Monday, June 20, 2011
COLUMN: Celebrity Apprentice
It's no real secret that I've had a long-standing, sordid, and emotional love affair with bad TV.
I grew up on a steady diet of "Knight Rider," "The A-Team," "BJ and the Bear," and "The Dukes of Hazzard." My favorite show as a kid was a swiftly-cancelled series called "Salvage 1," starring Andy Griffith as a junkman who builds a rocket out of scrap metal and flies it to the moon to harvest space junk. (No foolin'. Look it up.)
In college, bereft of cable, my friends and I would spend hours in the dorms watching the home shopping stylings of John Cremeans aka The Late Nite Doctor of Shopology. Just the other day, I reached an "I'm-too-lazy-to-find-the-remote" mode and ended up watching an entire afternoon's worth of "Sonny With A Chance" on the Disney Channel. My girlfriend can testify that she once caught me in midst of an entire afternoon of down-with-men Lifetime movies.
In other words, I know bad TV. The denizens of the D-List have long been my life's companions. Yet there's one major pitfall of lowest common denominator television that I have, until recently, managed to avoid.
I like to split reality TV into two categories: Classy and Trashy. On the classy side exist shows that I watch without shame: "American Idol," "The Amazing Race," paranormal shows, and anything involving deadliest catches and/or ice road truckers. On the other side? The shows even MY thick skin can't sit through: The Hills, Jersey Shore, teen moms, "real" housewives, and anything involving "celebrities" dating, skating, and/or dancing around.
That said, I've recently fallen under the spell of a show I would normally throw in the trash bin: the current season of "Celebrity Apprentice."
Have you guys seen this fabulous trainwreck yet? Surely by now you know how the show works. Twelve "celebrities" compete against each other for charity in a series of blatant product placements disguised as simple marketing tasks. At the end of every episode, the task results are assessed, resulting in one celebrity being "fired" by famed entrepreneur, hair maven, and (can I REALLY be saying this?) arguable GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
This year, though, Trump's spotlight-hogging has taken a backseat to the wondrous shenanigans of the almost-perfect cast of celebrity has-beens and wanna-bes. In the mix this year? Former "View" co-host (and mega diva) Star Jones, "Real Housewives" star (and mega diva) Nene Leakes, singing sensation (and mega diva) Dionne Warwick, possible Martian (and mega diva) LaToya Jackson... get the pattern? On the men's side, you've got doting rock god Meat Loaf, hip hop mogul Lil Jon, nefarious "Survivor" winner Richard Hatch, and the always bat-poop crazy Gary Busey.
The result is the most hysterical television I've seen all season. Just the other day, Busey's insane antics caused poor grandfather-ly Meat Loaf to scream at him like a mental patient, while the claws have come out full throttle on the women's side and evidence mounts that Dionne Warwick might be the most evil person on the planet. When the sanest character turns out to be a rapper whose biggest contribution to society thus far is yellin "Yeeeeeeah!", you know it's a show worth watching.
The whole thing's got me thinking, though -- could it be even BETTER? Could there be an even better trainwreck of a cast to torment each other and The Donald to the brink of sanity? I think I've figured out the perfect mix. If I was casting director of the next season of Celebrity Apprentice, here's who I'd go for:
* LADY GAGA - A good chunk of the tasks thrown at celebrities involve putting them into embarassing, slightly awkward situations. But is it possible to embarass someone who wears a meat dress to the MTV awards? The only downfall is that every idea she'd bring to the table would have probably been done by Madonna a decade ago.
* ROSIE O'DONNELL - Why should only the CELEBRITIES have to squirm? Rosie and Trump's war of words have been going on for years now - let's let them duke it out in a boardroom cage match and make life rough for The Donald for once.
* MIKE TYSON - In case Rosie chickens out. I just want to see Donald Trump wag his finger at Tyson's face and tell him he's fired. He might not make it out of the boardroom with both ears intact.
* BILL CLINTON - To survive in The Apprentice, you've got to give good boardroom speech, and no-one's better at covering their own butt than our pal Bill. Say what you want about his presidency, the man might just be the best debater of this generation. Plus I just want to see him have to sell ice cream or make a painting or whatever ridiculous task Trump dishes out.
* PAUL LYNDE - Because a team just isn't a team without a snarky effeminate deviant, and no one did it better than our favorite center square. Just one problem -- he's long dead. Which means we need:
* RYAN BUELL, host of A&E's Paranormal State, to communicate with the ghost of Paul Lynde and be there just in case Trump challenges the team to rid a farmhouse of a demonic poltergeist. Hey, always be prepared, I say.
* MUAMMAR KADHAFI - "Muammar, you've been Project Manager of Libya for a record 42 years, and frankly, it's a friggin' mess. Muammar, you're fired." And you thought Trump would make a BAD president, didn't ya?
* KATIE HOLMES - Because of her exceptional leadership skills and business savvy and NOT because she's super cute because I clearly don't find her attractive because I clearly know my girlfriend reads this column. But when one's girlfriend makes one too many references to having a crush on a certain local weatherman (back off, Greg Dutra,) one feels slightly justified in making a passing Katie reference.
* OPRAH - Because it'd be fun to try and watch The Donald boss around someone with MORE money than him, wouldn't it?
* CHARLIE SHEEN - Because a tiger-blooded warlock armed with violent torpedos of truth might just have the winning edge in this circus.
Ah well, a fella can dream, eh? In the meantime, my money's on Lil Jon. Actually, my money's probably on a new present for my girlfriend to make up for calling Katie Holmes cute in print. Either way, you'll have to excuse me. I'm certain there's something horrible on TV that I need to be watching.