One Big Playground
NYC Prep's Executive Producer Lenid Rolov gives you the behind-the-scene scoop, and tells you what to expect this season.
In a way it’s a marvel that NYC Prep is on the air. Many production companies and networks had attempted to produce a show about kids who attend exclusive upper east side prep schools and came up empty. The UES (Upper East Side) is such a small, insular and private community that finding a group of high school kids who would allow a camera crew intimate access into their lives and are also extraordinary and colorful individuals had in the past proven to be an impossible task. So when I heard that two producers who grew up in the heart of Manhattan and attended pristine preparatory schools themselves had put together a cast and gotten the green light from Bravo to begin production, I immediately knew I wanted to be a part of it.
I too am a product of a New York City upbringing, but my story is very different from the kids you see on the show. My parents and I immigrated to Manhattan from Latvia in the early 80’s. I arrived in the city without knowing a lick of English and my parents did not have a dime to their name. We lived in a small Washington Heights apartment with friends for the first few years and my Dad (who was a professional drummer in Latvia) got a gig driving a taxicab. I was in complete awe of Manhattan from the moment I set foot on the Island and many years later that feeling has only strengthened.
I always thought of NYC as one big playground where kids from different communities and economic brackets live within blocks of one another and hang out at the same parks and corner stoops. So even though I attended public school, I would encounter private school kids quite often… and I was awestruck by them. I grew up a very shy, insecure and quiet kid and I was always impressed by how confident and well put together the private school kids were. I imagined their lives to be perfect… full of cool friends, fun parties, exotic vacations, weekly shopping trips, and a predestined future running a fortune 500 company… in my mind their lives were a cross between “Dynasty” and “Leave it to Beaver.” With NYC Prep, I was handed the golden ticket… entrée into a world I have seen from the outside since I was a kid, but now I could experience it from the inside… and it did not disappoint.
The questions I’ve gotten the most from friends since the preview special started airing is; “What is PC like off camera?” and “What was the biggest challenge in the first episode?”… so I thought I’d end my first blog by answering both questions.
I first met PC at our production offices in NY during a final round of casting. We had come in contact with PC through his friend Jessie and he agreed to come in for an on-camera interview so we could present him to Bravo. When PC arrived, he noticed I had a half eaten sandwich on my desk and opted not to shake my hand so that he could eliminate any chance of germ transmission. I immediately had two prevailing thoughts… that he would be great television and that I would detest him immensely during the process. I was wrong about one of these two things. In the first few weeks following PC around with a camera crew, I realized that even though he comes from an incredibly privileged family, has traveled the world, and is both handsome and popular… he is not immune to the same fervent insecurity I had at that age.
PC goes on an intense journey over the course of this series and it was a privilege to have our cameras be invited along for the ride. He was professional, sincere and acutely present every single day we shot. I have been fortunate enough to work on shows featuring some unique and extraordinary personalities and PC ranks high up there. He goes from being a person you love to hate to one that you love to love… and I feel that by the end of this season, you guys will feel the same way. The first episode of a new series is always a challenge and the toughest shoot we had in episode one (and possibly in the entire series) was the Mina fashion event. We had been shooting for just about two weeks and knew that Kelli, Camille, Jessie & PC were all planning to attend the event so we wanted to make sure everything was in order. Of course mother nature had something else in mind and that evening brought on a freezing intense thunder storm that did not let up for a second. Additionally, the space we were shooting in had very (very, very, very) little space for us so most of the production team and crew (including me) were stuck outside standing under a small awning freezing, wet and considering a change of careers. Additionally, there was the possibility that some of the kids may not show due to the weather and none of us had any idea what would happen with all of them in the same room. Well somehow everything came together, nobody changed careers, and you can see the grand result in the first episode.
I hope you enjoyed the random ramblings of my very first blog. Come back next week for my thoughts on episode two.