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Money Changes Everything - November 23

It's a common business practice.

Take a good idea... Tweak it around a bit... See if it works... If it does, sell it off... Profit...

Case in point, the aptly-named "Show Me the Money", which blends the dumb-luck-and-trick-casting of "Deal or No Deal", the creative questioning of "Sports on Tap", and the contrived dramatics of one former Captain Denny Hooker.

The premiere scored 12.39 million of Dancing with the Stars' viewers. The second episode, the time-period premiere, placed second in its time slot with 7.78 million opposite a movie on Fox, "Top Model" on the CW, "Jericho" on CBS, and Madonna on NBC.

For however train-wreckish "Show Me the Money" turned out to be, it's a practice that Dick de Rijk is following to the letter. And now, he arrives at that final stage. Sure we're all laughing at how much of a freakfest William Shatner can turn himself into given the chance (this is a man who has played caricatures of himself and has gotten rich off of it... dirty trickster), but as far as game show creators go, de Rijk and his horse-beating have generated him more money than I'll ever make in my lifetime.

And now comes the news that "Money", along with the far-more-deserving "1 vs. 100", is heading to Australia. 

And in a world where the only line anyone cares for is the bottom line, I say "More power to them." They saw something that, given its incredible "Man Show-lite" atmosphere, actually worked to a passable point. Yes, we jeered at the subtle hat-tip to previous de Rijk creation "Deal or No Deal" (beautiful women? Check. Canadian host? Check. Big check? Big check). Yes, I'll be the first to admit that, after seeing this and past attempts in "Iron Chef USA" and the film "Miss Congeniality", whoever said that Bill Shatner could host a game show should have his head - and possibly his urine - examined closely, but if you look past all of that, it's a game show setting out to entertain the masses, not bring about the Second Coming.

And for whatever reason, it's working. Of course, it could have something to do with a) that cushy 8p Wednesday time slot, and b) the fact that we're now in the holiday doldrums between November sweeps and that magic time of the year when a good half of the GSNN staff begins to vocally gush over who the next American Idol will be.

Which gives me hope over NBC's "December surprise", "Identity." After all, it sounds like a winning formula... an age-old premise amped up to 21st century standards, a host who doesn't really give a damn (read: one who doesn't have to be molded into a certain archetype of good/evil/insert- adjective-here), a big cash prize, and a slot on the TV calendar where not much, if anything, is going on.

Let's just hope that NBC doesn't screw the pooch with this one. I mean, we all want to brag about how NBC is the only network to have three game shows in primetime at once, all doing well ("Biggest Loser", which has been marred by one preemption after another, has seen better times, I'll be the first to admit). To make "Identity" anything more than what it is or what it could be would be nothing short of unforgivable.

Yeah, I know it sounds totally against my character here, preaching the benefits of a ripoff, but without sounds like I've completely sold out (which if memory serves I haven't), if it works, it works. Gather 12 angry men to argue otherwise, and you'd be a better person than I would be.

The Weekly Rant, or whatever you be thankful for this year, may you be blessed with double in the next.

As a rule, celebrities don't take game shows very seriously. After all, look at over 30 years worth of "Match Game". And then look at almost 40 years of "Hollywood Squares".

And then there's the past week of "Jeopardy!". First week of Celebrity Jeopardy!, we saw some matches that had their moments. As a fan of "How I Met Your Mother," I was rooting for Neil Patrick Harris' win. And as a fan of the Law & Order franchise, I loved the L&O vs. SVU vs. CI battle royale.

And then there was the infamous Gordon match between Paul Shaffer, Susan Lucci, and Scott Turow. Of the three, Scott was the only one who looked like he was there for a purpose. Paul and Susan... not so much.

And really why would they? After all, it's all in good fun, and it's all for charity. Well, if it were me in that position, I'd try and play my heart out.

Those who've known me since my college days around six years ago know that I was involved with the University of North Carolina's Dance Marathon to benefit the For the Kids Fund of the North Carolina Children's Hospital. To this day, I'm still a staunch supporter of the cause of making a child's stay in a hospital, something that can be a little scary, that easier to bear.

Before I get on my high horse, though, I want to talk about belief. Seems to me like the likes of Paul and Susan were all "Hey, I'm getting something for this charity just for showing up, so, you know, what the hell?" But if they were truly driven by a cause, they'd fight to the end for it, no matter what. Exception can be made for the Hon. Margaret Spellings, who, due to ethics regulations, was given a charity to play for arbitrarily.

Personal connection, at least I believe, gave Regis the edge in the first match. He was playing for his alma mater.

On the flipside, take something like "Celebrity Fit Club", where celebs were playing for personal betterment. They have more motivation than most people to do whatever they can, however small, to see to it that in the end, they're the last person standing. And even if they aren't, they at least want to push their bounds to the breaking point and beyond, not so much to see what they can do, but because in the end, they'll stand to benefit.

So there you go, one of many explanations why some celebs give their all, while others are only there for the free grub in the green room.

To answer your question, Mr. Big Shot, there's your motivation.

Have a belief this holiday? Find a cause you care for and share your money or time. E-mail Chico at chico@gameshownewsnet.com.

 

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