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Audience Participation
Gordon Pepper

This isn’t the first time that Chico and I have collaborated on a thought or a project. This is, however, the first time that we have a pre- and post- essay write-up on the same topic. We both thought that the act of TLC changing their project in midstream was important enough, yet stupefying enough to spend a lot of time on it. We spend a whole segment on it in WLTI and even added the Big Board to discuss it.

To make a long story short, TLC, in promoting their new reality contest ‘RU the Girl with T-Boz & Chilli’, has promised the winner the opportunity to join them on ‘the next phase’ of their career. This next phase would be with just the T and the C, as the L (Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes) was killed in a tragic accident in 2002. It was originally thought of and planned, according to many publications, that the ‘next phase’ would be a tour and a new album, but it turns out now that the ‘next phase’ is going to be a one time live concert and a possible single released by the three of them. There is no doubt in my mind that a massive backlash of the audience and TLC’s followers were the cause of this ‘changing of the phase’. I happen to agree with that – I liked them since ‘Ain’t Too Proud To Beg’ and the thought of them Calling themselves TLC without the L is C for Crazy and T for Terrible. You can check out Chico’s commentary (which I whole-heartedly agree with) HERE.

This isn’t the first time that a backlash has changed a show’s procedure. Just this week, Dancing With The Stars announced a change in their format, as many people (myself included) thought that the way that Kelly Monaco won the event was not very kosher. The changing of a show’s procedure has happened more than one time on American Idol, where they have had rebroadcasts, weeks of non-eliminations, revotes, additional phone lines and changes on how contestants should be eliminated due to the fears of the audience turning against them. The changes have been, for the most part, successful – Idol is still a huge American juggernaut. I’ll say this much about the American Idol producers – they aren’t stupid.

Neither is the audience. When you break it down into the basest terms, the audience has always had a say as to what’s going on in the form of ratings. With shows like Under One Roof, Playing it Straight, My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss, All-American Girl, Forever Eden and The Will, the audience has dictated that these shows leave the non-cable network’s airwaves before we even find out who won. The audience knows bad ideas when they hear them. Even this past week, we are getting spin from ABC that Welcome to the Neighborhood will never see the light of day because of the way that the episodes were laid out, and not due to the incredible backlash from audience and consumer groups alike. I don’t buy it for a second, and the fact of the matter is that the last thing that ABC (who only recently spent the season digging out of the ratings abyss that they were in) wanted was a reason for people to hurl them back into the abyss.

Let’s go back to R U the Girl. What makes this more interesting is that these quotes have come in early June – well after the taped show was in the can. If the point of the show was indeed, to only perform live with TLC and to not go on tour, then there won’t be much editing needed and the show should appear smoothly. If there’s a lot of sound editing and choppiness from TLC or the contestants (or if the editors just got lazy and left the potential rewards in there that TLC insist weren’t being offered), then we know that something is up.

That being said, I am never one to condemn a show without actually looking at it. This segment of the write up was written before I have seen the show. I will now write the rest of this after I have seen the show and will give you my honest comments on it.

(24 hours or so later....)

Well, this is interesting. Technically, the show is correct. The prize is, ‘to have this person join them in the next phase of their journey’. The question becomes, what is alluded to by 'the journey'? It could be that it’s just the concert and a new single, which will be on the new record. It could also be that the group wasted to take a ‘Wait and See’ view on how good the people are. After one episode (and in my hometown of NYC, nonetheless) the response is that if you are looking for a worldwide tour and a multi-platinum album…well…don’t hold your breath.

The question becomes - how are you seeing the glass? If you are a non-jaded person, then it’s half-full and TLC is really doing this to thank their fans and give one person a chance to live out their dream. If you are jaded (like myself), then the answer is that the glass is half-empty and this is a shameless way for the surviving members of TLC to milk out more money while having a chance to back-peddle if the audience’s feedback and subsequent ratings turn ugly. How do you see it? I guess we’ll find out on Wednesday, when everyone takes their glass for a refill.

Gordon Pepper wanted to start a group called GCR with Chico and Ryan, but the name sounded more like a cleaning product. E-mail him at


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