tv Nightline ABC September 20, 2010 11:35pm-12:05am EDT
toni tonight on "nightline" -- the real thing. inside the story of america's obsession with perfect bodies and perfect faces and the new hollywood backlash that has tinseltown in search of real people and faces that actually move. could our love affair with going under the knife be over? extreme coupons -- from clipping to clicking. how group-on became one of the fastest-growing companies ever by delivering deals to the masses. these are not your grandmother's coupons. plus, these rubber bands have been the country's hottest new craze from playground to runway. but are silly bands about to go the way the other fads like the pet rock and the slinky? it's a "sign of the times."
good east evening. i'm terry moran. we're going to begin with plastic surgery and a new attitude towards it in hollywood of all places. the ideal of beauty has very often been purchased at a high surgical price. but now after decades of faces frozen by bo tox and bodies augmented by silicone, directors are no longer looking for artificial agelessness but timeless, natural beauty. neal karlinsky takes us behind the scenes at the casting calls and to the front lines of hollywood's war on plastic surgery. >> go to studio three please. >> reporter: at this casting session, actors like ashley davis are looking for a break. >> you just go in and be yourself i guess and your control is so little in this that, you know, all you can do is go in the room and do your
best. >> reporter: in the past, hollywood's best may have included some surgical help. but more than ever, casting agents are now looking for something new in hollywood. actors who actually look like normal people. instead of the silicone filled, botox-injected, perfectly artificial beauties who fill some of the industry's goes sip magazines. >> 99% of directors don't want it unless it's specific. >> reporter: in recent years, hollywood magazines have made a sport out of spotting or speculating about who's done what to themselves. from teri hatcher and patricia heaton to melanie griffith and denise richards. some have come out to defend themselves against reports of surgery. >> action! >> reporter: it's no wonder. a casting notice for the upcoming pirates of the caribbean 4 specified that actresses must have real breasts. casting agents say other hollywood films are going the same direction. perfect has become imperfect.
the natural look is in. beauty, bombshell, drag queen, model or real. >> let's see what real gives me. >> reporter: this casting director shows us how producers can search for actors specifically by look. >> she's beautiful. >> reporter: her personal pet peeve, face work, especially lips. >> and then you'll see people who have work done. i do character casting a lot. i mean, everybody's funny and fun to me. but the one i'm looking for, a meg ryan-type, somebody who's girl next door. i don't want to see their face be destroyed. it makes me sad. >> reporter: what do you tell young actresses? should they go for plastic surgery or not? is must be a tough decision for a young woman to decide which way to go. >> i'm very anti-surgery. i mean, it's -- it seems alien to me. your face doesn't move correctly.
and there's no movement in here. i really discourage it. whether it be in commercials or for television. >> reporter: big screen casting director danny ross says plastic surgery has invaded hollywood to the point that it's getting hard to find actors to play certain ages. >> with the older actresses, in particular, there's a lot of pressure to look young, not to look old. >> yeah. >> reporter: it must be harder to find older women to cast. >> there's kind of a blur between 40 and 60. like, where are those women? there's very few 50-year-old actresses out there. they're either trying to be 40 or they're trying to be 40 until they're not able to pull it off anymore. >> reporter: reality star heidi montag has become the poster child for mega surgery. she put her body through ten procedures in a single day. >> truthfully, the best plastic surgery should be plastic surgery that is subtle. >> these come prefilled with silicone. >> reporter: even plastic surgeons who defend every aspect of it for every part of the body
imaginable concede that more isn't always better. >> we are definitely aware of the overdone look and we try to counsel patients to be as natural as they can be while still providing some improvement. >> reporter: in some ways, hollywood is taking a page from another industry based on beauty. the fashion industry. >> i think when it comes to beauty, fashion is always looking for the genuine article. they're lacking for somebody who is very natural. there are a lot of beautiful people out there. and i don't think fashion has ever had a real tolerance for people that looked cosmetically or surgically enhanced. >> reporter: shawn patterson, a man with a key eye for beauty, says it's about time hollywood got real. >> too old. too short. too big. there's nothing i can do with you. >> reporter: the reality show "the agency" followed his modeling agency and showed up close and personal women under
the microscope. >> i think it's very apparent when somebody's had any sort of cosmetic surgery or any sort of procedure done. i think in general all the agents i've ever worked with, they know if they spot that it's not something that they would be able to book because the industry sees that as well and it just doesn't play off as natural. >> reporter: have you ever come across anyone who's in the business who has come in and said, you know, i think i need to tone down what i've done and i need to try to lack more normal again? >> sometimes we can help but sometimes it's difficult to undo what's been done. there's some things that we just can improve upon but not reverse completely. >> reporter: so what is an young actress to do? have you ever heard anything when you're at a casting session of, you know, you look like you could be close but, you know, we need something that looks a little more like this? >> when i was young, i lost a lot of parts because i was told i wasn't pretty enough or i wasn't the sexy type or i wasn't this or that. you have a choice.
you can, you know, be devastated and try to maze yourself something that they say, but then the next time you go in they'll tell you it's a completely different look that they're looking for so you're always going to be chasing something. >> reporter: she didn't get the role she was trying out for this time. but she's okay with it and okay with herself too. it may help that more stars are coming out like teri hatcher, fresh on the pages of the latest gossip posts, for a different reason this time. she put out pictures of herself on her facebook page clad in only a towel to show women what she really looks like, flaws and all. hollywood may demand perfection but sometimes the perfect beauty is the real one. i'm neal karlinsky for "nightline" in los angeles. >> we'll keep an eye on who stars in the upcoming crop of films. thanks to neal karlinsky for that report. when we return, we're going to turn to the humble coupon which gets its own extreme makeover.
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it's one of the fastest growing companies the internet has ever seen, combining savvy social networking and recession era belt tightening. groupon provides discounts on everything from dinners to day spas all with a click of the mouse. has its young founder started a shopping revolution? chris bury reports. >> you're swamped, huh?
well that's good to hear, that's good to hear. >> reporter: at its tender age, just under two year, this internet company is growing more quickly than google did. >> the e-mail didn't go out and it already sold 600. >> reporter: faster than facebook. >> the e-mail gets sent out -- >> reporter: more swiftly than amazon. >> trying to bring a ton of new people through. >> reporter: how fast are you growing? >> we have been called the fastest growing company ever so pretty fast. >> reporter: andrew mason is the 29-year-old ceo of groupon, the sizzling hot internet company that's taken an old newspaper staple, the discount coupon, and tweaked it for the age of twitter. when you started, how many employees do you have and how many do you have today? >> we started with seven employees and today we have over 500, about 550. >> the more you actually get into the habit of pitching groupon, the more natural you're going to sound over the phone. >> reporter: they are training 25 new hires at groupon chicago headquarters every single week.
what's your age of your workforce? >> i think it's about 25. >> reporter: so you are a wisened old man, right? >> that's right, yeah. >> reporter: at the age of 29? >> 29. >> reporter: mason is a musician by training. played in a rock band. worked on some struggling websites. then came up with a killer app for one that sells coupons to groups of people. so groupon was born in the fall of 2008. >> it's really simple. every day we e-mail millions of people around the world one deal on a great business in their city. it can be on a restaurant, a spa, theater tickets, sensory deprivation tank, just about anything that's interesting to try. and if you like it, you can buy a voucher, usually for half off or 60% off or 70% off. and take it to the business and use it like cash. >> really nice job. >> reporter: on the day we visited the groupon deal in chicago was a $12 coupon for $25 worth of children's cooking lessons. >> perfect.
>> reporter: at a store front school called the kids' table. how many calls are you getting compare to a normal day? >> um -- [ phone ringing ] at least, you know, 100 times more. [ phone ringing ] >> hello, the kids' table. >> reporter: another groupon? >> yes. every single phone call has been a groupon. pretty much. >> reporter: every groupon offer has a time limit. usually 24 hours to buy the coupon, often good for a year. each offer requires a minimum number of customers, a tipping point before the deal is on. groupon splits the money with the merchants. >> if you buy more lettuce, than you get it at a better price. it's the same thing with groupon. if we can channel the entire collective buying power of a community behind one deal, then we can negotiate a better price on something than if one person was doing it alone. >> i started using groupon probably about a year ago. a friend was organizing a group girls dinner out.
>> reporter: erin donahue, a 27-year-old new yorker, is a typical customer. 70% of groupon users are women 35 and younger who live in cities. >> it was free to sign up. it's a place that we would go anyway. and, you know, we saved money and it was fun. >> reporter: for small businesses like this posh chicago spa, groupon's appeal is more about advertising. reaching new eyeballs. >> i would say 60% of the people that come in here through the groupon didn't even know i was here. >> reporter: so it put you on the map? >> it put me on the map. >> reporter: they've peddled zip lining is santa cruz, sky diving in detroit, chemical peels in philadelphia and dancing in dallas. culture is a hot seller too. from the king tut exhibit in new york to the ballet in chicago. last month, groupon sold its first big national coupon. $25 for $50 worth of clothes at the gap. how many customers did you get that day?
>> 450,000. >> reporter: 450,000? >> uh-huh. >> reporter: and you crashed their server? >> we did. >> reporter: like the early dotcoms, groupon cultivates a hip, funky vibe. pin pong is encouraged. >> anybody want in on doubles? >> reporter: head shots of customer service reps recruited from chicago's improv scene line the walls. >> they think quickly, they have a good sense of humility, good sense of empaekt for the customer care site. they understand how to relate and they do so with a sense of humor. plays smooth operator when it's working properly. >> reporter: meetings are hold in a place that resembles an aging teenager's bedroom. and the point of this is what? >> um, the point of this is to have a bicycle that plays "smooth operator" when you ride it. >> reporter: the groupon ad copy reads more like the satirical onion than your grandmother's group ofry coupon. how to feel terrible and look
great doing it. cheap cocktails in seattle. a reader challenge, what's in a fireside chat? or how to order yogurt the rude way. >> i mean, the e-mails are hilarious. i think that's part of their company personality. >> reporter: the competition is coming on strong. in russia and china, clones have ripped off groupon's model, right down to the color scheme of its website. in this country, companies like yelp are moving in on its market. >> we've seen something like 500 businesses clone the exact idea of groupon. most of them end up being, like, a knockoff, you know? a lot like a gucci knockoff or i-pad knockoff, it's not quite the original. >> reporter: the dotcom graveyard is litters with tombs of once promising internet companies that grew fast and flamed out. >> so i think it's maintaining a healthy fear that the world is
about to collapse around you. i think that's what's gotten us thus far and hopefully that will help us continue to grow. >> reporter: now, groupon offers daily deals in 100 american cities and 29 countries. it's buying up rivals in places like japan and germany. it's on track to rake in half a billion dollars this year. unlike so many dotcom wonders, groupon is already churning a profit in its own quirky way. i'm chris bury for "nightline" in chicago. >> simple but brilliant. everybody wants to save those pennies. our thanks to chris bury for that. after the break, more silicone, this time, why the rise and possible fall of silly bands is a "sign of the times." l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3l3
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they now adorn the wrists of rock and roll royalty. for jeremy hubbard, well, that is a "sign of the times." >> reporter: not since the implant has a silicone accessory caused this much buzz. celebrities are sporting them. schoolchildren fighting over them. they've been banned in some classrooms. just today, justin bieber came out with his own line of them. you can imagine the insanity that will follow. these are silly bands. the $100 million business behind this fad. >> we're definitely the brand leader and we're the creator of the craze. you know, with every day, there's a new knockoff brand or a nonbranded silly bands knockoff that's out there. >> reporter: robert kroek is the ceo of silly bands which are, as you may have already noticed, glorified rubber bands. they take on different shapes like animals when they're not stretched around your wrist. at the company's ohio headquarters, they can't package them fast enough. stores are selling out. parents asking to be put on waiting lists. just how crazy is this craze?
silly bandz has a facebook page with nearly 400,000 fans. there's a slew of youtube tributes to the unusual wrist bands. ♪ silly silly silly bandz sweeping all around the land ♪ ♪ you put them around your hand ♪ >> reporter: we sat in, a long with the company dog, on a brainstorming session about future silly bandz products. they're trying to find a way to keep the hysteria going. >> with silly bandz coming out really strongly a year and a half ago right when the economy was at its low, for $5 for 24 silly bandz, it's a really good value. >> reporter: it seems to be the rare inexperiennsive toy that parents cannot only afford but kids embrace. they collect them and trade them. silly bandz has secured its place in fad toy history. that history starts back in the '40s with the slinky. over 300 million have sold. $1 billion worth. the '50s brought the hula hoop. 100 million of the toys flew off
the store shelves in 1958, bringing in nearly 200 million bucks in the first year alone. fast forward to the '70s and that inexplicable fad, the pet rock. dumb idea? now to its creator. it made him $15 million in six months. what about the loveable cabbage patch kids from the '80s? in 1983, sales of $60 million. two years later, $600 million. and the beanie baby in the '90s. '9, sales exceeded $1 billion. the one thing that you run into i think with toys like this is that they're fad, right, just as quickly as they take off, they can fizzle, can't they? >> whether it continues to grow is based upon a number of factors. is there continued innovation in the product? as long as it doesn't get stale it can grow. >> reporter: this is the ceo of toys "r" us. it's his job to pick which toys will stick. few turn into long-term franchises. how do you get a toy to outlast
a fad? >> you do have to have collectible, they have character, they have personality, and they have something a little special, a little wow factor, a little technology, and that cuddly cuteness. >> reporter: there are a million examples of that. toys with an x-factor. it doesn't hurt if famous people like them too. like with silly bandz. shakira wears them on her new cd cover. stylish celebrities, squeaky clean celebrity, even bad boy celebrities. aside from the fame fans, there's also something new that helped the wrist bands take off. a strange viral geographic explosion. they first took off in, of all place, birmingham, alabama, late last year. the craze stretched up the east coast, gradually to new jersey and new york before moving west. children notoriously have a short attention span, but if silly bandz are just a fad, how much longer will they last? some toy experts give them six more months, tops.
the company isn't sitting around waiting to find out. they're hard at work on a board game, video games, a facebook application, all based on that glorified rubber band. i'm jeremy hubbard for "nightline" in new york. >> just have to say, the slinky isn't a fad, it's great. thanks to jeremy hubbard for that report on silly bandz. when we come back, lady gaga takes on congress. that's tonight's "closing argument." first, here's jimmy. >> tonight from "courar town," courteney cox. from "dancing with the stars," judge bruno. and jake byrd at the paris hilton sentencing in vegas. tax on everything you buy?
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