The word party comes up a lot when Cindy Margolis describes her new syndicated variety show — and why not? This is a woman who’s made a career out of taking frivolity very, very seriously. A former business student at Cal State Northridge, Margolis turned to the Internet in ’97 to further her modeling career. Soon, the curvy Valley Girl’s well-illustrated website earned her the world’s ”Most Downloaded Woman” status — a title bestowed by none other than Guinness World Records 2000. Of her pioneering cybercelebrity brainstorm, the 31-year-old Margolis says simply, ”Timing is everything.”
In this age of multimedia convergence, is it any wonder that the Net goddess is being rewarded with a TV series?
Sure enough, after seeing her string of ratings-grabbing guest spots on Politically Incorrect and The Howard Stern Radio Show, King World president-COO Ed Wilson decided to funnel her fan base to the bigger screen. ”We saw the numbers jump every time she appeared on a show,” he says. ”I want to see if she can do it 52 weeks a year.”
Thus, The Cindy Margolis Show (debuting Aug. 19), a freewheeling hour taped in the wee hours on the dunes of Miami’s chichi South Beach. Evoking everything from America’s Funniest Home Videos to the daytime-talk circus, Cindy will traffic in sexy, youth-based hedonism, garnished, aptly enough, with interactivity from the pinup’s legions of ”cyberbuddies.”
In fact, those Internet admirers helped shape the show’s format. ”With the touch of a button I could ask [them] what they wanted to see,” says Margolis, whose credits include stints as a ”Barker’s Beauty” on The Price Is Right and as a ”fembot” in 1997’s Austin Powers. ”That’s a luxury, because when you’re sitting in an office, maybe you don’t know what that person in Iowa’s gonna want. So I did some surveying.” The result? ”They loved [the idea of] being outside late at night, and the party thing,” she reports. ”They’d say, ‘We like spring break, but take it to the next level.”’
A daunting challenge, yes, but one Margolis feels equipped to tackle — especially since King World has recruited MTV alum Patrick Byrnes (MTV Movie Awards) and daytime-talk vet Burt Dubrow (Sally Jessy Raphael) to produce. They plan to kick off each hour with a Margolis-led monologue-Q&A session, followed by a Family Feud-esque ”battle of the sexes” (e.g., teams compete to think up inventive synonyms for breasts). Not surprisingly, Margolis’ favorite segment is ”The Cindy Game,” wherein two male fans vie for her affections, and the winner gets time alone with her in a backstage lounge. (”It’s like seven minutes in heaven,” she coos.) You can also expect the requisite celeb drop-ins (so far, they have Lil’ Kim, Jerry Springer, and Luther Campbell), and, to further the cyberconnection, a ”webkini” swimsuit contest featuring frat boys and sorority girls (”I’m really big with colleges,” Margolis explains), the outcome to be decided by viewers online.