This week Survivor II will start airing in the same time slot as last year’s program, 8 p.m. Thursday nights. Reality TV was last year’s rage, and Temptation Island’s success proves that the public’s appetite for this stuff is far from being whetted. So as CBS awaits to see if it can blow Friends out of the water, one has to wonder just how long television viewers will be fascinated with this stuff.
The game-show craze started by Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has already died out, with Millionaire the only one left standingand even it is struggling with diminished ratings. Reality TV, on the other hand will be around for quite a whileif MTV’s Real World is any indicator. Survivor producer Mark Burnett may think it’s the adventure aspect of his show that people enjoy, but really it’s the thorny relationships that get them hooked. Much as with Real World, viewers get vicarious thrills out of watching people grow to hate each other or screw each other over.
Temptation Island may be an even clearer example of why this is appealingit’s the equivalent of televised gossip. Consider the fact that one of the biggest stories of this past year was Meg Ryan’s affair with Russell Crowe. And aside from the fact that he may have violated the Constitution, former President Clinton’s recent scandal was centered on the extramarital details. In coming up with its latest show, FOX basically asked, “What could be more fun than hearing about an affair?” The answer: trying to engineer one.
Unlike Survivor, though, Temptation Island is turning out to be more like a train wreck. The extent to which FOX is willing to try and induce an infidelity has become more and more reprehensible every weekit has almost become an exercise in seeing if the show’s producers can make someone cry. So why doesn’t this drive viewers away instead of increasing their numbers? Well, if you have watched the Real World over the past 10 years, you know that people apparently take a perverse pleasure in others’ humiliation. There are game shows in Japan centered around the idea of seeing just how far someone will debase himself to win a prize. Americans willingly do this even without the incentive of a prizesomething you already know if you’ve ever seen MTV’s Jackass.
Using relationships as a game, though, may eventually come back and bite the FOX network in the ass. If you want to know when the reality craze will come to a stop, it’s when someone gets hurt, badly. Either someone will end up getting physically hurt on one of these Survivor-style shows, or someone playing in one of these emotional minefields is going to hurt someone else. Violence is more often than not an act of passion. I predict that, much like the murder induced by an episode of the daytime talk show Jenny Jones a couple of years ago, someone will get pushed too far for our amusement and snap. Except this time it will be on prime time.
Ready for his close up, Mr. DeMille
Speaking of Russell Crowe, word from the Crowe camp is that the reason he gave Meg Ryan the heave-ho was because he found her too Hollywood and too obsessed with glamour. I find this terribly hard to swallow. Either this man has a perverse sense of humor, or he’s not remotely self-aware.
Crowe is the star of last year’s biggest Hollywood formula epic and likely Best Picture Oscar shoo-in, Gladiator. Like Johnny Depp, Keanu Reeves, Steven Seagal, Kevin Bacon, and even his ex’s ex Dennis Quaid, Crowe has a band and imagines himself a rocker. And after the Golden Globes, Crowe reportedly bounced back from being shot down at the bar by Leelee Sobieski by shacking up with Courtney Love. All he has left to do is date Winona Ryder, and L.A. will be ready to give him the key to the city. Nosiree, Russell Crowe is as down-to-earth as they come.
The kids aren't all right
This past week at the Golden Globes, there were many moments of uncomfortable embarrassment: Sarah Jessica Parker’s rambling, hyper acceptance speech; Julia Roberts’ inability to hide her disappointment when she had to announce Ang Lee as best director; Elizabeth Taylor’s confusion about listing the nominees before announcing the winner. But nothing gave me the willies worse than Haley Joel Osment. In a move I am going to assume was thought up by the producers, the 12-year-old strolled up to the mic and singled out the equally young star of the British hit Billy Elliott. After congratulating him on his success, Osment informed him that his film was warming the hearts of people everywhere. Watching these two minors interact as if they were big-time Hollywood hotshots was intensely nauseating. But it is another example of the bizarre fetish America seems to have with its young.
From Britney to Haley, America seems obsessed with having children behave as if they were adults. This is ironic, considering that Americans are also preoccupied with the extent to which kids are exposed to inappropriate adult material. Nevertheless, we seem to love it when they play grown-up. Well, I want to go on record as saying that I find it all fairly repugnant. I don’t think Haley Joel Osment is cute and charming; I think he’s precocious and creepy. Sure, like everyone else, I’m hot for Britney’s little Lolita routine, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s more than a little sleazy to hold up a young girl as a sexual chew toy for adult males. Why in the world would people find this entertaining?
I saw a video the other day for a rapping 10-year-old named Lil’ Bow Wow. This kid wasn’t just hopping around like Kriss Kross. He was carrying himself with full gangsta attitude and flirting with the attractive adult teacher in the video. This was not cute; it was disturbing.
The adults of the entertainment industry should know better. They’ve been around long enough to watch what befalls the Todd Bridges and Macaulay Culkins of the world when they’re no longer cute.
We always want to take time out to note the projects and accomplishments of our local yokels. We may not be Hollywood, but let us never forget that talent does walk among us.
It was announced last week that rising starand I think hands-down the hottest mother of a 1-year oldReese Witherspoon will star in and produce the adaptation of The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing. This short-story collection is another in an increasingly popular genre concerning single professional women dealing with life in the big city. Another example is the adaptation of the very popular Bridget Jones coming out later this year starring Renée Zellweger. We here at the Scene look forward to anything Reese does and consider her to be megatalented and babe-alicious to boot.
Reba McEntire, on the other hand, not so much. A bit of a red-haired elfin creature, she tends to grate on one’s nerves. Her most prominent acting role was that of an arms-obsessed redneck in the cult hit Tremors. Now news comes that McEntire shall continue to spread her acting wings by getting cast yet again against type when she stars in her own sitcom on the WB. This family sitcom will find Reba playing a Junior Leaguer and mother of three. I predict massive success, because if you’ve ever overheard the conversation between a pair of Junior Leaguers, you’ve laughed really, really hard.
“Have you ever made angry love?”
“Is there any other kind?”
E-mail the origin of this useless bit of trivia to poplife the shame of your name printed in the paper and some free useless crap from the Nashville Scene!
Previous week’s answer: “Nighttrain” by Guns N Roses.
Winner: Toby Leonard.
No pigtails Pink, just pig.
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