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You Give Me a Few Minutes, I Will Recap Three Weeks of News
April 28

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We have a lot of news to cover...so let’s begin with the breaking news that ABC is bringing back "Who Wants to Be A Millionaire" this summer to primetime TV. According to multiple sources, Regis Philbin has agreed to return as host of the primetime revival, which—like the 1999 original—will unfold as a two-week, 11-night event. Michael Davies of Embassy Row once again will serve as executive producer. "Millionaire" will air Sunday through Thursday nights at 8 p.m., starting Aug. 9. The show will take a rest on Friday and Saturday. Its grand finale will be Sunday, Aug. 23.

Word that ABC was considering a 10th-anniversary return of "Millionaire" first surfaced in January. The network didn’t have a deal in place with Mr. Philbin, however, delaying a final decision on whether to move forward. Odds of a "Millionaire" return also grew stronger with the success of "Slumdog Millionaire," the Indian drama about a young contestant on the show that won this year’s Academy Award for best picture.

ABC alternative co-chief John Saade said executives at the network, including scheduling head Jeff Bader, have been talking about a "Millionaire" anniversary revival "for a long time. Anyone who remembers the original remembers how special it was. It really felt like an event," Mr. Saade said. "It broke every conventional rule of the time. It elevated the game show to this single-person, high-stakes drama."

I spoke of this move as a no-brainer. ABC is going to have a huge summer, along with Wipeout and I Survived a Japanese Game Show. This is going to be a nice alternative to America’s Got Talent, and if the execution is done correctly–meaning that the phone game and fastest finger is brought back–this could be event programming in months to come. I think it’s time for me to call Embassy Row to help out...


...but before I do that let’s talk American Idol for a moment. We are down to the final 5. In the round of 8, we had "Songs From the Year You Were Born" and Scott Macintyre’s brutal version of "The Search is Over" by Survivor got him out of the competition. In the round of 7...we had "Soundtrack Songs" with Quentin Tarantino as mentor. Matt Giraud was eliminated...but the judges used the save and brought him back...so for the 2nd round of 7 we had disco week. Lil Rounds and Anoop Desai were eliminated with boring bland performances...and our final 5 are: Alison Iraheta, Matt Giraud, Kris Allen, Danny Gokey, and the massive favorite Adam Lambert. Next week is "Rat Pack" week....Alison really needs to kill it this week...or she will be gone.

Now, as for the judges save...I think the judges were a bit premature in how they used it. They used because they had to...not because they wanted to. Matt, as Simon accurately put it, has zero chance of winning. I personally would have loved to have seen Matt go this week and tell the judges where to stick it, but Lil and Anoop’s performances were so bad that they had to go. Will it be used next year...time will tell.


Next we have a controversy on Amazing Race...the final four teams are sisters Jen and Kisha, mother/deaf son team Margie and Luke, siblings Tammy and Victor and former Cheerleaders Jaime and Cara.

But Jen and Kisha and Margie and Luke are at each other’s throats. When they both reached two different clue boxes during the last leg of the race in China....it got physical. Jen and Kisha called the physicality a "bitch move" and made fun of Luke’s deafness at the pit stop.

I watched this and I was incredibly disappointed...Jen and Kisha did not have to resort to street thug tactics. Their actions reinforced the "arrogant black female" stereotype which permeates most reality shows. They haven’t been that way this entire season, and for them to do that is foul play.

I do understand the heat of competition, but there are ways to express yourself without being hateful and discriminatory. The evidence is there and on tape...you were laughing at a deaf person. Deal with it.


On the Celebrity Apprentice, we are down to Joan and Melissa Rivers, Clint Black, Jesse James, Annie Duke, and Brande Roderick.

But Donald Trump pulled a very hypocritical move on the April 5th episode...he fired Khloe Kardashian because she had a DUI. On the episode, Trump found out Kardashian had missed part of a previous challenge because she had to go to a mandatory class regarding her 2007 DUI conviction. He lectured her on drinking and driving and fired her over the DUI. "I hate people who drive under the influence," Trump said in the boardroom as he fired Kardashian.

But in a blog post on her webpage, Kardashian spoke out against Trump. "It wasn’t because of my work ethic, it wasn’t because I was slacking. It was because of my DUI. I don’t think I should have been fired for that reason alone. I just wish Mr. Trump would have handled the situation a little differently," she wrote."I find it weird that he can forgive and take back Tara Conner but he can’t do the same with me?!" she said of Trump’s decision to let Conner, Miss USA 2006, retain her crown after she engaged in underage drinking and cocaine use.

Game. Set. Match. Trump is a big fat hypocrite. I think there was another reason that was not aired or not disclosed. And after watching the new feud of Annie Duke v the Rivers clan, I think Mr. Trump is setting up another dramatic confrontation between either Melissa v. Joan at the end...or Annie v. Joan/Melissa. This is Trump manufacturing drama...instead of letting the business competition flow organically.


Next we catch up on the doings at Studio 33. First off, we talk about the Earth Day episode of the Price is Right where environmentally friendly electric cars were given out and carbon offsets were provided for the trips. We also had recycled cell phones...and Ed Begley Jr. to preach at us. I didn’t like it when Wheel of Fortune did it for the past two seasons on "Going Green" week...and I didn’t like it here. I don’t need a lecture on my game shows, thank you very much.

This past April 16th, we had the return of Bob Barker to promote his book "Priceless Memories". He appeared in a couple of showcases...and was his normal classy self. But did the producers realize that they were giving away Hondas as cars? I know they are built in Ohio, but it’s BOB BARKER. He doesn’t like foreign cars. I think a little consideration should have been exercised.

Finally, there is one person who doesn’t think the book was really that good. Chris Mann, an author who is shopping an unauthorized biography of Price and Bob Barker, wrote on his website retroality.tv about whom was left out.

Mann writes that he didn’t acknowledge Drew Carey, Jay Wolpert, Barbara Hunter, directors Mark Breslow and Paul Alter, or any of the models over the last 35 years. Mann trashes the book as "falling flat" in the telling of his story and that Barker didn’t want to say anything bad in the book because, according to an Hartford Courant interview, "That’s not my bag, We’ll see if you can have a successful book without throwing dirt."

Now we all knew that Barker wasn’t going to throw himself or the show under the bus when he was going to go back to promote it. And Mann was using his own website to try and get his book sold. Will Mann’s scandal laden version ever get out there? I think so...but not until Mr. Barker passes away. Because I don’t think any publishing house will want to touch that dynamite just yet.


Time to catch up on some shows that returned or debuted these past few weeks.

–The biggest debut is THE NEWLYWED GAME(GSN). Carnie Wilson hosts this remake, produced by Michael Davies and Sony/Embassy Row. The game play is mostly untouched with couples asked embarrassing questions about their marriage. We have three couples instead of 4, and, in the nicest twist of the show, a bonus round where the winning Newlywed Game couple plays against Goldyweds(who were on the original show) for a 2nd potential prize.

While the show itself is pretty good, the biggest problem is Carnie Wilson. Or at least the way the show has been edited to present her. When I attended the show, she was funny. Really funny. She also had an excellent repartee with the contestants. But now, she is being portrayed as a game show automaton. Which is a crying shame. Because what I saw is really good. What’s being shown isn’t. GRADE: C.

–Coming back for it’s 2nd season is CATCH-21(GSN). Being renewed for Season 2 has given the show a bigger feel...with a newer set and studio audience. The gameplay is almost untouched from Season 1...except we add an Oreck Vacuum to the first person who gets a 21. We also add a power chip in the bonus round, so you could have up to 4 power chips if you dominate the front game.

The problem with the show is still the same...and that’s Alfonso Ribeiro. He’s not bad...but he just gives off the feeling he is trying to hard to be the "wacky, zany" host. Nikki Padilla is still smoking hot...but the show seems to me like "second verse, same as the first." GRADE: C.

–Next, we have THE PHONE(MTV), produced by Fremantle and Justin Timberlake. The premise: Four people get a mysterious phone call from "The Operator" and have to team up in teams of 2 to either solve a crime or stop an event from happening. They get clues and have to solve puzzles/events to win up to $50,000. The final twist is that the winning member of the team can keep the money they won...or split it with their opponent.

There were a lot of elements I liked. As a player of alternate reality games(ARGs), this was one of the better representations of what an ARG is. This had very big production values, and in a limited run of 6 episodes...you can spend the cash.

But a lot of things I didn’t. The Operator, played by Emmett J. Scanlan, is out of central casting. He is a quick witted, smarmy, "man in control" type...but he came off incredibly fake. And I didn’t feel that the teams were in danger at all. The suspension of disbelief just wasn’t there.

But overall, this is an entertaining hour of TV. I would check it out. GRADE: B-.

Finally we have THE COUGAR(TV Land). This is Mike Fleiss’s latest venture into dating/romance. Take a 40 yr old smoking hot divorced mom of 4...and have 20 younger men vie for her affection. This was typical Fleiss drivel...the contest to get into the house...the get drunk and get to know you party...and the biggest moron stays on in the house. The less said about this dreck...the better. GRADE: D.


The British Game Show Scandals have claimed it’s latest victim. ITV’s Michael Grade is resigning at the end of 2009, according to reports. ‘Michael Grade has recommended to the board that the conclusion of the regulatory reviews will be the right time for him to relinquish his executive responsibilities and become non-executive chairman, as planned.’ ITV said.

Grade faced criticism over his decision not to sack anyone over a spate of phone-in scandals in 2007 and 2008 which he inherited on taking up the post, despite admitting if he had been chief executive at the time of the deceit, he would have resigned. Competitions were rigged on Ant and Dec programs Saturday Night Takeaway and Gameshow Marathon, as well as Soapstar Superstar.

Not a surprise here...and I expect more executives to do the same.


This next item was no surprise...according to the Los Angeles Times’s Richard Verrier: Negotiators for the Screen Actors Guild and the major studios have reached a tentative agreement on a new two-year contract for the union's 120,000 members. Sources close to the talks say the union's negotiating task force will be briefed today on the proposed agreement, which is expected to be voted on by SAG's 71-member national board.

Actors have been working without a contract for nine months as previous attempts at negotiations with the studios collapsed. The contract contains some minor improvements over previous offers but is largely similar to the one studios presented to SAG nine months ago.

The agreement was hashed out after weeks of back-channel talks involving between SAG interim executive director David White and top media executives, principally Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger and Warner Bros. chairman Barry Meyer. Talks were revived after the union's former chief negotiator was ousted by moderates who took control of SAG's board in elections last year.

The breakthrough came earlier this month when the sides reached a compromise over the most contentious issue: the expiration date of a new contract. SAG leaders insisted that their new contract run through June 2011 so that the union could line up its next round of negotiations with the expiring contracts of other Hollywood talent unions. The studios, however, wanted a three-year term, which would push SAG's contract expiration into 2012.

This will be approved...and Hollywood will breathe a MAJOR sigh of relief.


GSN made a major announcement while I was gone. They are doing the first GSN Game Show Awards! According to the press release: "This will be a different kind of awards show and the first-ever awards show dedicated exclusively to the world of game shows," said Kelly Goode, GSN's Senior Vice President of Programming. "The Game Show Awards will be a lighthearted, humorous homage to the talented people who make game shows a perennial favorite. We will also include exciting participatory elements that offer our at-home fans and in-studio audience the chance to play a role in the show."

As part of the event, GSN will pay tribute to three individuals who have helped make the beloved genre a staple of popular culture:"The Price is Right" host Bob Barker; the legendary late game show producer Mark Goodson and "Let's Make A Deal" host Monty Hall, with each receiving special tributes for his contributions to the game show industry.

Fans will be able to vote online at gsn.com in such categories as Best Game Show, Best Game Show Host, Favorite Classic Game Show, Favorite Game Show Sound Effect, Most Outrageous Game Show Contestant, Favorite Parting Gift, Best Reality Competition Show, Favorite Dating or Relationship Show and Favorite Celebrity Player, Favorite Celebrity Team.

During the premiere telecast, at-home viewers will be encouraged to go online, where they can answer award show-related trivia for the chance to win cash and other exciting prizes. The show's studio audience comprised of celebrities and fans who are passionate about game shows and games will have the chance to win prizes during the show by playing familiar games, both on stage and in the aisles. Some of the award recipients will also be included in the game play by being given the opportunity to relinquish their awards to play games for more lucrative prizes.

Now...this is a huge move for GSN...because they are going back to their roots as The Game Show Network. They are taking the ideas from the Game Show Congress and Game Show News Net and taking it to the next level. I am really looking forward to see how this one is executed and how respectful they are to the genre.


If you have been under a rock for the last two weeks...you have seen the internet sensation of Susan Boyle from Britain’s Got Talent. If you haven’t...the story is this...she is a 47yr old woman whose look left a lot to be desired. But when she got on stage...she stunned the world with a voice that was nothing short of incredible singing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables.

But someone’s cornflakes got ruined. In an article in the New York Post titled "Why Is No One Suspicious of Susan Boyle?" Maureen Callahan questions the validity of the "rags-to-riches" story. From the Article - "This isn't to suggest that Boyle herself is a hoax (though she does seem a bit too comfortable on that stage, parrying with Cowell, to be a complete naif). But the notion that Cowell was unaware of Boyle's existence, let alone discordant looks and talent level, before she ever took the stage, is flatly ridiculous."

She continues: "Most disturbing of all, perhaps, is that not since Saturday has Susan Boyle been Susan Boyle. It's a permutation of the Heisenberg principle: That 30 million people have heard her, seen her, embraced her has already changed who she is. The shy churchgoer who said that her recently deceased mother encouraged her to "take the risk," who admitted in her audition that she has never been kissed, who has forever lived as something of an accidental outcast - she now seems too much of this world. "I've been for a meeting with Sony BMG, but I can't say much about it," she said this week. "It's early days." Susan Boyle is now one of us. And that is really a shame.

Oh please. Give me a break. Maureen needs to just kick a cat. Or work for customer service at Dell Computers. She needs to just get out of the way. Susan Boyle is a great story. Period.


Time for the ABC Summer Schedule: "The Bachelorette" will assume its regular Monday, 8:00/7:00c slot on May 25 following its special post-"Dancing With the Stars" premiere on May 18. The Bachelorette will return Monday May 18, and will also serve as the lead-in to sophomore series Here Come The Newlyweds, which will return to the schedule May 25.

"Opportunity Knocks," Ashton Kutcher's short-lived game show, will rejoin the schedule on Tuesday, May 26 at 8:00 Wednesday, May 27 will mark the return of "Wipeout" at 8:00.

"The Superstars" (June 23, 8p ET), a fresh take on an old favorite, is based on ABC's classic "Wide World of Sports" series, "The Superstars," which pitted athletes from all different sports against each other to determine the best athlete in the world. Eight celebrities are paired with eight professional male and female athletes to compete against each other in varying sporting events. The six-episode series will be shot entirely on location at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.

"I Survived A Japanese Game Show" returns for Season 2 on July 8, 9p ET.

Finally from Endemol we have "Dating in the Dark" July 20, 10p ET is a unique alternative series that asks the age-old question, "Is Love Blind?" Each week, three single men and three single women, all looking for love, will move into a house together, but be totally sequestered from the opposite sex. While they will have no chance of seeing each other in the light, they will have the opportunity to date in a completely dark room. Looks will be taken out of the equation as the men and women get to know each other and form bonds in total darkness. After several days of dating in the darkroom, the participants will select the one member of the opposite sex that they want to see revealed in the light. For the first time, the participants will see whom they've been dating, wooing, kissing, snuggling with and forming bonds with. And after they see each other in the light for the first time, they have to make the difficult decision...do they stay with the person they fell for in the dark, or leave them behind? This mess is hosted by Rossi Morreale.


Finally we have leaked plans for what GSN has to offer. At upfront.gsn.com (which is now secured) we have a look at what GSN wants to do. About.com's Carrie Grosvenor reports on the plans which include:

–Reruns of Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100 will be joining the GSN lineup.

–New programming includes include Bunco, based on the classic dice game.

--20Q, from Endemol

--Honey Please is a hidden camera game show that challenges husbands or wives to get their spouses to do things for them to earn cash.

--Wake Up Call, in which the cast and crew of a game show invades someone's home early in the morning, wakes them up, and challenges them to answer trivia questions.

--Love Roulette, a dating show.

--Instant Recall a show that challenges people to remember things about a situation they're put in.

-- Star Treatment is a show that takes people off the streets of L.A. to play the game, and rewards them with a makeover.

–This last one I am most intrigues about. GSN Daily News is in fact a news program, which also offers an interactive element. Viewers can call in and answer trivia questions to win money. I would hope on this one we have a more serious game show news show produced...instead of a "Soup" for Game Shows.

I do give GSN a lot of credit for throwing a lot against the wall and seeing if it sticks. This is what Sony and GSN has to do to make GSN a viable commodity on cable and Satellite.


–The Block Party Quick Hits include:

–ITV1 is developing a show called "The Chase."

–Family Feud’s Tournament of Champions comes back April 27th.

–VH1 renews "I Want to Work For Diddy" and "Tool Academy" for Season 2s of both shows.

–Project Runway will be on Lifetime starting August 20th.

–Food Network introduced some of the new shows for 2009-2010. Included are Season 2 of the Next Iron Chef  (October 2009) Season 3 of Ultimate Recipe Showdown in Q2 2010 and Season 6 of The Next Food Network Star in June 2010. Season 5's cast is introduced for it’s debut on June 7th.

–We have finale dates! The live three-hour finale of "The Biggest Loser: Couples" airs on Tuesday, May 12 and "The Celebrity Apprentice" wraps up its season with a special live three-hour episode on Sunday, May 10. Deal or No Deal also will return to the lineup in sweeps beginning May 4. On CBS Sunday, May 10 is the finale of Season 14 of "The Amazing Race (which was just renewed for Season 15) On Sunday, May 17, Jeff Probst and the final jury will help crown the winner of "Survivor Tocantins".

–ABC announces the cast of Superstars, which debuts June 23rd. The athletes are Jennifer Capriati, Brandi Chastain, Robert Horry, Jeff Kent, Kristi Leskinen, Lisa Leslie, Bode Miller and Terrell Owens. The eight celebrities are David Charvet, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, Dan Cortese, Paige Hemmis, Julio Iglesias, Jr., Joanna Krupa, Ali Landry and Estella Warren.

–Season 4 of Design Star returns July 19th on HGTV.

–In Casting news, "Crash Course" starts casting for ABC, "20Q" starts casting for GSN. , "The Singing Bee" is casting...and it will be returning to CMT. And syndicated 5th grader is casting as well.

–GSN and Worldwinner will team up for the Bejeweled 2 W3Games Championship starting April 27th.

–Julie Chen is pregnant.

–In one of the most bizarre stories of the year, disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will not be going to Costa Rica to compete in "I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!" for NBC. A judge denied his request. Those who are rumored to be in the cast include...Geraldo Rivera, Dog the Bounty Hunter Duane Chapman Sanjaya Malakar, Janice Dickinson and Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt from the Hills. AH!

–The Moment of Truth again comes back on July 29th...according to Fox.

–"Dancing With The Stars" winner Helio Castroneves is back on the track after being acquitted of tax evasion charges. Ty Murray injures his eye during a rehearsal, and Maksim Chmerkovskiy denies rumors of quitting. Gilles Marini needs surgery, and Julianne Hough claims to be quitting again.

–"She’s Got The Look" returns for an 8 episode run for Season 2 on TV Land.

–Fantasia Barrino will be the subject of a VH1 reality series in 2010.

–Richard Hatch will be released on May 12 to a halfway house.

–Scott Macintyre reveals after his elimination that he had a kidney transplant.

–Price is Right is going all digital by 2010.

–America’s Next Top Model redoes the model search in New York without incident.

–The Daytime Emmys are heading to the CW.

–Top Chef Masters debuts on June 10th on Bravo.

–GSN picks up Face Value from Spain.

–Wheel is taping 4 weeks of shows in Vegas this July.

–Fox Reality is taping "Who Wants to Date Cindy Margolis" in June.

Jason Block's Moment of Truth comes when you
e-mail him at jiblock@yahoo.com.