Friday, February 3

Coming soon to a TV near you

10 years ago, the only reality show most couch potatoes were familiar with was MTV's "The Real World." Today I can name a dozen off the top of my head without thinking, and the fire is only spreading.

according to Jam! Showbiz, a Canadian television Web site, four former Canadian prime ministers have agreed to take part in an upcoming reality show entitled, what else but, "The Next Great Prime Minister." The show will feature past leaders Kim Campbell, Brian Mulroney, John Turner and Joe Clark as judges for five promising politicians. The contestants will take part in activities that test their public speaking and debating abilities and the winner will receive an internship with an undisclosed Canadian public police firm. I get the whole "Apprentice" phenomenon...that cut throat, dog eat dog attitude, but these are potential prime ministers, how exciting can it get? "Excuse me, kind sir, but I respectfully disagree with your position." No wonder those Canadians have such a rep for being peaceful.

But wait, it gets even more exciting! Reality TV is such a hit that "funded by viewers like you"-network, PBS has decided to get in on the action. "The Wine Makers" takes the air in spring of 2007 and I really don't know if I can wait that long! They've got nerve torturing us by announcing it so far in advance. At least now I can make sure and clear my schedule before the big premiere. The series will follow six competitors as they learn about winemaking, marketing and sales in the hopes of creating their own label. Think "Project Runway" meets "The Apprentice." Set in Paso Robles and San Luis Obispo, Ca., "The Wine Makers" has refused applicants who are current employees of wineries or wine distributors. Unfortunately they have also turned away candidates under the age of 21. There goes their one chance at drama.

Reality TV will soon break another medium as well when America Online airs "Gold Rush" on their Web site. The show will only be available on the AOL site and is the product of famous reality producer Mark Burnett, the man responsible for such shows as "Survivor", "The Apprentice" and "The Restaurant." The man is clearly a genius. Gold Rush will be accessible between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and will track computer-savvy contestants as they follow clues found throughout the internet provider's service. Other sites like AIM.com, Moviefone.com and MapQuest.com have agreed to participate. So now, if prime time isn't good enough, we can watch reality "TV" on web casts during the day! I think I should be able to skip some classes for this one...I mean, it's homework, duh!

I'm really unsure as to how I feel about the next case, so let me know what all three or four of you out there think.

ABC is set to air "Miracle Workers," a show that will chronicle the stories of patients with brain or spinal tumors who are being offered the best medical care through the show. As quoted by Todayonline.com, President of ABC Entertainment Stephen McPherson said, "Even if the show gets no ratings, we help a lot of people. In a day and age of mean-spirited, bug-eating shows, we've done something good." In one way I guess I agree, but the medical treatments aren't guaranteed to work. What if a patient doesn't make it? The first episode will follow a three-year-old boy with scoliosis who faces possible paralysis. It is likely that the family signed on because they could not afford the expensive medical costs associated with rare and high-risk surgeries, but if the boy ends up being paralyzed anyway, does the family really want that reminder splattered on televisions across the country? And even worse, what about even more serious, life-threatening situations? There is an element of desperation in families with medical crises, that cannot be captured on tape.
...Is this exploitation? Would you watch?

So that's it for the shows to look for in the near future, but in the meantime pick up a copy of "Amber's Guide for Girls: Advice on Fame, Family, Fashion and More." Penned by "Survivor: All-Stars" grand-prize winner, Amber Mariano, the book is a response to the thousands of letters she has received from young girls and their parents, asking questi0ns and thanking her for being a good role model. The book came out last Wednesday and while it is hardly a behind-the-scenes look at reality TV, it's always nice to support one of our own.

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"You don't even know the difference between right and wrong anymore...it's just sad"