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Crossing the Line
February 26

Blame it on the strike. Blame it on decreasing viewers. Blame it on the fact that people tend to respond to shock more than anything, but there seems to be a disturbing trend this week.

We'll start with the obvious specimen, Monday's special episode of "The Moment of Truth". A little background noise is in order. 26-year-old Lauren Cleri from New York is married to one of New York's finest. Over the course of the hour, we learn, within a less than 90 percent degree of accuracy, that she once stole from her employer, that she thinks her parents are proud of her, and that she would act as a surrogate parent for her sister.

Aside from the whole stealing thing, it's right nice of her, but hardly the angle Fox was holding out for. We also learn, to within a less than 90 percent degree of accuracy and thanks to a surprise guest questioner, her ex-boyfriend, that she would rather be married to him than the cop she eventually married... AND that she had the relations outside of marriage. She kind of looks like and comes across as the kind of person that would, but that's besides the point.

The rest of the story can be better described by my friend Jason Elliott, the great-grandfather of this very site, who dropped us a line with a blog entry...

"So I have just finished watching what is possibly the single-trashiest hour of primetime TV in American history. On a 'special edition' of FOX's 'Moment of Truth,' either two people were saved from a marriage that never should have been — or a marriage that should have been was destroyed. I'm not sure which. All I know is that millions of Americans now know that Lauren Cleri cheated on her husband and wishes she had married her ex-boyfriend instead of her husband. Healthy to admit? Sure. Healthy to admit on national television for prize money? No way. Never.  The ultimate irony…the contestant lost everything by giving what the lie detector determined was the lying answer to 'Do you think you're a good person?'

It kind of strikes me as to the character of this lady that she would air this sort of thing out on television just for something as trivial as money. After all, what does it profit her to gain $500,000 at the price of her... uhh... You know what? Never mind. Any person who would air out this sort of thing, then prove to both the nation and herself that she really isn't a good person after all (that answer is... FALSE) deserves exactly what she gets.

But perhaps the biggest judgment isn't reserved for Lauren, who probably got a lot of earfuls on the road to this show that was, no doubt, paved with good intentions. Jason continues...

"But my message today isn't about the fact that the television game show (one of my favorite things on Earth) has been reduced to this crap; my message is to the host of the show, Mark L. Walberg. Mark: if the things you said during tonight's show are true — that you felt the questions you were given to ask crossed the line; and that you believe the show should have never aired — then I want to see a headline on the internet tomorrow that you have stepped down as host of this show. Moreover, if you do not step down as host of 'Moment of Truth,' then it is my opinion that Debmar-Mercury should excuse you from being host of the upcoming game show 'Trivial Pursuit,' for which you have already been named host.

"Mark, stand up for your convictions. If you think you're being associated with something over the line or unfit to air, you're probably right. Save your reputation as an excellent game show host — while you still can.

You know, Kant once said that human beings are born with an innate sense of right and wrong. And though Mark Walberg said that he fought tooth and nail to keep this show from airing (theoretically, no good would've come from it, since Lauren came away with nothing and may have lost something in the process), it did end up airing, even with a few affidavits thrown in for saving face. But were they truly from the gameshow heart or were they lip service aimed to distance himself from the trainwreck that ensued?

This from CinemaBlend out of the horse's mouth...

"I don't have any problem of the fairness aspect of it. I have a problem with her judgment of then choosing to do it." Walberg went on to say, "I know people are going to think I was BS-ing but the truth is, I was begging her to stop."

Well, if you had a problem, then you should've had some follow through. We already know that she's a certified gold-digger, willing to air out her grievances for even the chance at cash money that she'll never see.

But who's the bigger whore?

In a crazy coincidence, CBS decided that two people on the verge of sickness would also make for good television in an effort to shore up some numbers for the somewhat laggard winter edition of "Big Brother". The instance aired as part of the online live feed. If you have it, you've seen it. If not, you will tonight. CBS has been shoring it up in preparation.

From the New York Daily News...

"Two contestants on CBS' controversial reality show "Big Brother: 'Til Death Do You Part" were rushed to the hospital for unrelated illnesses after being served "slop" by the show.

"Amanda Hansen, who is hypoglycemic, was seen complaining to housemate Natalie Cunial that she wasn't feeling well. She then fell facedown.

"Housemates scrambled for help while Hansen went into seizures. At the same time, off camera, housemate Allison Nichols, was suffering a severe allergic reaction to something she ate - causing her lips to swell.

"Hansen, 23, and Nichols, 28, had been on a diet of "slop" - a food mixture that supposedly is packed with nutrients. Members of the losing team in a weekly challenge are forced to eat the mixture.

""My throat completely closed. I had an allergic reaction," Nichols said when she returned. The two were treated on the scene by paramedics and then rushed to a Los Angeles hospital. "

First of all, props to medical for their quick thinking and assistance. They surely bought the two some time for their life-threatening maladies, and they do not get the attention they deserve.

Now those that know me know that I'm a certified healthcare professional. Information about medical issues is highly regulated and protected under Title II of the HIPAA act (fines, fines, fines), but it seems that there should have been some medical checkup. But then again, there are those pesky background checks that only go as far as the front door of your house (a far cry from the skeletons in your closet, I know).

This sort of thing just reeks of another round of irresponsibility on the part of the producers, who already come across as having thrown this whole roughshod farce of a season together at the last second in response to the strike. Well guess what, kiddies. Strike's over. Time to get back to what matters.

But all in all, it's not just about quality... it's about a line. A line that separates hedonistic voyeurism as entertainment and shock for shock's sake. Cross it... and there's no going back.

Game Show Alphabet

Well... Here we are... the grand and glorious end. Though it's hard to find a title that begins with "Z". The only thing I could find was Animal Planet's "Zooventure", a kid's game hosted by JD Roth, where the prize was the honor of being San Diego Zookeeper for a day. And even with that, you have to discount the fact that the show's official title is still "Animal Planet Zooventure."

The show launched in 1997 and ended after two seasons.


We'll run down the entire alphabet next week. In the meantime, drop me an e-mail if you think that there is a show that Jason and I might have missed.

25 Days that Rocked the Game Show World: Day 11

So far as the old guard, Bill Cullen was in a class by himself, having entertained game show fans for three generations, from the 1950s to the 1980s and, thanks to the wonders of reruns, beyond. The genre we come to know and love was never the same without him on...

July 7, 1990 - Bill Cullen Dies

I could go on to list the many accomplishments of this famed impresario, not to mention the many honors and legacies he left in his wake, but we'd be here all day.

That hasn't stopped my good friend Matt Ottinger from trying, though. Take a gander at his be-all end-all tribute site:

Chico Alexander tells the truth when he says that he'd love to hear from you. E-mail him at