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April Was SO Taxing... I Skipped to May
May 10

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this catch-up edition with the Amazing Race. And we are down to the final three, with Brent and former Miss USA contestant Caite, the cowboys Jet and Cord, and brothers Dan & Jordan. The problem that I have had with this season is that the final three gives me absolutely no one to root for. Over the last few seasons, you had a great comeback story in Victor and Tammy, Margie and Luke Donald, and the dominant performance of Megan and Cheyne. This season has been a comedy of errors, where teams were making mistake after mistake. Whoever wins this $1,000,000 will be the team that survived the mistakes that they made. And if the Caite and Brent brain trust actually wins this, I will be incredibly upset. I really believe that the promise of the beginning of the season has disintegrated into a mistake fest. This has been the worst season in at least 2 years. The Reality Show Emmy shouldn’t go to them this year.
Neither should it go to American Idol. At this point we are at the final four with Lee Dewyze, Michael Lynche, Casey James and Crystal Bowersox going for the title. But this season has been an absolute borefest. There have been many problems this year. It starts with the judging which has been stereotypical and if I heard the word “moment” one more time I would have put a boot through my TV. It feels like everyone on staff is going through the motions before Simon jumps ship for the X-Factor and Ricky Minor goes on to the Tonight Show. The liberal guiltfest of Idol Gives Back returned as Fox and the producers exploited the poor of the US , Haiti and Africa to steal $45M from the gullible public.  The talent this year has been milquetoast. The talent has just been THERE. No one seems to want to win this.
On the Other Hand, Survivor has been an absolute blast to watch. At this writing, the Heroes and Villains tribe has been merged into Team Yin-Yang. And we have Rupert, Sandra, Danielle, Colby, Russell, Candice, Parvati, Jerri left. The Villains are up 5-3. There have been plays of Immunity Idols, injuries, and pure Survivor goodness. This has been a blast to watch and the episodes are filled with crosses and double crosses and a boatload of role-reversals. This is what Survivor is all about. And I can’t wait to see who wins this.

Over at the ballroom, the 10th Season of Dancing with the Stars has been beating Idol in the ratings and I can understand why...even though I don’t watch. The final five are Nicole Scherzinger, Niecy Nash, Evan Lysacek, Erin Andrews and Chad Ochocinco. The drama of Jake Pavelka and Kate Gosselin has led to a fun competition.

The faux drama of Celebrity Apprentice has given way to the real life drama of Bret Michaels’s Brain Hemorrhage and his recovery. People.com reported that his doctor says he's "still very sick right now," Bret Michaels is out of the hospital, in stable condition and on the road to a full recovery.

"Mr. Michaels was indeed a lucky person, a very lucky person," Dr. Joseph Zabramski said at a press conference Tuesday at the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph 's Hospital in Phoenix , where the rocker had been receiving treatment.

Michaels, 47, was discharged recently, less than two weeks after suffering a brain hemorrhage April 21. Zabramski could not release details of when he left the hospital or where he's receiving additional treatment because of federal privacy laws.

"He's improving," says Zabramski. "I really expect that he will fortunately make a 100 percent recovery. He's just one of those lucky people – 10 to 20 percent who make a complete recovery and can resume all of their normal activities."
As for the show, Bret Michaels, Maria Kanellis, Curtis Stone, Holly Robinson Peete, Sharon Osbourne and Cyndi Lauper are left. I am more interested in what Trump does when the Apprentice comes back with “real” people next fall.

On the traditional game show front, I must comment on the excellent Facebook App for Family Feud. Fremantle debuted the game last month and according to games.com, the game has been a massive success, having over 2.5 million plays in just the first month of release, and it’s not showing any signs of slowing.  The game saw a big spike in April and gets nearly 800,000 plays a day now, if not more. I play it everyday and it is a perfect example of a great game show application. The next one scheduled for release is the Price is Right Facebook App in June.
Speaking of the Price is Right, we have had a lot of good prizes offered, including a right hand drive Bentley, and a 2010 Tesla for Earth Day on the “ Green Road ”. In a recent AP interview, Drew Carey is promoting TPIR and wants to see even more branding of the show. “I love it. I don't think they're doing as much as they should be doing. Business-wise, you should take advantage of every media stream you can," he said, adding, "I want to be part of a gig that's doing new things and trying stuff." He continues, "I look at it as owning a house. Any homeowner can relate: You're never, ever done with your house," Carey said. "New rug, new bathroom tile, but it's still the same house. It's still the same game." Brand extensions such as the coming Facebook game "are both serving the purpose of being a profit center and having more visibility around the show," said Keith Hindle, CEO of FremantleMedia Enterprises, the licensing and brand extension arm of series producer FremantleMedia. The show also relies on lower-tech means of stoking fan interest. There are "Price"-branded slot machines in casinos and two live, paid-admission theater shows, one in Las Vegas and another at a Connecticut gaming resort.

Ratings for the TV show have been on the rise. Compared with last year, it's up 10 percent in viewers and ranks among within the top five daytime programs.
While the show and revamped Temptation and Any Number set pieces aren’t the problem this year, it’s been Stan Blits and the contestant coordinators. They have been picking style over substance players. If they get that problem solved, Price will finally have all the pieces solved.

Jeopardy’s May Sweeps event finishes this week as Jane Curtin, Cheech Marin and Michael McKean go for $1,000,000 for their charities in the final of the Celebrity Invitational Tournament. I have liked the format, and it wasn’t intrusive to the main game. I would have loved to see Neil Patrick Harris and Pat Sajak in the finals, but they just couldn’t get the job done.

Over at GSN, we have a show that really is a lot more fun than it should be. “Baggage” is hosted by Jerry Springer. He introduces three people who want to date the main contestant. The three people bring out three pieces of baggage in small medium and large cases. In the first round, the small bags are opened. In the 2nd round, the medium bags are opened and then matched to the three contestants. In the 3rd round, the final two large bags are opened and the contestant chooses the person they want to date. But the contestant has one piece of baggage of their own, and the person can refuse the date if the contestant’s baggage is too much for them to handle.
Jerry Springer is perfect in this role. He is so smooth and knows when to push the buttons and when not to. Some of the baggage can be a little explicit for a 6:30pm EST show. This show should be pushed to late night, but I liked what I saw here. It’s a simple concept executed very very well. My grade is B.

In my Legal Department, The Hollywood Reporter blog reports that the nasty six-year legal battle over profits from "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is about to come to a final answer.
A judge in Riverside , Calif. , has set a May 26 trial date in the $250 million federal lawsuit brought by U.K. producer Celador International against the Walt Disney Co., ABC, Buena Vista Television and Valleycrest Prods. over profits from the hit game show. Legal teams for both sides were in court this afternoon for a three-hour final pre-trial conference, during which U.S. District Court Judge Virginia A. Phillips set the schedule for a jury trial anticipated to last at least three weeks. 

Filed in 2004 but delayed by years of legal wrangling, the "Millionaire" case presents a rare open-court Hollywood showdown with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line. The witness list includes top execs like Disney president and CEO Bob Iger, former ABC exec Mark Pedowitz and former ABC exec-turned-"Millionaire" producer Michael Davies. Also scheduled to testify are dealmakers such as Ben Silverman and Greg Lipstone, who, as WMA agents, helped put together the 1999 deal to bring "Millionaire" to the U.S.  

Celador claims in the litigation that Disney-owned ABC and BVT violated a complex deal to produce and distribute "Millionaire" in North America by brokering sweetheart deals among themselves that cheated Celador out of millions of dollars in profits.

Block Party Quick Hits time:
-- Larry Miller teams with the Henson Alternative crew for an adult puppet based panel show called “Late Night Liars”. It debuts June 10th at 11PM on GSN. The panel includes Cashmere Ramada, described as a famous "celebutante and tabloid target," and Shelley Oceans, a brash comedian. Contestants vie for cash prizes by deciding whether the puppets are telling true or false stories.
-- Kevin Jonas appears on “Minute to Win It” May 12.
-- “Make Me A Millionaire” gets cancelled 15 months after it’s debut in January 2009, replacing the California Lotteries Big Spin Program.
-- Betty White hosts SNL this weekend.
-- The Bachelorette, starring Ali Fedotowsky starts on May 24th on ABC.
-- Wayne Brady takes a RKO from Randy Orton as he hosted Monday Night Raw on May 3rd. And he joins Neil Patrick Harris in the cast of an LA production of Rent.
-- Ed Waller and C21 Media claim the US Syndicated Game Show Market is in a lull.
-- Lynn Redgrave passes away.
-- “Top Chef" judge Tom Colicchio was named the nation's top chef by the James Beard Foundation.
-- Julianne Hough is coming back to Dancing with the Stars.
-- Family Game Show comes to the Wii on May 4th.
-- Chris Harrison will be covering the National Spelling Bee on June 4th on ABC.
-- Randy Jackson signs Kimberley Locke to his new DreamMerchant21 music label.
-- ABC has greenlit "The Six" (originally titled "What? Where? When?"). In this Russian import, six players must collaborate to solve non-trivia logic games within 60 seconds. ABC has ordered six episodes from Merv Griffin Entertainment.
-- Downfall is casting on May 15th in LA.
-- The Sing Off is casting for Season 2.
-- Bill Engvall (“Blue Collar TV”) and Mo Rocca (NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me”)     have been tapped as hosts of ABC’s “Trust Me, I’m a Game Show Host.”
-- There will be Youtube Auditions for America ’s Got Talent.
-- CBS will broadcast the Daytime Emmys from Las Vegas on June 27th.

Jason Block's bobble-ganger says e-mail him at jiblock@yahoo.com.