'The City': Erin Kaplan gets the job done with or without Olivia Palermo

erin-kaplan-city.jpgDuring the first season of "The City," it was hard not to feel sorry for Erin Kaplan as we watched her go about her business at Elle Magazine. She suffered long work days alongside Olivia Palermo, who was constantly in boss Joe Zee's favor despite her apparent refusal to complete her tasks.

Kaplan, however, is quick to assure us that her co-star hasn't affected her day-to-day life at work as much as it may seem.

"My actual job at Elle hasn't changed at all, it's just kind of doing another job on top of that when we're filming," she tells Zap2it. "I'm making sure that I deliver on everything that I did before the show."

In fact, Palermo isn't around the Elle offices all that much. Though she's frequently featured on Elle.com in red-carpet photos, we'd be hard-pressed to find a piece she worked on as an editor, aside from her interview with Anna Sui that aired on "The City." When we ask whether Palermo is ever at Elle when the cameras aren't on, Kaplan says, "We're in two separate departments. She contributes to the Accessories department."

With her consistent refusal to compromise and her ever-condescending tone, Olivia may seem like a character fabricated for the purpose of the story. Kaplan says that's not the case: Olivia isn't any different on the show than she is in real life. "They obviously edit for dramatic purposes, but they never tell us to say anything. Everything you see us say and do actually happened as you see it."

Kaplan is the only cast member on "The City" who is seen only in the context of her career. MTV cameras never follow her home, out on dates, or to social events with her friends. "It's definitely a conscious decision on my part," she says. "We talked about having my family come on, and I just... I don't want to make this a sob story at all, but it's hard to hear negative feedback about yourself. As difficult as it is to hear about me, it would be that much harder to hear it about my family or my friends."

When a reality TV star claims to be protective of her personal life, we can't help but be a little skeptical. "I know it's a contradiction," Kaplan admits, "but I'm a very private person." In fact, Kaplan almost didn't agree to do the show at all. "I had a lot of hesitation about it. It took a long time for me to finally make the decision, but eventually, I decided it would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in terms of my career."

Kaplan has always made her career a priority. Even before "The City," she was the youngest PR Director in the history of Elle Magazine. "Right now I definitely want to stay at Elle. We're celebrating our 25th anniversary in September," she says. That doesn't mean she isn't planning for the future.

Recently, Kaplan met with "The City's" matriarch, PR guru Kelly Cutrone, to discuss her future in public relations. "She gave me some advice," Kaplan says. "She told me about how she started her own company when she was young. She let me know where she came from and what she thinks I should do. I value Kelly and I'm envious of her career. I think she'd be great to emulate. You'll see what happens."

As for the rest of this season, Kaplan hopes she'll get a chance to break away from Palermo a bit -- and we don't blame her. "I knew going into it that I'd be tied to Olivia," she laughs, "so most of what you see is me dealing with her. But I've recently asked producers to show me working on my own a bit more. I mean, I understand it's a television show and it's meant to be entertaining, so they're not going to show me sitting at my desk sending out press releases, but I do much more than that, and I'm hoping to see it on the show this season."

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Photo credit: MTV