"A Million Dollar Game
of Jenga" - September 13
You can tell a lot from a competition from the opening
narration from its host/central figure/et al. Here's a
self-proclaimed average Joe, the owner of the Dallas
Mavericks and 5.7 billion pictures of George Washington,
name is Mark Cuban, and I'm a self-made billionaire.
I've taken secrets of my success and turned them into a
game. My game, like life, is unpredictable. The game is
a series of tests that will reveal qualities one needs
to be successful in life, to find out who is the most
creative, most competitive, a risk taker. I've invited
16 people to compete in my game. They know to expect the
unexpected. I am going to give the winner $1 million. I
am going to change someone's life forever. I am... the
Basically put, it's "Win
Mark Cuban's Money", the token "thinking man's reality
show" this year. Well, here goes. The call was made for
people all over America to form a diverse contingent of
people that some wouldn't really equate with being
successful. After all, with nerdy glasses before, no one
really expected Mark to be a success, right?
In the end, he found
sixteen people, whom he called himself to invite to
Dallas to play the game. You'll meet them all later.
Right now, he warns them that "the game starts the
minute you walk into the house" and to "expect the
You can't have a reality
competition without a sick pad. Well, you could, but
then you'd be Survivor and... well, we can't all be
Survivor. This mansion is outfitted with cameras and
mics around, but unlike that other house in LA, only one
person will be watching everything from the control room
-- Mark. His first three life lessors: 1) You don't get
a second chance to make a first impression, 2) Whatever
expectations you may set, you better be able to deliver,
and 3) You gotta be able to deal with pressure.
But back to the game.
You can't have a game without players, right? It's like
having a Philly steak without the steak... or the
Philly. Here they are, along with location, occupation,
fun fact, and strategy:
McAllen, TX; unemployed; National Watermelon Queen; to
Mario: Glendale, CA; career counselor; Mark says his
name like the voice actor who does Mario in the Gamecube
games; representing the 40-ish, balding,
wanting-to-adopt-a-child Hispanics of America
Grayson: Portland, OR; MBA student; competitive
poker player; would love to play poker with Mark
Rich: Alpharetta, GA; florist; a "Marine
Harley-riding florist"; keep your mouth shut - says that
it's going to be stupid, but not stupid, stupid. Mark
makes a note of it.
Laurel: Santa Monica, CA; marketing director;
wants to start a punk band; enthusiasm for trying new
Spencer: Atlanta; computer programmer; has a high
opinion of himself; do whatever he needs to do (read:
kiss a lot of ass)
Kathy: Rochester, NY; medical student; hopes not
to be eliminated in the first round; avoiding lying and
manipulation - Spencer STILL doesn't greet.
Kevin: Dallas; nanny; wins award for
shortest-distance traveled; when push comes to shove,
"what would Oprah do?"
Shawn: Hemet, CA; 2nd grade teacher; either you
like her or you hate her; be adorable
Dominic: Las Vegas; waiter/model; coolest
feature: hair; rely on good looks
William: Portland, OR; histologist; loud,
obnoxious, AND annoying; try not to be those three
Christine: Boise, ID; project coordinator;
doesn't want to be the beauty pageant type; always
willing to take risks
Linda: North Hampton, NH; pro football player;
has a pierced tongue; will play dirty if given the
chance - anyone buy tickets to the gun show?
Latane (pronounced LAT-a-nee): San Diego; owner,
sports & social club; starts his own company; takes
Femia: Las Vegas; disease interventionist;
youngest of the group; has the total package
Chris: Atlanta; sales/marketing director; adopted
at 6 weeks; determined
Mario breaks out the
"goodies" as Mark puts it, as Kathy's wondering where
they came from. This leads into politics as Mark takes
his "anything goes" persona into the space for the first
time. He explains the game one more time. Remember when
he said that the game began from the moment you walk in
the door? Remember further when he said you don't get a
second chance to make a first impression? Remember
"expect the unexpected?"
Mario will remember. He
got water and snacks for everyone without being asked.
Never mind the fact that this isn't even his house. He
took a chance. "I like that." He stays. Dominic
will remember. He slipped politics into hair products
conversation. Unbelievable risk. "I like that, too." HE
stays. Rich will remember. He called Mark's game
"stupid". Mark doesn't like that. He's the first one out
before the second commercial break. Mark's message: "The
game is on, 24-by-7. You either play or you're toast."
Like Mario says, you're definitely going to have to be
on your best behavior when you're in Casa de Cuban.
But now that Mark has an
initial feelabout, he's going for what's in the mind as
we go to one-on-ones, and based on that, Mark will make
two more cuts. And everyone's volunteering to go first.
The interviews - this
week's life lesson #2. Latane wants to dare to be great
despite his failures, and already, we're seeing that
Mark is taking this seriously... but not too seriously.
Kinda like myself. I like that. Dominic says he's a rock
star "to a point". Shawn wants a kite for her "kids".
Tiffaney believes that everything is "all in God's
timing". Spencer thinks he's a big-time risk taker, and
he's citing the .com-boom as a risk he didn't take.
Laurel (who played Lady Godiva on her audition tape)
wants to play "Back in Black" on her electric guitar.
Linda wants to spend the money to help her mom who lost
both of her legs (true? Don't know yet). William thinks
he can earn a million dollars himself. Grayson hopes to
translate poker into strategy in this game.
We'd like to show you
more, but it's an hour show, so we're going to the next
two cuts. Lots of pressure abound, as Mark notes that
some people weren't who they said they were and that
that was "disappointing." Laurel didn't deliver her
energy (you know, like when she was running around naked
in her tape?)... and that costs her, as she loses her
shot at a million dollars. If you're going to play some
guitar, play some guitar.
One more cut tonight, as
everyone's on pins and needles. Mark retires to make his
final cut, as he narrows it to two: William, the
annoying guy who says that he could be with Mark Cuban,
or Grayson, the poker face who was anything but ready to
ante up. He wants to see what these two people will do
when it's down to the wire, so what better way to bring
out the pressure-induced animal instincts of two people
who are so close to the edge that it's almost nuts, than
to bring out the scourge of party games the world
Jenga. One round, one
fall, winner stays, loser pays. This would be this
week's life lesson #3, dealing with the unexpected, and
dealing with the pressure of the unexpected. You know
how to play: steady hand takes a piece from the tower,
moves it to the top. Let's play *starts chanting "Jenga,
Jenga, Jenga, Jenga..."* Pretty much everyone is rooting
for Grayson at this point, but will her poker face get
in the way of business? Or will William's cockiness be
-- quite literally -- his downfall?
Nope. Tower falls.
Grayson touched it last, so she's out. She regrets
taking it all in at once and not letting Mark see what
she had to offer. Her and the other two that were
eliminated. But still, to have your fate riding on a
game of Jenga... That's pressure.
And you thought this was
going to be this hard? With a one-in-13 shot at a
million... "This was the easy day!" And this was also
the day that with lines such as "Sixteen people, eight
men, eight women, one Hispanic" and "They are a good
looking group of people. While I'm on the show, I'm
going to be good looking. I'm going to be good looking
by comparison", Mario has emerged as this series'
character. Next week, more tests, more lessons, less
Hey, where're you going?
Did I tell you you could go over to the Amazing Race
page? Okay... NOW you can go over to the Amazing Race
page. Heh. I'm going to love this series. And I hope you
do too. It's definitely worth loving.
Closing random note:
It's a show from British producer 12-yard, who also do
"Without Prejudice", which would explain the whole