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What I Watched Last Night

If there was a contest right now for Biggest Fucking Genius Of The Universe Ever, I believe I know who the undisputed champ would be. No, not Stephen Hawking. Jeez, even the clinically insane can come up with concepts not a single breathing human being could possibly grasp. Bert and Ernie could do it with crayons. No, the true BFGOTUE would, collectively, be the think tank at VH1 that came up with Tuesday night's The Surreal Life Fame Games: Welcome to Celebrity Island.

The genius here is not the game itself, but rather that VH1 has found yet another way to keep the same bunch of celebrity driftwood off the dole.

The flotsam and jetsam rounded up for this program include Traci "Traci Who?" Bingham; Sandra Denton (Pepa, as in Salt-N-Pepa); C.C. DeVille (former junkie guitarist for Poison); Rob "Vanilla Ice" Van Winkle; onetime porn star Ron Jeremy; former female wrestler Joanie "Chyna Doll" Laurer; Emmanuel "Webster" Lewis; Andrea "Andrea Who?" Lowell; Brigitte "Drunk and Disorderly" Nielsen (Red Sonja, Rocky IV, Flavor of Love), and Verne "Mini-Me" Troyer. Troyer became a last-minute substitute when onetime New Kid On The Block Jordan Knight stormed off the show after being struck by a bolt of lightning bolt bearing the gift of momentary intelligence.

The show is led by Robin Leach, whose own champagne dreams and caviar wishes dried up since he - or more accurately, that bellowing voice of his - found fame hosting Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous during the 1980s. Quite simply, if Joan Collins and Dynasty hadn't existed, neither would this guy. But he does, and now he's emceeing this show. Curiously, I found comfort in seeing that the ruffled shirt and powder blue tux and matching bow tie that I rented from Gingiss Formalwear for senior prom in 1978 has finally found a new home on Leach's bloated frame.

In this multi-challenge elimination game show, the ultimate winner wanders away with $100,000 to whatever car or cardboard box constitutes home these days. Until, of course, they find out the producers forgot to tell them the hundred grand is for charity. While the real challenge for these folks would be to find an agent that's worth a shit, the first exercise on Tuesday's episode was to try to get the most bystanders to ask to be photographed with them. If it hadn't occurred before to most of the driftwood that their overly-generous helping of 15 minutes expired long ago, it started sinking in now. Said DeVille, who was having such a hard time rounding up photos that he resorted to bribing the crowd with an offer to split half the $100,000: "I'm a big star in my head. In reality (pregnant pause) not so big."

The program is also impossibly bad - maybe even good? - enough to show just how low some celebs will reach for that point where even the tweakers and the inbreds on Cops demonstrate more self-respect and dignity. At that point, it's time to call mom and dad to see if your room's still available. Laurer, presented with the hard truth that her fame train is now just a dot on the horizon after having an even harder time than DeVille scrounging up photo ops, was reduced to a heap of tears after being announced the round's Big Loser Bottom Feeder. "It's a horrible feeling, actually," she blubbered. "I want my fame to mean something."

That's the thing. Their "fame" means nothing to anybody but them. At least Troyer, who appears short-fused even on a good day, realizes the show is what it is: just another easy way to pimp yourself for a quick buck now, while the getting is good. "I have no idea what I'm doing here," he commented.

Okay, I feel the overpowering urge to take a long, hot shower just writing about this show, so I'll leave it up to you to see the rest of the spectacle for yourself some other Tuesday night. At this point, the only thing I feel the obligation to mention is that this program is actually a *series,* and that upcoming exercises in self-humiliation include the driftwood seeing how many still-famous acquaintances they can still get to take their phone call.

And to think the Charlie in the Box thought he had problems on the Island of Misfit Toys . . .

* * *

Of course, some career Dumpster divers have managed, by virtue of VH1's Career Life Support Institute, to avoid the island. Folks like Erik Estrada, Bella Vista Village spokesman and is now on some new CBS reality show with other washups who allegedly become real cops and ride around allegedly fighting crime with real, allegedly actual cops. This is a program I'm afraid to watch. Very afraid. Also conspicuously absent from the island by virtue of their newfound successes were Adrianne Curry and her fair Brady.

All three are good candidates for next season, though.

Catch up with the What I Watched Last Night files.



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Posted on January 10, 2007


MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Don't Let Your Pet OD.


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