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Thread: Fallen stars redefine cheesy TV

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    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    Fallen stars redefine cheesy TV

    Fallen stars redefine cheesy TV

    Tim Goodman
    SFGate.com
    Thursday, January 9, 2003

    THE SURREAL LIFE: Reality series. 9 p.m. Thursdays, WB.

    For anyone, parent or otherwise, whose steadfast, hard-line rules suddenly and surprisingly become crumpled and irrelevant, this column is for you.

    OK, so you know that rant the other day about reaching the nadir of reality programming with "The Surreal Life," a series that takes MTV's "Real World" idea, rips it off and then adds C-list celebrities as the cast? Yeah, that one.

    Well, forget what we said. Come on kids, let's gather around the bastard machine for some really fun and cheesy viewing!

    "The Surreal Life," premiering at 9 tonight on the WB, is exactly what ABC's dismally executed "Celebrity Mole" and a host of other shows could never be: that near miraculous, whimsically dreamed-of concoction where you take a tired format, infuse it with forgotten and disgraced television and music icons and hope against hope that the chemistry experiment blows up gloriously into something people sit at home and watch, slack-jawed and riveted.

    Hey, guess what? "The Surreal Life" is so bad it's good. Really bad. And really good. Seven "celebrities" forced to share bedrooms in Glen Campbell's old $7 million mansion. Cameras everywhere. Phones miked. No privacy. Trite "Real World"-type encounters staged. On paper, a disaster. In execution -- deliciously, insanely weird.

    Finally, a reality show that goes beyond mere rubbernecking. This thing is, well, surreal. You've got MC Hammer, former rap star millionaire turned bankrupt joke. Corey Feldman, former child star turned rehab stat. Emmanuel Lewis, from "Webster" to what-ever-happened-to case, just another short kid turned short adult. Vince Neil, former Motley Crue front man whose frame has expanded as rapidly as metal music has shrunk. Gabrielle Carteris, the unglamorous "Beverly Hills, 90210" cast member who fell into oblivion the quickest. Brande Roderick, the Playboy playmate turned "Baywatch" actress. And Jerri Manthey, self-described "bitch" from the second "Survivor."

    It's a C-list. Maybe a D-list. But tossed together, all of them forthrightly telling the camera that they're doing this, essentially, for "image repair," as Feldman said. You've got to give them credit for being the butt of the joke. And yet, what comes from all of this, even in the first hour,

    is some things that are genuinely touching, some things that are sublime and a whole lot of potential.

    The nice twist is that the WB delivers a "Surreal Life" tabloid to the doorstep, which sometimes reveals the petty complaints the "cast members" confess to the camera in private. When the cast -- in one of the great pecking- order breakdowns in history -- turns against reality-show "celebrity" Jerri because "she's not part of our universe as we know it," you begin to see the potential in this series.

    Here's Brande on Jerri: "I was really disappointed because I thought it was going to be Robin Givens."

    Oh, Lord. How can you not watch?

    Later, when the gang is sent grocery shopping with a limited budget, Brande shines again: "Is there tax? On food?"

    And wait until you hear Emmanuel Lewis' unbearably annoying high-pitched laugh. He's roommates with MC Hammer. Here's five bucks that says that won't last very long.

    Early stars of "The Surreal Life" look to be Feldman, who's recovering from a wild life and whose girlfriend is his emotional anchor -- despite the fact that the duo like to enjoy the odd threesome now and again. Hammer comes off as not only sane but immensely likable, and this series could resurrect his reputation. And Neil, a wonderfully straight shooter, reveals some emotional surprises that you wouldn't expect on a show like this.

    At the end of the first hour, you want more. You shouldn't, it's embarrassing, but then again it's perfectly executed trash and certainly no more damaging than a "Dateline" episode. Feldman has a shocker at the end that will make you squeal with delight -- the cheese is about to get cheesier. And who knew Lewis wouldn't eat sushi off a nearly naked woman? Come on, little man, step up to the plate!

    Oh, it's all good. And bad. For all of you who have felt conflicted, who have sent mixed messages, we have an understanding now. It's a surreal world, indeed. In this TV reality, do as we say, not as we do.

  2. #2
    The race is back! John's Avatar
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    I *really* have to get to a WB-enabled TV tonight!

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    hellooooooo sher's Avatar
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    The Surreal Life Semi Stars


    Corey Feldman
    THEN One half of the powerhouse Corey duo of the '80s, responsible for such big-screen hits as ''Lost Boys,'' ''License to Drive,'' and ''Dream a Little Dream''

    NOW Guest-starring on ''The Guardian'' (Jan. 7) and working on his next album

    WHY HE'S IN THE HOUSE Feldman claims he and Scott Baio had an idea for their own live-in reality show a year before ''The Osbournes.'' ''I was a bit ahead of the game on that. Obviously it was on my mind at the time, and it all came to a culmination with a show like this.''



    Gabrielle Carteris
    THEN Played nerdy Andrea Zuckerman on ''Beverly Hills 90210'' and hosted a self-titled talk show in 1995-6

    NOW Appearing in made-for-TV films directed by a Monkee, which is to say ''Malpractice,'' helmed by Micky Dolenz

    WHY SHE'S IN THE HOUSE Her husband, Charlie, told her to do it, so she agreed, on one condition: ''They said there would be no cameras in the bathroom.''



    Emmanuel Lewis
    THEN Starred in ''Webster''; hung out with Bubbles the chimp

    NOW Claims he turned down an opportunity to slug it out on ''Celebrity Boxing.'' Will be appearing later this year (along with Feldman) in the David Spade flick ''Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star.''

    WHY HE'S IN THE HOUSE ''I like projects in which I can really act and not be me all the time.'' Wait, does he even know what this show is about?



    Brande Roderick
    THEN Made the always difficult transition from ''Playboy'' Playmate to ''Baywatch Hawaii'' star

    NOW Still getting naked

    WHY SHE'S IN THE HOUSE ''I got really excited because everybody in the house is someone I grew up with, either watching them on TV or listening to their music. So for me to come into the house and hang out with them, I thought, How fun!''



    M.C. Hammer
    THEN Made millions rapping about the Addams Family and being untouchable. Then declared bankruptcy.

    NOW Ironically, shills as mini-Hammer for a company that secures financing for clients with bad credit

    WHY HE'S IN THE HOUSE ''Because it doesn't take me away from my family for half a year to do. It's basically a full season [actually, just eight episodes], but we'll be done in a short period of time.''



    Jerri Manthey
    THEN Incited a beef-jerky coup on ''Survivor: The Australian Outback''

    NOW When not posing nude for ''Playboy,'' works the dating- and game-show circuits with appearances on ''Blind Date'' and ''Russian Roulette''

    WHY SHE'S IN THE HOUSE ''I laughed for two days straight trying to figure out, Do I really want to do another reality-TV show?'' Apparently, the answer was yes.



    Vince Neil
    THEN Glam-metal poster boy as lead singer of arena rockers Mötley Crüe

    NOW Reportedly storming off stage at solo shows and spilling secrets of the trade at a rock & roll fantasy camp

    WHY HE'S IN THE HOUSE ''I was a bit curious.... It's kind of one of those once-in-a-lifetime things, you know. I'd never do it again.''

    *http://home.netscape.com/tv/

  4. #4
    FORT Regular Dustbunny's Avatar
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    Corey Feldman AKA Chia Pet!!

    Now I know why I recognize him!!!..... He really IS an ICON!!!!

    Dustbunny

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