NEW YORK, N.Y. – As the Twitterverse expands with millions of users, it can be hard to have a unique voice. Nicole Richie doesn’t have that problem.
“‘It’s 8:30am & I’ve already gotten into 5 fights’ – thugs, and parents of toddlers.”
“This therapist is going to be GREAT for me once I stop lying to him.”
“I’m gonna dress up as an iPhone so my husband pays attention to me.”
Tweets like that earned her not only millions of followers but the attention of production company Telepictures, which was already aware of Richie’s popularity and wanted to work with her.
“As soon as we began pursuing her we also began following her on Twitter,” recalls Sheila Bouttier, Sr. Vice-President of Development of Telepictures. “We were struck by how funny and candid she was and wanted to really showcase that side of her personality, which we haven’t seen in a long time.”
They teamed up with AOL to create the web series (hash)CandidlyNicole. Each video is about five minutes and a new one is posted every Tuesday morning.
The first webisode, where 31-year-old Richie consults with a doctor about having her “tramp stamp” (or tattoo on her lower back) removed, earned 1 million views in just its first week. (Try not to at least smirk as she keeps referring to the doctor as “Dr. Tatt-off.”)
In a recent phone interview, Richie said she’s “thrilled” by the response but still has a hard time grasping that she’s funny.
“My husband (musician Joel Madden) doesn’t think I’m funny at all,” she said. “He has not laughed at a joke of mine since 2006. I don’t necessarily always just mean to be funny. I just kind of say whatever’s on my mind but I do know that I have a very specific way of looking at my life.”
Of course, Richie is no stranger to television. She first appeared alongside Paris Hilton on “The Simple Life,” where they were filmed working in fish-out-of-water situations as interns or camp counsellors. Richie also just wrapped a second season as a mentor on the competition show “Fashion Star” on NBC.
But Richie appreciates the format of the webisode.
“We are living in a world where everything needs to be a little bit shorter to keep people’s attention,” she said. “Especially the younger audience, which is why I think Twitter is so great.”
She gets together once a week to film with a small camera crew. They go over ideas of what to shoot, but each video really is born from a Tweet she has posted. When the video gets posted she says she looks to her little sister for reassurance.
“I have a very hard time watching myself, which is another reason why I’m glad it’s only five minutes. I let my sister watch them first. She’s 14 (years-old) and the harshest critic so I kind of wait in the other room and see if her and her friends laugh.”
Bouttier says even though viewers could see Richie on TV each week on “Fashion Star,” it was just a glimpse of who she is and “her fans have been dying to hear from her for a long time.”
Now that (hash)CandidlyNicole is a hit online, the next question is, could it be reformatted for television?
Both Telepictures and Richie say they’re game. Bouttier says they’ve already received calls from various networks.
“No matter what, this will be a developmental tool for me to build my brand so whether it’s TV or whatever, I think doing it in a digital space is a nice way to experiment,” added Richie.
Alicia Rancilio covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow her online at http://www.twitter.com/aliciar