City officials get an earful about ‘Secrets of Aspen’
ASPEN – The premier of VH1’s “Secrets of Aspen” reality TV series has sparked enough hatred of the show that some residents have complained to the city government and questioned how its production could have been allowed.
“Like it or not, the ‘Secrets of Aspen’ premiered on VH1 last night,” wrote Sally Spaulding, the city’s community relations officer on her government blog, which appeared on the city’s website Monday. “A lot of people have very strong feelings about the show, and many have asked the city of Aspen why we granted it a film permit.”
Spaulding said her office received a few e-mails from people saying they didn’t appreciate the show’s content and wondered why the city would allow production if it casts the town in a negative light.
According to Spaulding’s blog, the city of Aspen does not ask for scripts, content or other information when issuing film permits.
“Rather, we review things such as insurance, use of facilities agreements, etc. In this respect, High Noon Entertainment, the production company for ‘Secrets of Aspen,’ complied with all city regulations,” Spaulding wrote. “They also provided the city with a detailed filming schedule, and they worked with venues to achieve specific permissions for filming.
“We did not place any conditions on Aspen’s image or content by approving High Noon’s film permit for ‘The Secrets of Aspen.’ If we did, we would violate their right to free speech and freedom of expression.”
Regardless how people might feel about the show and whether it’s representative of the town, its production did contribute positively to the local economy when crews were here last summer filming the eight episode series, Spaulding said.
According to financial figures provided to the city by High Noon Entertainment, the production of the show infused several hundred thousand dollars into the local economy, which Spaulding said was “considerable” in last year’s dismal business climate.
The production crew had 35 people, 12 of whom were local, according to High Noon Entertainment.
Here is a rundown of how much money is estimated to be have been spent by the production crew while working in Aspen last year, according to Spaulding’s blog:
Rental cars: $50,000; hotels: $200,000; local catering: $50,000; housing rentals and permits: $85,000; locals’ pay: $170,000; parties, restaurants: $86,000; and crew per diem that went back into the community via bars, restaurants, rafting, paragliding, bike rentals, etc.: $60,000. The estimated total is $701,000.
The reality series, which follows the lives of six Aspen women, has gotten its fair share of attention lately, and it’s not all good.
On Facebook, the number of members of “Aspen Against VH1’s ‘Secrets of Aspen’ had grown to 3,393 as of Monday afternoon.
Comments posted after people had watched the premier Sunday night wrote entries like, “I watched 10 minutes of it and had to turn it off, who likes crap like that? If I see them filming again I will have to tell them to get out of our town …” and “Seriously, really… this is how people perceive Aspen. So sad and gross.”
Facebook fans of the actual show amounted to 298 as of Monday afternoon but the comments posted were not any less critical of the first episode, titled “Kickoff Kiss-Off.”
The show’s cast members – Kat, Erin, Laura, Brooke, Star and Shana – are described by VH1 as a representative cross-section of single women in Aspen. Each half-hour episode of the docu-soap follows their quest to find love, pay rent and stay friends over one summer season.
On its website, VH1 characterizes Aspen as an “exclusive town of 5,000 that swells to 40,000 several times a year, [and] the billionaires are squeezing out the millionaires and the ebb and flow of snow and money makes Aspen a challenging place to survive for locals. Aspen’s dating pool is more of a dating puddle. Limited resources make the life cycle of a relationship very short. Hookups, breakups and hangovers all happen in the same night. To make matters worse, gossip spreads like wildfire. If you fall down drunk or have an affair, everyone in town will know before sunrise.
“For the local women, weakness in a relationship is like chum strewn in shark-infested waters. Before you can dump your boyfriend, there are a dozen other women who have already given him their phone number. Hence, BFFs quickly become enemies and pretty soon every person in town is your ex.”
Jeff Olde, executive vice president for original programming and production for VH1, said in a press release that the show is a “great fit” for the channel’s audience.
“Aspen is a town very much on the pop culture radar, but this show goes beneath the glamorous surface and into the real lives and relationships of some of the women who call Aspen ‘home,'” he said. “The town’s remote location, the seasonality of its residents and all the pleasures and pressures of wealth give this city its own unique set of rules.”
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Eagle County will go to Stage 2 fire restrictions Friday, joining Pitkin County and other state and federal lands in the area.