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Stuck on Stupid
February 26

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

Welcome to the "Stuck on Stupid" edition of The Block Party for the week of February 26, 2008. Of course, you all know who I am...I am Jason Block...and I thank you guys every week for supporting the column here at Game Show News Net. I also thank you guys for downloading the audio podcast through the link at the upper left...the Itunes feed and the webpage at .

Okay, then. Let's start this week with people opening their mouths and putting their foot in it. We begin with a quote from Adam Jasinski, a 29 yr old contestant on Big Brother 9. He is a volunteer for a group called the United Autism Foundation. According to the New York Daily News, he said this on last Wednesday's broadcast when asked what he wanted to with the money if he won the contest. He said, "I want to open a hair salon for kids with special needs so the retards can get it together and get their hair done," When he was confronted by another cast member, he shot back, "I can call them whatever I want, okay? I work with them all day."

The article quotes the President of the non-profit group apologizing stating that the comments were "irresponsible, misleading, and unprofessional." The group has posted an apology on their web page. Autism United, called for the show's cancellation. CBS said they wouldn't but called the comments "offensive."

CBS won't have the guts to cancel the show. Remember this gem from last summer's Big Brother 8...Amber Tomcavage, in a rant which made world wide news, talked about how nasty New York is. She claimed it was "all selfish Jews who only care about money." She went on to say that she can tell by last names and noses who Jewish people are. She tends to automatically know if someone's Jewish and dislike them. According to her, her mother and sister feel the same way.

First of all, as far as the "retards" comments goes...not only was it was dumb. I happen know people who have children with autism. They are beautiful, wonderful people. And the fact that he said he can call them anything they want because he works with them, is about as asinine an argument as black people calling each other the n-word. It's a cruel, nasty word.

But that comes with the territory on Big Brother. CBS pushes the envelope, but in this particular one is really watching. It is getting spanked in it's time slots and I for one, am glad. And as far as CBS goes, I don't want it cancelled. This is the beauty of the internet...if you are going to say something stupid, moronic or are going to get caught. And the blogs are going to spread it faster than you know. And I say...good.

I usually don't bring politics into this column or podcast, but an interviewer with Time Magazine did it for me. In a recent interview with conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, they were discussing the rift between the presumptive Presidential nominee John McCain and the conservative wing of the Republican Party. But this question from the interviewer James Carney was another "stuck on stupid" moment:

"[It seems to me that] it's a positive to have people listening to radio, listening to issues, talking about politics and policy. That's about an informed public. That's what is annoying about the condescension - it's that anybody who is tuning into [talk radio], or watching cable, is more engaged than people who are watching game shows."

So, if I get this right...people who watch game shows are politically unaware? That seems sort of strange to me. The people who I speak to on both sides of the political spectrum who happen to be game show fans are pretty damn aware if you ask me.

Take Bob Harris for instance. He is a best-selling author of two books, "Prisoner of Trebekistan: A Decade in Jeopardy" and most recently "Who Hates Whom: Well-Armed Fanatics, Intractable Conflicts and Various Things Blowing Up. A Woefully Incomplete Guide" both by Crown Publishing. He and I do not agree politically at all, but he is one of the most intelligent, well-researched, and politically aware game show watchers and fans that I know. Check him out at .

I really despise the fact that this interviewer stereotypes game show fans as brain-dead idiots and ignorant of the world around us. I happen to fall on the more conservative side of the spectrum and am an avid reader and listener. And that is what most people who watch game shows do.

With all due respect to Mr. Carney, you have no clue if the next contestant on The Price is Right is a liberal or conservative. You have no idea, if a person on Millionaire is voting for Obama or McCain. You have no idea if a person who appears or watches game shows is smart or not. It's the same trap people and writers fall into...grouping fans, people or members of any group into monolithic thinkers. Mr. Carney...what you said about us is offensive to every single game show fan out there.

We go from dumb to smart. The President of Mensa this week announced the top 10 "smartest shows" in TV history. And Jeopardy made the list. But, after a bit of thought, I remember a few game shows that would carry the moniker of "smart" or "intelligent".

- First, COLLEGE BOWL. The granddaddy of them all. It morphed from an USO activity for WWII Soldiers to a show which Allen Ludden and Robert Earle hosted from 1959-1970 on CBS and then NBC. Don Reid created this classic where teams of 4 students answered tossups and bonuses about all subjects. To this day, College Bowl, Quiz Bowl and NAQT are played on campuses all around the country.

- Next, COUNTDOWN. This is one of my all time favorite shows. I first saw it on a trip to London in 2004, not realizing what a history this show has. It is one of the longest running game shows in the world starting in November 1982, and present. All you have to do is take vowels and letters, and make the longest word possible...and then take numbers and use mathematical equations to get to the target. Whenever this game is played at Game Show Congresses, or shown on TV, it gets a ton of attention. It is brilliant in it's simplicity and diabolical in its addictiveness.

- And Finally, MASTERMIND. Yet another British Classic. Sit in a chair and answer insanely difficult questions about the subject you know best. You know it is good when British TV parodies you for years on end. This has been on British TV for over 35 years in various incarnations, and Magnus Magnusson became world famous for the phrase "I've started, so I'll finish." This was and is, one of the smartest shows in the world.

These are three that I can think of...any shows you might consider really smart shows? Email me and you might get a shout out.

If you were one of the chosen few who watched the finale of Dance War this week, you already know the new cast of Dancing with The Stars. if you didn't, well here they are:

Marlee Matlin, Priscilla Presley, Penn Jillette, Adam Carolla, Kristi Yamaguchi, Jason Taylor of The Miami Dolphins, Tennis star Monica Seles, Marissa Jaret
Winokur, of Broadway's "Hairspray" Steve Guttenberg, R&B singer Mario, Shannon Elizabeth and Cristian De La Fuente, a telenovela star.

While some people might see this as bottom of the barrel scraping, I think we have setup the usual have a few athletes, a soap star or two, an aging actress, and a few wild cards. Penn Jillette is always good for a laugh or two. I would personally rather watch Shannon Elizabeth kick butt on the National Heads-Up Poker Challenge myself, but it all depends on the dancing and the always has. We shall see if a non-sports person wins it this time. Tune in March 17, to see Bruno and Carrie Ann in the place where they should have never left.

One of the biggest stories of 2007 has repercussions in 2008. To refresh your memories, British Telephone quiz shows were rocked by scandals as many different companies were fined after it was proven that winners were faked. So now, ITV, the BBC and Channel 4 have some new rules to play by. According to the UK Guardian, Media regulator Ofcom unveiled a string of new measures designed to help restore consumer confidence. Under the new rules broadcasters will be held directly responsible for all interactions with viewers via phone, email or post. Broadcasters will also be forced to obtain third party verification of systems used in telephone voting and competitions, with Ofcom undertaking a 12- to 18-month program of spot checks to ensure compliance. They will be expected to have the new measures in place by the end of June. Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards, who has promised a "zero tolerance" approach to deception, said: "Viewers must be confident they will be treated fairly and consistently when interacting with television programs." PhonePayPlus, the premium line regulator formerly called Icstis that was brought more directly under Ofcom's control after criticisms of its handling of the scandal, will also require service operators to apply for prior permission.

This is a huge step in the right direction. It was too bad that a major scandal had to happen, but it will take years before the confidence level will come back.

One of the most successful reality shows of all time comes back for a new cycle. America's Next Top Model is in for it's 10th Cycle and one of it's judges... hated the show.

And still does.

Paulina Porizkova told the New York Post last year, "the show was "completely unrealistic. They obviously don't take girls based on who can actually be a model." "Top Model" contestants were sorely lacking in the looks department, she said. "I look at the girls and think, 'How are you gonna make a model out of that?' "

She still stands by that today...even though the producers knew it. "That's why we want you." she said of the phone call.

I love her honesty. This could make for a fun season...she might be Janice Dickinson without all the craziness and ego.

Finally, week 1 of the Top 24 claimed four victims, as Colton Berry, Garrett Haley for the guys, Joanne Borgella and Amy Davis for the girls are no more on American Idol.

There were really no surprises, as the favorites emerged on both sides. David Archuleta and Michael Johns are still the ones to beat on the men's side. And Syesha Mercado, Ramiele Malubay and Carly Smithson did pretty well on week 1.

A lot of the middle of the pack singers have to sing well this coming week, or they will be gone. The only person who is looking Sanjaya like is Danny Noriega.

And a little piece of advice to Erin Carlson of the Associated Press. You are trying to manufacture controversy where there isn't any.

We all know the story of Carly Smithson and others in this year's Idol competition. They have either had record deals before or won talent competition. But Ms. Carlson is emphasizing Carly Smithson because of the alleged $2M publicity she had for her first album, "Ultimate High" in 2001 for MCA Records.

But two things about her article bothered me...the article was titled "Idol Cuts 4 but Keeps Irish Crooner." The title suggests that the 4 that were cut were better than Smithson, and Smithson deserved to be cut because of all the controversy.

Again, there have been people throughout the 7 years of Idol who have had previous experience in bar bands, record deals...etc. That story is OLD news. You aren't going to get people upset because people recognize talent when they see it and are not going to vote Smithson off because you want them to.

And this line from her article is wrong: "The show's gimmick has always been to pluck talented young hopefuls from obscurity and make them into recording artists."

Wrong again. The show's gimmick is to find the best recording artist...regardless of obscurity or not.

You and other writers can't have it both you want 24 Sanjayas or do you want 24 people who have had some sort of experience to make good music? Please pick a side and stick to it.

Ok, that will do it for this week, this is Jason Block reminding you...don't just play to win.

Jason Block loves it when people talk both sides out of their ass. E-mail him at