We start this time
around with the absolute bombshell that the FCC is now investigating
the claims of cheating and contestant manipulation on the Fox show
“Our Little Genius”. A seven-page letter was sent to the FCC on
December 17, 2009 and received on December 22. The New York Times
received the letter on February 19 through the Freedom of
Information Act. The letter, rules and release agreement are found
If the claims in the letter are true, it is a
manifesto on how to rig a game show. According to the NY Times
article, some of the letter’s accusations includes:
--The letter states that when the child said
that he didn’t know the British system of naming musical notes, he
was told by the production staff member the names of four specific
notes that “he needed to know,” including semibreve for whole note,
crotchet for quarter note and quaver for eighth note. “He told us
that it was very important to know that the hemidemisemiquaver is
the British name for the sixty-fourth note,” the letter says.
--The letter also alleges that a day before the
contestant’s scheduled taping, the producers issued a rule change
giving a player a second chance, or “reload,” if he failed to
successfully answer any of the first four of 10 rounds of questions.
The violation would be under Section 508 of the
Communications Act of 1934 makes it illegal for anyone to give, with
the intent to deceive the viewing or listening public, assistance
that will affect the outcome of a “purportedly bona fide contest of
intellectual knowledge or intellectual skill.”
At this time, the question isn’t IF Mark
Burnett and his production company are going to get punished, but
how much and how high this goes up the Fox chain of command. If Mark
Burnett didn’t know anything about the allegations, he comes off as
being ignorant and not caring about the process. If he did know, he
comes off as having no integrity for the game show media at all. And
how much does/did Fox president Mike Darnell know about this?
From 2007 to 2008, there were a variety of
phone in quiz scandals in the United Kingdom which cost networks
like ITV, Channel 4 and others millions of pounds in fines and
penalties. They were caught after it was shown that they were faking
winners and soliciting for people to call in (and pay to play) after
winners were chosen. This potential scandal makes that look like
I hope the FCC comes down incredibly hard on
Burnett and Fox. They have to fine and punish this infraction
because if you don’t, it compromises the integrity of EVERY game
show and reality competition show on the air. This story isn’t going
away, and is the story of the year bar none.
Speaking of Mark Burnett, on February 11
“Survivor: Heroes v. Villains” returned to CBS. For Survivor fans
like me, the two-hour premiere was like fitting into an old-pair of
jeans. Everything about the show was fun. You had the over the top
entrance of the 20 returning players in New Zealand Air Force
Helicopters. The physical game play was violent and brutal. In the
first reward challenge, you had Rupert Boneham suffer a broken toe,
and Stephenie LaGrossa separated her shoulder. But she was tough
enough to have it popped back in. And for the men, we saw Jessica
“Sugar” Kiper take her top off! And the social game play was great
too, as Russell was back to his old ways.
The reward and immunity challenges are repeats
from previous seasons, which is a nice touch. Other nice touches
included giving both teams fishing nets and gear. The producers are
taking a no nonsense approach to the minor stuff. The Villains won
the immunity challenge, and in the first tribal council Sugar was
voted out in a unanimous vote. The tribe didn’t like her tears and
the Sugar Shack is closed for business early.
In Episode 2, Boston Rob succumbed to the
Samoan Flu, but didn’t quit the game. The Villains won immunity once
again, and Stephenie was sent packing after a vicious tribal council
where she and James went to verbal war.
I am so happy to see this back on the air. This
was amazing stuff, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
other big premiere was the 16th Season of The Amazing
Race on February 14th. While Survivor came back strong,
the premiere of AR was a bit underwhelming. I loved the
elimination at the starting line of last season, and missed it
here. The teams had to get to Los Angeles Airport via public
transportation. Once they got there, they had to get to
Valparaiso, Chile to cable walk, and paint houses. The Big Brother
couple, Jordan and Jeff won week 1, and Dana& Adrian, were
eliminated in Week 1 as Adrian couldn’t complete the cable walk
road block. You know it was bad when Phil comes OUT to the
Week 2 was a lot better as the Cowboys, Cord and Jet, finished
first after making the right choice of buses to get to Puerto
Varas, Chile. They dressed a llama, got ingredients for a German
“kuchen” and was first to the Pit Stop at Gruta de la Virgen. The
last team to check in was the grandmother/granddaughter team of
Jody and Shannon. They are gone.
Amazing Race is appointment television. And this season is
starting to shape up as a good one.
Speaking of Appointment Television, the voting
portion of American Idol is back. The Top 24 was decided but after
Hollywood Week was taped, it was discovered that Chris Golightly was
under contract with Lawrence Franklin of Dream Projects
Entertainment. "Chris was still under contract with Dream Projects
Entertainment," Franklin told USA Today. Franklin says Chris was
part of a vocal group called D.R.E.A.M. 5 and claims that the singer
had signed a new, two-year recording contract on May 30, 2009, less
than two months before he first auditioned for Idol.
Franklin says he contacted 19 Entertainment in January after
learning that Chris was appearing on the show.
"We asked them for release documents, and they were supposed to send
them over last Friday," says Franklin. But, according to Franklin,
those forms never came. "We were prepared to give our own release
documents, but after waiting on the attorneys from 19 to send over
their paperwork, time kind of ran out for Chris," he says.
So the Top 24 was established and they are:
Didi Benami, 23, Hollywood,
Crystal Bowersox, 24, Elliston, Ohio
Lacey Brown, 24, Amarillo,
Katelyn Epperly, 19, West
Des Moines, Iowa
Siobhan Magnus, 19, Barnstable,
Paige Miles, 24, Naples,
Ashley Rodriguez, 22, Boston,
Lilly Scott, 20, Littleton,
Katie Stevens, 17, Middlebury,
Haeley Vaughn, 16, Fort
Janell Wheeler, 24, Orlando,
Lee DeWyze, 23, Mount
Andrew Garcia,24, Moreno
Tyler Grady, 20, Nazareth,
Todrick Hall, 24, Arlington,
Casey James, 27, Fort
Aaron Kelly, 16, Sonestown, Pennsylvania
Alex Lambert, 19, North
Richland Hills, Texas
Michael Lynche, 26, St.
Joe Muńoz, 20, Huntington
John Park, 21, Northbrook,
Jermaine Sellers, 26, Joliet,
Tim Urban, 20, Duncanville,
Week 1 was a very mixed bag. The women were a lot better than the
males. The males took way too many risks, and I believe that
Haeley Vaughn, Lacey Brown, Alex Lambert and John Park will be
going home this coming Thursday. This next week will be the week
where the singers have to separate themselves from the pack. If
not, it will be game over for them.
Block Party Quick Hits time:
--“Million Dollar Movie Week” comes back to
“Who Wants to Be A Millioniare” from March 1-5.
--BBC Worldwide is developing game show apps
for the Iphone including “The Generation Game” and “Mastermind”.
--Ant and Dec resign with ITV through 2011.
--Vanna White co-hosted the Lion Winter Fashion
Show at the 2010 Craft and Hobby Trade Show held recently at the
Anaheim Convention Center promoting her Vanna’s Choice line of
yarns, which is now expanded to 23 colors and 5 prints.
--GSN is casting for a dating show where you
have to “discover each other’s quirks.”
--Don’t Forget The Lyrics is cleared in 65% of
the country so far, with more to come.
--A man proposes to his GF on UK’s Deal or No
Deal, and the banker increases the offer.
--In an interview with USA Today, Patti Labelle
says, "Some of the judges, I don't think they're qualified to even
judge." She didn’t specify who those judges were.
--In a NY Times Article we are shown how much
Idol contestants make even though they don’t sell a record. Kris
Allen, last year’s winner, has earned at least $650,000 from
“American Idol,” according to contracts that last season’s
contestants signed with the show’s producers during the competition.
That amount reflects the minimum a winner would earn. Including
performance fees and merchandising royalties from the “American
Idol” tour, as well as other opportunities, winners have never
failed to earn less than $1 million in the year or so after the
contest, people close to the show say.
It is not just the winner who cashes in;
finalists who reach the Top 5 this season are likely to earn close
to $100,000 from the show — and three to four times that if the
“Idol” producers sign them to a record deal. The Top 12 contestants
are guaranteed several thousand dollars for their efforts. And that
is before accounting for the Top 10 finalists’ earnings for
appearing in the summer’s “American Idol” tour. These details
emerged from copies of last year’s contracts filed in state court in
Los Angeles under laws requiring court approval of
entertainment-industry deals with minors.
--“Minute To Win It” will have a 2-hour debut episode on March 14th
on NBC from 7-9PM EST. That same night, “Celebrity Apprentice 3”
will premiere from 9-11PM. And Guy Fieri is cooking for the
President, the First Family and their staff in a private,
--On March 10th, Drew Carey will be
celebrating his 500th episode as host on March 10th.
The show and prizes will have a “500” theme to it. To celebrate this
milestone, every contestant who makes it on stage will receive $500.
--Entertainment Weekly is reporting that the
Facebook campaign to get Betty White to host SNL has been
successful...somewhat. They are putting together a “Women of Comedy”
episode that would team the former Rose Nylund with several of her
younger contemporaries. Ex-SNL MVP Molly Shannon is on board, I
hear, and feelers have also been put out to Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.
(An NBC spokesperson insists no one has been confirmed at this
--Todrick Hall’s rep takes a hit as he
confirmed reports that he owes people money for a failed musical
called “OZ: The Musical”.
--Tim Gunn makes a speech at Georgia State
--Padma Lakshmi is now a mom to Krishna Thea
--tvbythenumbers.com is reporting good ratings
numbers for both “The Price is Right” and “Let’s Make A Deal”.
“Price" is up season-to-date 12% in viewers (5.03m from. 4.51m),
while "LMAD" is up 12% in viewers (2.42m from 2.16m) from a year
ago, according to Nielsen most current ratings through the week
ending Feb. 14. Price is up 9% among households and up 11% among
adults 18-49 compared to last year. Let's Make a Deal, has improved
its time period in households by 13% (1.7 versus 1.5), in adults
18-34 by 67% (0.5 versus 0.3) and women 18-34 by 20% (0.6/0.5).
--Nickelodeon officially renews BrainSurge for
--The Biggest Loser hits the road for new
people who need help in changing their lives.
--In the “You can’t Make this stuff up”
department, Noel Edmonds is developing a quiz show format with the
working title Beat the Monkey in which the master of ceremonies is a
Jason Block still stings from the loss of the Colts. E-mail him at email@example.com.