/09 [Last modified: Monday, April 13, 2009 9:09pm]
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