Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


-- television -- circus of the stars, aughties version

You know, I hate to say it, but NBC's Celebrity Circus is actually ... kind of fun. Interesting. Entertaining, even. Mind, it does suffer from a severe case of "Who the hell IS that, anyway?" But still, you've got celebrities (of a sort) doing things that no reasonably sane person would do at their stage of life with that little training, and paying the price, too. Stacey Dash had broken ribs (but her performance apparently managed to turn the gay judge straight), Rachel Hunter had herniated discs in her neck and Christopher Knight had a broken arm.

The judges are an interesting motley. Mitch Gaylord is a former Olympic gymnast and actor (if that's quite the right word -- I've seen some of his film work). Aurelia Cats is a circus performer -- contortion and trapeze -- as well as an experienced circus festival competition judge (i.e., the member of the judging panel who actually knows what she's talking about). Louie Spence is a dancer and choreographer, as well as having judged other countries' versions of the show; he's also very very very very gay (believe it or not, this is actually relevant, if not precisely a qualification). The judging appears to be a mix of that from American Idol and that of Dancing with the Stars. Circus has, in fact, completely absorbed the judging model from the first season of "Dancing with the Stars", in which 50% of the score comes from the judges, and 50% comes from the viewers. Presumably, this means that people are simply ranked in order of the total votes received, and also the judges' vote ranking. In theory, this should mean that if you pay attention to the judges' votes, you may be able to tell which people are safe, and which are at risk, at least for the next three weeks. Beyond that, there aren't enough people left to be safe, no matter what the judges do.. Like American Idol, Celebrity Circus at least pretends that the competition has something to do with performance, as well as popularity, barring votes before the broadcast ends, but limiting both phone and online voting to only two hours after the show.

According to various comments through the show, the celebrities will be rotating through the apparatuses week to week. On the one hand, that's understandable -- you don't want the audience to get bored with seeing too much repetition -- but at the same time, I wonder how wise that was. Presumably, the eight weeks of rehearsal was to allow them to rotate training through each apparatus, and then the week before the show, they concentrate on the one for the upcoming broadcast. I would think that spending so little time on each apparatus would make them more prone to injury, as has already happened, and certain apparatuses will aggravate injuries that have already occurred.

I'm beginning to suspect that Joey Fatone is perhaps the wrong host for the series. He's personable and enthusiastic enough, I suppose, but he seems a bit lost some of the time. And he really seems to have no idea how to handle Louie Spence and his sexual innuendoes at the various celebrities; that would be understandable if Louie were aiming his remarks at Joey, but he really doesn't speak to Joey after the introductions. Really, it needs someone with a certain engaging smarm who can give as good as he gets, like, say, Tom Bergeron.

It'll be interesting to see how it goes through the summer.

Posted by iain at 10:22 PM in category television