Blackstone’s Annual Holiday Video Is Out And Reese Witherspoon Is in It
Since the first Monday of lockdown in New York, a weekly company-wide Zoom has marked business milestones and built personal ties at Blackstone: President Jon Gray has talked about his Covid puppy Luna. Chief Executive Officer Steve Schwarzman recently told of outdoor adventures with his grandkids, all while wearing a blue Santa hat.
Dubbed Blackstone Television, the meeting has grown into its name. Gray and Chief Administrative Officer Vik Sawhney read their pun-filled scripts from a teleprompter. Sawhney makes good use of a sound-effects gizmo.
“What started as a crisis project has been woven into the fabric of the firm,” Gray said Monday, after the last meeting of the year, titled “Season 2, Episode 40.”
Perhaps the biggest sign of the show’s success is that it’s the subject of Blackstone’s fourth annual holiday video, which as the alternative-asset manager looks to expand its holdings in media, could well be dubbed Blackstone’s original streaming hit.
In real life, Blackstone Television presents a lot of straight information with some fun peppered in. The version in the holiday video bends and twists reality, to provide laughs to employees and the firm’s investors.
Like the past three versions, this year’s video opens with the theme song for “The Office” as a camera pans across Blackstone’s Manhattan headquarters. Gray is the star again, playing a manic version of himself, this time obsessed with making Blackstone Television just like a real TV show.
A “BXTV” logo arrives, with an earworm jingle. Joe Dowling, global head of Blackstone Alternative Asset Management, becomes the show’s weatherman. Borrowing other morning-show cliches, the co-heads of real estate, Kathleen McCarthy and Ken Caplan, deliver their late-October report wearing Halloween pirate costumes. When the corny gimmicks fail to lure viewers, new tactics are tried.
“BXTV might not be a viral sensation, yet,” Chief Technology Officer John Stecher says, before sending out an alert that hits the billboards of Times Square and Reese Witherspoon’s phone.
“What is BXTV? And who is Jon Gray?” says Witherspoon, who manages to distinguish herself from the many Blackstone employees who landed parts in the video. As for how Blackstone got the actor/entrepreneur: About four months ago, the firm invested in her media company, Hello Sunshine.
Back to the fantasy of the holiday video: Eventually, a few people in the office hatch a plot to end the show, by convincing Gray it has won an Emmy. As Gray prepares to make his acceptance speech, Harlee Caplan of the Blackstone Charitable Foundation delivers a memorable eyeroll.
The real BXTV and the holiday video version do share a mantra Gray often uses: “Stay calm. Stay positive. Never give up.”
“The element of truth in all of this is the excessive optimism and enthusiasm,” Gray said.
That includes optimism about landing a self-spoofing video for the world to watch on YouTube.
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