get them out of here!

In 1968, Andy Warhol famously predicted that “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes.” Here’s the problem: nobody is content with fifteen minutes anymore. Used to be, quasi-celebrities understood when their fifteen minutes of fame had elapsed. Tawny Kitaen rolled around on the hood of a Jaguar in 1985, and then she mercifully disappeared. And it’s not like Whistle Pops ever made a comeback. They had their moment.

I remember watching “Match Game” in the seventies, and though I didn’t have the razor-sharp pop-culture awareness I have now, even then I would see ‘celebrities’ and think “why are these people famous?” Oh, I get it…they’re famous because they’re celebrities.And they’re celebrities because they’re famous. And the dog chases its tail, and so on, and so on, and blah blah blah.

Now, I’m kinda old-school when it comes to language. Well, except for using ‘kinda‘ and ‘old-school’. I can’t help but have the nagging feeling that if one is to be called a ‘celebrity,’ then one should have done something worthy of being CELEBRATED!And even the definition of ‘celebrity’ has been watered down to where most reality ‘stars,’ to rework a Dorothy Parker quote, run “the gamut of talent from A to B.”

NBC even had a show called “I’m A Celebrity—Get Me Out Of Here!” I still remember the promo for the show this week began with the most promising tease I have ever heard: Ten celebrities are dropped in the jungle. Unfortunately, that phrase was not followed by and are left there to die. Now that would be ‘must-see TV.’ Renew it every year, and every year we would get rid of ten more barnacles on the hull of American culture.

Seriously, I’ve always had a problem with reality TV (and remember the days when ‘reality’ and ‘TV’ were two different things?). If you’re going to put people in dangerous situations, in theory to see if they can survive, then I say, let it play out. Don’t give us some deus ex video where we know that if someone gets their ass bitten by a poisonous tree lizard they’ll end up ok—let’s see if they can really survive.

Tell me ‘Survivor’ wouldn’t be more compelling if, after dividing the attention-mongers into teams, the camera crews and host simply packed up and left them on the island. A couple of years later, send the crew back in to see if that annoying investment banker or the plucky waitress have morphed into Brando at the end of “Apocalypse Now.” You want to deprive these people of the basics, take away the cameras–see if they can survive without attention. It would have all the wacky of “Lord of The Flies,”, but with commercials.

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pitch meeting

I watch a lot of tv, and I have fond memories of fall. Every fall as a kid I remember the TV Guide Fall Preview Issue, when times were simpler and there was a hell of a lot less to watch. You kinda felt like if a new show was gonna make it, it was your responsibility to watch. Shows like ‘Cheers’ started with low ratings, but because there weren’t 200 channels and internet shows and shows on your cell phone–well, networks were willing to let an audience grow.

I realize the big three networks are dinosaurs, but why are so many new network shows every year so incredibly, jaw-droppingly LAME? It can’t be lack of originality, because any studio or network head would tell you that they’re constantly looking for cutting-edge ideas and fresh faces. So all I can figure is , maybe the life of a TV executive is so busy, they don’t have time to…think up new shit. So, for all you harried industry players out there, here’s a few show ideas (with casting suggestions) you can have for free.

“Survivor: Idol”:

This can’t miss concept merges two unbeatable shows into one–once the 12 finalists on ‘American Idol’ are chosen, they are dropped off on a remote island and must find a way to survive. They must also find their own way off the island.

“Hey, Stop That! ”
A guy (maybe Chris Walken, if he’ll do episodic) goes around L.A. yelling at street people. In the pilot, he yells at that guy who wears a trashcan lid as a hat.

“The David Spade Mystery Hour”

Roundtable discussion in which scholars, philosophers and Hollywood insiders try to determine why David Spade keeps getting work.

“You Bet Your Ass!”
Game show where losers are forced into prostitution. Maybe have Saget host.

“Acquaintances”
A bunch of twenty-something slackers hang out in a coffeehouse. Since the show is filmed in a real coffeehouse, the characters are too self-absorbed to talk to each other. No dialogue should keep production costs down.

“One-Hour Martinizing”
The gritty reality of the dry-cleaning business. In the opener, guest star Joan Collins gives a terrific performance as a woman with a suspicious stain on her dress. Gandolfini would play the owner of the shop–maybe give him a mob background to lure ‘Sopranos’ fans.

“Don’t Try This At Home!”
Science show where host teaches kids about loose wires, oily rags and light sockets.

“That’s My Chick”
Lovable guy gets drunk and starts a bar fight with a different guy every Friday night. Tony Danza is probably available.

“America’s Next Great Surgeon”

Reality show in which 12 people with different backgrounds (auto mechanic, barista, carny) learn surgery over 12 weeks, leading to a finale in which the final two each perform a heart-lung transplant.

“CSI: Law And Order”

Merging of casts of 3 CSI series and 3 L&O series creates first network ‘super-show’  In the pilot, the thirty-seven stars just get in each other’s way as they try to solve the case of a genius mathematician (and former cop) who is also a sexual predator and serial arsonist wanted for cases in Las Vegas, Miami and New York.

“First Draft”

At the end of each episode, an actual television writer has an epiphany about television and commits suicide.

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