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Hot Time, Summer in the City
July 28

Also available as a podcast. Click to listen!

We start this week with the big news from Embassy Row. What was pretty much expected has come to fruition. The Newlywed Game is casting for Season 2. One of the highest rated shows for GSN is now moving to Los Angeles. It is most likely they are doing that to make it easier for Carnie Wilson to adjust after the birth of her second daughter who was born in June.

But the even bigger news is that casting has begun for "The $1,000,000 Pyramid". This pretty much guarantees that CBS is looking for a game show block to replace Guiding Light when it leaves the air in September. The Craigslist Casting Notice implies that taping will be here in New York City.

So what can we expect? The pilot was taped in June at the Kaufman Astoria Studios in Queens. This was the site of CBS's Power of 10. The two hosts that were used were Tim Vincent of Access Hollywood and Dean Cain. What they did was make it retro, and it worked. The rules were strictly 1980's Pyramid: 7 clues in 30 seconds, the 7-11, and a tournament for the $1M prize.

The celebrities used in the pilot included: Kathy Najimy, Mo Rocca, Norm MacDonald, Jesse Metcalfe, Ken Jennings, and Caroline Rhea.

This was pretty much a no brainer for CBS. The pilot was awesome. The audience had a major buzz going after attending the shows. And after the photos leaked, the game show community reaction was generally positive.

So what will be teamed with it? Will it be the rumored Dating Game Pilot? Or Let's Make A Deal with Wayne Brady? I hope it will be Deal and then CBS will have the retro cool game block that could be huge for them in the next two months.

The Susan Boyle US Press Blitz has started. The worldwide sensation was interviewed by Meredith Vieira for the "Today Show" and was also broadcast on "America's Got Talent" this past Wednesday. How's that for synergy? She caught Boyle in the middle of recording her debut album which will be produced by Simon Cowell. Boyle said the album will be a big surprise and not just full of show tunes.

Boyle said the instant superstardom after her debut in April was overwhelming. ďItís a lot like a giant demolition ball. The impact ó like a demolition ball. And anyone who has that kind of impact finds it really hard to get a head around it. Iíve got to be honest here. I guess I had to get my head around it, but through the guidance of a great team ó and they are very good ó I was able to see that in perspective and really turn that around a little.Ē

And what about the stay at The Priory Clinic for exhaustion? ďWell, when people get exhausted, they automatically have to have a rest,Ē Boyle replied. ďThat was pretty much necessary at the time. I needed a rest, just to get away.Ē

Vieira surprised her with a video message from Donny Osmond and a visit from British Theater icon Elaine Paige. Boyle concluded with this: "Itís been a long time ó 23 years,Ē ďI donít have to dream anymore, and Iím glad to be given this opportunity to get back into practice. Itís just been unbelievable; itís indescribable. Being plucked from obscurity is a bit like going on a long journey, really; you donít know whatís going to happen. You donít know how itís going to end.Ē

The one thing that bothered me a little bit about the interview was that Boyle looked like she had a complete makeover, complete with dress and hair. But Boyle seems like her head and heart are back on track. I am really looking forward to her album release.

Now that Wheel of Fortune has completed Season 26. Let's do a year in review, shall we?

Heading into Season 26, we had just finished a big 25th Anniversary season. The big news going in was the introduction of the "Million Dollar Wedge", replacing the $10,000 wedge. With it, the potential was there for someone to go home with $1,000,000.

Although it was hit 55 times during the season, and used 12 times in the bonus round, it was only hit once. And the time it was hit, Michelle Loewenstein won the Million. The wedge did not affect gameplay and for the most part was a success. The only minor quibble was something I have spoken about many times before, which is the spoiling of the win at least 2 weeks before it happened on October 14, 2008.

But overall, the season was another major success. It is still the #1 show in syndication. And you have many reasons why. Pat and Vanna were still terrific, the gameplay is still exciting and the production staff is one of the best in the business.

September 14th can not come fast enough for me. That is when Season 27 starts up with a run in Vegas.

Finally, we have a debut from Science Channel. "Catch It, Keep It" takes 3 contestants with a science/engineering/building background and tests their knowledge to prevent the destruction of a prize. If the team can engineer and build a device to catch the prize within 48hours, they can keep it. In the premiere episode, it was a motor scooter.

Zach Selwyn keeps the flow going well and fits the "tool guy" host well. A lot of the elements of the show work for me. The show tests the scientific and engineering theories of what the team wants to do with different examples. They explain the scientific principles in a straight forward manner. The team HAS to work together, because all three members win the prize if the device works.

And in a very nice twist, head engineer Mike Senese also designs HIS version of how to do it. In the end we got to see both the team members and Senese's team successfully complete the task. The team used a fly catcher like device with a parachute, while Senese used a rolling crate with pulleys.

The problem I did have with this show is that while the premise of the show emphasizes teamwork, Science Channel felt the need to pad the show with unnecessary examples of cursing and drama. The show feels too stretched and could fit more into a half hour format.

But, this is a very fun diversion and a pretty successful effort. I could see this used in a kids format, but for now if you want to DVR this you should. You could do a lot worse. My grade: B.

Block Party Quick Hits time:

--Condolences go out to the families of Les Lye and Walter Cronkite who passed away over the last two weeks.

--ABC's Crash Course has a premiere date of August 26th.

--Wipeout is renewed for Season 3 in 2010. What is more surprising is that "I Survived a Japanese Game Show" won't be back, as ratings tanked for Season 2.

--Kris Allen drops "No Boundaries" from his set on the Idol tour. And the world rejoices. But they send him condolences on the death of his grandmother which postponed a Tonight Show Appearance.

--Season 4 Winner of the Apprentice Randal Pinkett is rumored to be the choice for Lieutenant Governor in the state of New Jersey by Governor Jon Corzine.

--Before Season 6 of Project Runway gets underway, we have an all star challenge special on August 20th. Daniel Vosovic and Santino Rice of season 2, Jeffrey Sebelia, Uli Herzner and Mychael Knight of season 3, Chris March and Sweet P of season 4 and season 5ís Korto Momolu will compete against each other for a $100,000 prize, And we have "Models of the Runway" which will debut the same night as 16 women compete for a $25,000 prize, to be paired with the winning designer and a spread in Marie Claire Magazine.

--GSN and Worldwinner team up for an online version of Deal or No Deal on for the fourth quarter of 2009. And Deal or No Deal starts taping Season 2 in Waterford on July 28th.

--Andrew Lloyd Webber pulls out of a BBC search for the lead in the Wizard of Oz musical in 2010.

--The $1M Prize for Kathy Cox from "5th Grader" is still in legal limbo, and Fox may settle it in court. And Malia Obama respectfully declines to be a classmate.

--Paula Abdul's Manager is making waves about leaving American Idol after Ryan Seacrest gets a $45M, 3 year deal to stay.

--Melissa Rycroft comes back to the Bachelorette for this season's "After The Final Rose" special where she will talk about her engagement and new job on Good Morning America.

--Carrie Ann Inaba will produce "Burn the Floor" on Broadway and which will star Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Karina Smirnoff in the first three weeks of its 12 week run.

--The Jeopardy test for College Students will take place online on August 25th.

--In the stupid people say stupid things department, Big Brother contestant Chima Simone's use of a derogatory term against Mexicans was edited out. Braden Bacha used the same term to describe 2 other contestants. Before Braden was evicted, he added insult to injury by using a sexually insulting word to insult Julie Chen. Chen also announced she is having a boy this fall.

--Endemol Greenlights "The Whole 19 Yards" for Spain's Antena 3.

--Ethan Zohn is doing well after Chemo for Hodgkin's Disease.

--Padma Lakshmi signs with NBC for a sitcom deal.

--John de Mol buys Bunim-Murray Productions.

--Ivanka Trump is engaged.

--The Prime Time Emmy Nominations have been announced. In the categories that relate to us we have:

Outstanding Reality - Competition Program
American Idol ∑ FOX
Dancing With The Stars ∑ ABC
Project Runway ∑ Bravo
The Amazing Race ∑ CBS
Top Chef ∑ Bravo

Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Reality-Competition Program
American Idol ∑ FOX ∑ Ryan Seacrest
Dancing With The Stars ∑ ABC ∑ Tom Bergeron
Project Runway ∑ Bravo ∑ Heidi Klum
Survivor ∑ CBS ∑ Jeff Probst
The Amazing Race ∑ CBS ∑ Phil Keoghan
Top Chef ∑ Bravo ∑ Padma Lakshmi, Tom Colicchio

--The Price is Right adds more cities to their 2009 Contestant Search. They are Detroit, Dallas, San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore.

--The Color of Money gets cancelled in England but moves to Italy.

--Mariah Carey will perform on America's Got Talent on August 5th.

--Richard Hatch gets denied to be on a 10th Anniversary edition of Survivor.

--Pat Sajak who served as a deejay for the U.S. Army in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970 will receive the Vietnam Veterans of America Excellence in the Arts Award on Saturday, Aug. 1.

Jason Block's been nominated for Outstanding Columnist named after an object. E-mail your votes to