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Briefs: Paideia grad on Netflix's '13 Reasons Why;' How Stuff Works' newest podcast; Buffie Purselle on 'The Partner'

This was posted Tuesday, April 4, 2017 by Rodney Ho/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk

Atlanta's Tommy Dorfman's first big acting role is on "13 Reasons Why," Netflix's first original series based on a successful 2007 young adult book "13 Reasons Why." The series debuted last Friday.

Dorfman's character Ryan Shaver, is a gay magazine editor at the high school. He is one of 13 people Hannah blames for her suicide in a set of cassette tapes she creates before she takes her own life. Ryan betrays her trust by publishing a very personal poem she wrote without her permission. The show toggles between pre suicide and post suicide.

The premise is based on how a seemingly normal teenage girl on the outside can be tormented by bullying, assault and betrayal but feels she has nowhere to turn. "If you're not paying attention to the subtle clues," Dorfman said in an interview while he was in Atlanta recently to visit family, "you'll miss it."

The show is pretty dark, he said, given the premise. "There's cursing, there's sex. It's not a pretty show," he said.

Dorfman, who appears in nine of the 13 episodes, is thrilled he got the part less than a year out of school. His role is of a student who takes himself "very seriously though he's funny to certain to people," he said. "He's not very popular. He's very intense. He thinks he's smarter than everyone else." His big episode is the eighth one.

The 13-hour show expands the story quite a bit from the book, he noted.

When he attended Paideia, "I was like the party kid. I was a social butterfly. I was barely there. I was not into school at all."  But he said the environment enabled him to come out as gay. When he was at a public school, he was considered the weird kid with "crazy colored hair who loved the Spice Girls." Paideia "was a safe environment. They let you learn at your own pace. I needed that as a kid."

Dorfman grew up a ballet dancer in the Atlanta Ballet  and did the "Nutcracker" for years. His recently parents hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Sixth District House candidate Jon Ossoff. Six years ago, he moved to New York City for college at Fordham University.

He decided pursuing ballet professionally wasn't going to be his path. He decided to study acting instead, working in a special film school program.

Dorfman now lives in Brooklyn with his husband Peter, who he married four days after Trump's election. "I love New York" he said. "I love to people watch. I can't leave."

He said his social media exploded once he was cast on the show, courtesy of executive producer Selena Gomez, who posted pictures of him and boosted his followers from 1,500 to 39,500. (He said once he was cast, he had to delete hundreds of Instagram posts that no longer represent him such as photos of him holding up bottles of champagne.)


The co-founders of Mental Floss have moved to Atlanta-based HowStuffWorks, which has one of the largest podcast operations in the world.

Will Pearson and Mangesh Hattikudur created Mental Floss, which started as a magazine in 2001 and is now a broad-based digital and print media company providing intriguing and unusual stories about life and how we lead it. They will be moving from Brooklyn to Atlanta.

Jason Hoch, HowStuffWorks’ CCO, called it a "mutual admiration society. They do great work and they really like what we do. We plan to create a great podcast around all the great thinking they came up with. We are in development on that show." He expects it to be ready for release later this spring.

The two men's approach toward providing information fits HowStuffWorks' ouvre. "You can expect a really smart show that's highly energetic," Hoch said. "People will have fun and learn something along the way. It will feel like part of the family."

HowStuffWorks has about a dozen podcasts already up, ranging from topics such as food, technology, history and cars. The underlying commonality is the research each podcaster does to prepare for each podcast. "It's about curious minds talking to other curious minds," Hoch said.

Podcasts are growing in popularity and provides HowStuffWorks with plenty of income. About 24 percent of people in a 2017 Statista survey said they had listened to at least one podcast in the past month, up from 12 percent in 2013. But that still leaves plenty of growth, too.


Buffie Purselle was eliminated last week from CNBC's reality competition show "The Partner" in which entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis would award the winner $500,000 and three-year contract to work with him, along with an equity stake in his company. It is very much like Donald Trump's original "The Apprentice" premise except the winner would be an equal with Lemonis, not under him.

The finale is tonight at 10 p.m. with three remaining finalists.

Purselle owns 10 tax preparation offices in metro Atlanta called Buffy the Tax Heiress. She focuses on small to medium sized small businesses, not individuals. Over 19 years, she's been a serial entrepreneur who has owned a range of businesses, she said, selling everything from copiers to mortgages.

She is a self-described "stalker level super fan" of Lemonis, having seen him on "The Secret Millionaire" in 2012 and on his other show on CNBC "The Profit." "I am in love with his huge heart," she said before the show began airing. "And I liked the cut of his jib." When he retweeted something she wrote, "you'd think Beyonce tweeted me happy birthday! I lost my mind!"

Lemonis told Purselle "you give up too easily" as his reason for cutting her last week.

If she had won, she had family members who could handle her existing business because she would have had to move to Chicago.

"I learned [while on the show] that he is wickedly brilliant," Purselle said. "He's very quick. He really does love people and he has a knack for pulling out things in you you didn't know you had. And he's tough. Really tough."


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About the Author

Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.