November 15, 2004 -- DON'T blow your top at a stranger anytime soon — it just might cost you $100.
"Boiling Points," MTV's hit hidden-camera show that shoots mostly around New York City, awards cash to clueless contestants who keep their cool while getting annoyed by obnoxious strangers. The new season debuts today at 4 p.m.
"I think New Yorkers get a bad rap," says executive producer Tony DiBari. "We've found that New Yorkers are a lot more patient than most people think."
It's a game show where the people playing don't even know they are participants — until they completely blow it or win.
"As soon as they say that they want to call the cops, that's when the reveal happens," says DiBari. "We immediately tell them that it's just a joke and either give them their $100 or not."
The way it works is producers decided how many minutes that victims must keep their cool. If they curse, storm off or get violent, they're told that they're on a hidden camera show. If they stay calm, they're given $100 cash on the spot.
Most of the unwitting victims are set up by their friends, DiBari says.
Heading into its second season, the show has been the highest rated in its time slot among the channel's prime audience, viewers 12-24 and 18-34, versus all cable competition. In the past, sketches have ranged from the benign to bizarre to brutal.
And despite what some critics have said, it's not that cruel — just MTV's take on "Candid Camera."
Last season, victims were subjected to dozens of practical jokes — perhaps best exemplified by the sheister umbrella salesman who peddles broken umbrellas on a rainy day in Times Square then won't give customers their money back. Even when a man wins and a $100 bill is being waved in his face, he's so worked up it appears he might try to break the salesman's neck.
In another sketch, a goofy girl wrestled with unwitting strangers for their shopping carts in a supermarket. She just walked up to the carts and rolled off with them. When the shoppers began to demand she give them back the carts, she feigned innocence and even called for help when they tried to snatch their groceries back.
More depraved viewers might have enjoyed the time several different women were forced to share the only couch in a waiting room with a large, flatulent man who blames his gas on them.
"For the most part these are just the little, everyday, daily annoyances that everybody goes through," says DiBari. "The annoying guy next to you, or the person who talks too loud in a restaurant."