Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


-- television -- superstar! ... yeah, right

Well. I am impressed. Just when you think that reality show producers have gone as low as they can -- making fools of contestants in shows like "Joe Schmoe" and "Boy Meets Boy" -- then abruptly, you see something that makes you wonder if perhaps, perhaps, they might be getting a little conscience ... or at least the odd jolt of common sense.

NBC quickly drops rural reality show (Cincinnati Enquirer/AP, May 10, 2004): No sooner did word get out that NBC was planning a reality show about an Appalachian family in Beverly Hills than the network announced it has scuttled the idea. The plans had caused an outcry among residents of Appalachia. But an NBC spokeswoman cited "creative reasons," not protests, as the reason the show wasn't pursued. "I'm glad NBC quickly came to its senses and decided this ill-conceived concept wasn't going to become a part of 'Must See TV,' " said U.S. Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky.

"Creative reasons." Yes. Well. In any event, it's entirely possible that one underling greenlighted the show, and then when it reached the upper management levels for final approval -- just about the time news broke that they'd done this -- the higher-ups said to the underlings, "You're freakin' insane; you know this, right? You sat there and watched CBS get shredded for exactly this concept, and then produced a pilot for it anyway?" In any event, for whatever reason, the show is quickly dropped.

But over on the WB, there's this little abomination called The WB's Superstar USA!, where the point of the show is to laugh at the talentless, who are unfortunately apparently unaware of just how acute their lack of talent is. (I'm assuming that, despite the fact that "the conclusion of the show is played out in front of a live audience", every single second of the show is in fact taped ahead of time; otherwise, there wouldn't be any possible way to keep the people from finding out exactly what was going on. If nothing else, their family and friends would tell them, one would think; keeping them completely uninformed for seven weeks would be nearly impossible.) So while the conclusion may in fact be taped in front of a live studio audience, it's probably not performed live on air, the way the American Idol shows are. Even allowing that these people volunteered for the show -- probably expecting the odd Simon Cowell-style ruthless critique -- they certainly did not knowingly volunteer for this.

But just when you think that, well, OK, they have discovered something lower than Joe Schmoe and Boy Meets Boy, they have discovered an even lower level of the reality TV sewer ... then you discover that, in fact, there are Still Lower Depths to which they can descend!

New York Post Online Edition: entertainment: WISHFUL STINKING

Reality TV has been known to pull the wool over people's eyes, but this time, it may have gone too far. At a taping for the upcoming "bad talent" series, "Superstar USA" producers lied and told audience members that the talentless contestants were actually terminally ill patients from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

The producers were worried that if they didn't lie, the audience would laugh or boo the contestants and give away the entire premise of the show, which is to fool really bad singers into thinking they're good. The show, which debuts Monday on the WB network, is a spoof of "American Idol" reject William Hung and the rest of the tryouts who don't seem to realize just how bad they are.

The idea of the show is to reward only the worst singers in the competition and move them on to the next round. The joke, of course, is on the deluded singers - with the very worst of them being crowned the "winner" at the end of the four-week series.

Officials for "Superstar USA" and the WB issued apologies over the weekend about the Make-a-Wish Foundation comment after an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

Right. So now they have to lie to the audience to make sure everyone plays along. Really, you'd think when it reaches the stage where you not only pay the audience, but then lie to it about the people having fatal diseases, you might consider that your concept is beyond morally bankrupt and perhaps ought to be abandoned.

But of course, they won't.

Posted by iain at 12:22 PM in category television