Ah, Hollywood. The glamorous, exciting world where your stylist is also your meth dealer, Jennifer Lopez's size six ass puts her firmly amongst the ranks of the "big girls", and carbs are only mentioned with hushed tones in back alleys and dark corners. When you're in the public eye, every missed workout garners catty blog entries and fafarazzi points, every late-night In 'n Out Burger run gets headlines and snarky comments by Mark McGrath, of all people.
Good thing the people on Celebrity Fit Club aren't so much in the public eye anymore, right? Well, you'd think, but apparently even a bit of C-list fame a decade or more ago can instill a healthy dose of insecurity and ego. Because everyone really really cares that Screech packed on a few.
But if they film it, we will come. And with that, welcome to the premiere of Celebrity Fit Club, where we'll play fast and loose with words like "overweight" and "celebrity."
See, here's where it gets tricky. I think we can all agree that these aren't exactly the young, rising stars of tomorrow. Hell, I think we can all agree that they aren't even the young, rising stars of 1986. But here's where we may start to part ways, ideologically: it may be the fact that I've lived my life in 1) a blue-collar cold-weather city and 2) the midwest, but these people, for the most part, don't look fat enough to be on a weight-loss show. Kimberly Locke? Adorable. Warren G? I wouldn't give him a second snarky look. Ross the Intern? Chubby, sure, but it suits him. Give me a John Goodman type, and I'll be cheering him on all the way to better health. But for me, this cast looks to be in a position where three months with a personal trainer and a modicum of portion control would put all of them in a very healthy range, and it's just not nearly as compelling.
Whatever. They want their next 15 minutes, so let's give it to them, shall we?
Fitness And Long Beach Together, Now You Know You're In Trouble
The stadium of Long Beach City College is the backdrop for our introduction to this year's cast. It doesn't take long for them to realize that the uniforms are in two (count 'em!) colors: blue for the men, red for the women. "Is it girls against guys?", wonders Da Brat. With powers of deduction like that, she really ought to have been Da Astrophysicist, or Da Molecular Geneticist. I shed a silent tear for missed opportunities. By saying "guys", Brat gives Cledus (not the slack-jawed yokel, sadly) the opening to point out "What about that guy over there?", while indicating the poster of former Marine drill instructor Harvey, the show's trainer. His reputation for anger and shaming has preceded him, and Da Brat magically produces a black sharpie (which wasn't supplied by the producers with a gentle wink-wink nudge-nudge at all.) The cast takes turns drawing on the poster, laughing merrily. Ow, my sides! They are splitting!
The hilarity soon draws to a terrifying close, though, as we see a shot of Harvey stalking the halls of the stadium with a ... huh. With a metal garbage can and a police baton. That's random. Perhaps he just came from a Stomp revival. He seems the type to enjoy a good percussive performance.
As he reaches the locker room - where everyone has already changed into their uniforms, begging the question: Tiffany, did you seriously just get undressed in front of Dustin Diamond? Because ew. - his feelings are terribly hurt by the graffitied poster, and he covers up his inner turmoil by yelling at the cast that the picture "ain't doggoned funny." Agreed. He lets them know that when they get outside to do their fitness challenge, everyone better be damn serious. As if watching Cledus T. Judd sweat could be anything but.
Hey, how do you guys feel about manufactured drama? It's your favorite kind? Get out, me too! So you're in for a treat: Da Brat doesn't care for Harvey's tone, nor does she care for his metal garbage can. She plucks herself off the locker room's bench, puffs out her chest, and - no, I mean it, she does this - slams down the garbage can with all her might! It was inspiring. Also inspiring is the amount of cursing the two of them packed in to a 45 second clip. F*$% your motherf&$@ing fit camp, indeed! If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times.
Also, I'd like to admit that I've never watched a Vh1 reality show before. Maybe this is their norm. If so, I can only hope that Flavor of Love is out on DVD, because I have a lot of missed time to make up for.
After a lot of "You leave!" "No, YOU leave!", everyone calms down, anchored by Cledus, who chimes in that he's on lithium and can't handle the controversy. Wouldn't the lithium make him more able to handle it? It appears as though my grasp of mood-stabilizing pharmacology is severely lacking, which may explain a lot.
Harvey tells them that as they may have noticed, it's men against women this year. This prompts a "You're KIDDING us" from Kim Locke. I guess I overestimated them earlier, when I assumed they'd actually figured it out. And no, Harvey is not kidding, KIM, so get your butt outside for the fitness test.
It's A Very Special Celebrity Fit Club
The test is a day-long fitness evaluation, covering four events. Now, I'm no super-genius (or ARE I?), but even with eight "overweight" "celebrities", how should that take all day? I'll go on record right now that my chubby ass is out of shape, not to mention that I've been a smoker for 15 years, and even I could pull off that test in less than 1/8th of a day. I may well be dead at the end of it, but I'd die in a timely fashion. Nonetheless, a day was allotted, and a day it shall take.
First up is an obstacle course, consisting of some tires, a short wall to be climbed over, and one of those...those things, you know the ones, where you have to crawl under some stuff on your belly. Warren G won this event, with a time of 29 seconds. Maureen McCormick came in last, with a time of a shameful and embarrassing...wait, no, still respectable, 44 seconds. A full day indeed.
Second event: long jump, another real time-sink. Warren wins this one also, jumping 13'11". Da Brat came in second, Dustin third. Compelling television, this.
Third: a quarter-mile sprint. Da Brat falls behind early, but sucks it up at the end. She comes in second once again behind Warren, whose time was 1:39. She then spews out everything she sucked up, vomiting on the track. She's a delicate flower, that one. Kimberly came in last in this event, clocking in at 2:05.
Last on the agenda is the stair climb. The contestants are told to climb stairs until their "little legs can't do it anymore." I'll give them credit for some difficulty on this one, since, as a smoker who has lived in many a third-floor walkup, I'd be whining on about stair number seven. It's just not FAIR that things get built so friggin' high off the ground. This event apparently goes on until far into the night, since by the time they stopped filming, the sun was gone and the stadium lights were burning brightly. Ross the Intern had some trouble, and the cast, our intrepid narrator tells us, banded together for one last trek to the top. How having a bunch of people huffing and puffing next to Ross helped him, I don't know. They didn't exactly carry him on their backs, or pick up his legs wheelbarrow-style. But this was evidently quite the touching moment for Harvey, who gushes to Ant that this is what makes his job gratifying. Um, sure. Okay. By the way, Warren won this event too. Are you shocked? Me too.
In Which My Powers Of Observation Will Amaze And Astound You
Once the fitness test is complete, the group convenes back at the Celebrity Fit Club compound, where host Ant formally introduces them to the three experts.
I have to interject something here. It wasn't until watching this the second time that I learned that Ant is not, in fact, Mario Cantone. And it isn't that it came to me in a flash of understanding, it's that I looked up Mario's character from Sex and the City so that I could find out the spelling of his last name on that show. And then I said "Huh. I wonder why he's calling himself Ant instead of Mario. How odd that he's taken the Anthony Marantino character so much to heart." I'm still reeling from my bitter, bitter disappointment. Bask in the glory of my unpreparedness, everyone!
Okay, anyway, the panel. Watching the nutrition end of things is Dr. Ian Smith, author of The Fat Smash Diet. Coddling their fragile egos, and asking pointed yet wholly unnecessary questions is therapist (and media personality) (??), Stacy Kaiser. And of course they've already met the gentle giant Harvey Walden IV.
Enough of them, though. We want to know how much our has-beens weigh, and we want to know now!
Could've Been So Beautiful, Could've Been So Right
Tiffany goes first. Not-Mario paints us a picture of a former teenage pop sensation who went on to pose for Playboy. A scant five years later, however, she's no longer as comfortable with her body as she once was. She's spent too much time hanging out at the food court eating delicious Panda Express, and not enough time cabbage-patching her way around the mall walkers. Her montage lets us know that her childhood was tumultuous, living with an alcoholic mother. Twenty years after her legal emancipation from her mother, that childhood trauma is still, uh, causing her to overeat. Late-night eating binges while touring (and might I add that singing "I Think We're Alone Now" ten times a week isn't doing much to shake that teen-pop-icon image you claim to abhor) are hurting her body, sapping her energy.
As she steps on the scale, the ominous music swells. Tiffany's weight tonight is 152 pounds. So, like, 20 pounds away from very, very slender. This is absolutely something that needs to be addressed on a public stage.
Tiffany's goal for herself is to not have her thighs rub together.
Stacy digs deep into Tiffany's alcoholic family. She doesn't bother to tie it in to the weight gain in any way, she just kind of asks the question to ask the question. "So, lots of alcoholism, eh? Boy, that sucks. Hey, talk to that guy now."
Harvey wonders how her weight gain is affecting her stage performances. She says that she has a hard time holding the notes as she once did. This is problematic, as "there doesn't seem to be anyone around" is a damn near operatic lyric, and her fans pay good money for those county fair tickets! He sets her weight loss goal for the week at 4 pounds, and her overall weight loss at 25 pounds. Meh.
Tiffany's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 152 pounds
Target Weight: 127 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 32.2%
There's Always Room For Pudding Cups
Second fit-clubber to face the panel: Ross the Intern. Ross is bubbly, cheerful and just too cute. I don't want him to get thin. I want to ply him with pudding cups and wrap him up in a soft blanket, while we watch Steel Magnolias together. Boo, society, boo!
Of course, Ross didn't ask me how I felt about the whole thing, so fine. Fine! They show his adorable background montage, which can be summed up in six words: The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. He's the man on the street. That's it.
Ross's weight is 214 pounds. Dr. Ian wants to know if he's comfortable at this weight, to which Ross replies that yes, he's too comfortable. He's never really pushed himself to do better by his body, because he's generally felt pretty good where he is. Stacy picks up on the "comfortable" theme, asking him to talk about some times when he did NOT feel comfortable. Again, she doesn't try to tie this into a weight issue, she just wants to ask what appear to be probing questions. I'm not very impressed with Stacy. Ross says that's it's not comfortable to find that your favorite shirt "shrunk in the laundry" yet again. Harvey wonders what his exercise habits look like, to which Ross pithily replies "Checking the mail?" He goes on to say that he's scared of Harvey, "you have no idea!" Harvey sets Ross's weekly weight loss goal at 4 pounds, with an overall goal of 30 pounds.
Ross's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 214 pounds
Target Weight: 184 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 32.2%
This Is A Very Serious Segment, So Don't Laugh.
Next in front of the panel is former American Idol contestant Kimberly Locke. Ant tells us that she made a "big splash" on America's biggest show, and yes, yes, chubsters and water displacement. Har. I still don't forgive him for not being Mario Cantone, so his jokes fall flat with me.
In Kim's montage, she talks about how where she's from, people look the way she does. Down south they appreciate some meat on the ol' bones. It took moving to la-la land to make her feel bad about herself. <Insert feminist rant against unrealistic expectations for women (and it IS mostly for women), Photoshop and airbrushing HERE. Plus, I'm hungry for some chicken and dumplings now.> Kim says she knows how it feels to be in a cut-throat televised competition, and she's definitely going to bring it. And, as opposed to this show, people actually watched that other competition she was in, so this should be a walk in the park for her.
Kim's starting weight is 176 pounds. Her face falls a bit, even as she explains that she's always been big, having skipped over sizes 0-5 as a little kid. She's excited about this opportunity, because this is a brand new experience for her. I already think she's completely lovely, so I hope she won't take it too far. Dr. Ian agrees, saying that they aren't here to make anyone skinny, per se. They want to make people healthy. That's admirable enough, though I'm sure that once they're out of the confines of these well-intentioned walls, the pressure of Los Angeles superficiality will kick in once again, and skinny will be the ultimate goal. When you have Nicole Richie being heralded as a style icon, "healthy" isn't truly the touchstone, now is it?
Damn, it's HARD not to get all preachy about this stuff. I need another cigarette and four burritos.
Stacy says that what stuck out for her during their talks was how Kim appeared to be addicted to pizza. And she wants to tell her, with a very serious tone in her voice, and a very serious look on her very serious face, is that she does, in fact, have an addiction to pizza. A serious addiction. And she needs to deal with her serious support system for her serious withdrawal. Also? At whatever cost - WHATEVER COST!!!! - do not go back to the pizza. Well, damn. This woman just came up with a breakthrough course of treatment for addicts. If you're addicted to heroin - do not go back to the heroin. Can't get enough crystal meth? Wait, hold up, do not go back to crystal meth. Just say no. It's revolutionary! Revolutionary and very serious.
Harvey doesn't have anything to add, as he is clearly as mindblown by Stacy's excellent advice as I am. He tells Kim that her weekly goal is five pounds, her overall goal is 28 pounds.
Kim's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 176
Target Weight: 148
Body Fat Percentage: 34.9%
Douchebags On Parade
During Kim's talk with the panel, Screech heckled her, telling her to eat the pizza, not to give up the pizza. It was asinine, which is why I wasn't going to bother recapping it. Unfortunately, they used that as his lead-in, so I'm sort of forced to give it some coverage.
Ant wonders why he was being such an instigator, and Dustin inexplicably turns it into an opportunity to claim that "unlike most people, [he] battle[s] with truth and logic, and therefore can never be wrong." Oh my hell, where to start with this one? A quick perusal of Dustin's wikipedia page tells me that he lost a lawsuit intended to shut down a parody website set up to mock him, his house was in foreclosure, and his sex tape was both ill-advised and disgusting. A real winner in the game of life, that Dustin. If this is him never being wrong, well, damn it, I don't want to be right. The video montage of his body of work includes clips from Saved by the Bell, and, uh, some stand-up clips, where he's billed all "Dustin Diamond from Saved by the Bell."
The footage of his home life shows his similarly-proportioned girlfriend complaining that he's packed on the pounds. I can only hope that she was prompted to complain, as she doesn't have a whole lot of room to talk. I don't take issue with her size, but I do take issue with her hypocrisy. Nonetheless, Dustin does seem to be pretty lax in his nutritional habits, as he charmingly sucks Easy Cheese straight from the can. He's adamant that he will not change the way he eats, and will only make a change in the exercise department. Whatever.
Dustin's starting weight is 217 pounds. I'm going to give him some credit here, even though I think he's a dick: he carries his weight well. I wouldn't have guessed a number that high for him. Yuck, now I feel dirty.
Dr. Ian wants Dustin to lay some truth and logic on him, regarding things like nutritional value, heart disease and high cholesterol. Dustin shoots back that there are people who are heavy drinkers and smokers who live to be 100, while there are serious athletes who drop dead too young. It's such an awesome argumentative ploy, one which mainly gets used in political debates. Truth and logic! Dr. Ian quite rightly points out that using an exception to disprove the rule is maybe not the way to go, and Screech shoots back that "that's how I've lived my life, baby!" Mmhmm. And that's really working out for you. Hey, how's that foreclosure coming?
He goes on to say that "What matters is who crossed the finish line first, and we know that wasn't Kim." Well, okay, true. But it wasn't you either, Dustin. If anyone was going to play that card, it should have been Warren. Lisa Turtle would NOT approve.
Stacy says her first intelligent thing of the night, and tells Dustin to shut up.
Harvey challenges Dustin to break the mold. If he wants to eat crap and let his team down, go for it. His goal for the week is a loss of five pounds. His overall goal will be 33 pounds.
Dustin's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 217 pounds
Target Weight: 184 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 28.8%
I just paused the show to get down his numbers, and we're only 32 minutes in. Quick, send cheesecake!
Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, aka The Least Imaginative Header In The History of Recaps
After swallowing the bitter pill that was Dustin, how about a Marcia Brady chaser?
Maureen McCormick, Ant tells us, is one of the most recognizable faces on television. However, since leaving the world of the split-level ranch behind, she hasn't been able to maintain the same body.
Hold the freaking phone. She was a CHILD when she played Marcia. Pre-pubescent for much of it. She's fifty years old now, for the love of Pete(r Brady). I...ugh. She may need to lose a few pounds, I don't deny that, but don't friggin' hold up a picture of herself at ELEVEN YEARS OLD as her ideal standard, SHOW.
Whew. Deep breaths. Okay, anyway, Maureen has put on a few pounds in recent years, after some devastating personal issues. Her mother died of cancer, and her disabled brother was sent to an assisted-living facility of some sort. Her depression caused her to seek solace in the warm, understanding arms of Sara Lee.
Maureen's current weight is 150 pounds, which, I'm sorry, is not so awful. Just like Tiffany, three or four months of semi-committed work would have her easily at her goal.
Dr. Ian reassures Maureen that she doesn't have to give up sweets, her weakness. He wants to teach her - all of them - how to incorporate the indulgences while creating a strong base of proper nutrition.
Stacy wants to talk about the terrible few years Maureen has just endured, probing again for the sad sound bite, leaving the actual therapeutic part off. Who needs it? Maureen reiterates that she's had a tough time coping with her mother's death and the guilt over her brother's living situation. That's not good enough for Stacy, though, who wants her to pinpoint the absolute hardest part. Also, is the eating helping her feel better? When Maureen says no, Stacy tells her that if she loses weight, she'll feel better. That is some hard-hitting therapy, ladies and gentleman. Maybe she could also try wearing lipstick every day, and being sure to make time for herself. Good Lord, why not just grab some first-year psychology undergrad from the local community college? They couldn't have worse "insights" than Stacy.
Harvey knew he couldn't follow up that fraught-with-emotion segment with anything even approaching the same level of poignancy, so he simply gave Maureen her goal of four pounds for the week, twenty-five pounds total.
Maureen's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 150 pounds
Target Weight: 125 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 35.2%
If You Smoke Like He Smokes, Then You Get The Munchies Like Every Day
Warren G is next in the spotlight, and I'm going to have a hard time finding anything bad to say about this guy. He's attractive, I always really liked "Regulate" (which I actually just downloaded last week, not even knowing he'd be on the show), and, dude, he's best friends with Snoop and a half-brother to Dr. Dre. I have The Chronic; I'm not stupid enough to say anything bad about anyone involved with those guys.
After a few years of marriage and fatherhood, and some time out of the limelight, Warren's once-buff physique has slipped a few notches, and his wife is pissed. "He's hungry all the time!", she complains. "She be all in my ass.", he retorts. Word.
At the weigh-in, Warren clocks an impressive 221 pounds. Man, I don't know. I may not be cut out for this show. He may have a fairly high weight, but I honestly think he looks good. His performance at the training session was impressive, and I don't see the problem here. Sigh. Anyway, he carries his weight well, but with a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure, he wants to be sure he's healthy enough to stick around for his family for a long time to come.
Stacy has nothing to say to Warren, and for that I'm grateful. Harvey mentions that he saw an athlete out on the training course, and Warren agrees that he'll definitely be a team leader for the men. Harvey sets Warren's weekly goal at five pounds, with a total goal of 33 pounds to lose.
Warren's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 221 pounds
Target Weight: 188 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 22.3%
Some Folk'll Never Eat A Skunk, But Then Again Some Folk'll...
Last up for the men is Cledus T. Judd - country music's answer to Weird Al Yankovich, and fashion's answer to a question nobody asked. Ant lets us know, though, that Cledus's lifelong battle with his health is no laughing matter. Plus...whoa, Ant's been wearing a kimono for this whole show, and I just now noticed. Anyway, Cledus. Cledus was once 289 pounds. He was also a coke and crystal meth addict. It took the birth of his daughter in 2004 to open his eyes to the importance of health and fitness. He lost 70 pounds on his own, but he did it in an unhealthy manner; namely, by starving himself. He's developed a fear of food, which is something he needs to overcome. God help him if Stacy is really going to be the one to take charge of his mental health here.
His starting weight is 214 pounds. Dr. Ian is looking forward to showing Cledus how to look at food as a healthy necessity, not the enemy. Stacy prods him into talking about his grocery store aversion, since Cledus mentioned buying vast amounts of food, all of which he let spoil, because he was afraid to have it in the house. This is really pretty sad, and is an obvious case of needing real psychotherapy, not some pop psychology nuggets set forth by someone who refers to herself as a media personality. He chokes up talking about how much he wants to be healthy for his daughter, and if I got a little misty too, I certainly wouldn't share that with you guys. Ahem.
Harvey compliments Cledus on how he's put himself out there, and tells him that his weekly weight loss goal is going to be four pounds. Over the course of the show, he's to aim for 30 pounds.
Cledus's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 214 pounds
Target Weight: 184 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 28.7%
Last up, we have rapper Da Brat. I'm having a hard time making myself watch her segment again, because, honestly, the whole defiant attitude is just boring. Great, yes, you're bratty, it's right in your name, we get it. But my God, you're simply not interesting enough to pull it off with any aplomb. She's snotty with Dr. Ian, she's snotty with Stacy (which I can forgive), she's snotty with Harvey. And then she's ... huh, she's flirting with Harvey, saying how cute he could be if he'd just flash a smile. Well, she's right on that count. Still, I'm only going to do that quick encapsulation, because this site simply doesn't pay me enough to thoroughly disseminate her entire boring-ass segment. I could have done it in four words: Hey Brat, shut it.
(She's still way better than Dustin, though. If she'd gone fourth and he'd been last, he would have been the one to receive the "I just can't do it" paragraph.)
Okay, Da Brat's starting stats:
Starting Weight: 172 pounds (which she hides really, really well)
Target Weight: 145 pounds
Body Fat Percentage: 34.0%
The group as a whole makes their way outside for the, uh, giant scale calibration. I guess this is a very dramatic segment in the non-premiere weeks, but now, yep, they're just calibrating a scale. It's as exciting as it sounds, I promise. The men's team weighs a combined 866 pounds. The women are at 650 pounds. Yawn.
So, there you go, a show that came in like a lamb and went out the same way. Will you be back next week? I won't! But you'll have the lovely and talented PhoneGrrl with you, ready to lead you over to the Abdominator where she'll shout slogans at you. And put down that cookie already. Have some pride!