NBC will keep it real
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News television editor http://deseretnews.com/dn/view/0,1249,490034157,00.html
It won't exactly be all-reality, all-the-time on NBC this summer. But it might seem that way.
The network, which presents its fall lineup on Monday, announced a summer lineup that contains considerably more original programming than the broadcast networks normally do. Which seems smart, given the fact that viewers desert broadcast TV in droves during the summer and fewer of them seem to return each fall.
NBC president Jeff Zucker issued a statement that, "We are serving notice with this move that NBC intends to compete 12 months a year. In addition, we want the majority of our programs to offer something new to viewers who are accustomed to looking elsewhere for entertainment when the days grow longer."
Of course, NBC — the home of all those "quality shows," as we are so often told — has pretty much chucked quality out the window and gone for low-brow, cheap, reality shows.
(This would be the same network that used to tell us that summer reruns were great because me might have missed some episodes — the annoying "It's new to you" campaign.)
NBC's summer of reality kicks off with the following:
"Dog Eat Dog" (Tuesday, May 27, 7 p.m.): This dopey-but-harmless show returns for a second season of quizzes and physical challenges. And former "Baywatch" babe Brooke Burns, who seemed barely verbal the last time around, returns as the host.
"Fame" (Wednesday, May 28, 7 p.m.): This is a reality version of the old TV show. Former "Fame" star Debbie Allen rounds up a bunch of talented young people and then acts as drill instructor at a "boot camp." And, of course, viewers will vote off contestants.
"Crime & Punishment" (Sunday, June 1, 9 p.m.): This series, from the producer of "Law & Order," returns for a second summer season. It's an addictive documentary-style show that follows real-life criminal cases in San Diego.
"For Love or Money" (Monday, June 2, 8 p.m.) is NBC's rip-off of "Joe Millionaire." Which was Fox's rip-off of "The Bachelor." Fifteen women compete for the affections of an eligible bachelor in this six-episode series — and the winner then learns she has to choose between the guy and $1 million. (Take the money, honey.)
"Meet My Folks" (Monday, June 9, 9 p.m.): This basically-harmless-if-often-embarrassing-for-the-contestants show returns to NBC's schedule. You won't grow any new brain cells watching this stuff.
"Last Comic Standing: The Search for the Funniest Person in America" (Tuesday, June 10, 8-9 p.m.): Jay Mohr hosts and produces this series that's the stand-up comedy equivalent of "American Idol."
This is only phase one of NBC's summer-of-reality plans. Still awaiting airdates are "Around the World in 80 Dates," "The Fast and the Furious," "Next Action Star," "The Restaurant," "Who Wants to Marry My Mom," "Race to the Altar" and "Love Shack."
Sort of makes you long for the summer reruns, doesn't it?
STILL MORE 'REALITY':Here are a few other so-called "reality" shows in development:
"Cupid" (for CBS) is produced by "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell (whose name just instantly conjures up romance, doesn't it?). It sends a 25-year-old woman across the country to find the perfect mate. There are casting sessions and, of course, viewer voting. The girl and her guy will have to stay together (for how long, we don't know) to claim a $1 million dowry.
"Celebrity Temps" (for NBC) allows famous people and regular people to switch places for a day. The pilot finds Carmen Electra baby-sitting a bunch of kids while their mother spends the day pretending to be famous and talented — just like Electra does the other 364 days of the year.
"Dream Job" (for ESPN) will have a group of hopefuls competing for a yearlong job working at the cable sports network's "SportsCenter." Apparently, viewers will vote off one contestant each week. If only we could vote off Stuart Scott.