In all my years as a daytime TV producer, one of my most awarding experiences has been to see so many people I started out with become very big stars—both behind and in front of the cameras. Many former coworkers who made it big were once my interns and production assistants. I always took the kids just out of college very seriously and believed that these newbies could be in powerful positions one day, even to hire me. And, guess what?….. I’ve been proven correct over and over again. Here’s an example: acclaimed producer Barry Poznick was one of my favorite production assistants, more than 25 years ago, on the multi-Emmy award-winning talk show Sally Jessy Raphael. Today, Barry runs the wildly successful Barracuda Television Productions located in Los Angeles. Barry’s claim to fame is a whole slew of hit television shows airing in more than 150 countries around the world, including the blockbuster hit Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?
Barry’s most recent project is a TV show now on Discovery Life called Sex in Public. It’s hosted by Jill Dictrow, a relatively unknown former TV producer, soccer mom of two, sex toy party hostess, owner of an erotic bakery business and, NOW, sex therapist. Talk about reinvention! Jill’s journey excites me as much as the show’s concept. She goes undercover with hidden cameras, sneaks up on random strangers, gets them to talk openly about their sex lives, and offers free advice.
Okay, I love! Love because Jill Dictrow is hysterical, outspoken, and relatable. The things that come out of her mouth shock even this former Maury Povich producer. But what I love most is that Barry and Jill have known each other since elementary school. Barry helped Jill get her start in television by hiring her as an associate producer on one of his TV shows back in the 90s. And, now, has developed a show—and got it sold—for his longtime friend Jill. That’s loyalty!
And check out this clip of Sex in Public. I think you’ll understand why sex therapist Jill Dictrow got her own show
You see? Personality! Personality! Personality! Of course, it helps talking candidly about sexual fantasies, penis size, orgasms, and bedroom turn-ons and turnoffs in addition to having a major connection in the business. So I asked Barry to introduce me to his old friend and new host. Here’s what Jill and I chatted about.
- How does a sex therapist who’s never been in front of the camera get her own TV show?
It certainly helps to have Barry Poznick as a dear friend. I did take the idea to him, and he loved it. Together, we expanded on the format and ran with it. It’s no secret that being a character is everything these days on TV, and that’s key to getting a show sold.
- How would you describe your on-camera appeal?
I’m just like everyone else. I’m nonjudgmental, and I’ve been through lots of shit in my life—no one gets through life unscathed. I have a great sense of humor, and I’ll be the first one to make fun of myself. I love to laugh, but I have a big heart and I understand what it feels like to be hurt. So being empathic comes very naturally to me. Plus, I’m very straightforward; I hold back nothing. A typical New Yorker!
- How did you come up with the concept for Sex in Public?
Barry knew I went from producing to being a therapist, specializing in sex. We had lost touch for a long time, and when we reconnected, Barry asked me what the biggest challenge is when dealing with clients and talking about sex. I said, “Getting to the people who need the most help, the ones who don’t seek therapy.” A lightbulb went off in his head. Barry knows I’m capable of getting anyone to talk about anything…and so a show was born. But what makes the show different is really the hidden camera aspect.
- What was the pitching process like before you landed with TLC?
We shot a sizzle reel of just me talking about my life, my family, my practice, and why I want to help people with their sex lives. Honestly, there wasn’t a lot of magic to it. I just sat on a stool. I didn’t even have my hair blown that day. We pitched the show to a variety of networks via Skype, and everyone seemed to love the idea. However, Discovery Life, who owns TLC, loved it and jumped on board pretty much right away. They loved my personality! A reel is key to selling a show.
How is talking about sex on TV different than behind closed doors?
To be honest, talking about sex in public versus talking about it in my private practice is not all that different. The only difference is that I had to reveal they were being videotaped. The cameras do set a different tone, but the content and the vulnerability are the same.
- What’s the most shocking Sex in Public confession?
I interviewed a lot of women who had African American lovers, and the general consensus was they are NOT well-endowed the way we think they are. Bummer with a capital B!
- You were behind the scenes for years as a TV producer. Did you secretly want to be in front of the camera?
No, never! Being on TV was not my fantasy. I am far from the Hollywood type.
- How do you think your newfound fame will help grow your practice?
I still can’t really comprehend the word “fame.” I became a therapist to help people. That’s my main focus. If this helps my practice, great! I’m just trying to go with the flow. My life is exactly the same. I still walk my dog in my sweatpants, and I plan on keeping it that way. I just want to help people have fulfilling sex lives—that’s it.
9 What’s your advice for lifestyle experts who want to be on TV?
NEVER GIVE UP, NO MATTER WHAT PEOPLE TELL YOU!
- The show has gotten protests from the Parents Television Council urging TLC to pull the series. How do you feel about this reaction?
I hope the PTC watches Sex in Public. I think their opinion will change. The title is much more provocative than the actual content. You never know—those parents might even come away with a more fulfilling sex life!
So, for all you lifestyle experts who want a TV gig, exposure on Swoon Talent can help you get discovered! Keep in mind I know Barry Poznick! lol