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Mattel's Ken, on the comeback trail, gets his own reality show

February 11, 2011 | 10:07 am


Ken Carson is ready for his close-up.

Mattel Inc.'s latest marketing push, to celebrate the milestone of its Ken doll hitting the big 5-0 next month, includes Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and a reality show on Hulu called "Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend."

Last year, upstart television production company Hudsun Media contacted the El Segundo-based toy giant with an idea for a show after learning about the "Ken Initiative" from an advertising firm. Hudsun pitched a program akin to "The Bachelor," but something that would have a little fun with Ken's "boy-next-door image." Michael Rourke, chief executive of Hudsun, said Mattel immediately embraced the concept as part of its campaign to make Ken cool again.

The show, primarily shot around Los Angeles in November, debuted on Hulu last month. "Genuine Ken" is a contest between eight potential "Kens" going through the paces to prove to Barbie-like judges that they have all of the qualities of Ken: integrity, style, fashion sense, good looks, nice abs, good manners and the ability to listen and understand what makes Barbie tick. 

"There is a fun, celebratory and campy nature to the show," Rourke said in an interview. Mattel, he said, was "in complete agreement in the spirit in which we approached the project: It was about having fun with this great icon while also exploring what it takes to be a great boyfriend."

 Click here to read the full story in The Times.

-- Meg James

Photo: A scene from "Genuine Ken: The Search for the Great American Boyfriend." Credit: Mattel