August 04, 2007 12:02 AM by Joe Blackmon
Once upon a time there were 12 American women who wanted to be part of
a fairy tale – their dream: to be transformed into proper ladies of
society. In season two of WE tv’s original series, AMERICAN PRINCESS,
one lucky winner will live happily ever after. Beginning Sunday,
August 19th at 10 PM ET & PT/9C, WE tv will transport these
“diamonds in the rough” to England for an intensive “princess bootcamp”
where they will be trained in all things royal by top experts in
etiquette, grooming, presentation and aristocratic style. Hosted by
Yugoslavian royal and actress Catherine Oxenberg, each episode will
challenge the participants to learn what it takes to become royalty.
The winner will claim a British title, a dance with a real European
prince and $50,000 cash. The second season of AMERICAN PRINCESS
consists of eight, one-hour episodes and is filmed at Debenham House, a
private property in Holland Park, one of London’s premier residential
neighborhoods, in addition to many other landmark locations in England.
Assisting them in their crown-chasing efforts are Paul Burrell, author and former butler to Princess Diana and Jean Broke-Smith ("American Princess” — Season One), one of the UK’s leading etiquette and grooming experts. According to Burrell: “Becoming a princess is a process, one that requires hard work, the will to succeed, an ability to take direction and often times, intense criticism.” He added: “This series gives us the chance to bring the My Fair Lady dream to life and make an immense contribution to these young women – one that will stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
Assisting Paul and Jean each week will be a guest judge and expert in his/her field. Judges include: OK! Magazine’s editor-in-chief Sarah Ivens; “Access Hollywood” co-host, Tim Vincent; renowned elocutionist Francis Wright; noted Royal Correspondent James Whitaker; Provost Sergeant in the British Army, Tim Weston; Deborah Bull, a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet; and Jan Ward, head florist at Princess Anne’s wedding.
Each week, the contestants participate in a rigorous, old-fashioned curriculum where they are taught the noble disciplines including posture, speech, dance, cooking, dining etiquette and media training. After each lesson, the participants take part in an assortment of competitions that will most certainly test their newly-learned skills. The challenges, sure to unnerve even the most secure participants, include: hob-knobbing with foreign dignitaries and learning how to eat unfamiliar or difficult-to-eat foods; tackling a military-style obstacle course with a drill sergeant in tow; taking a ballet lesson in the Royal Opera House led by a former principal dancer; instruction in the art of cricket; a lesson in how to serve a formal English tea; and discovering how to entertain a room filled with blue-blooded aristocrats before sitting down to a formal dinner where their every move will be scrutinized.
The women will then be judged on how well they completed the tasks — winners are rewarded with the chance to attend royal functions, dine at top restaurants and tour London with some of Europe’s most eligible bachelors. Losers will be pushed to their limits with tasks that include cleaning a kitchen so that it passes the white glove test; stuffing hundreds of envelopes for a charity mailing; and learning the art of French polishing, an exhaustive wood finishing technique that involves carefully applying countless thin coats of shellac using a rubbing pad. At the end of each episode, one or more unlucky contestants is sent home. In the finale, the remaining women attend a glittering ball with all the pomp and circumstance associated with royalty. It is at this event that the American Princess will be crowned.
The contestants, from all over the United States, include: Clarissa Santiago, an outgoing former beauty pageant contestant from Bronx, NY; Tara Zynel, an opera singer and introverted arts student from Pittsburgh, PA; Liz Rizza, a rapping college basketball player from Umpqua Valley, OR; Cassie Shea Watson, a theater major from Longview, TX; ; Letosha Joshua, a former military sergeant from Chief City, FL; Danielle Sutterfield, a tree-hugging figure model from Arlington, TX; Crystal Rowe, a nanny and former foster child from Folsom, CA; Jasmine Espinal, a punk rocker from Orlando, FL; Kirsten Stiff, an energetic teacher who makes dog tutus in her spare time, from Sarasota, FL; Felicia Flick, a bikini-wearing boxer from Homer City, PA; Yvonka DeRidder, a bi-sexual Psychology student from Tampa, FL and Nakia Vestal, a former exotic dancer from Baytown, TX.
Actress Catherine Oxenberg is the daughter of H.R.H. Princess Elizabeth of Yugoslavia. Through her grandmother, Princess Olga of Greece and Denmark, Ms. Oxenberg is also descended from Kings and Queens of Greece, England, Scandinavia and Czars of Russia. As an Ivy League educated model, Oxenberg’s face graced the covers of Cosmopolitan, Glamour and Interview. Best known for her role as “Dynasty’s” Amanda Carrington, Oxenberg currently stars in the MyNetwork TV series, “Watch Over Me.” Oxenberg is married to actor Casper Van Dien and lives in Malibu with their five children.
Paul Burrell is best known for his position as Royal Butler to Diana, Princess of Wales. Today, he is a regular contributor to a daytime UK TV show and is author of the book, In the Royal Manner. He recently created a line of “affordable luxury” wines called the Royal Butler collection, and is involved in several charities including raising funds for the landmines charity, a cause that was closest to Princess Diana’s heart.
Jean Broke-Smith is the queen of deportment, etiquette and posture. She was the principal of Lucie Clayton Finishing School in London for 30 years. She has trained many an “IT” girl in traditional etiquette and dealing with fame.