Tag Archives: Ryan Seacrest

American Idol – You Are Sooo Busted!

I have it! I’ve figured it out. It’s taken me nine seasons and many weeks of heavy thought, but I’ve suddenly realized how they fix American Idol. And now I feel just plain stupid for not hitting on the answer sooner. And ridiculous for wasting weeks of heavy thought on something so trivial. Still…

Some while ago, I posted my theory about why I believe the whole Idol elimination process is rigged to favor contestants that the producers think will sell the most albums once the season has wrapped up and all the mediocre performers have gone home and been forgotten about. Since then, consistently, week after week, that theory has held up. I made a prediction about which kid would leave, and sure enough, that kid left. It was flawless and dead-on.

Until this week.

This week Big Mike Lynche was sent packing. My pick had been Casey the Hair, who has minimal discernible talent, but great hair, a shaven chest, and tons of girlie appeal.

However, it was this apparent crack in my system that revealed the clue I’d been looking for. For a while I couldn’t work out how it was done. Now I’m more sure than ever that American Idol is rigged. Let me explain. Dim the lights. Here we go.

Ryan comes on at the start of the show and says how many fools wasted money this week on texting a vote, or repeat-dialing the show’s premium phone lines. This time it was a season high, 37 million.

Then we work down through the contestants one at a time over the course of an overpadded hour – an hour that could be reduced to four minutes; the rest is filler – whittling it away until we have our bottom three.

But then after that, there is no reference made during the show to who got the lowest number of votes, have you noticed? Something Seacrest fudges very handily by saying, “America voted and Big Mike is going home.” Or he’ll have two people standing there, as he did last night, and go, “After the nationwide vote, the person who’ll be in the final three is….Crystal Bowersox.”

See? No mention of Big Mike receiving the lowest number of votes. Why would there be? He didn’t, right?

In fact, now I come to think of it, it’s been like that on more than one occasion. “After the nationwide vote…” – not “…the person with the lowest number of votes…” So it looks like America gets to choose the bottom three, but if America acts like a dweeb and dumps the wrong person, the producers step in and pick the one they think should leave. I betcha I’m bang on the money with this.

My guess is that Casey the Hair tanked this week. But the tweens like him a lot and some of them may even buy his album, the one he records before he’s dropped by his label.

Of the four contestants left, Big Mike is the most generic, the least likely to endure as an artist and make money for the producers in coming years, and also the least likely to keep the girlie audience tuning in next week at a time when ratings are plummeting anyway. Bowersox and DeWyze are this season’s real talents. Big Mike is talented too, but squandered his advantage early on by not doing very much with anything and seeming kinda lame. That said, he was better all-round than Casey the Hair. No matter – Mike had to go.

And there you have it. Zero correlation between who got the lowest number of votes and who leaves. Furthermore, if the producers are challenged on this, they can throw up their hands in shock like a swooning coquette in a Victorian drama and claim, “But we never said Big Mike got the lowest number of votes, only that he was going home.”

Ta-daa. Am I right or am I right?

American Idol, you are sooo busted. Looks like it’s all about money. Selling albums, keeping sponsors, maintaining ratings. Ethics? Pah – not so much.

TV Swami – he feeling smug about this theory but extremely miffed at American Idol.

2 Comments

Filed under Television commentary

Paula Abdul versus the skunks. Allegedly.

The fuss over Paula Abdul returning to American Idol (or not) brings back so many tragic memories for me, not to say some bitterness that I work at controlling but can’t, about what total weasels TV people are and the terrible way they behave towards one another. Even now, a full three years after my own TV show ended, it still makes my skin crawl.

Paula AbdulAccording to Abdul’s agent, she’s “hurt and angry” that Fox is playing hardball with her salary, indulging in powerplays, and refusing to negotiate. As a result she may not be back on the show next season. 

I couldn’t hear what else he said because of all the cheering. Most people, as far as I can tell, are probably with Fox on this one, they don’t want her back.

Currently, Paula receives $2.5m per year, which, given what she does and what a laughing stock she is, seems fair enough. But she wants more. How much more is the cause of all the debate. Estimates says it’s as high as $20m, and that’s why Fox is balking. Though more realistically, it’s probably a lot less – around the $5m mark. And that, if true, is also why Fox is balking.

Paula Abdul is not worth $5m a year on American Idol. Anyone with a TiVo who fastforwards through everything she says each week will tell you that.

simon cowellStill, Simon Cowell and Ryan Seacrest, both of whom are sitting pretty with substantial pay increases of their own and shouldn’t really care, are backing her and saying they are confident she’ll return for the ninth season. Auditions are already under way, a decision has to come soon. It’s all very touch and go.

However, this rather tacky public stand-0ff reminds me once again what a shark tank the TV world is. Riddled and rife with dishonesty, needless game-playing, and shenanigans, it’s a parallel universe to our own. A place where nobody can ever be straight about anything. Where everybody feels compelled to lie all the time, even – and especially – when they don’t need to. Where people stab you in the back, not because there’s any call for it, but because they’re presented with an opportunity to do so and can’t resist. And where you can never get a direct, up-front, word-of-honor answer to any question you ask, in case the reply – a simple, helpful, uncontaminated yes or no – somehow comes back to bite the various parties in the butt at some later date.

It’s a ghastly industry. Fun, but ghastly.

In television, you encounter some of the shiftiest, slimiest, slipperyest, most spineless individuals you’re ever likely to come across. Unless, that is, you venture into politics or the movie business, where I hear they’re wall to wall.

Worse, TV executives are geniuses of shameless deception. They wear sharp suits and have great dental work and hair and friendly personalities, and they’ve mastered the art of seeming genuine and honest and caring when in fact, behind the bared smile, lies a calculating shark mind turning constantly, figuring out all conceivable consequences of what’s about to be said and ensuring that it works to their own advantage, not yours.

An example of their shiftiness would be something I call “the Hollywood No.”

A Hollywood No happens when a spineless TV executive wants to say no to your request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal, but doesn’t have the balls. So instead he says nothing. There’s no call-back, no reply to your email, no letter in the post. Nothing. Just an ominous silence, from which you are meant to deduce, after a period of time lasting days or weeks, that your request, inquiry, invitation or proposal was turned down. In other words, the burden is placed on you to mentally refuse it yourself. The spineless TV executive had nothing to do with it, his  hands are clean.

It’s playing David Copperfield with the truth, and it sucks.

Oh, and if the two of you meet again at some point – you and him; executive and…er…executed, I guess you’d be – convention says that both sides must pretend that the Hollywood No never happened. Do not dwell in the past, goes the rule. Even if the past was about ten minutes ago. Move on, overlook any perceived slights, and don’t bring it up ever again. The transgressor must be allowed to get away with his crime. That’s just how it is.

It’s certainly considered very bad protocol to shake the executive’s hand the next time you see him and say, “Hey, you douche, how come you didn’t reply to my request, inquiry, invitation, or proposal?” Breaking the code of silence around the Hollywood No and reminding people what double-crossing skunks they are to their face can actually cost you friendships, jobs, and, in some cases, whole TV series. Trust me, I know.

It isn’t only the Paula Abdul crisis that brought this back to me, by the way. It was being emailed by that TV producer the other day (see HERE).

Our interaction was brief. A couple of lines each way, that’s all. But I was struck even then by what a slippery eel the guy seemed to be. I’d ask him a question, he’d reply within minutes with a statement that bore no relation to what I’d asked. I’d make a statement; in return he’d ask a question, again totally unrelated. Ducking and weaving, dodging and dancing. All so devious, so icky. I don’t know him at all, but I thought I could feel the gooey oiliness of his yellow character oozing from the monitor like parasitical Jell-O. There was nothing straightforward about our ‘conversation’, nothing direct or honest, nothing a real – ie. non-TV – person could get a grip on or hold him to. A typical TV executive, in other words. I have no doubt he’s very successful.

So, as much as I personally don’t want Paula Abdul back on American Idol,  I sympathize with her plight and must necessarily take her side. If Fox executives are anything like their scheming, lying counterparts all across the rest of the industry – and since it’s Fox after all, how can they not be? – then they’re playing this for sport, torturing her because they can, filling her days with uncertainty, false starts and Hollywood Nos, merely because…well,  they’re TV executives and that’s what they do.

I hope she wins.  Go Paula.

TV Swami – he say NO to Fox. And possibly “Go to hell”, but he not sure yet.

 www.cashpeters.com

Read Cash’s book, Naked in Dangerous PlacesHERE.

Leave a comment

Filed under Television commentary

The vultures are circling again.

Ever seen a show called Bridezillas? Here in the U.S. it’s on the increasingly popular WE network, “The Network for Women.” Or, more specifically, “the network for women who’ll happily watch hours and hours of ancient reruns and bland, substandard crap without complaining.”

1_banner

Last night on the BBC we were discussing Bridezillas and I played clips.

It’s a reality show – an “unforgettable” one, apparently – about highly-strung and difficult brides-to-be and the men who, contrary to all the laws of common sense, are prepared to marry, and presumably later on, divorce them.

From what I hear, the series has become quite a phenomenon in the world of low-grade trashy entertainment, running for six seasons and attracting a massive 2.5 million viewers, even becoming the foundation for WE’s TV offshoot, The Wedding Channel, a new network devoted to everything marriage.  Ooh, just what we need.

The reason I bring this up is because the production company behind Bridezillas came sniffing around my heels recently, asking if I wanted to do more TV. Nothing official, just a quick email, a casual inquiry.

I almost took the bait too.

My lovely little travel show, Stranded with Cash Peters (someone has kindly uploaded a short clip of the Cambodia episode here) aired three years ago, which is a long time to be away from the public eye. And although it wasn’t a major hit, the people who did watch it loved it to bits. Not a week goes by when fans don’t write and ask what happened to it, when it’s going to be rerun, why episodes aren’t available on iTunes. (The answers are to be found in my new book, Naked in Dangerous Places).

Furthermore, it’s tempting, when you’ve been in TV for a while but aren’t currently, to feel immediately flattered by the attention of producers and eagerly grab anything you’re offered, just to be center stage again.

Yet I dither.

First, I am more than happy right now writing books (the new novel is a little firecracker; you’re going to love it, I promise), and hardly yearning for another stressful adventure any time soon.

Second of all, making Stranded put me in hospital three times and left me permanently scarred in all kinds of emotional and psychological ways, thanks largely to certain people at the production company, who were monsters.

And lastly, quality shows cost money to make. That’s why there’s so much abysmal trash on our screens right now and why viewers of any intelligence are being driven to abandon the box by the million each year and find something more entertaining to do with their time.

There are only limited amounts of talent and money to go around, that’s the problem, and these days a lot of non-talent and miniscule budgets are being funneled into shows targeting the Dimwit Demographic: undiscerning, uneducated, unthinking, unmotivated, undemanding, unconscionably low-octane minds; minds that find Spencer and Heidi Pratt (nee Montag) or Ant and Dec intriguing, who’ll watch any show that Ryan Seacrest is in or executive produces, and who believe that Transformers is high art.  High schools nowadays are basically factories mass-producing these kinds of people in their millions.

In other words, minds that can’t tell the difference between good and bad, quality and trash, or subtle hues and bright, gaudy colors. They don’t need expensive programming, extraordinary stories, good writing, hosts with personalities, material that challenges the intellect or raises the bar emotionally; it’s all a wash to them. Basically, if a series doesn’t have these basic elements: lots of noise, bright colors, people shouting, and dinosaurs – well, screw it, they’re grabbing the remote and returning to Bridezillas, which has all four in spades.

So there we are.  I’m not expecting to hear from the producer guy again, especially after I told him yesterday that, if I did succumb and do more TV, I’d prefer to make a quality travel show, a holistic health show, or a combination of both. That’s usually enough to send TV people running from the room with their hands over their ears, yelling, “Quality television – noooooooo! Aaaaaaaaaghghghgh!!!!”

Well, so be it. Until all the stars align in an appealing way, I’m in no rush. And if they never align again, that’s fine too.

I have a health book coming out in the fall, I’m mapping out a sequel to the novel (did I mention that it’s a real firecracker?), and I have to travel to Britain and Australia soon to promote Naked in Dangerous Places when it’s published there. So all in all, I’m doing okay.

Fame and celebrity can wait a little longer.

TV Swami – he say NO to Bridezillas.

www.cashpeters.com

Watch Cash’s little movie HERE.

Buy Cash’s breath-catchingly funny travel book here.

6 Comments

Filed under Television commentary