‘A$pen the series’ on marketing, web ‘buzz’ blitz | AspenTimes.com
John Colson

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‘A$pen the series’ on marketing, web ‘buzz’ blitz

Paul Conrad/Aspen Times photo illustration

If determination was the deciding factor in getting a television show into production, “A$pen the Series” would already be on the air.But it’s not, so be forewarned – if you are confronted this week by a gorgeous woman in a black T-shirt with a flashy but unfamiliar logo above her left breast, a winning smile on her face and an iPod in her hand, don’t be surprised.Chances are she, along with a coterie of others engaged in a publicity blitz of Aspen this holiday season, will use that iPod to show you a sampling of video clips from the long-dismissed television project, “A$pen the Series.”The creator of the series, Greg Simmons, is bringing a group of “models/actresses” and Matt Nelson (one of the twin sons of the late crooner and television icon Ricky Nelson) to Aspen for New Year’s week to promote his latest effort to get the project into production, or at least through the door of a major Hollywood studio.The models include Cassandra Lynn, whom Simmons said was Playboy magazine’s Miss February 2005, and budding model-actress Carrie Stroup, among others.

The group will be cruising the après-ski scene, cocktail parties and other events, looking for Hollywood moguls and movie stars with good connections in “the biz,” all with an eye toward sparking their interest in Simmons’ creation.The newest twist in Simmons’ ongoing promotional campaign are “webisodes” – short clips from a stockpile of footage he’s already shot that are now in the hands of editor Derek Goodall and a pair of webmasters.Simmons is working with Sopris Surfers in Carbondale and Tacius Payne, whom Simmons claims has done web work for prominent rappers, to put the clips on the Internet.This is not Simmons’ first brush with the hip-hop world, however. Rapper Casanova Ace introduced staged readings of the “A$pen the Series” pilot script during two HBO Comedy Arts Festivals.Simmons is hoping his growing connections with rap heavyweights might help him “break through that impossible wall” that has kept him from success in Hollywood.

“These hip-hop artists, they’ve got power in Hollywood,” he said.Simmons, 42, has been trying to get this particular project off the ground for the past 3 1/2 years. An aside from a deeply ingrained sense of frustration that seeps through when he talks, he seems upbeat and hopeful that he might be close to his big break.Still, he admitted during a recent interview at his Aspen home, “I have before felt like I was on the brink, and I was wrong. But, yes, I feel I am on a brink right now.”Simmons grew up in Marin County, Calif., north of San Francisco, and has lived in Aspen for nearly a decade, at first as a part-time resident while he was what “a small time real estate developer” building and selling homes in Aspen, Vail, Boulder, California and Maui.Nearly four years ago, though, Simmons realized he “was burnt out … not that excited to build another house.” He had been a fan and patron of the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen for years, and since he had the means to take some time off from the development business, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a television producer.

His past efforts have included the staged readings of the pilot script for “A$pen the Series” during the 2003 and 2004 comedy fests, and an interactive reality show titled “Creating America’s Next Hit Television Show” in which viewers could cast web-based votes for their favorite pitch among the various proposals.And what was the first show to be pitched off the show? You guessed it, “A$pen the Series.”That’s when Simmons hit on his current web-based formula. He is hopeful that by creating a web-sparked buzz about the show, along with his ongoing trips to Hollywood to get to know “the players” in the entertainment business, the show will be produced.Those interested in checking out the show and Simmons’ description of his dream can log on to http://www.aspentheseries.com; four clips from different segments of the series can be viewed there.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com