Christie Jenkins: Fresh Ideas That Hit Big

BUNS: A Woman Looks At Men’s – 1980-1986

Christie Jenkins is credited by NY Literary circles with “creating the women’s genre in publishing”. Her landmark little book, BUNS: A Woman Looks At Men’s was the first photo book made for women of men. Many celebrities and Olympic athletes appeared in the book, as it was a loving, mostly clothed look at how women really see, or wish to see men. Published by G. P. Putnam in 1980, it was on every best-seller list, sold over one million copies, and was followed by five BUNS calendars. Christie appeared on over 200 television and radio shows, and was asked to participate in prestigious panels on the changing roles of the sexes.

Cornwall Area Singles Activities Club – 1987-1989

Long before on-line dating and singles groups were popular, when Christie moved to Cornwall, NY in 1987, she created a club for rural singles to participate in weekly activities and monthly parties. Receiving a suspicious slow-start, within a year there were 300 members. The membership later became part of (

How to Talk to a Person Who Can’t Hear – 1997-current

The first video made specifically for the general public to learn Sign Language, Christie committed her entire inheritance of $100,000 to create this ground-breaking work, after seeing Mr. Holland’s Opus. It is sold through her own distribution company, is endorsed by The National Association of the Deaf, has sold over 150,000 copies (noted as phenomenal for a special interest video), and has won several awards including The Parent’s Choice “recommended for all ages” Certificate. Christie has been dubbed “The Sign Language Angel," and lectures monthly across the nation. The DVD version of this unique show has just been released under the title Sign Language for Everyone, which also has the distinction of being the first show made specifically for Spanish speakers in America to learn to Sign.

Uncommon Men - 1986

Optioned by Warner Books, this book was to contain photographs and interviews with 75 fascinating men around the globe. Her idea to simply publish the interviews exactly as the questions were asked and answered was not being done in America at that time. Included was the young mogul Donald Trump, but the project became too expensive for Warners and ended.

Television Show Concepts - 1990

The first show idea she ever pitched, Stay Tuned, was picked up and developed by John Sacret Young, then of China Beach and now of The West Wing fame. An episodic dramedy (before there was such a concept), it looked at the lives on and off camera of fictional soap opera actors, and was to be shot on film for their private lives, and video tape for their on-set scenes. The powers at Warner Bros. eventually passed reasoning that “only women home in the daytime are interested in soaps.”

Seinfeld Script – 1992

Christie’s first try at a sit-com writing was for Seinfeld, called “The List,” in which the main story-line had the characters listing how many people they’d slept with. Never produced, the script was admired and requested all over town, and the next season saw some 14 different sitcoms using that story line, including the feature film Four Weddings and a Funeral written in 1993.

First Female Columnist in ESQUIRE Magazine - 1994

Andy Warhol invited Miss Jenkins to be a photographer for his Interview Magazine. Feeling that the rock n’ roll world conflicted with her lifestyle, she turned it down. A bright editor at Esquire for Men invited her to write a column about men from her unique perspective, and after several columns were turned in, the publishing group was taken over and the idea discarded. That NY editor went on to find Candace Bushnell, and Sex & The City was born.

Dancing With the Stars – 1997

Christie and Emmy-winner Steve Binder teamed up to create a unique television show called Dancing with The Stars, in which celebrities would dance with ballroom dancesport champions. Ms. Jenkins had invested heavily in that world (see following page), and made a 42 page presentation kit of their show and the reasons it would be a hit. They took it first to ABC Network, where the delighted Specials dept. vowed to find a place for it on their schedule, before then network head Jamie Tarses turned it down “there will be no dancing on my network!” Steve and Christie went on to pitch it to many other network executives who have called to congratulate them on their show finally being broadcast. Note: appearing on Christie’s show-demo reel made in 1997 are Evander Holyfied, host Tom Bergeron, and dancer Charlotte Jorgenson. Sound familiar?

Ballroom DanceSport Championships - 1993-1998

After seeing the hit Australian film Strictly Ballroom, Christie wanted to make ballroom a classy event in the tradition of Figure Skating (her background) shows and competitions. She purchased the broadcast rights to the two largest championships in America and signed the World Champions from England in both Latin and Ballroom disciplines to management contracts.

Spending thousands to create demo reels and presentation kits, and meeting much resistance from networks, several things finally developed: A producer at Fox had Christie create a daily dance competition – her vision was almost identical to what American Idol became – but it was dropped when he left the network. ABC Network executives then were excited over a concept she and Emmy-winner Steve Binder came up with for a prime-time special and roll-out series, called Dancing With The Stars, but other executives finally decided that advertisers would not support the concept. So Miss Jenkins, armed with facts and figures of the money involved in ballroom, went to NYC and met with ad execs. Within a year, commercials featuring dance began to appear on television. She also had a fortuitous dinner in London with icon Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, who sent her to the BBC to pitch her show ideas there.

Later, when her broadcast rights expired to the National Championships in Florida, the rights were picked up by IMG, a company Christie had photographed for and had approached about partnering her. They then sold several dance competition shows to NBC, which were produced in an extremely different format from her vision, and they were not successful.

DanceSport: Feature Film Optioned - 1998

Also in the meeting with Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber, on the spot Christie came up with a feature film story involving ballroom, a sport well appreciated in the U.K., and he sent her to his new film company in Beverly Hills, where it was eventually turned down. She pursued on and Quincy Jones’ company optioned DanceSport the next day. While writing the script she pitched it to George Clooney, who attached to star. After six months of development, it fell apart. Other producers who “liked the good fun story and strong dialogue” passed, stating that “musicals will never make a comeback.” And then came Moulin Rouge and Chicago!

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