I wanted to start off this recap with a cool song about balloons, because they figure so prominently in this week’s episode of
How To Make Celebrities We Once Admired Look Like Whiny Bickering Spoiled Children, or in Cyndi Lauper’s case, Addled Post-Menopausal LoonsCelebrity Apprentice. Sadly, the only balloon song I could come up with is 99 Luft Balloons, originally sang in 1984 by some flash-in-the-pan German singer. It goes like, “99 luft balloons, da da da da, da da da da”…look, that’s all I can remember. Half that song was sung in German, and besides, in the ‘80’s, I was listening to stuff like Poison, who regretfully did not pen any balloon-related ditties.
Speaking of Poison! Last week on CA, former Poison frontman and perennially cool rocker dude Bret Michaels was the winning project manager for the men’s team, Rock Solid. Thanks to those sneaky editors at NBC, the trusting, naďve fans of the show were misled into thinking the women’s team, Tenacity, would easily walk away with the first win. Instead, standup queen and comedy writer extraordinaire Carol Leifer was the Tenacity casualty, mostly because someone had to be fired and Cyndi makes for interesting TV. Cyndi quietly watches the Tenacity women bicker over who was responsible for throwing Carol under the bus in the boardroom, then busts out her inner philosopher in confessional by commenting that “money talks, bull***t walks”. It’s unclear how that relates to the diner task or Carol – I think Cyndi just wanted her turn to be bleeped on TV. It’s not fair that Sharon Osborne hogs all the editor’s time.
Bret gives the kids something to believe in
Bret Michaels, as winning PM, gets a few minutes extra screen time to present a big honking cheque - $100,000 - to his charity, the American Diabetes Association. This organization is near & dear to Bret’s heart, as he was diagnosed with childhood diabetes at age 6. In keeping with that fact, Bret meets with 2 sweet but nervous boys who suffer from the disease. Bret chats with them about how much diabetes sucks, and a guy who has to stick four needles in his body every day for the rest of his life knows what he’s talking about here. He takes the boys for a tour of the Donald’s boardroom, and gives them a spin in the bossman’s chair. The littler kid declares everyone is fired except for Bret, and because sick kids make me cry every time, I have to take a time out to blow my nose. Excuse me.
On to the details of today’s task from the Hair, so Trump joins his lil’ Trumpsters, back for another season – daughter Ivanka, who admittedly looks smoking hot and rocks her designer business-type dresses, and son Don Jr., who continues to share his dad’s penchant for stupid hair. Also in attendance are a couple of executives from monster conglomerate Kodak, Jeff Hayzlett and Leslie Dance. For those tuning in to CA for the first time (please don’t give up yet, it usually gets better, I swear), you should know that there’s always a task involving Kodak. This go-‘round, the celebs have to create a “Kodak storefront experience”, which I am given to understand is kind of like a live infomercial with some sort of entertainment. The teams huddle to choose a PM, and former governor Rod Blagojevich offers up unfunny comedian Sinbad as the week’s sacrifice. I just hope his picture-taking ability is better than his jokes. On the women’s side, former WWE “diva” (pretend wrestler) Maria Kanellis steps up to lead, saying she’s a good organizer. If she’s as good an organizer as she is bad at picking out headgear – and I could not for the life of me figure out what in holy hell she had plastered to her head, but it would put Aretha Franklin to shame – the women might be in good shape for this task.
Photo ops and idiot savants
The action begins with Tenacity, where Maria quickly takes charge and decides she wants a wrestling-type theme. Well, go with what you know, I suppose, though what the “divas” do is less wrestling than it is softcore porn without the oil or mud but with a couple body slams and broken chairs thrown in. Kodak moments all over the place, there.
At Rock Solid, Sinbad shows himself to be an avid student of the Sarah Palin School of Obfuscating Speechifying, as his idea for a storefront and a concept is understood by no one on his team. Bret frets that Sinbad might be in need of a “VP”, or perhaps a translator. Gold medal sprinter Michael Johnson expresses his concerns in confessional, while Blago takes his opinion to the street where, to his delight, he is hailed by passersby. He quickly preens his famous ‘do and checks to ensure it’s all been caught on film. Kodak film, I presume.
In the meantime, the Kodak execs arrive and dole out cameras and advice to both teams. At Tenacity, Cyndi dashes off for a potty break and upon her breathless return, pesters the Kodak reps with inane questions about the cameras. Jeff from Kodak politely blows her off, telling her that there would be techs on hand to help her out with how to turn the camera on and off. Gosh-darn that new fancy-pants technology! The execs also warn the teams that “secret shoppers” will be dispatched to the storefront locations to report on the effectiveness of the respective campaigns.
Tenacity continues to bat around ideas for a tag line to go with the wrestling theme, while Cyndi hops around like a deranged White Rabbit shrieking suggestions. Suddenly she throws her arms wide and howls, “Kodak moments – celebrate the champion in you!” The women deem the slogan brilliant, and Maria snickers in confessional that as loony as Cyndi is, everyone once in a while she opens her mouth and genius pops out. Like Rainman reciting multiplication tables.
Sinbad fails to rock Bret’s world
Cyndi, whose team increasingly appears to view her as slightly, uh, “touched”, is sent packing with Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders to gather props for the storefront. Summer can’t be happy but keeps her displeasure out of the camera’s eye. Tenacity’s tiffs are mild, however, compared to the smackdown brewing at Rock Solid, where a worried Bret – who characterizes his team as “disheveled” – nags PM Sinbad to give him a job. The other guys mill about the storefront space – former WWE wrestler Goldberg scarfs down takeout while Blago gets intense with a nameless caller, apparently discussing some disgraced-politician business. Blago wanders out to do his gladhanding thing outside the storefront, where he encounters some hostility and catcalls, but is more thoroughly disgraced by two young women who mistake him for Donny Osmond. Yes, Donny Osmond, your hair is THAT BAD. Pass that on to your sister Marie, who is also drastically in need of a hair make-under. There’s a such thing as too much volume.
The Trumpettes pay their duty calls to the teams. Don Jr. stops in at Tenacity, where he’s distracted by Maria and Holly slurping on enormous Astro Pops. All that’s missing here is the boom-chicka-wa-wa music playing in the background. Ivanka is immune to the testosterone flowing at Rock Solid, so the boys are relegated to just explaining that the idea is to take pics of them with fans, doing their thangs – former baseball great Darryl Strawberry with a bat and a crack pipe (oh, just pick what you’re best at, Darryl – adultery), Michael Johnson at the starting line, Bret with a band setup, chef Curtis Stone at a stovetop, and Goldberg in the squared circle, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. By now, Bret is doing a slow burn as Sinbad seemingly refuses to give him a task to focus on. He paces and fumes that the camera operators are portraying him as an aimless and lazy good-for-nothin’ rock star, like they did on his VH1 reality show Rock of Love. I watched Rock of Love and I promise you, Bret isn’t aimless or lazy – it takes a helluva lot of focus, energy and determination to make out with dozens of horny strippers, all at the same time. Ivanka notes that Bret’s talents are not being fully utilized. Apparently she’s a Rock of Love fan, too, and I’m not just saying that because she has blonde hair and size DDDs.
Where Goldberg has Bret by the balls…or, where the Angel takes wing and flies from Cyndi
Michael Johnson, who’s also at loose ends, finds himself some busywork while Bret returns from his
snitcooling-down exit and also succeeds in making himself look productive. Sinbad decides to dispatch the team to the streets of New York armed with Kodak cameras to capture some candid shots of themselves. Goldberg, by far the biggest ham – and I’m not talking bicep size – entertains himself by lifting Bret in a reverse firemen’s press, squashing the rocker’s family jewels and thereby ensuring there will not be a Rock of Love 4. The big guy power-lifts a few more unsuspecting citizens, Blago snags himself a few more supporters, and fun is had by all.
Cyndi is the muscle over at Tenacity as she schleps rugs around Manhattan. The girls have their picture taken on their “red carpet”, then Victoria’s Secret Angel Selita Ebanks draws the short straw and is sent off with Cyndi & Summer for some indeterminate task. Cyndi pulls a Grandpa Simpson on the younger women, telling boring old-people stories, and generally behaving like the dotty aunt that you’re really quite fond of but are a little afraid to be alone with. Selita ends up bolting from the van, clearly terrorized by the reality that she could end up old and weird one day, leaving Summer to wipe the drool from Cyndi’s chin. Mama Sharon Osborne, meanwhile, has taken ill, and on doctor’s orders leaves the young ‘uns to cope with the task and Cyndi on their own.
Blago’s beautiful balloons
Maria cleverly decides to incorporate her charity, the worthy Make A Wish foundation, into the task. She brings in a few kids to get their photos taken with some WWE championship belts, including an adorable moppet in an Alice in Wonderland dress and a sad-eyed little dude who, when asked what he wants to be when he grows up, says he hasn’t thought about it. I almost stop crying long enough to wonder what kind of idjit asks a terminally ill kid a question like that.
The Rock Solid boys, in between complaints about the lack of preparedness and leadership, have a desultory discussion about the game plan for tomorrow’s opening. Blago, with the politician’s ability to look thoroughly immersed in a meeting while being completely and utterly bored, offers to “explore” the task of getting some plants and balloons. Because everyone loves balloons, right? Unless you’re a parent with a kid who gets a helium-filled one and then lets it go, with the result being a sobbing meltdown in a public place, or that same parent suffering dizzying head-rushes while hastily blowing up crappy dollar-store balloons – and half those suckers break mid-inflation, I tell you from sad experience – a half-hour before the birthday party guests arrive. Then the little buggers rip them off the walls where you’ve scotch-taped them, taking off pieces of paint while doing so, and then bat them around when you’re trying to organize the brats for a lame round of pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey-from-Shrek, and they all fight over who gets the blue ones…dammit, I hate balloons. Stupid Blago.
Stupid Sinbad. Perhaps jealous from the knowledge that he’ll never be tapped to star in a reality show as the guy all the hep-C infected girls want, he refuses to wait for Bret to join the group the morning of the challenge and they drive off, amid Blago’s assurances that the balloons are due to arrive on time. Sinbad monologues a bit on balloons, and for a minute I like him a little better knowing he’s a fellow balloon-hater. Bret arrives a mere ten minutes late at the storefront, explaining that in “rocker time” he’s ridiculously early. Well, my husband’s sister is at least an hour late for everything, and she’s not even a rock star, so I squeeze out a milligram of sympathy for Bret. The dreaded balloons arrive, resplendent in Kodak colors. Blago congratulates himself for getting not plain yellow, but goldenrod-hued balloons. I know there’s a “goldenrod” joke in there somewhere with the gov’s first name, but it eludes me. Maybe Sinbad has one. Or not.
Over at Tenacity, Sharon appears “cured” except that she’s coughing all over the place. Maria is an astonishingly competent whirlwind of organization and activity, and hey – the girls got balloons, too. In your face, Blagojevich! Holly Robinson Peete, who I’ve deliberately ignored till now because she annoys the crap out of me, applauds Maria’s leadership but notes that because she’s so effectively in charge it will totally be her fault if they lose. That’s the kind of reasoning only Trump could love.
Rock Solid’s in crisis – the photo banner with all the guys’ candid shots is MIA. Sinbad calls the printer who says he couldn’t do it, but for some reason, he’ll do it now but perhaps not in time and smaller than originally planned. Another elusive joke in there…Carol Leifer, where art thou?
Tenacity twofer – an autographed celeb pic with bonus celeb virus
With 10 minutes to go before store opening – suddenly a much shorter amount of time than it was when Bret was late – the photo banner arrives at Rock Solid. Blago busies himself with his balloons, while Sinbad is wildly optimistic, claiming the women would have to do something “miraculous” to pull off a win this time.
Annie SullivanMaria is doin’ her diva thing, in an outfit I’m sure I saw on Bret Michaels in 1986 or thereabouts (and with the same amount of eyeliner). The women open their shop and get down to business working the room – Cyndi poses with fans, Summer hawks Kodak products, Sharon hacks phlegm on the complimentary cupcakes, and some massive dude from the WWE named Mark Henry shows up. Holly is concerned about Sharon’s germ-spreading, but the crowd seems unworried – or maybe it’s cool to get the flu from a celebrity. The “secret shopper” stops in, gives a thumbs-up to Selita as the door-greeter, has a blast getting her pic taken with Cyndi, and only takes issue with the time it took to get her snap from the photo table. I guess she passed on the cupcakes. Overall, it’s all going swimmingly until all those cool Kodak products manage to blow the breakers, and the power goes out. Not once, but twice. Holly amusingly pantomimes smoking a cigarette, while Cyndi elects to belt out “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” to divert the crowd. The Kodak execs pay a visit during a power outage, but are impressed with Summer’s salesmanship at the product table and the “champion” slogan.
Sinbad finally does something right, proving to be an effective barker and crowd-motivator. The other boys are in their posed vignettes – Bret in his element with some girls in tight t-shirts hugging on him, Goldberg lifting delighted fans, Curtis flipping pancakes with chef wanna-bes, and Darryl in a Mets (boooooo!) uniform. Instead of printing the pics on site, Sinbad has elected to hand out cards with Kodak’s web address and directions on how to access them online, which I thought was rather clever. The “secret shopper”, though complimentary towards the celebrities, who he said were “nice, accommodating”, was displeased with this particular innovation, claiming he didn’t get an instruction card. The Kodak execs, upon their arrival, are happy with the “moments” branding but rankled at the lack of manpower at the product display.
Donald pops Rock Solid’s balloon
After a brief sit-down with disappointingly little foreshadowing between Trump and the Kodak couple, it’s boardroom time. Trump makes a few dopey remarks about Cyndi’s multi-coloured locks (two demerit points for not using Kodak logo colours, Ms Lauper – it should be goldenrod, not yellow), and Maria tells Donald that her team is all kinds of awesome. Sinbad characterizes his team as “bad cats”, which sounds like he’s channeling Fred Sanford but is actually a compliment. He picks out Darryl Strawberry and Goldberg as the stars of the photo shoots – Strawberry for his notoriety and Goldberg because he’s big ‘n’ strong – and they’re confident they pulled off another victory.
Ivanka douses the self-congratulations with a report from the secret shoppers, saying they didn’t get the website cards, which Sinbad takes issue with. The teams take a moment to check out each other’s photos – the women note the lack of a product person, but Ivanka says the execs preferred the men’s celeb photos. Being that Kodak makes their money from actually selling their stuff, however, the women prevail and Tenacity wins, with Maria garnering a cheque for $20,000 for Make A Wish. The ladies celebrate and depart to sip champagne and mock the men via closed-circuit video.
Rock Solid are ungracious in defeat, with all but Blago (who blames over-confidence) claiming they don’t understand how they lost. Junior patiently explains that they neglected product sales, while Senior reiterates the problems with the website cards (though admits the execs liked the idea and were only displeased with the execution) and the disorganization of their room. When pressed to name a weak link, Sinbad hangs out Bret, who defends himself in measured tones and with calm reason. Take away the ‘do rag, over-processed hair and Ed Hardy shirts, and you’d mistake Bret for a fairly competent defense attorney. Sinbad lauds Bret as one of his “bad cats” but rather confusingly blames for Bret worrying about how he comes off on camera. Michael, however, backs Bret, saying Sinbad’s style frustrated everyone. He notes that while Bret is a better leader, he’s not a better follower, thus saving Bret because we know Trump loves a leader. Curtis is then put on the spot, but his British politeness wins out and he barely manages to admit that Sinbad was perhaps not the best leader. Blago makes with the poli-speak and I drift off for a bit (hey, we’re an hour and 50 minutes in), but I hear something about delegation issues. Goldberg’s still pissed about losing, which makes the women in the closed-circuit room question the size of his manhood. I’m a little surprised at Sharon’s vehemence on this particular topic, since at this point, anything’s gotta look better than Ozzy, assuming he can even stay awake for marital relations.
Sinbad, not surprisingly, takes Bret & Blago to join him for final boardroom, Bret being obvious; for Blago, I’m guessing it’s the balloon thing. The women are picking Sinbad for the boot – hell, even Sinbad is picking Sinbad for the boot. The men return to face the Trumps. Bret sweetly concedes that he & Sinbad suffered from “disconnect” during the task, and describes the previous day as “discomboobulated”. If you’re not sure what he means by that, feel free to go google my new favorite word in the urban dictionary after you’re done reading this. Blago blah blah blahs, I nod off again and wake when he finally mans up and says Sinbad should be fired. Bret defends his fits of the sulks, saying he walked away for a few minutes rather than engage in a time-wasting argument with Sinbad. Trump clearly likes this line of reasoning, but goes through the motions of asking Sinbad why he should keep him. He gets Sinbad to admit that Bret is a good manager and also manageable. Sinbad, being no match for Trump, is out. Catch you at the local casino comedy club, Sinbad-cat. I’d listen to your limo farewell but I’ve lost all expectation of hearing anything funny from you.
Next week…well, my VCR cut out (no fancy-pants new technology for this girl) but it’s safe to say it’s more bitchery, more boardroom, more Blago, but please God, no more balloons. My fearless fellow Trump-basher lildago will sacrifice her Sunday evening to bring you all the fun. I’m off to hit Kodak’s website – I’m sure that picture of me & Bret is on there somewhere.
Can you spot the lyrical reference to one of Poison’s hits? First prize is personal satisfaction, second prize – a picture with Sinbad.