“The Apprentice”: Season Six
Apparently Donald Trump and that rat-like comb-over are taking a break from Rosie O’Donnell-bashing as season six of “The Apprentice” takes to NBC. As a new twist, the show has flown the proverbial Manhattan coop in favor of a sunnier location typically conducive to celebrity drama, Los Angeles. Another new spin shows nepotism at its finest, with Donald’s daughter Ivanka joining him in the board room. Along with the winning project manager of the week, daddy and daughter Trump will decide who stays and who’s fired.
And the fun in the sun doesn’t end there.
Usually, the winners and losers of the games are treated on level playing fields outside the business-related competitions, cohabiting in some swank-looking apartment setup, but this time around, contestants must earn their royal treatment. The winners will live in the posh accommodations, while the losers of Trump’s challenges will be faced with possibly the worst punishment of all — having to use Port-O-Potties — as they live as squatters on the lawn of the winner’s mansion, bathing in outdoor showers and sleeping inside tents. During the first episode, it was all fun and games, setting up tents and showing their individual leadership skills; however, having to actually sleep “in the elements” while the winners rest their heads on fluffed pillows will certainly prompt some heated competition, especially in a group of Type-A personalities. With a handful of pushy lawyers, publicists and managers all vying to be Trump’s next right-hand man or woman, things could get ugly, both literally and figuratively. Tent-living does not exactly lend itself to the aesthetic image of a classy business professional.
“Armed and Famous”
When the fine people at CBS set out to create a new reality television show, they looked no further than Muncie, Ind. The town plays home to the Ball State Cardinals and was worthy of mention in a Toby Keith song (“I Wanna Talk About Me” — in case you’re wondering), so naturally, they would have been foolish to pass up such a prime locale. Where else could they better turn five “real” celebrities into “real” police officers?
The term “real” is used loosely. “Real” celebrities translates to a rag-tag bunch of D-listers, boasting such talent as Erik “Ponch” Estrada, Jason “Wee Man” Acuña, that other Jackson sister (who appears to have used her brother’s plastic surgeon) La Toya, WWE she-woman Trish Stratus and a clean and sober Jack Osbourne.
“Real” cops implies police training, a graduation ceremony, and the pairing of each misfit celebrity with a true member of the police department, as well as half of the remaining squad as backup. An added bonus: Viewers get to see all of them test out tasers, leading to bloodshed, yelping and tears.
Over the span of an hour, the audience catches a glimpse inside the patrol car of each Muncie PD-idiot celeb duo as they do battle with Muncie’s finest: drunken drivers, neighbor abusers, violent cat-ladies — the usual. The show plays like an episode of “COPS” with a “Real World” twist, as viewers hear confessionals from the celebrities and enjoy snippets from their new Midwest lifestyles.
The show warms hearts with such stunning visuals as Erik Estrada and his female partner getting friendship pedicures and Wee Man taking his partner skateboarding. The real character to watch, however, is La Toya, who in the first two episodes alone has overcome a fear of cats, demanded caviar and champagne at the local IGA (and somehow wound up spending $30-plus on some angel hair pasta and a jar of Prego) and requested a “finger bowl” and table cloth at the fine dining establishment that is the Texas Roadhouse.
Now that is good television.
“Grease: You’re the One that I Want”
This NBC gem is basically “American Idol,” with more hair gel and leather and even more annoying hosts. Ryan Seacrest, make no mistake about it, you are still a massive tool, but Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush paired with some random U.K. morning show host? Honestly, there’s enough cheesy dialogue to send viewers into sugar shock.
The formulaic panel of judges will only help keep the gimmicks going.
Like “Idol,” “You’re the One That I Want” features a resident asshole British guy, David Ian, who according to his NBC.com bio has become “the most powerful person in British theater” and fulfills his duty as the dream-crusher. Next up is original “Grease” co-writer Jim Jacobs, who fills out the Randy role. He has yet to make reference to the “Dog Pound,” but that will likely appear in “You’re the One That I Want: Season 2” — if we can only be so lucky. Finally, Broadway choreographer and director Kathleen Marshall serves the Paula void in the panel, building people up as she smiles and tells contestants how great they are.
The beginning episodes focus on auditions in major cities across the country such as New York and the place where Rydell High was born, Chicago, with hundreds of hopefuls (and the hopeless) auditioning to be the next Sandy or Danny. These wannabe greasers must be a triple threat — skilled vocally, rhythmically and … Shakespeareanly? Anyone possessing less is not deemed worthy of going to “Grease Academy.”
The buildup is hysterical as one by one the judges call out each contestant, telling them either “You (dramatic pause) are not Danny/Sandy” or “You (even longer dramatic pause) are the one that we want to go to Grease Academy.” Of course, once at Grease Academy, the group creepily consisting of 17-year-old Sandy wannabes and 42-year-old veteran Dannys will be whittled down and then put to a vote where again “Idol” sneaks in, and America decides who will be the next Sandra D. and Danny Zuko. I can smell the Olivia Newton John and John Travolta guest appearance already. Woo-hoo-hoo.
“High Maintenance 90210”
For many, the phrase “high maintenance” might conjure up unpleasant memories of an ex-girlfriend. But the new E! show “High Maintenance 90210” takes it to another level.
The show follows Beverly Hills “domestic workers” into the homes of the über rich on temporary assignments. The workers — an aspiring butler, two outgoing gourmet chefs, three personal assistants and a struggling actress moonlighting as a nanny — attempt to meet the stringent expectations of their extremely picky clients and earn a permanent position.
The show doesn’t deliberately make fun of the Beverly Hills fat cats: This task is accomplished simply by getting their home lives on film. While the workers are likable enough to win viewers over, the real entertainment comes from these idiosyncratic employers, who are usually too self-absorbed to realize just how ridiculous their demands are.
Take, for example, Norwood Young, an unbelievably wealthy recording artist (he must be big in Japan or something) who isn’t afraid to wear lip gloss and a skin-tight athletic suit out and about. He’s looking for a butler willing to cater to his many minor needs, which include arranging his huge closet of shoes according to shades of color and polishing the 20 replicas of Michelangelo’s “David” in his front yard.
It wouldn’t be reality TV without unnecessary drama, of course, and “High Maintenance” has its share. But the drama generated by the struggling workers is much more amusing than the redundant brand found in reality shows like “The Simple Life.” Offbeat humor is an added plus, such as when wannabe butler Brian Armstrong, polishing Young’s pimp goblet, remarks at how the cup is “bedazzled and bejeweled beyond belief.”
“High Maintenance 90210” is like “MTV Cribs” on overdrive: Instead of just glimpsing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, cast members have to work to make them happen, which, as we see, can be quite a task.
“I Love New York”
Who really can love New York? The Yankees and the Jets are both equal parts obnoxious and nauseating. The traffic is terrible and the cabbies often smell like a cross between day-old fried onions and moist gym socks. And the city is about as clean as an ArtsEtc. editor’s bedroom.
But there is one reason to love New York, and that reason can be seen this winter on VH1, as the chronicles of Tiffany Pollard’s quest to find the true love of her life are all-in-all quite lovable. In a spin-off of Flavor Flav’s “Flavor of Love,” Pollard — who goes by “New York,” the moniker given to her by Flav — embarks on a journey to sort through 20 men in an effort to find her perfect man, since Flav twice ditched her.
Judging by the first episode, New York — easily the most hated member of Flavor of Love’s two seasons — looks to be up to her old tricks, inciting fights and riots among a group of 20 (now down to 15) men that have names like Pootie, 12-pack, Romance and Chance, who is the early favorite to be the C-4 in this household, after having already drawn the ire of Sister Paterson (New York’s mother).
So why should anyone love New York? If you love hypersensitive ladies who have a lack of volume control, watch. If you love watching Flav’s most-rejected lady moon potential suitors, watch. And if you simply love to hate New York (the person or the city), watch, because you will be given plenty of ammunition. So, should you watch?
In the words of Flav: “YEEEEAAAH BOOOOOOYYY!” Or girl.
“I’m From Rolling Stone”
This is the true story of six writers picked to live in New York, intern at THE source in rock 'n’ roll and find out what happens when people start as blog reporters but want a byline in magazine print.
No, this is not a messed up version of the “Real World,” but rather the latest of MTV’s internship-based reality visions, “I’m From Rolling Stone.”
True to form, the casting comes off as formulaic. We’ve got the aspiring, young, inexperienced kid, venturing to the “big city,” doubtful of how he’ll match up, in 19-year-old Oregon native Colin. Then there’s the street-smart hip-hop guru, Krishtine and the token blond girl, who grew up devouring copies of Rolling Stone, Krystal. And for some added excitement, there’s the Australian rookie journalist, Peter; the slam poet, Tika; and finally, Russell, who honed his skilled prose during a stint in juvie.
Each week, the Rolling Stone hopefuls, who are vying for a one-year position on staff, are given writing assignments evaluated by Executive Editor Joe Levy in order to assess their journalistic progress. Seemingly ripped from any music-lover’s fantasies, the interns jet set to Chicago, Toronto, you name it, to interview some of their favorite musicians like rapper Ghostface Killah and rock group We Are Scientists. The interns must go to great lengths to put themselves above their competition, even resulting in near bodily injury as they prove themselves worthy of interviewing top industry artists. Watch as Russell partakes in “Feats of Strength and Agility” to gain the respect of Lupe Fiasco, launching his scrawny body straight into a large dumpster.
Unlike MTV’s last foray into the magazine biz with “Miss Seventeen,” this one avoids the cheese factor of video messages from the editor-in-chief and Pretty Pretty Princess-style challenges. However, negative points must be given for the application, which actually contained the questions, “When was the last time you cried?” and “How often do you cry, and what is it usually about?” Hopefully this was a weeding-out question. There’s no crying in journalism.
“The Surreal Life: Fame Games”
A female wrestler, a white rapper, a little person and Ron Jeremy walk into a room… sounds like a bad joke, right? Well, that or an absolutely horrifying porno, but alas, both guesses would be wrong. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve wanted to throw up while watching Flavor Flav and Brigitte Nielsen canoodling on “The Surreal Life 2004,” but now VH1 is reuniting the best of the worst in celeb reality to compete for the ultimate prize — $100,000 — which is likely needed by these nearly forgotten names.
In the show hosted by Robin Leach (also of former fame as host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”), celebrities such as Joanie Laurer, perhaps better known as WWF’s Chyna, and Rob “Vanilla Ice” Van Winkle compete to find out who still remains on the A-list and those who should be banished to the B-list. Those who score the lowest in challenges where randomly selected people are asked to identify the celebrity they’d like to be photographed with are sent to the B-list side of “The Surreal Life” house, where they’ll sleep in lumpy twin beds and dine on a card table, living like broke college kids.
From the season preview reel, life in the house should prove ultra … surreal. Former New Kid on the Block already had to be picked up from the house by big brother Jonathan, subsequently sending in his Mini-Me, Verne Troyer, as his replacement. There also looks to be some Amazon-on-Amazon action as Brigitte Nielsen makes Chyna her new flavor of love.