Arming TV celebrities raises concerns
I can certainly see how this would be embarrassing to the residents of Muncie. How would you feel if this happened in your town? :shrug
By Belinda Goldsmith Thu Jan 11, 9:09 AM ET
NEW YORK. Jan 11 (Reuters Life!) - Get some B-list celebrities, give them guns, and put them into a midwest U.S. town as police officers and what do you get? A panning by critics and a town worried about its reputation.
A new U.S. reality TV show on CBS, "Armed & Famous," groups singer La Toya Jackson, wrestling star Trish Stratus, MTV's Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne, "Jackass" actor Jason "Wee Man" Acuna, and actor Erik Estrada, who made his name as a cop on the CHiPs TV series.
The five train for three weeks to become real police officers in Muncie, Indiana, a town of about 70,000 people that is considered a typical middle-America community, a factory town suffering in the wake of plant closures and layoffs.
TV critics have panned the series hatched by Muncie-born TV producer Mike Braverman that starts this week as having little action, interest, or reason.
"Keep moving folks. Not much to see here," concluded New York Daily News critic David Hinckley.
"Maybe they should have called it "Armed & Stupid," wrote New York Post critic Linda Stasi.
She said the only fun part of the series was to see each of the stars react when hit with a 50,000 volt Taser stungun which apparently is mandatory before being allowed to carry one.
But while the crew flew in and out of town, the controversy it has stirred in Muncie looks set to run for longer with some concerned the reality TV show has overstepped the mark and become too real.
Many Muncie residents see the show as an embarrassment to the town and some local "stars" of the show, arrested by the celebrity squad, are finding the attention does not end with the show.
"Here we go. Muncie can be the laughing stock of the country just like we thought it would," said one posting on Web site of the local newspaper, TheStarPress.com.
"The current city leaders have prostituted the name of what was once known as "Middletown America" for fleeting fame and little profit," said another. "Shame on you Muncie!"
The "star" of the first episode, a 57-year-old widow and self-confessed video poker addict filmed on a drug-related arrest, comes under fire from other Muncie residents.
Criticized from all quarters, she told local reporters that she regretted signing a waiver to agree to appear on film.
Gail Koch, a reporter at The Star Press newspaper who has run a blog on the show, said the show had caused a real buzz in the town, with some people fiercely opposed to the project but others resigned to the fact it was going ahead.
"People are concerned about how Muncie looks but the first episode could have been worse," said Koch.
A CBS spokesman said the criticisms appeared to be a few isolated opinions.
"Overall we think our experiences with the people of Muncie have been positive," he said.