May 11, 2004 -- Reality TV has been known to pull the wool over people's eyes, but this time, it may have gone too far.
At a taping for the upcoming "bad talent" series, "Superstar USA" producers lied and told audience members that the talentless contestants were actually terminally ill patients from the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
The producers were worried that if they didn't lie, the audience would laugh or boo the contestants and give away the entire premise of the show, which is to fool really bad singers into thinking they're good.
The show, which debuts Monday on the WB network, is a spoof of "American Idol" reject William Hung and the rest of the tryouts who don't seem to realize just how bad they are.
The idea of the show is to reward only the worst singers in the competition and move them on to the next round. The joke, of course, is on the deluded singers - with the very worst of them being crowned the "winner" at the end of the four-week series.
Officials for "Superstar USA" and the WB issued apologies over the weekend about the Make-a-Wish Foundation comment after an article appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
"One of the producers ad-libbed something to the audience - who had been paid to be there - that may have offended someone in the audience, and for that we sincerely apologize," the production company said in a statement. "The remark is not in the show and was never intended to be in the show."
The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which aims to grant last wishes to dying people, told the newspaper: "Obviously, we would not want our name used in any manner that would be misleading or deceiving to anyone."
But not everyone in the "Superstar" audience took the bait. One member who requested anonymity told the paper that the singers were so bad, he knew the show had to be a put-on.
"I said to myself, 'There should be some cancer patients who could actually hold a note,' " he said.