It's been a while
since I have been with you guys due to a work project, but I am
back. What I am going to do is catch up on news and notes in a show
by show format. No time to waste, so let's get to it.
Last Sunday, THE AMAZING RACE won its 7th consecutive Emmy for Best
Reality Competition show. Also, Jeff Probst of SURVIVOR won for the
2nd year in a row as Best Reality Competition Host.
Speaking of SURVIVOR, on September 17th the show returned for its
19th Season from the island of Samoa. The granddaddy of gameplay/social
experiments is back in fine form. Russell has come out right away
and has decided to take on the role of villain. But as we know, it
is people like last season's winner JT, who played under the radar
and earned a unanimous 7-0 vote from the jury. I believe Russell is
playing the game way too early and will be found out eventually. Too
many "villains" do not remember that this is a balanced combination
of social experimentation and physical/mental challenge. Kudos to
CBS for a promotional viral video which parodied the "Dharma" films
from Lost. Jeff Probst showed his sense of humor by claiming there
was a secret way to avoid tribal council which was conveniently
THE AMAZING RACE debuts on September 27th and if the previews
indicate anything, the show isn't going to stray too far from the
gameplay that won the show 7 Emmys. If that is the case, the viewers
have nothing to worry about.
AMERICAN IDOL has had a very tumultuous summer. Paula Abdul quit the
show, and announced her resignation via twitter. Fox announced a
lineup of guest judges for the Season 9 audition process which
included Mary J. Blige, Katy Perry, Victoria Beckham and others.
Kara Dioguardi has resigned on as the fourth judge. But the biggest
shock was the announcement that Ellen DeGeneres has signed on as the
permanent third judge. The media spin on her announcement is that
she is going to be the "fan's voice". I am going to take a wait and
see attitude on this one. But I think it took a lot of guts for Fox
to sign Ellen and overall it is going to pay off. And a big boo to
Paula Abdul for making fun of Ellen by dancing down the aisle in an
Ellen wig on VH1 Divas Live. Way to take the high road.
It seems that
Season 6 finalist Chris Sligh has a case of the sour grapes. He
recently posted on his blog an "open letter to the season 8
finalists" about how you can't be successful post-Idol unless you
He said, "You're not going to be successful...you're not going to be
millionaires (with the exception of MAYBE Kris [Allen] and Adam
[Lambert]). You are going to struggle. No one will care about you."
He continued, "You are just a game show contestant who still needs
to prove why you should be here...In other words, your days of being
a star are over. But that's all right-so are mine. And I'm one of
the most successful for my season of Idol. I'm not a star. Chances
are I never again will be."
Call the waaa-ambulance. I can count people like Jennifer Hudson,
Chris Daughtry, Kimberly Caldwell, Bo Bice, and a host of others who
have made their careers post Idol, and none of them won. This was a
major case of Sligh using his blog to get publicity for himself,
Favorites returned to high ratings and critical acclaim. TOP CHEF's
new season takes place in Las Vegas and everything about the show
that worked is back in a big way. We have a lot of bold flavors,
bold personalities and the setting is being used correctly. PROJECT
RUNWAY's long delay in court didn't have any lasting effect as it
has returned for Season 6 on Lifetime with its highest ratings ever.
Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia, and Michael Kors are back for
more high fashion drama in the new location of Los Angeles. The
judging has been PERFECT as everyone eliminated so far has deserved
to leave. I love Tim Gunn more than ever. This is great stuff. What
isn't great is the Runway spinoff MODELS OF THE RUNWAY. This series
just doesn't have the same pizzazz or depth of Runway. THE ULTIMATE
FIGHTER is back with Kimbo Slice and 15 other heavyweights fighting
along side coaches Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. Take
two coaches who hate each other, add 16 young bucks, mix
testosterone along with internet sensation Slice(who is fighting for
UFC on December 5) and that equals ratings gold.
We had a few shows end recently. AMERICA'S GOT TALENT ended Season 4
with Susan Boyle promoting her new album. Country singer and
hopefully former chicken catcher Kevin Skinner won the Las Vegas
Contract and the $1 Million Dollar Prize. But this season was a very
disappointing one as the judging was awful and inconsistent. More
importantly Nick Cannon seemed neutered. All the positive aspects of
his hosting ability seemed to be bottled back stage and what we saw
was a robotic Nick Cannon who could have been replaced by anyone
BIG BROTHER had another crazy summer as Chima Simone got kicked off
for a nasty tirade and the damaging of electronic equipment. But 22
yr old waitress Jordan Lloyd won the $500,000. Ratings for the UK
version of Big Brother are so bad that it will be cancelled by
Channel 4 in 2010. But the ratings for the show in the US went up.
Season 12 is pretty much a guarantee for the Summer of 2010.
DANCING WITH THE STARS has returned for another season. Now the
definition of "stars" gets wider and wider as each cycle pass as we
have former House Majority Leader Tom Delay, MMA Fighter Chuck
Liddell and others dancing for the coveted disco ball trophy. Was
anyone surprised by the first week elimination of Macy Gray or
Ashley Hamilton? I didn’t think so.
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL is back for it's 13th Cycle. This time
around, Tyra and the crew are looking for models under 5'7" This
show should be watched by the production staff of "Models of the
Runway" so they can see how this is supposed to be done.
On the game show side, WHEEL OF FORTUNE and JEOPARDY are back for
new seasons. On Jeopardy, the High Definition set which debuted at
the Consumer Electronics Show is now in permanent residence. We also
have the Celebrity Invitational. On the third Thursday of every
month, three celebrities will go at it for a shot at a minimum
$50,000. The winner will advance to a final where the winning
celebrity gets $1,000,000 for his/her charity. One episode of that
tournament has been shown, but Andy Richter looks like a force to be
reckoned with. His $68,000 win for St. Jude's Children's Hospital
was very impressive.
On WHEEL OF FORTUNE, the Free Spin is gone after 26 years. We now
have the Free Play wedge, which is available all rounds. If a player
hits the wedge, they can call a vowel without losing money. They can
also call a consonant earning $500 a letter. If they miss, they do
not lose their turn. And after seeing it in action, I believe this
is another tweak that works. It doesn't slow the pace of the game.
Next is THE PRICE IS RIGHT. Season 37 ended with a lot of potential.
Season 38 began with a ton of new changes. Syd Vinnedge was moved up
the Fremantle ladder. Mike Richards became sole executive producer.
The set has been expanded and upgraded for High Definition.
Contestants Row and the Showcase Podiums are now full LCD Displays.
The turntable area has been expanded and it looks gorgeous. R. Brian
DiPirro has added newer camera angles to make the presentation look
fresh and new. The introduction copy has been changed at Drew's
request from "Here's the star" to "Here's The Host".
But the Season 38 opener on September 21st didn't feel like a Season
premiere. The problem was we saw the same scattershot hosting that
is a trademark of the Drew Carey era. There were moments when the
viewers saw that he gets it. And then there were moments when you
cringed. What was up with Craig Ferguson? That was a waste of a
And during the plugs for the priceisright.com webpage, Drew called
it the "Best Price is Right" web site ever. Was that a bit of
shameless self-promotion or was it a slight jab at golden-road.net?
This is the year where Drew HAS to step up. This HAS to be the year
he makes the show his own without alienating the fanbase.
I thought it was pretty cool to see Bob Barker hosting WWE Raw
(a/k/a The Price is Raw) a few weeks ago. He was promoting his book
"Priceless Memories" and both Barker and the wrestlers seemed to
have a blast. They took elements of Price such as Contestants row
and integrated it into the WWE product in a seamless and fun manner.
Both Barker and the WWE had a healthy respect for each other and it
showed. This was great to watch and it looked like Barker could host
Price now, even at 86 years old.
WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE was very busy this summer. We had the
mildly successful primetime run on ABC where yours truly along with
a bunch of former Millionaire contestants visited Regis and the
gang. It was nice to see the fastest finger return, but the overall
consensus was that the syndicated format and Regis didn't mesh. On
the last night of the run, there was incredibly compelling
television as Ken Basin a 24 yr old lawyer from Los Angeles became
the first person to see the Million Dollar Question and lose. He
lost $475,000 on this question:
In the category--Bottoms Up!
For ordering his favorite beverages on demand, LBJ had four buttons
installed in the Oval Office labeled "coffee," "tea," "Coke" and
He said Yoo Hoo, and the answer was Fresca. Some people, including
myself, thought he came off as arrogant and cocky. Others thought he
was gutsy and brave. Either way, it was great to watch. But ABC
spoiled the moment yet again by advertising it. The coolest part of
the primetime 11 night run was when syndicated host Meredith Vieira
came out to ask Regis a question in the hot seat for charity. It was
very cool and a symbolic "passing of the torch".
Speaking of the
syndicated version, Meredith said the 9 "Ring of Fire" members who
didn’t get on when Ken Basin went for the million would be the first
contestants on the syndicated shows 8th season premiere. That was a
nice gesture. The new season brought a very desperate act called the
"Tournament of 10". The tournament works like this: Through November
6th, 10 contestants will be ranked on the basis of time banked and
money earned. Those 10 will compete to answer a "Million Dollar
Question". They can either a) walk with the money they earned or b)
answer the question. If they answer the question correctly, they are
not guaranteed to receive the $1M. They can be knocked out if a
higher ranked contestant answers the Million Dollar question as
well. This reeks of the "Million Dollar Mission" on Deal or No Deal.
It was a desperate move which didn't work on Deal, and I don’t
believe it will work here.
Finally we have a new money chain on Millionaire, courtesy of
$500 (formerly $100),
$1,000 (formerly $200),
$2,000 (formerly $300),
$3,000 (formerly $500),
$5,000 – “Safety Level” (formerly $1,000),
$7,500 (formerly $2,000),
$12,500 (formerly $8,000),
$15,000 (formerly $16,000),
$25,000 – “Safety Level”
Will the new money chain and the Tournament of Ten translate into
increased ratings? Only time will tell.
FAMILY FEUD is back
for it's 11th syndicated season. The Bullseye round returns for this
season and if the family wins 5 days in a row, they win a new car.
John O'Hurley is back for his 3rd Season.
DEAL OR NO DEAL is back for it's 2nd syndicated season. Howie Mandel
returns and the big news is the show has moved to Connecticut. A lot
of theme weeks are planned including WWE Week. Auditions for the
show this past summer were incredibly well attended as thousands of
people applied for the limited number of spots.
CATCH-21 and the NEWLYWED GAME are both coming back for new seasons
on GSN. The Newlywed Game's Carnie Wilson will be back for Season 2.
The show has relocated to Los Angeles in part due to Carnie's
daughter which was born this past June. The big news is that they
are casting for same-sex married couples. Also in their celebrity
matches they will have couples such as Christopher Knight and
Adrienne Curry, Glenn Cadrez and Brande Roderick, and George Takei
and his husband Brad Altman.
On Catch-21, Alfonso Ribeiro and Nikki Padilla return for Season 3.
Catch-21 also goes the celebrity route as Deal or No Deal Models,
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air cast members and former child stars compete
for charity. Will both shows let real people play as well? I hope
so, because both of these shows didn't need gimmicks to boost their
Finally CASH CAB won it's 2nd consecutive award for best Game Show
at the Daytime Emmys. It should be back for another season.
We have a couple of new kids on the block. ARE YOU SMARTER THAN A
5TH GRADER made its debut in syndication on September 21st and like
the syndicated version of Deal or No Deal, they have taken the
elements that work and stripped it down to the basics. The pacing is
faster and the show works in this half hour format. The rules are
this: Contestants can answer 10 questions from 1st to 5th grade and
earn up to $25,000. If they miss a question, they go down to 0
dollars. They have a choice at the end to keep their cash and "Drop
Out" or go and answer a question to multiply their winnings by 10.
If they lose they get $2,500 in a gift card. Jeff Foxworthy as host
is still very good. Class members have been pared down from 5 to 3.
The show has two problems. First, the show was not promoted at all
during the summer. and the show's web presence was not up until the
show debuted. Second, with a double run in syndication and episodes
on CMT and MyNetwork TV there is a possibility that the show might
run out of episodes too quickly.
On September 28th, BRAINSURGE debuts on Nickelodeon. This is the
first game show in years for Nick, and this Japanese import should
be a success combining mental and physical challenges.
The big debut happens on October 5th. An hour-long LET'S MAKE A DEAL
was greenlit this past summer after a successful pilot starring
Wayne Brady. The show, with Brady continuing on as host, started
taping September 15 at the Tropicana Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
This is a huge risk as it is taking the place of Guiding Light,
which left the air on September 18th.
Everyone was expecting it to be paired with Michael Davies's and
Sony's "The $1,000,000 Pyramid" but the pilot was not picked up by
CBS. Personally, I thought Davies got a raw deal.
The good thing Let's Make A Deal is that Brady is a good improv
person and his skills on "Don't Forget the Lyrics" will help him
navigate the show. And Monty Hall is onboard as a creative
consultant, so I don’t believe he will let the show deteriorate into
the 2003 Billy Bush debacle.
Block Party Quick
--Condolences go out to the families of Henry Gibson and Art
Ferrante who died this past week.
--Simon Cowell is rumored to be signing a rumored $50M/season for
two more years of American Idol and the contract may allow him to
bring the X Factor to the US.
--MTV will present "The Ruins", the newest incarnation of the Real
World/Road Rules Challenge on September 30th.
--Karina Smirnoff is the latest spokesmodel to go naked for PETA.
--Big news on the game show front: Bob Boden will be head of reality
and gameshow development for Hasbro Studios and the new channel
which is the combination of Hasbro/Discovery Communications. That
Channel will replace Discovery Kids in the fall of 2010. I predict a
ton of new game shows coming your way on that channel. And with
Boden at the helm, they will be good.
--Kara Dioguardi will be on the View October 15th.
--In my legal briefs, a judge on Friday threw out a wrongful
termination lawsuit filed by a former "The Price is Right" employee
named Barbara Curling against CBS and former host Bob Barker.
--Adam Shankman is now the third permanent judge on "So You Can
Think You Can Dance".
--Deal or No Deal gets a Japanese version.
--Ethan Zohn's cancer resurfaces. Get well soon, sir.
--Lakisha Jones is a new mom.
--Dancing with The Stars salutes the late Patrick Swayze.
--Betty White gets a Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG on January
23rd. She also will be on 30 Rock.
--The Singing Bee is Casting for Season 2 for a January 2010
Jason Block is on the Twitter. E-mail him at email@example.com.