This is really tough for me to share. Professionally, it’s a risk. Back in November 2014 I was contacted directly via Facebook by Mark Petherbridge. He claims (still to this day) to work for the ABC network and the TV series “Extreme Weight Loss” with Chris Powell and Heidi Powell. Mark began to “court” me for a possible replacement for Chris, who apparently was not renewing his contract for 2015. I love the show; I think Chris and Heidi are extremely talented fitness professionals and are very nice people. It’s an honor to be considered, right? Mark Petherbridge even contacted my management team regarding this proposal.
Now, this is where things get tricky. I deem Mark’s communication and handling of this situation inappropriate, to the point where I don’t believe he has anything to do with the entertainment or fitness industry. In my career experience, I almost always feel that TV networks, producers, directors and casting personnel actually WANT you to get the job. These professionals are on your side during this process. Mr. Petherbridge was not on my side; instead, I was receiving MANY red flags.
THAT SAID, crazier things have happened in this industry. Perhaps Mark could be so entitled in his position that he feels justified in treating people unprofessionally. So, contacting him and sharing this information is a professional and personal risk for me. If he does work for this network and series, after my professional dealings with him, I wouldn’t be interested in continuing with this opportunity. Regardless, I figure it’s worth sharing my opinion to the network, the series and any other professionals.
Here is the letter I emailed to him on Jan 25, 2015:
I received your text. Please respect that I do not wish to be contacted by you via text messaging, only through email email@example.com
Here’s the deal. The way you handled communication with me regarding “Extreme Weight Loss” (ABC T.V.) was unprofessional. I had several red flags from day one.
So there are 2 possible scenarios:
1. You do work for ABC, the production company that produces the “Extreme Weight Loss” series or with the casting agency that is associated with this ABC project. At this stage in my career, I have never been in a situation where casting, producers, or the network don’t feel “on my side.” That said, I feel how you handled our “interview/casting” was unprofessional. It certainly doesn’t make me feel like investing personally or professionally in ABC or their weight loss series. Let’s leave it at that.
2. You don’t work for ABC, the production company that produces the “Extreme Weight Loss” series or the casting agency that is associated with this or any ABC projects. You should immediately stop contacting fitness talent giving false hope of nonexistent opportunities. This can be highly damaging to people, especially in the fitness industry, as the majority of these people are not actors and don’t have any experience in the entertainment industry. I brushed this off as just a gig and someone that I would not be interested in working with or for. However, ten years ago I would have self analyzed this situation to death and probably blamed myself for the outcome.
This is what I’d like to see happen: If the first possibility is correct- email me and prove to me somehow that you actually are a producer or directly related to casting of this series. I suggest this because there is absolutely no proof of this anywhere. Then I will apologize for my disbelief and just regard this as an awkward moment in my professional career. And might I suggest to be more respectful of prospective talent in the future because producers and casting can get a bad reputation just as quickly and damaging as talent can.
If the second possibility is correct-let me know I am correct and stop reaching out to any fitness professionals or anyone else you are “cat fishing.” Stop making professionals believe you have the ability to provide people with such opportunities.
If I don’t hear anything from you or I receive a response that doesn’t clarify your professional relationship to this series by the end of the day Monday, I will reach out to my contacts at ABC. There are numerous participants/talent on the show whom I know very well including past weight loss participants (who are now clients of mine). I will mention to you that this could lead to some serious consequences as what you are doing is actually against the law.
I haven’t brought this up to my manager, PR rep or agent because I’m embarrassed for possibly being “catfished.” I’m embarrassed for even bringing this up to them and connecting you with them because of how oddly and inappropriately you have handled this.
I look forward to your response.
His immediate response back to me: “Not that I need to prove myself but from one gay male to another I will – nothing I had said to you was false or close to be false.”
Ok, so there we have it! He’s just an ass who has a small influence in the entertainment industry. BUT why “one gay male to another” ??? So WEIRD and wildly inappropriate. Who cares if we are both gay men? That shouldn’t influence anything.
I meditated on this, and came to this conclusion: I simply must communicate the correspondence I’ve had with this unprofessional man and the issues I have with him to ABC lawyers. Involved counsel has all the pertinent information, and I’m hopeful others will come forward with enough “talent” or those who have been “catfished” and share their unprofessional dealings. As a result, I’m hopeful he will be considered for removal from his current position(s).
I feel like it is important for me to share this to protect anyone from being harmed or mislead. I brushed this off very easily; but, Craig Ramsay 10 years ago, would have been devastated and self-analyzed this to death. I don’t want anyone, especially fitness professionals who are unfamiliar with the entertainment industry, to have to go through these self-esteem damaging situations.
Here is Mark’s FB page:
Please share and tag your fitness professional friends to notify them of this man. PROTECT EACH OTHER – ALWAYS.
Mark Petherbridge photo