Land of the Free... Home of
We start this week with a thank you. I
record this podcast before Independence Day on July 4th. So, as you have
your cookouts and go to the fireworks display, please remember that this
is the 232nd birthday of our nation. There are so many people around the
world who do not enjoy the freedoms and the bounty that we have. Read
the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence. Thank a soldier,
or a veteran. Appreciate the great wonder this country has to offer,
even with all the disagreements we may have. So, thank you to all the
soldiers who fight and have given their lives to allow me the right to
broadcast and express my opinion every week here.
Next, we hop across the pond to the
country we got our independence from and that is England. And they have
put on a reality show that is shocking in a very good way. This is from
abcnews.com: Blond hair, blue eyes. 5 foot 11, 130 pounds. One arm.
They're not the typical stats of a would-be model. But "Britian's
Missing Top Model" hopes to change all that. The reality competition,
premiering July 1st, in Great Britain on BBC Three follows eight
hopefuls vying to prove they have what it takes to make it in the
mainstream fashion world. The deal: Contestants pack into a Chelsea
penthouse and, over the course of three weeks, get whittled down through
a series of challenges. The prize: a high-fashion photo spread in the
British edition of Marie Claire magazine.
The difference between this show and "America's Next Top Model": All the
women have a disability. Kelly Knox was born without a left forearm.
Lilli Risner is deaf. Debbie Van der Putten is missing most of her right
arm. Jenny Johnson is partially paralyzed. "I was in a very serious car
accident in December 2002," said Johnson, 22, a Seattle native who
auditioned for the series after a photographer friend noticed an ad on
"Because of my brain injury, I have a slight limp in my gait. It's a
little off. I still walk, I still talk -- too much actually -- but my
personality is not anything like it was before the accident. Modeling
was a dream I had been working toward for so long," Johnson said.
It's a novel idea for both the modeling industry and reality TV. There
are very few disabled models working in mainstream fashion -- Brazilian
Brenda Costa, who is deaf, is probably the most famous -- and disabled
contestants seldom sign on to reality competitions. And it's timely,
with the fashion world under the gun for displaying too little diversity
on its runways (Italian Vogue's July issue features all-black models in
an attempt to combat that criticism) and, perhaps, too little compassion
for the young beauties it absorbs (as in the apparent suicide of
20-year-old Ruslana Korshunova).
"On the one hand [the goal of the show] is to give the girls taking part
a shot in the mainstream industry. On the other, it's to challenge
general perceptions of what is and isn't beautiful," said co-executive
producer Doug James. "Why can't an extremely attractive model in a
wheelchair be used to sell the latest Prada outfit?"
While James said the "Missing Top Model" judges won't "say this person
is better than this person because they worked harder to overcome their
disability," he admitted that "challenges for individuals will be
different" based on physical limitations. Johnson felt a recent surgery
put her at a disadvantage.
"I had a cast that went clear past my elbow. It held my arm in a certain
position, and it was very hard to deal with," she said. But "Missing Top
Model" mentor Jonathan Phang, a former agent whose past clients include
Naomi Campbell, Jerry Hall and "America's Next Top Model" host Tyra
Banks, said the only thing holding back the show's contestants is the
industry's perception of them.
"At this point, people might use a disabled girl for a gimmick. They
might exploit it. I don't think the industry uses disability in a
positive way right now. But I hope our show will change that," he said.
"The girls that we have on this show have all the qualities that a
fledging model should have. The disabled girls don't have a problem with
their disability. It's the industry that has the problem accepting
It's possible a similar series could make it to American screens. Ken
Mok, executive producer of "America's Next Top Model," has cast
partially blind and mentally disabled contestants before, and he's open
to the idea of a competition among all-disabled models. "If it allows
people to see disabled people in a different light than they normally
would, I fully applaud that," he said. "That's something Tyra [Banks]
and I have always tried to do."
"Missing Top Model's" six-episode run begins tonight, and at the moment,
there are no plans to commission a second season. Phang hopes six hours
will be enough to show the industry disabled models are employable --
perhaps more so than the girls on the runway now.
"It's easier to accommodate the problems of our girls than the problems
of a spoiled teenage model making vast amounts of money with no value
for it," he said. "If you don't want to show someone with a missing arm,
you just put her in a different position."
But consider this: Months after countries like Spain and Britain
instituted rules banning too-thin models from their runways, the skinny,
heroin-chic aesthetic still prevails. Sea change doesn't come fast in
fashion, regardless of whether its well-meaning and politically correct.
"Fashion is a very perverse, very limited kind of world that has its own
sort of ungovernable aesthetic. Historically, it's not a very
accommodating place," said Simon Doonan, creative director of Barney's
and author of "Eccentric Glamour." "That's why when people try to inject
it with some healthy, normal ideas, it doesn't work. There's no reason
people can't challenge that aesthetic at any given time, but fashion
tends to evolve on its own terms."
I am proud of the BBC for doing this. This turns the "Pretty People
Syndrome" upside down. Bravo, bravo, standing ovation.
Well, the deadline for the SAG strike has
come and gone...and well...nothing has happened. Here is the latest from
Broadcasting and Cable. As expected, the final day before the expiration
of the contract between the Screen Actors Guild and the Alliance of
Motion Picture and Television Producers produced little more than
posturing from both sides.
With the deal expiring at midnight Monday night/Tuesday morning, both
sides exchanged public statements but are expected back at the
bargaining table Wednesday.
The AMPTP released a statement saying that it put forth a "final offer"
to SAG and claiming that the industry is "now in a de facto strike, with
film production virtually shut down and television production now
seriously threatened." It claimed that its "$250 million offer is
consistent with the four other labor agreements already reached this
year with DGA [the Directors Guild of America], WGA [the Writers Guild
of America], AFTRA [American Federation of Television and Radio Artists]
Network Code and AFTRA Prime-Time Exhibit A."
SAG responded in a press release that the offer "does not appear to
address some key issues important to actors. For example, the impact of
foregoing residuals for all made-for-new-media productions is
incalculable and would mean the beginning of the end of residuals."
Both sides said they would continue to work under the terms of the
expired contract for the time being.
So far, so good. But will they get the deal done? Stay tuned.
Well, we have another big time game show
failure in Australia to talk about. And this is from thewest.com in
Australia: The Nine Network's attempt to revive the classic TV game show
Wheel of Fortune has failed. The network has announced it has stopped
production on Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune, with the final episode to
Hosted by former Home and Away actor Tim Campbell and model Kelly
Landry, it premiered just a month ago, and was one of the station's big
local production hopes. "We are disappointed that Million Dollar Wheel
of Fortune has not done as well as we had hoped," Nine said in a
statement this afternoon.
"It is best in these circumstances to make the tough decisions and move
on so we have." It's the latest in a number of locally produced flops
for Nine this year including game show The Power of 10. Others include
the reality sitcom Monster House and the talent contest My Kid's A Star.
It was hoped that the reinvention of Wheel of Fortune, which ran for 25
years on Seven, would knock off rival game show Deal or No Deal on Seven
in the 5.30pm time slot. But it struggled, as Deal or No Deal brought in
about 300,000 more viewers each day. A recent promotion to try out
celebrity Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune also failed.
Nine said Campbell and Landry would both stay on at the network,
Campbell on The Singing Bee and Landry on Getaway. "The show has brought
two great talents to the network in Tim Campbell and Kelly Landry, who
are both staying at Nine."
Speaking of Million Dollar Wheel of
Fortune, if you have been catching the reruns of the Wheel in the US you
have seen the teasers for the fact that as of the 26th season of Wheel
we are going to have a bonus round spin for a potential ONE MILLION
DOLLARS. Now, checking my stats, the big amount was hit 11 times last
year out of 195 episodes and won twice. The only question is...how is
the Million going to be obtained? How hard will it be?
As of now, there has been only rumor and conjecture as to how it will
happen...but as soon as official confirmation happens...we at the Block
Party will let you know.
And we end with my favorite story of the
week. Drew Carey is an everyman, a guy’s guy. And he never forgets where
he comes from. Check this out from cleveland.com: Antonio's pizza, come
on down! You're the next entree for "The Price is Right!" Grace
Loschiavo was so flustered Wednesday preparing a big order for her
favorite customer -- "The Price is Right" host Drew Carey -- that she
put the plastic coffee filter basket on top of the burner, melting a
giant hole in it.
What will it cost to replace? $10? $15? $15.01? Who cares?
"It's like somebody wound me up!" said Loschiavo, who is sending 45
pizzas -- some plain, some pepperoni -- to Los Angeles for the "wrap
party" Saturday marking the end of the show's 36th season, the first
with Carey as host. UPS will deliver. Carey stops at Antonio's for a
pepperoni pizza and a pitcher of beer when he's in town and has given it
free publicity on his former sitcom and on the game show. He shows the
love off camera, too.
"His bill could be $20. He still leaves a $100 tip," said Loschiavo's
granddaughter, Danielle Hodgins. He can expect a heftier tab this time:
About $450 for the pies and three times that for the delivery.
"He never forgot where he came from," said Loschiavo. "Thousands of
pizza places from here to California and he picked us."
Drew my man, very very cool move. And next time you are in Brooklyn...I
will take you to L&B Spumoni Gardens...my treat! Now that’s a slice!
Time for the Random Newsbits:
–Filipino Deal or No Deal Host has a bit of marital trouble.
–In Idol News: Kady Malloy, Alaina Whitaker and her sister Brittney
release some music on MySpace. Taylor Hicks signs with Vanguard Records,
Kristi Lee Cook signs with 19 Entertainment, Ruben Studdard gets
married, and Paris Bennett is pregnant.
–Cash Cab’s format is going to India and Japan, while Wipeout is sold to
–Bob Saget of 1 v. 100 gets roasted on Comedy Central.
–Bunim-Murray are the new producers of "Project Runway" when they move
–The couple in "Farmer Wants A Wife" are still together. However, in the
finale of "Shot of Love II with Tila Tequila", Tila chose Kristy over
Bo...but Kristy told Tila she isn’t ready for the responsibility of
being with Tila! Season 3...anyone?
–"She Got The Look" is renewed for a second season in 2009.
That’s all for now...be safe, don’t drink and drive and for the Block
Party podcast this is Jason Block saying...don’t just play fair...play
Jason Block thinks he can
beat 45 pizzas. E-mail him at