C.J.: What does this girl want? Like Oprah, just to be heard

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 16, 2012 - 8:12 PM
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Tryneal Addison is only 17 but she already has her own TV show, and girl, can she talk.

Lots of girls want to be another Oprah. St. Paul's Tryneal Addison thinks she'll have a leg up on them all once her virtual show, a teenage version of ABC's "The View," takes off.

"It's called 'WhatGirlsThink.TV,' and yeah, it's basically a teen version of 'The View'," Addison, 17, told me Monday. The show features "six teenagers sharing our opinions of what's going on in the world these days. Our producer is Gary Kleinman, an ex-Disney [vice president for 23 years]. It's not a YouTube show; it's actually on a Web TV network called FirstRun.TV. I don't want a YouTube show -- I want a real show, something that's pretty, has got colors like 'Wendy Williams Show,' something that conveys my personality -- fun, things are popping, just the whole nine yards.

"I'm the Minnesota girl and main host. All of the [other] girls are in different cities," she said. "I co-created it and I co-produce it. Yeah, busy girl; 17 years old, doing it all," said Addison. "I came up with this idea when I was 12 years old.

"My mom realized I had a powerful mouth. My mouth was my tool. I'm a writer, as well. People see my writing, that's different, but I want to be heard. I want my mouth to be heard. I'm a real busy kid.

"I wrote my proposal up when I was 14 years old. I typed it up. I tried to send it to Ellen, all these different production companies. Nobody would take my idea. One day I was scrolling on the Internet, saw my producer."

Producer Kleinman told me Monday that he believes Addison stumbled onto something about FirstRun.TV, the company of which he's president and CEO. At Disney, Kleinman said, he handled new media technology for the studio and company.

Addison's show is new media technology all right. "It's not done in a studio," said Kleinman. "We decided to do this show using the technologies and communications means [available] to today's youth." The decision was made to "do it on the Internet with Internet technology. We wanted cultural and geographic diversity.

"We found other girls in different cities [Philly, Miami, Houston, Los Angeles and Portsmouth, Ohio], all kind of in the same age group, and started putting the show together. We've done four episodes, half-hour shows; one serious subject, then one fun and frivolous [subject per show]. It's pretty fun. As the producer, I give them guidance and then just let them do their thing."

The lofty O comparison of Tryneal -- a mash-up of the names of her late father, Trent McNeal, pronounced Tree Neel -- was first made to me by Addison's California-based manager, PR woman Sheryl Dolley. Without any prompting from me, Dolley said, "She is kind of like a young Oprah."

When I asked Addison how California executives heard about a talkative teenager from Minnesota, she said "Facebook?" with a question mark in her tone. Then she added: "They all want a piece of me because they think I'm going to be the next Oprah."

Then I asked the former Disney exec about the O comparison. "She damn well could be," said Kleinman. "I'm telling you, she's beyond her years. The first time I spoke to her I had no idea she was 16 years old. I thought I was talking to a 30-year-old woman. She's articulate, bright, aware. I was just blown away. And the other girls are really smart, funny, interesting, colorful people. It's groundbreaking. There's nothing like it."

Since Tryneal Addison's Web show was inspired by "The View," I thought I'd ask her a question that was being debated on Monday's show as a "Hot Topic." There is alarm, according to the ladies of "The View," and appropriate consternation that teenage girls are reading "Fifty Shades of Grey." Has Addison heard of the book?

"Yeah," she said. "Omigod, it's all over the news."

So, is "50 Shades of Grey" a book Addison has read?

"I've never read '50 Shades of Grey' and don't really think I want to, either. I know about it, but I don't know too much about it," said Addison, who then asked me, "What is really the basis of the book?"

Better that her mom, Barbara Kidd, be the one to educate Addison on that question. This book is too racy for me, and I'm nobody's prig.

C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be heard Thursday mornings on FOX 9.

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