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February 10

You might've noticed (and if you did, thank you!) that there was no new column in this space last week. Quite honestly, I didn't realize I hadn't done one until Friday, when State of Play showed up on the main page of GSNN. Oops! Well, to make up for it, it appears this one's going to be pretty long. So let's get it on!

The Week That Was:

On "The Apprentice"... I don't think it came as a shock to anyone that, after walking off Task 2, that Verna would be the one to quit "The Apprentice" last week. The images of her walking aimlessly through the Jersey Shore community where the show had set up shop were nothing short of surreal. The images of Carolyn talking to her and getting no response, seemingly, were equally creepy.

Verna is, to be honest, the anti-Stacie J. and anti-Omarosa of Series 3. What I mean by this is that she was portrayed as kind of "out there," just like Stacie and Omarosa; but in a very different way.

It somewhat bothers me that folks like Verna, or Marlea Stroman from "American Idol," go for these reality show opportunities and then discover that it's not for them... thereby depriving someone else of an opportunity. I suppose if reality shows aren't exactly your life's work (ahem... Sue Hawk) then it's entirely possible that you don't know it's not for you until you've already gotten started. So with that said, I'm not knocking Verna, or Marlea, I'm just trying to reason out for myself, and for you, why they would start in on a process and then walk away from it. Both had good reasons in their own minds and hearts for leaving, and I have no problem with either deciding reality TV wasn't their priority.

Back to "The Apprentice." This season, so far, has got to be the best yet, in my opinion. Yes, the corporate pushing keeps getting worse and worse, but such is the new era of product placement on TV. And yeah, I had the BK Apprentice Burger (and it was good!)...and got in on the free coffee offer last week. But to have a Project Manager get in the boardroom and say, in essence, that "Yes, Mr. Trump, you should fire me," is just wild. And who knows what's going to happen this week.

But Danny was the right choice to go. Only Donald Trump decides when the rules should be bent. But the worst player right now is, by a mile, Michael. His statement that his decisions should've been implemented (not considered, but implemented) was over the line. Dude, you're not the project manager on the task... and there are seven other people on your TEAM. Get over it.

Michael's my pick to go this week.

On "American Idol"... I don't have a lot of thoughts on "Idol" this week. The one thing I will say is that I see why ratings traditionally have gone down during the Hollywood Cut shows. (Although this year they haven't yet... and FOX's "House" beat the "Amazing Race" finale Tuesday.) Very few people who weren't in the city auditions seemed to actually be shown, which considering these people were good enough to make the cut from 100,000 to less than 200... is a shame. But I'll give "Idol" credit... the story of Shunta Warthen, who got on the WRONG BUS for the auditions... was worth missing out on a few auditions for. I'm not sure if I've seen anything yet that tells me that someone is definitely the next American Idol (in other words, I'm not sure I've seen a Kelly or Clay or La Toya yet). There's still plenty of time though. I'm patient. But the fun won't begin until a week from Monday when the Final 24 begin competing. That also means you're just two columns away from seeing my rankings.

On "The Amazing Race"... What is it about this show that makes me dislike the winners almost every series? Maybe this time, it's because I can't get the yelling image of Freddy screaming " 'em in half," or Kendra's degrading of those less fortunate, out of my head. Even so, "The Amazing Race" is the best reality series on TV right now, and probably the second-best of all-time (behind the original "The Mole").

The contestants for TAR7 were formally announced today. Of course, we'd already heard that Rob and Ammmmbuh (Amber) from "Survivor: All-Stars" would be one of the racing couples -- oh yeah, their wedding is going to be televised too. Among the other teams, motivational speaker/former Iraq POW Ron & former Miss South Carolina Kelly would have to be the favorites. Older couple Meredith & Gretchen and mother/son team Susan & Patrick will be sentimental favorites. Viewers will have to watch for the "Team Guido" factor with Lynn & Alex... will they be as successful? Or as conniving? We're three weeks away from finding out.

Meanwhile, next week, Jonathan and Victoria (TAR6) head to Dr. Phil for a primetime special (not coincidentally in the TAR time slot). Jonathan has said he views Dr. Phil as "an interviewer" and neither he nor Victoria think they need any help. Denial is not a river in Egypt. And Dr. Phil won't be backing down. It's possible this could be better than their time on the race itself...if you can stand to watch them for another half an hour.

And CBS announced TAR8 and TAR9, which will each air next season (apparently no TAR in the summer this time, then). The eighth series will be a so-called "family series," with four-person family-related teams, which can contain kids as young as 12. This will be interesting to see how it goes over. This is one of the first times adults and kids have been combined on a reality show for an entire series. The ninth series will be a standard series, with the traditional two-person, related-anyway, teams.

Odds and Ends: I promised you a preview of the Jeopardy! Ultimate Tournament of Champions in this space. Fortunately, my colleagues here at GSNN are doing a much better job of that than I ever could. But let me say this: getting 145 past champions all together is huge. And knowing that we'll be seeing such past greats as Chuck Forrest, Tom Walsh, Brad Rutter, and Robin Carroll... plus many other recognizable names and faces I haven't even named here... makes this whole thing exciting to watch. And it doesn't hurt that I live in one of the first markets to see Jeopardy! each day.

Keep this in mind, too. If Rutter wins, he'll have more than $3.25 million in Jeopardy! winnings. If Ken Jennings wins, he'll have over $4.5 million. Even if Ken finishes *second* in the tourney (and he's guaranteed to finish no worse than third) he'll top $3 million. Astounding.

Non-Game Program You Should Be Watching: This week's NGPYSBW is "American Dad." It won't be on again until May, when it'll join related show "Family Guy" on the FOX schedule Sunday nights. But don't miss either of these shows when they return... they're worth your time.

The opinions expressed in InSites are those of the author only, and do not represent the opinions of any other person, organization, or entity.
Jason Elliott can be reached at


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