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Stylist on Ozy’s The Carlos Watson Show says saw ‘questionable marketing spin’

A stylist who worked on Ozy Media’s The Carlos Watson Show has slammed the company’s ‘questionable marketing spin’ and the ‘unethical’ decisions made by executives after a tsunami of scandalous revelations led to it shutting down for good.  

Kimmy Erin Kertes, who goes by KimmyErin on Instagram, posted a series of photos – first of her cozied to co-founder Carlos Watson, and then of him in the outfits she seemingly styled throughout the show.

Kertes made the post on Friday, soon after Watson gathered the company’s staffers at the headquarters in Mountain View, California, to announce through tears that the company was finished.

‘Let me explain,’ she started the lengthy caption on the post, noting that Friday, when she found out she was losing her job, was ‘heartbreaking to say the very least’.

She noted Watson’s charm, charisma and easy-to-follow vision, ‘especially in light of the racial injustice,’ but then criticized Ozy’s board and executives for their ‘unethical and brutal choices,’ adding that she ‘always wondered’ if the company was ‘a house of cards’. 

Stylist Kimmy Erin Kertes (pictured left with Watson) who dressed Ozy’s Carlos Watson when he appeared on The Carlos Watson show posted an Instagram Saturday in the wake of embattled digital news site Ozy Media shutting down – and she slammed the company’s ‘questionable marketing spin’ and the ‘unethical’ decisions made by executives

 

Kertes, who goes by KimmyErin on the social media site, posted a series of photos alongside a lengthy caption (pictured) after Watson just yesterday gathered the company's staffers at the headquarters in Mountain View, California, to announce through tears that the company was finished

Kertes, who goes by KimmyErin on the social media site, posted a series of photos alongside a lengthy caption (pictured) after Watson just yesterday gathered the company’s staffers at the headquarters in Mountain View, California, to announce through tears that the company was finished

 How Ozy Media imploded in a week:   

On Sunday, the New York Times revealed that Ozy co-founder Samir Rao allegedly impersonated a YouTube exec to impress potential investors 
On Wednesday, a Forbes article revealed how Ozy operated a toxic and abusive culture of overworking young and inexperienced employees
The article also detailed how Ozy profited off the insurance money of a cancelled music festival in 2019 likened to the Fyre Fest fiasco 
Wednesday also saw Ozy investor Ron Conway, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist, surrender all his shares of the company  
On Thursday, Ozy Chairman Marc Lasry stepped down, saying the company was in need of crisis management leadership 
That same day, former BBC anchor Katty Kay, one of Ozy’s biggest names also resigned after learning of Rao’s alleged behavior
CNN later released a report detailing how Ozy CEO Carlos Watson acted as a ‘bully’ who never took no for an answer 
On Thursday, the NY Times found that television producer Brad Bessey had quit Ozy in August when he found out the show he was producing had no cable deal 
Sharon Osbourne also spoke up on Thursday, revealing that Watson’s claim that the Osbournes invested in the company was a lie
Shortly after 5pm on Friday, Ozy’s board said the company was shutting down 

‘The crew of The Carlos Watson Show was blindsided by an article in The New York Times revealing damning information about potential securities fraud and fake audiences and questionable marketing spin,’ Kertes penned.

Ozy has faced a snowballing crisis after allegations the company's COO, Samir Rao (pictured), impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with investors

Ozy has faced a snowballing crisis after allegations the company’s COO, Samir Rao (pictured), impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with investors

The Times article she referenced, which was published on Sunday, single-handedly sent Ozy Media plummeting to its demise within a week. 

The story revealed that Ozy’s COO Samir Rao allegedly impersonated a YouTube executive to impress potential investors at Goldman Sachs as he tried to raise $40million from the investment bank – a potential case of securities fraud. 

Ozy Media’s known investors are Laurene Powell Jobs, wife of the late Apple founder Steven Jobs, venture capitalist Ron Conway and former Google exec David Drummond.

Berlin publishing giant Axel Springer, investment bank LionTree and the radio and podcast company iHeart Media also invested in the company.  

Earlier this year Emmy Award-winning television producer Brad Bessey quit the company after he discovered he was producing a show for Ozy without there being a network on which to air it. 

Bessey joined the fraudulent network show in June 2020, to work on The Carlos Watson Show – a daily, half-hour talk show presented by Watson, who is also Ozy’s CEO.

He was told repeatedly that the show would be broadcast on the cable channel A&E. 

Kertes referenced Bessey in her post, noting that as he ‘left for ethical reasons, (she) stayed on for the paycheck and the hope that somehow we would find our audience and get the message out’. 

Kertes noted Watson’s charm, charisma and easy-to-follow vision, ‘especially in light of the racial injustice,’ but then criticized Ozy’s board and executives for their ‘unethical and brutal choices,’ adding that she ‘always wondered’ if the company was ‘a house of cards’ 

Kertes was obviously saddened by what The Times' story revealed and later posted an Instagram story showing off her hair after leaving the salon adding that 'everything is gonna be alright'

Kertes was obviously saddened by what The Times’ story revealed and later posted an Instagram story showing off her hair after leaving the salon adding that ‘everything is gonna be alright’

She noted that she was looking forward to the show ‘moving production to LA in January,’ after revealing that serving as Watson’s stylist was a ‘sacrifice my daughter and husband made to not have her mama home’.

Kertes was obviously saddened by what The Times’ story revealed. She said: ‘I feel like I have to delete his photos off my website and social media. 

Earlier this year Emmy Award-winning television producer Brad Bessey (pictured) quit the company after he discovered he was producing a show for Ozy without there being a network on which to air it

Earlier this year Emmy Award-winning television producer Brad Bessey (pictured) quit the company after he discovered he was producing a show for Ozy without there being a network on which to air it 

‘It’s a bummer that I can’t be proud of some thing I was a part of for 17 months of a pivotal moment in time and in my life navigating work as a new mom. It’s a bummer I can’t be proud of Carlos Watson. It’s a bummer it was just a paycheck.’ 

Days after The Times story broke Forbes revealed how Ozy operated a toxic and abusive culture of overworking young and inexperienced employees, making workers in their 20s manage entire departments.

Eva Rodriguez, 24, a creative director at the company since 2017, found herself so overburdened at her job that she was rushed to the ER and later admitted into a six-week outpatient program for ‘extremely depressed people’ after suffering from a panic attack late last year.

As for Kertes, she’s ‘not going to let one dude’s greed and drive erase my (and my colleagues’) hard work’.

She noted that more than 100 ‘talented, hard working people have lost their jobs and I worry greatly that more fallout will come. l that will be hard for all of us to digest’.

Kertes signed off the caption by saying: ‘So that’s where I’m at. Heart broken.

Sending love and solidarity to all who were affected that I’ve been lucky enough to meet.’  

Eva Rodriguez (pictured), 24, a creative director at the company since 2017, found herself so overburdened at her job that she was rushed to the ER and later admitted into a six-week outpatient program for 'extremely depressed people' after suffering from a panic attack late last year

Eva Rodriguez (pictured), 24, a creative director at the company since 2017, found herself so overburdened at her job that she was rushed to the ER and later admitted into a six-week outpatient program for ‘extremely depressed people’ after suffering from a panic attack late last year 

Kertes said in her post announcing she lost her job at Ozy's The Carlson Show: 'It’s a bummer that I can’t be proud of some thing I was a part of for 17 months of a pivotal moment in time and in my life navigating work as a new mom. It’s a bummer I can’t be proud of Carlos Watson. It’s a bummer it was just a paycheck'

Kertes said in her post announcing she lost her job at Ozy’s The Carlson Show: ‘It’s a bummer that I can’t be proud of some thing I was a part of for 17 months of a pivotal moment in time and in my life navigating work as a new mom. It’s a bummer I can’t be proud of Carlos Watson. It’s a bummer it was just a paycheck’

She later posted an Instagram story showing off her hair after leaving the salon. ‘Super heartbreaking day for me professionally… But I got my hair did. And it looks great. Everything is gonna be alright,’ the text over the photo read.

Meanwhile, along with its news department and number of non-fiction television shows, in 2016 Ozy launched its own Manhattan-based music and comedy festival, OzyFest – which brought a cease-and-desist letter from Ozzy Osbourne who claimed that the name was too similar to his Ozzfest music festival.

Watson had once vowed that the annual event was going to be ‘the new South-by-Southwest,’ but former employees and insiders said that the struggling festival was more akin to the infamous Fyre Festival.

By 2018, Ozy was raising eyebrows with the claim that it had sold 20,000 tickets to that year’s event at the Rumsey Playfield despite the venue only having a capacity of just 5,000.

‘We had never proven the ability to sell even 5,000 tickets,’ a former employee told Forbes. ‘When we were trying to sell 5,000 tickets we were begging people to buy them. We were putting them on discount, discount, discount, giving them away.’

Much like the Fyre Festival, the failed 2017 event meant to promote the Fyre music booking app, Ozyfest seemed to be an expense that promised much more than it could deliver.

Then in 2019, Watson made an ambitious gamble by scheduling Ozy Fest for Central Park’s massive Great Lawn, vowing to sell 100,000 tickets and promising appearances from comedian Trevor Noah and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban.

Planning for the event got off to a rocky start after the company was busted using an image of the much more popular Global Citizen Festival in ads for the Ozyfest- a bait-and-switch that Ozy execs blamed on a rogue team member.

And the promised lineup for the event was even more sleight of hand, according to former employees.

‘The way they’d get guests on their TV shows and guests on their festivals is they’d lie and say they already had commitments from X, Y and Z,’ one employee who worked on Ozy Fest told Forbes.

‘And they were like, oh that person dropped out, oh that person can’t participate. But they never had those people to begin with.’

Insiders say it came as a relief when Ozyfest (pictured) was cancelled at the last minute by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also called off the New York City Triathlon due to a searing heatwave that hit 100 degrees. Likewise, Ozy's 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic

Insiders say it came as a relief when Ozyfest (pictured) was cancelled at the last minute by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also called off the New York City Triathlon due to a searing heatwave that hit 100 degrees. Likewise, Ozy’s 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic 

Another employee told Forbes that unlike other media outlets that give trade air-time with guests who appear on their shows by allowing the stars a chance to talk about their projects or causes, Ozy’s high profile guests were always paid for.

‘Ozy would bill them as ‘friends of Ozy’ and that’s why they’re there,’ says the former employee. ‘But no, they were paid to show up. Everything has a price tag.’

Documents filed with the New York City Buildings Department showed the 2019 festival was only licensed to host 15,500 people per day during the two-day festival.

Staging the event would have cost some $6million, in addition to the millions Ozy likely spent on advertising, according to experts consulted by Forbes.

Insiders say it came as a relief when the festival was cancelled at the last minute by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who also called off the New York City Triathlon due to a searing heatwave that hit 100 degrees.

Likewise, Ozy’s 2020 festival was canceled due to the pandemic. 

Kimmy Erin Kertes’s full statement addressing Ozy Media’s shutdown and losing her job on The Carlos Watson show

Let me explain…

SO many DMs came in after I posted in my stories that, professionally, 10/1/21 was heart breaking and to say the very least, disappointing and honestly it’s easier to just post and set the record straight one time than respond to everyone – THANK YOU all for your sweet words.   

The week was a roller coaster of emotions as me and the crew of The Carlos Watson Show were blindsided by an article in the @nytimes revealing damning information about potential securities fraud and fake audiences and questionable marketing spin… search ‘ozy nyt’ should you want to follow along, but every major outlet has covered their own gnarly headlines criticizing the company and its founder, @ozycarlos seen here, and its COO.

The company created amazing, beautiful content. Carlos is the most charming human and charismatic leader on the planet whose vision was easy to follow, especially in light of the racial injustice we were seeking to right when I was contacted about this gig by the inimitable @bradbessey last summer. 

We scrambled, in a pandemic, to create this show that we thought was airing on prime time cable network, so honored to be a part of a conversation to heal, change, and ‘reset America’. When Brad left for ethical reasons as now documented by NYT, I stayed on for the paycheck and the hope that somehow we would find our audience and get the message out. There was a lot of hope. 

I saw questionable marketing spin but there were still wins and the guests were incredible. Some favorites included Gloria Steinem, Cory Booker, Gabrielle Union, and a truly incredible conversation with that gun-toting crazy couple the McCloskys where even they were able to recognize that Carlos had an incredible ability to diffuse and have tough conversations on both sides of the political spectrum. 

Despite the many unethical and brutal choices the board and executives have made, the project was worth the travel, the sacrifice my daughter and husband made to not have her mama home, and the Herculean challenges building a wardrobe for daily episodes in a pandemic without getting the time to do fittings with limited budgets and a host of other challenges that presented as the show evolved. 

Despite the massive stress the job would bring, I’m not relieved it’s over. They were moving production to LA in January and it would’ve been a really fantastic part-time gig. I’m actually pretty heartbroken over the whole situation. 

I always wondered if it was a house of cards, clearly it was, but I feel like we’ve all been a little duped. I feel like I have to delete his photos off my website and social media. It’s a bummer that I can’t be proud of some thing I was a part of for 17 months of a pivotal moment in time and in my life navigating work as a new mom. It’s a bummer I can’t be proud of Carlos Watson. It’s a bummer it was just a paycheck….. 

Yesterday, I felt ashamed for believing. Today, I’m going on the record to say that I’m not going to let one dude’s greed and drive erase my (and my colleagues) hard work. 100+ talented, hard working people have lost their jobs and I worry greatly that more fallout will come. l that will be hard for all of us to digest. So that’s where I’m at. Heart broken. Sending love and solidarity to all who were affected that I’ve been lucky enough to meet.

 

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