I have to confess that I needed a crash course on the first three episodes of this show before I could put fingers to keyboard to bring you this final 15 results show. The premise should have hooked me, but somehow I missed this gem. Perhaps I'm still suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after all those Monday and Tuesday nights spent watching a bunch of D-listers trying to waltz without breaking their necks on Dancing With The Stars. But man, have I missed out! If your brain was on deep freeze like mine, you might want to refer back to the awesome recaps by SnowflakeGirl and Ajane and bring yourself up to speed.
So, now that hopefully we're all caught up, I have to tell you I'm not impressed by that million dollar grand prize. Did you know it cost exactly 200 times that amount to make “Titanic” and that was a decade ago? Figure in inflation and whatnot and all a million bucks is going to buy for the winner are a few rolls of film, doughnuts and coffee for a day for the crew, and the services of a couple of makeup artists for one whole day. On the other hand, the concept is pure genius, I tell you! What better way to keep your upcoming competition from actually becoming your competition, than throwing some money at them! A lot of money... just not enough to actually do anything that's going to make them, you guessed it, seriously compete with you. If I were Spielberg I'd also want first dibs on the winner's next project, which I'd creatively finance sort of in the same way. No business, like show business. Right?
But we don't have a winner yet. What we do have are 18 nobodies who will be reduced to 15 semi-nobodies by the time I'm done here. I guess I could just tell you who was left on the cutting room floor, but what would be the fun in that? There is a rite of passage, and it's called “the filler” and we must all wade through it because... Well, I'm sure there's a good reason, I just can't come up with it right at the moment. Read on.
Rewind with booze
The host, Adrianna Costa, who looks and sounds like a second rate brunette Scarlett Johansson, must be paid by the word because she prattles on and on in her opening speech, then with a funny Freudian slip, introduces Carrie Fisher as Carrie Fishy. I sure hope she likes her gig tonight, 'cause it might just be her last. Our other judges are Gary Marshall and D.J. Caruso, who both look relieved that she can pronounce their names without incident. I guess she has no latent issues with either marshes or choruses.
We're a few minutes in, and it's time to start padding the show with fluffy filler. In case you missed Monday's two hour extravaganza, and because they just don't have anything better to do for the next five minutes, we get a quick rundown of the show. I'm not going to bother recapping the recap, but if you missed it, I highly recommend you read AJane's excellent account. Suffice it to say that there were some standout clips, and some that looked like they were made by people who stood out in the hot California sun a tad too long. After the show, the 18 lucky finalists celebrated with some booze in the backyard and lots of gossip. Phil Hawkins, the guy who made “Please Hold”, tells Jason Epperson the maker of “Getta Rhoom”, that he was offended by that movie for personal reasons. Jason, wearing a backward white trucker cap and an accent so thick that I had to turn on closed captioning just to understand him, says that he never intended his piece to be offensive. Keep repeating that Jason, and you might actually start to believe it.
Cue some more of that filler!
Clearly the show is not above milking the controversy, so Adrianna asks Jason – whose backwards white trucker cap appears to be surgically attached to his head making him look like a reject from Eminem's backstage crew - about his true intent with the movie. He mumbles something about a nerd and how it was funny, but there's no apology forthcoming for making fun of the disabled, only denial. Just try to remember that, in case this clown's movie ever makes it to a theater near you sometime in the, hopefully very, very distant future.
Nasty business out of the way, we're finally getting to the meat of the matter. America voted and Adrianna reads the teleprompter again and informs us that there are three rows, with six people each: one goes home, five are safe and one of them made it to the top of the box office and we'll get to see their creation one more time. I'm realizing Mark Burnett not only likes order and symmetry, but also knows how to rip-off American Idol in style.
Thrown off the back of the truck
The back row consists of Zach, Trevor, Shira-Lee, Sam, Carolina and Marty. Zach is safe and he is also the first at the top of the box office. This means an instant rerun of his movie “Danger Zone” which is a witty, ingenious little piece about a disaster in a lab, shot using a clever continuous 360 degree camera turn. Carrie calls him a wunderkind and she wants him to marry her daughter. Whoa! This guy's got it made! Why sleep with the judge to get ahead in the world, when she's offering up a younger alternative? I hope he knows how lucky he is.
Also safe in the back row are Sam with “Replication Theory”, Shira-Lee with “Checkout” and Trevor with “Golf Story”. After some unbelievably unexciting wait through the commercial, the last two victims, Carolina and Marty are offered up for slaughter at the center of the stage. Adrianna interjects breathlessly that this must be an incredibly stressful moment for them. Meanwhile, I have an incredible urge to tell this chick that she's not cut out for this job. She says “Carolina, Marty” then “Marty, Carolina” a few more times then we're down to business. Marty created “Big Bad Heist”, which didn't get a glowing review from the judges for this trailer sized sub par effort while Carolina's “Deliver Me”, by comparison, delighted the panel and elicited great comments. In the end, thanks to America's bad taste, Marty gets safely delivered back to the back row, while Carolina is thrown out with the bathwater. Gary offers up some parting encouragement for him to keep making films and trying to succeed the old fashioned way by sleeping with a studio chief. Okay he didn't say that but I'm awfully good at reading between the lines. Amazingly this still leaves time for Carolina to deliver a graceful goodbye and we're on to the next loser.
In medias res
It's time for the middle row to feel the wrath of the voting public, or more precisely those 300 or so people who not only watched last night but actually bothered to vote. Waiting anxiously are Hilary, Adam, Kenny, Claudia, Will and David. Adam, maker of “Danceman”, is reviewed first and after the judges gushed about his skills on show night, the people saw fit to keep him in the game for another week. David with “Filesize” and Hilary with “Bus #1” are also safe. Will's short “Lucky Penny” stood out with both the judges and the voters and earned top honors at the box office in the process. It takes longer to nuke up a bag of popcorn than it takes to watch Will's short but it's time well spent. His movie is clever and well made. That's one minute of my life I won't need to ask back. D.J. Caruso heaps some more praise on him saying that he did his one year old daughter proud with that finish. Aww! I guess Will just locked in the pre-preschool demographic right there.
All this leaves Kenny and Claudia to duke it out. Kenny created “Back Alley Cab” which was universally panned by the judges. Claudia got similarly dismal reviews for “Blind Date”, so it seems they're equally bad. I'm thinking it probably came down to their haircuts. Kenny is sporting a 70s style afro and sideburns, while Claudia is going more for a do that's a cross between Davy Jones' tentacles and Bob Marley style dreadlocks in pigtails with a touch of polyester shine and bubble gum pink. Guess who got axed based on that? Adrianna, our faithfully inept host, sighs dramatically while repeating the contestants' names for added effect both in alphabetical and reverse alphabetical order a couple of times, finally delivering the crushing and totally expected verdict: Claudia bites the dust. I guess it's back to having another blind date with another (blind) producer somewhere for her. Gary laments that women are dropping like flies on this show even though the world needs more women directors. He tells her she's a “cacophony in color” and true to her colors Claudia launches into the speech she probably secretly rehearsed for the Academy Awards. But on this show nobody gets 30 seconds of fame and she walks off into the sunset to make another movie we'll probably never see. Thankfully.
In the line of fire
This leaves us with the front row of contestants which includes Mateen, Andrew, Shalini, Jason, Phil and Jessica. Andrew is up first. His short was called “Spaced Out”, and it was about barfing aliens, my favorite subject matter of all time. After great reviews from the panel of judges he's quickly declared safe. Shalini's movie was “Love in the Year 2007” which got little love on Monday but apparently America likes what America likes, and she will be here to make a sequel next week. Mateen, Spike Lee's long lost twin, directed “Soft”. The feedback for his creation was somewhat of a mixed bag but Mateen earned enough of those couple hundred audience votes to make it through to the next round.
Three are left staring bravely into the barrel of the elimination gun and the camera pans slowly over their distraught faces. All of them look a bit pale and mildly sick. I wish somebody would yell “cut” so that make-up could do something about their ashen complexions and the hair in Jessica's eyes. Maybe it's just my TV or it could be that I'm finally falling for Adrienne's cheesy overdone delivery and that's why I'm moving closer to the edge of my seat. Or maybe I'm just growing increasingly excited about the fact that we've got only about five minutes left to go.
Jason, he of the backwards trucker cap, thick silver chain, little beady close-set eyes and the infamous “Getta Room”, got slapped by the judges, while Phil's short “Please Hold” got mixed reviews and Jessica's “To Screw in a Light Bulb” wasn't received too well either. All brought center stage in a final
lamedramatic showdown. Jason wins the last remaining spot in the “Top Box Office” race thereby revealing that two thirds of those 300 people who voted for the show were probably Jason's relatives and fellow fashion victims from the tough Kentucky 'hood. We're treated to another look at his “masterpiece” which, in a complete reversal from last night, elicits gushing accolades from Carrie, followed by the other two judges saying that they were mistaken too. Apparently, on this show, they'll hate you until America – or your numerous relatives with speed dial - says otherwise. Then you get an apology. Hollywood ass kissing in action, ladies and gentlemen!
Meanwhile, Phil and Jessica, must suffer through more overly dramatic posturing from Adrianna - and another commercial break - before finally Phil is put out on perpetual hold. D.J.is disappointed to see him go but hopes Phil will continue to make movies. Gary offers up some parting words of wisdom to the contestants, telling them that they're only as good as their last movie. Fake Scarlett parrots Gary and reminds us all that “in Hollywood you're only as good as your last movie”. Where have we heard that before?
Come back next week, if you can bear it, to witness more of the same; to see whether Jason's posse can scare up another pass for him and whether the show will get a new host. Again. I suggest they get a second rate Drew Barrymore, 'cause I just like her better.
I'm accepting write-in nominations for “Most Dismal Performance by a Host of a Reality Show”. PM me with your submissions.