Welcome, Muggles! This week we enter the world of Headmaster Trumpledore and his apprentices, who are proving to be more like Squibs than true wizards…but first things first, we have some business to wrap up from the previous week. After former baseball great Darryl Strawberry worms his way out of the competition – and for all the skeevy details on that, check out my trumpilicious partner lildago’s recap of last week’s epi - Trumpledore calls the Tenacity women back to the boardroom and demands that both teams choose a project manager, post-haste. Faster than a trip by Floo Powder, track star Michael Johnson nominates former governor Rod Blagojevich for men’s team Rock Solid, while Victoria’s Secret model Selita Ebanks steps up for the women. Before Selita can finish patting herself on the back for volunteering, she & You-Know-Who’s-An-Impeached-Governor are told that they are being separated from their teams and being flown out by private jet to a location related to the new task. The men vow not to lose again, and let’s just hope they’re a little more successful than the Order of the Phoenix was against the Death Eaters. Now, I’m not actually saying Sharon Osbourne is related to Bellatrix, but there has to be something a little evil & a lot wonky about a woman who marries a dove-chomping rock star who was in a band called Black Sabbath.
Selita Ebanks and the Governor’s Stones
A Trumpledore limo picks up Selita & Blago before daybreak to take them to the airport. The ride gives Blago time to subtly undermine Selita with comments about how she has to prove herself as a girl who can do more than look good in feathery angel wings and overpriced lingerie. Selita smiles tightly and sits as close to the limo doors as possible, taking the same position once on board the swanky jet. Trumpledore appears on the inflight HDTV screen to describe the new task – the PMs are on their way to the Universal Orlando Resort, where they are going to view the upcoming new attraction, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”. The PMs are to gather information on the attraction, then the teams are to create and present a 3D interactive display that will “pique the interest” of a focus group of young Harry Potter fans. The kids will choose their favorite display, and the winning PM will receive $20,000 for their charity. And no cell phone calls or dispatches by owl to the teams until landing.
Rod Blagojevich and the Chamber of Technology
It’s so easy to ignore Summer Sanders, even if she was the winning PM last week – but it’s only fair to mention that she gets her 2 minutes of personal screen time to present a cheque for $20K to her charity, Right To Play, which brings “sports and play” to kids in war-torn countries. Cute kids run around playing soccer and some guy does a really bad job of acting surprised when Summer hands over the cheque.
Wacky Cyndi Lauper starts the fun off at Tenacity by whipping out a dry-erase board – like a magic mirror, this will help the team communicate tasks. Holly Robinson Peete, the most muggle-y of all Muggles, is disdainful and dismissive of Cyndi’s, uh, innovation, and a sniping match ensues. Cyndi, who is surely a long-lost relative of Luna Lovegood, indignantly cries, “I’m not a songstress!” and points out that she has been involved in creating artwork for album covers and video direction, whereas Holly is, well, nobody. Sharon chuckles that this whole experience would be pretty boring without Cyndi, to which I say – Sharon, just wait until Trumpledore mixes up the teams and you get saddled with Cyndi AND Bret.
At Rock Solid, star British chef Curtis “No, I am NOT Jamie Oliver, we just have the same hairdresser” Stone is already expressing concern about PM Blago’s inability to use any form of modern technology. Apparently Blago, as governor, relied on his minions to do everything that didn’t involve shaking hands and selling senate seats, and is therefore unable to operate a computer and use his cellphone for anything except actually dialing numbers and speaking. Curtis leaves a smartass message on Blago’s voicemail – assuming he knows how to access his voicemail – and wrestler Goldberg suggests they communicate by homing pigeon. Ridiculous, since owls are far more efficient than pigeons.
While Blago puzzles over the on/off switch on his laptop, Selita is busy brainstorming ideas for her team’s display. She snaps pics of her drawings and upon landing in Orlando, is quickly on the phone to her teammates to explain the task and send over the photos of her 3D vision. Blago, who may not be tech-savvy but has good instincts when it comes to passing the buck, puts rocker Bret Michaels in charge of the entire task after giving his team a sketchy description of what’s required. Blago is confident Bret has the creativity and vision (and extra-sensory perception, seeing as how Bret’s in New York) to carry it off.
Bret Michaels (is) the Prisoner of An Unimaginative Team
Selita & Blago, forced to bond while being in each other’s constant company, wax philosophical on success while Selita emails her drawings to her team and Rod laments his ineptitude with the new technology but professes his admiration of it as efficient means of communication. I’m betting the Gov still can’t program his VCR, either. The two PMs arrive at Universal Orlando and are ushered into the beginning stages of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which includes a life-size replica of Hagrid’s hut – the coolness of which is totally lost on the politician and the lingerie model, sigh – and a swag-laden “display room” with a scale model of the Harry Potter world to be. This all looks to be even more awesome than The Simpsons attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood and personally, I’m already planning my next family vacay. Selita gets busy snapping pics of the displays and both PMs snap up all the free merch they can carry for their respective projects.
Back in the big apple, as nominal head of the task, Gilderoy Lockhart - er, Bret Michaels – is using what Curtis calls a “unique way of articulating himself” to describe his vision for the task. Bret wants to do a spooky haunted-house type interior of a castle, Hogwarts-style. It doesn’t sound that confusing but Michael doesn’t get it. Can it be possible that NONE of the people involved in this show has read even one of the jillion or so books that JK Rowling sold? More brainstorming is going on over at Tenacity, but wrestling diva Maria Kanellis complains in confessional that there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. The women are in good shape in comparison to the chaos at Rock Solid – Bret is talking at a speed that makes me think someone slipped a little something in his pumpkin juice and Michael is dithering over the little time available, saying that this is a project that requires three weeks, not one day. Ah, but perhaps Trumpledore is expecting a little wizarding magic from his teams. Blago calls in and lets Bret know that he’s turning the reins over to Bret’s creative genius (that’s the genius that brought you the likes of “Talk Dirty To Me”, folks) and Michael, who’s whinier than Hermione Granger after getting a bad grade in Potions class, complains that the team is getting no guidance from PM Blago.
Bret Michaels and the Goblet of Desire
The PMs wing their way back to home base, with Selita busily tapping away on her laptop while Blago naps out. Meanwhile, Deputy Headmaster George
SlughornRoss pays a visit to Tenacity where he is greeted by a phlegm-hacking Sharon. George feels the team’s design is “bold” and is impressed by the calm, collected atmosphere. Meanwhile, at Rock Solid CNBC hottie Erin Burnett is Nymphadora Tonks to Bret’s inner werewolf. Bret, who’s obviously seen Erin’s Maxim cover, fawns over her while explaining his 3D vision. Curtis is oblivious to Erin’s charms, being more interested in slagging Blago and his lack of leadership. Bret – who gets a little dumber in the presence of any halfway-decent looking woman, which is kind of endearing – admits that his head is on the chopping block if the team fails.
Tenacity’s “wand shop” design, with a dragon’s mouth opening, is coming together nicely. Maria is a little worried about the team making decisions without Selita’s approval. Upon her return, Selita nitpicks a few details but overall, the team is overjoyed to have her back in the fold. At Rock Solid, Bret is excited but nervous in anticipation of Blago’s reaction to his ideas and hopes the gov “gets it”. Curtis is cynical about Blago’s abdication of responsibility to Bret, saying Bret was put on the spot deliberately so Blago would have someone to blame if the team loses. RS is hard at work when Rod appears, and Bret is as enthusiastic as a Slytherin kid who’s just put a hex on the star Quidditch player over at Griffyndor. Blago is happy with his long-haired protιgι, but then comes upon Curtis and Michael, who are busy chowing down on plates of ribs with sides of Butterbeer.
Rock Solid and the Order of the F***ing Presentation
The Harry Potter geeks will be needing an intro to the Wizarding World displays, so the teams get busy writing presentations. Well, Tenacity gets busy – Blago wants Rock Solid to go improv. Which might be okay if any of the boys knew anything about Harry Potter, but I’m guessing that even after completing this task, they wouldn’t get even half of the references in this recap. The scramble for ad-lib tidbits is going on even on the morning of the task, with Bret busting out a Brit accent so bad I’m taking ten points from Rock Solid. He does, however, profess to have an idea “in (his) noggin” of the presentation. Curtis and Michael are dispatched to some random shop in Diagon Alley to pick up props for the display. They call Blago (Bret helps him answer his phone), who declines to offer guidance, telling them to use their own judgement. Curtis, who finally loses his temper like you’d expect a British celeb chef to, howls in frustration that “he’s a governor – f***king unbelievable!”
Tenacity, who’s apparently so well-organized there’s no good video clips or sound bites that are worthy of more than 15 seconds of air time, has Selita feeling a wee overwhelmed when faced with the assembly of the display. More entertaining is the preparation of Rock Solid, who is foregoing the obvious and NOT costuming Goldberg as Hagrid. Instead, the burly wrestler is being got up as the Whomping Willow, which is far more hilariously appropriate. Goldberg doesn’t get it and is disappointed he can’t take his shirt off. Maybe later someone can read him the chapter from The Chamber Of Secrets when Harry & Ron get the car stuck in the tree. Curtis is dressed as some random professor – unfortunately, the one he most resembles is Headmistress McGonagall – and Blago is the Headmaster. Wait till Trumpledore finds out he’s being impersonated. Blago gets into character by suddenly deciding to become involved in the design, and makes a few adjustments to the “haunted” castle, annoying Bret. Bret comments that it might be the best project ever or possibly, the best laugh he’s ever had.
Rock Solid and the Half-Baked Display
Finally, it’s go time, and Sharon, in a hooded cloak (told you she was a Death Eater!) ushers the focus group kids into a room rolling with dry ice fog. Selita, in a witch’s hat and an even worse accent than Bret’s (helllloooo, there ARE authentic Brits on each team) gives the presentation. I’ll just mention here that as potential literary rivals, JK Rowling has nothing to fear from the ladies of Tenacity. Sharon beckons the kids into the dragon’s mouth and into a space containing a positively lunatic Cyndi Lauper, who is rushing around squealing, “Muggles and wizards! Muggles and wizards!” for no earthly reason. Sharon falls out of character and is beside herself, laughing at Cyndi. Maria is running the main part of the display, a cheesy replica of Ollivander’s Wand Shop. She snaps pics of the kids waving their wands while Summer handles backstage “special effects”. Holly hands out swag as the kids leave, noting that authenticity is important. Potter fans, apparently, are as big on story detail as Star Trek geeks are on the intricacies of the Klingon language.
In Rock Solid’s room, Bret has opted not to wear a costume (a pity – he really would have made a fine Prof. Lockhart, golden locks and all). He hands out brochures to the “Harry Potter nerdlingers” and is as upbeat and enthusiastic as a first-year kindergarten teacher. Amid a massive cloud of smoke – the dry ice must have been on sale at the prop store – Curtis pops out, and I must say his accent is spot on. I know there’s different kinds of UK accents but he really does sound like Minerva McGonagall. Inside the fake castle, a very stiff Blago (unforgivably) calls the Sorting Hat a “magic hat” and refers to the Hogwarts houses as “classes”. 10 more points from Rock Solid and detention with Professor Snape. Goldberg, as the Whomping Willow (or, as Goldberg says, “the tree”) calls out house names. He’s quite entertaining but the Whomping Willow doesn’t talk, and that’s a wee bit too much creative license taken here for this HP nerdlinger. A Universal exec materializes out of the excessive fog and peppers Curtis and Blago with Potter quiz questions, which the boys stumble over. More points from Rock Solid and you two sit out the next Quidditch match. Bret saves the day – no one knows the value of branded crap like a rock star does – and marches the kids over to the merch table, where it’s a bonanza of free HP souvenirs, including munchies. Bret deems the event a “disaster” and is utterly positive that the team has lost. Even while saying that, the guy sounds cheerful. He’s a freaking walking anti-depressant – maybe those Rock of Love girls are smarter than they look. Or not.
Governor Blago and the Deathly Boardroom Gallows, Pt. 1
Trumpledore calls the focus group kids in – using the term “kids” loosely, as a couple of the girls are what Bret Michaels would refer to as “jailbait” – to hear their opinions of the team displays. The general consensus was that the guys were more entertaining but the women were more authentic and informative. The foreshadowing in this bit, as usual, is hiding in a corner. Or perhaps among the pages of Tom Riddle’s diary.
Assembling in the boardroom, Trumpledore asks Governor Blago if he’s expecting a win. Blago is once again “cautiously optimistic” (similar to the chances of him ever clearing his name), and lauds Bret as a “superstar” (superstar = guy who did all the work). Bret magnanimously (and undeservedly) gives Blago credit for being a good PM, which Michael quickly objects to, saying Blago had no vision and the only direction given was to Bret. Goldberg mutters angrily about Blago not being as good a PM as the previous ones, communication being difficult and is snappy with Bret, who urges him to speak his mind. Curtis stops just short of calling Blago a moron, saying Rod was “challenged” by the technology required for the task (text, email). Because Blago was always with Selita, he was unable to communicate ideas and direction via phone lest he give away anything to the other team manager, thereby making it impossible to lead long-distance. Erin Burnett slams Blago for his ineptness, and Selita makes it bleaker for Blago, smirking that she’s a whiz kid with the phone and laptop – then adds that she was working on the flights while Rod was napping. Blago points out that his sunglasses were on, so maybe his eyes were open. Selita looks nervous and wonders if the gov caught her readjusting her bra straps or picking her nose when she thought he was sleeping. Oh, c’mon, like you don’t when no one’s watching. Trumpledore tries to get the women to pick out a weak link on the team, but everyone is full of rainbows and lollipops compliments for their mates. Erin & George echo the focus group’s comments, and ultimately, team Tenacity are declared the winners – apparently, although the kids liked Rock Solid’s display, the inaccuracies in the oral presentation tipped the balance in the women’s favor. Selita, as winning PM, will receive the money prize to give to her charity, Shine On Sierra Leone.
Deathly Boardroom Gallows, Pt. 2
As the women troop off to the closed circuit room to drink champagne & gloat, the boys are left to face the wrath of Trumpledore. Michael blames time restraints and Blago, but surprisingly, says Bret did a good job. Trumpledore goes into a bizarre little monologue about how Blago is being “too nice” and not competitive enough, as he’s not throwing anyone under the bus because he’s worried about his constituency. Trumpledore even goes as far to suggest he’s being nice to Goldberg because Goldberg is Jewish and Blago doesn’t want to alienate the Jewish voters. The gov, wisely, isn’t touching that line of reasoning – instead, he prattles on about the “delicate dynamic” in the team (the women jeer merrily at this). Curtis notes that Bret ran the task and was very creative, but letting him run things was not appropriate PM behavior. Trumpledore muses that it was, however, great delegation. Goldberg also supports Bret, but Trumpledore, not concerned about angering his Jewish viewers, is snotty with the big guy. Blago, apparently anxious to end the awkward interrogation, announces he intends to bring Michael & Curtis to the boardroom. Curtis shrugs it off but Michael claims that it’s a revenge move, since he’s always ranked Blago as the weakest link on the team. The talk veers off in a different direction, with Erin and George wanting to know who was responsible for doing research on the Potter legend, as the inaccuracies were the cause of the loss. No one answers – appropriately enough, since no one was put in charge of it. There’s more discussion on who should go back to the boardroom – Michael & Curtis think Bret should be brought back, and even Bret admits he’d bring himself back. Blago is mysteriously stubborn on this point, though, and he refuses to change his mind.
The men are dismissed briefly while Trumpledore pretends to listen to Tonks & Slughorn. Blago, Michael, & Curtis re-enter, and Blago begins a half-hearted defence, taking responsibility for “lack of vision”. Curtis and Michael harp a bit more on Rod’s other lacks, mainly in the tech field. Blago tosses out some limp bait, suggesting that was some tension between Bret & Curtis, which is pooh-poohed by both Curtis and Michael, and Trumpledore isn’t biting either. He goes after Blago again on the authenticity/research angle, but Blago has given up, and there’s nothing left to do but fire him. No virgin when it comes to untimely dismissals, the governor hops into his farewell limo, noting that life is full of ups and downs. It’s also full of computer courses for the mature student, Rod – check out the school calendar at your local community college. And for God’s sakes, read a book – it’s Ravenclaw, not Ravenscloth. On behalf of Harry Potter-philes everywhere – Blago Crucio!
Meet me at The Burrow for a garden gnome-tossing competition with the Weasleys. First prize is a lifetime supply of Puking Pastilles.