Thursday evening, amid the many small, yappy guests of honor at a benefit for New York Animal Care and Control, the Daily Transom ran into publicist and man-about-town Kristian Laliberte. Already an occasionally notorious figure on the New York social scene, Mr. Laliberte is currently in the process of taking his brand to the national stage with Social Heights, a reality show chronicling his activities, along with those of semi-boldface names Timo Weiland, Annabel Vartanian, Kerry Cassidy, Devorah Rose, Teddy John, and twins Derek and Daniel Koch.
The show has so far billed itself as “Like The Hills…but in Manhattan and a little older, and more mature,” and preliminary filming began this summer in the Hamptons. When asked to describe the show, Mr. Laliberte said, “It’s sort of more of a documentary, like a docudrama. There are definitely parts of it that are scripted, in some ways. You know, there are scenes that the producers ask you to put yourself in…It’s more of a cross breed.”
So, we wondered, to what extent is the show based on “reality” (insofar as this group inhabits it)? Will what people see on the show have anything to do with their actual lives, or are they just a bunch of kids playing soap opera?
“It’s both. It’s story lines that are maybe a little exaggerated or things from your life that they’ll maybe try to embellish. Or, you know, they’ll try to push you into situations that they know will cause drama…There are multiples takes, they walk into the room and say, you know, say that again.”
Of course, we couldn’t help but ask whether the recent financial crisis would affect filming. Would the stars be able to maintain the consumptive powers that landed them the gig in the first place?
“Well, it’s affecting everybody! Luckily, I don’t work in finance.”
How was the downturn impacting Mr. Laliberte’s PR business, then?
“I think, right now, we’re pretty strong. Our clients are sticking with us. And, especially in sort of the upper echelon of women’s wear and men’s wear, definitely sales have stayed strong. But, in the more ready-to-wear markets, I’ve seen sales kind of declining.”
He concluded, “I think the people at the top sort of stay at the top, and there’s an increasing disparity between the rich and the poor.”
And what kind of impact has this mess had on Mr. Laliberte’s primary occupation, the party circuit?
“I think that people are being more conservative… There’s a dichotomy: On one side, people are skimping on certain things and then, on the other side, you see these fabulous clubs again. There are extremes on both sides. From being in the PR industry, maybe deciding not to serve hors d’oeuvres. Or, instead of a big name DJ, let’s get an unknown. Instead of paying an appearance fee for an actor, maybe go with a socialite.”