We start this week with the death of
Big Brother UK star Jade Goody. She died at the age of 27 this past
Sunday of Cervical Cancer. Normally this would be a blip on the game
show radar, but the coverage of it by the British Press peaked my
She was just 21 years old when she appeared on Big Brother in 2002,
but was made famous by her outrageous behavior. She became a
national celebrity releasing a book, a perfume, and by appearances
on other shows. If you want to look at the definition of a media
manufactured celebrity, she is it. She was vilified for her bad
behavior, laughed at for her common status and her lack of
intelligence and her alleged racism against an Indian actress on
Celebrity Big Brother.
But the British Press turned on a dime when she got a call while she
appeared on the Indian version of Big Brother called Bigg Boss. The
call was that she was diagnosed with cervical cancer. And then her
image was changed from common villainess to common national hero.
Her every move for the next 7 months was chronicled on camera (and
paid for by) the British Media so that her two young children would
have financial comfort.
I have been following this for months...and the press coverage of
her was sickening. It is on the level of the death of Princess Diana
in 1997. I do not begrudge her one bit for doing what she did. My
grandmother had a saying "Take the Money and Run" and she did. The
appetite for her story was, and still is, insatiable. I understand
the "common woman makes good" angle of the story. However, how smart
are young girls if the only reason they get cervical cancer
screenings is the example of Jade Goody’s death? That is about as
smart as saying you should leave your abusive boyfriend after
Rihanna left Chris Brown. It’s silly, and the argument is specious.
Jade Goody’s life, death and aftermath is and will be the ultimate
reality show. It is sad to me, that this sad event is getting the
press coverage it is. And unfortunately, it will get worse before it
gets better. Goody is not the problem. We are.
You hear that tap dance? That is
Steve Wozniak, back tracking from his bombs last week claiming that
Dancing With the Stars is rigged. Newsday reports that he wrote the
following on Facebook: "We know how easy it is to espouse a lot of
ideas and build conspiracy theory...no conspiracy theory can be
proven wrong, so there are always plenty of die-hard followers.
Yesterday I wrote my suspicions of the secret Dancing With The Stars
audience vote tabulations. I wrote that the producers were liars,
simply because I truly believed in that possibility, not because I
had a shred of evidence. "I hurt a lot of honest people. Today, a
storm kicked up over my allegations. I started my apologies but it
has to go further than that."
He goes on: "The top people of this show, ones responsible for
counting audience votes and keeping them honest told me all the
specific details of where their numbers came from. More than that,
they explained how they can catch onto various forms of manipulation
of the system by exactly the methods I had thought out in my head
that would work. I was offered an opportunity to see the equipment
they use also. You can tell when things are extremely on the level.
You can also see why the exact totals cannot be released. That would
make it harder to detect fraud. One main way that they detect fraud
is when the phone-in votes and text votes and internet votes don't
follow each other, percentage-wise. There are other things they look
for as well that IT experts would detect as signals of something
Well, I think Steve got the talk from the higher ups from ABC, don’t
you? Seriously, it does take a big man to admit he may have been
wrong. And with Denise Richards being eliminated...he is still
The next step in the Unionization of
Reality Show workers took place this past week as former employees
have filed a class-action lawsuit against "American Idol" producer
FremantleMedia North America, according to Reuters.
The suit alleges that the company systematically overworked
employees without paying the required overtime, falsified time cards
and denied staffers meals and rest periods. "There's no Hollywood
glamour for the below-the-line people who work on 'American Idol'
and other reality shows who are grossly underpaid, worked 24/7 and
receive no rest or meal breaks and no health coverage -- contrary to
California labor laws," said the plaintiffs' attorney Jonathan
"For each reality television series subject to this suit, defendants
hired plaintiffs based on a flat weekly or daily pay rate," the suit
reads. "Plaintiffs were required to falsify their time cards ...
worked in excess of 40 hours per week during virtually every week of
their employment, but they never received any premium overtime play
... plaintiffs were routinely denied appropriate meal and rest
periods as required."
Reuters reports that this similar to the suit that was settled with
the WGA for $4M in January. My guess is this will be settled as
well–and we will see unionization.
Speaking of Idol, we had Motown week
this past week and Smokey Robinson was the mentor. We had a
star-making turn with Adam Lambert doing an amazing version of
"Tracks of My Tears." And tonight, the plans are to have Stevie
Wonder, Joss Stone, and Smokey performing. But, as of press time, we
do not have an elimination. My guess is that Megan Joy, Scott and
Michael will be in the bottom three. My guess...Megan. And no judges
save at all.
Finally, the Block Party
congratulates Dan Pawson on his $250,000 Tournament of Champions
win. But the most telling image of the show, was Larissa Kelly. She
missed the 2nd Final Jeopardy question which was...."Born in 1683,
the second British king of this name was the last one not born in
the British isles?" Who is George II. Dan got it right...and she
said Philip. She won $100,000 for finishing 2nd, but her emotions on
air were so genuine. She was legitimately kicking herself for
missing the question. Her arms were folded and her face was
scrunched. The tournament was amazing stuff, but that one moment was
honest, great television.
Time for the Block Party Quick Hits:
–"Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader" clears 80% of the US with 95
syndication markets for Fall 2009. This is very cool as we will have
(as of this writing) 6 syndicated game shows in the market come
–Bob Barker tapes an appearance on Price is Right on March 25 to
promote "Priceless Memories", which is being released early next
month. He gave away books to the audience and appeared in a
showcase. Other upcoming guest appearances include Jim Nantz in a
NCAA Final Four showcase...and Reba McIntyre for a country themed
–Cartoon Network announced plans for the 2009-2010 include "Head
Rush" a "Cash-Cab" like game show as kids answer questions as they
ride thrill rides.
–The WheelMobile makes a stop in Branson, Missouri on May 9 and
10...and will be in Boston in June.
–Phil Keoghan talks to People about his 40 Day tour to benefit the
National MS Society, biking 100 miles a day.
–Alex Boylan, the 2nd winner of the Amazing Race tries to go "Around
the World for Free" in his new reality show. The concept: he tries
to travel around the world with no money and his backpack, depending
on the kindness of strangers. This sounds like the internet craze
"One Red Paperclip" where a Canadian man traded one red paperclip
and went higher and higher till he got a house.
–"Survivor: Live" is heading to theme parks.
–"The Whole 19 Yards" shoots a pilot for CBS.
– Gordon Ramsay gets some good news as "Kitchen Nightmares" and
"Hell’s Kitchen" get renewed. In fact, Hell’s Kitchen has shot two
seasons back to back.
–GSN is rumored to be bringing back "The Rich List" as "The Money
List" starring Fred Roggin on June 13th.
–Andrew Firestone, formerly of the Bachelor, is now the father of a
Give Jason Block 19 yards, he wants a mile. E-mail him at