Live From 5 Minutes Ago

Saturday, January 10, 2004

I was watching the premiere of The Apprentice on my TiVo this morning. Pretty darn entertaining urban "Survivor" clone. The biggest problem is host/overlord Donald Trump. Segments with him flying around in his helicopter "monitoring" the teams are clearly inserted after the fact and it feels (unlike a "good" reality host, like, say, Jeff Probst) like he's reading off a cue card whenever he says something. Given that the whole appeal of these types of shows is their allegedly "realistic" and "free-wheeling" nature, that's a bad thing. His "eyes and ears" don't even appear during the challenges, so it's not clear how Trump knows what he needs to know to make his decision. (The disclaimer at the end of the show indicates: "Producers and NBC may have consulted with Donald Trump and his advisors regarding the choices and decisions, however all elimination decisions are made solely by Donald Trump.") The "eligibility for firing" system works fairly well, even while eliminating the vote--the team-elected "project manager" as well as two other people of his/her choice are up for elimination. It's particularly cruel that the eliminated player doesn't even get a chance to talk to his former teammates before leaving.

Of course, the other allure--people acting like idiots on national TV remains unabated--witness the guy who spends 20 minutes trying to sell a glass of lemonade to a customer for $1,000 saying "If you buy this, you'll experience the American dream!," the folks who spend half the day wandering around trying to find Rockefeller Center, and the folks who decide to sell not in Washington Square Park (a hub for pedestrian traffic), but in a less busy square two blocks away. I'm no business expert, but I could have used my NY knowledge to sell more.

The downside: The contestant with whom I most identified, "Medical Venture Capitalist" David (who's almost a dead ringer for Queer Eye's Ted Allen) wound up being eliminated in the first episode. Obviously, I'm not the paradigmatic reality viewer (I'm considerably more highly educated). Instead, the "audience identification" figure is Sam, who I found to be a boorish dumbass overly convinced of his own victory. Of course, knocking him a few spots down the totem pole later in the game may be a sweeter revenge still.

A suggestion--for "The Apprentice 2," a few changes:

1. Not everyone should be an "entrepreneur." Toss in folks from all walks of life. And while you're at it, does everyone have to be so young and so attractive? You would think Mark Burnett, producer of "Survivor," would know this given that many of the most indelible characters from that series (Sue Hawk, Rich Hatch, Rudy Bosch, and Rupert Boneham) have been neither of the two.

2. Change the host/overlord. Trump is a series of catchphrases and baggage and can't host. Obviously, you want a big name to be the central figure of the show. What I might suggest for the next one would be an entertainment overlord. Some of the great choices (Michael Eisner, Bob/Harvey Weinstein) might not be open to them because of Disney's ownership of ABC. But how about David Geffen, Mike Ovitz, or another similar figure? Could be a lot more fun.

3. Tone down the infomercial-ness. It often feels like an hour product placement for the Trump organization, and frankly, who wants to watch THAT?

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Only the IA may get this, but I was just reviewing some patent documents and noticed that in their abbreviations, they had the quote mark pointing the wrong way. Sadly, the blogger doesn't permit me the use of smart quotes, so I can't show you, but I felt superior for a moment and then was reminded that I'm still at the office at this hour.

A couple of interesting notes from that list I neglected to link to earlier this morning.

1. Apparently WB submitted only "Matrix Revolutions" for Oscar consideration. Shame, since "Reloaded" was a better movie.

2. My quick count shows I've seen 66 of the eligible films. I'll probably add a few more eventually. Some, I missed without a good excuse ("Bend It Like Beckham," "Better Luck Tomorrow," "The Good Thief.") There are a few more, namely, "Cold Mountain," "The Cooler," "House of Sand and Fog," "In America," and "Monster," that I'll see in the next few weeks.

You want high quality fun? How many of the 254 films eligible for Oscars this year have you seen? Of course, some aren't real contenders--"Agent Cody Banks" for best picture! Lisa Kudrow in "Marci X" for best actress! For special points, any commenter who can name either the letter of the list where I've seen NONE of the movies or the letter of the list where I've seen ALL of the movies gets my congratulations.

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