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Rob and Amber Rob Mariano looks like he’s never going to bite the hand that feeds him. I’m talking about the Survivor: Marquesas contestant, Survivor All-Stars runner up, and Amazing Race/AR: All-Stars contestant who also had his wedding to Survivor All-Stars winner Amber Brkich made into a reality special… well, you get the idea. This guy is riding the reality show concept until it’s run dry. Hey, why get a real job when you can just keep popping up on TV? Similar to the saga that many a Real World/Road World/Gauntlet/Inferno return contestant has done. This time though, Mariano is unveiling his own reality show project, called Tontine. Here’s the rundown—15 contestants compete for $10 million (incidentally, “the biggest cash prize in the history of reality television”) over 100 days.  Each can gain “a special key” to unlock part of the grand prize. Of course, they have to compete in challenges to gain the keys and the last survivor… er, contestant standing with all 15 keys at the end unlocks the big prize. Mariano promises, “It’s a competition reality show that will last over 100 days on all seven continents of the world.  [It’s going to be] bigger than Survivor, bigger than The Amazing Race. And with Mariano behind it, how could it not be? Well, I say that somewhat sarcastically. The grand prize makes it appealing, but his bloated analysis of it topping two of the biggest reality shows on TV is just downright obnoxious. Look for Mariano and casting director Tad Frank (who has done casting for Survivor, AR and The Bachelor) at a city near you this summer. The show is expected to air in Spring 2008.

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Gallery: Rob Mariano Announces Reality Show Project


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CBS LogoIn a new “Lord of the Flies”-esque reality creation from leading network CBS, children from ages 8 through 15 will create and administer to their very own society. And you thought teenagers and tweens were already scary – imagine giving them total control. Thanks to CBS, you don’t have to – you can just watch the action (safely) from your couch. That is…if you even want to.

The show will probably be called Kid Nation, though the title has yet to be officially decided, and will run for thirteen episodes on the most-watched network. Originally, Kid Nation was going to be a summer show (summer is the king of all reality seasons), but CBS execs thought the show could amount to much more if run during the fall (and prime TV) season. The show isn’t officially on the fall schedule…but that doesn’t mean it won’t make an appearance, just the same.

Click to continue reading CBS Borrows a Page From Fiction

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Gallery: CBS Borrows a Page From Fiction


Otherwise known as thoughts I’ve had about the last few days of TV that aren’t long enough individually to make an entire article…
WOO-HOO, THEY LOST! – I lamented the possibility of Charla and Mirna winning The Amazing Race: (not really) All Stars, and they didn’t.  They came in last (or third, really) and it was all…kinda lackluster.  I didn’t want C&M to win, and I wanted the Beauty Queens to win, but they didn’t either.  Eric & Danielle (aka, Team Not Charla & Mirna) won and their fakey relationship and the love between them will, I’m sure, flourish like a sunflower and I’m feeling underwhelmed.  Then again, I felt underwhelmed most of the season, so I guess this is a fitting finale.  By the way, Race Producers (and I know that you read all of my work), let’s try to make sure in the future that you not design the race legs so that the decisions made by the racers in the first thirty-five minutes of the episode don’t matter at all.  I know you want to keep things close, but that’s just annoying.
BEST OF?  REALLY, SNL?  REALLY?? – Saturday Night Live was not new this week, but instead had their best of the 2006/2007 season episode.  There are a couple of things wrong with this.  The first is that they still have a few more episodes left.  I’m not sure why they felt the need to jump the gun on this one, but maybe they were just tired of rerunning the Peyton Manning episode.  Just a tip, NBC: maybe you should wait until the season is over before you start doing a “Best Of” episode.  And this leads me to the other thing that’s wrong with this episode: just because you’ve chosen the best example of a recurring sketch, that doesn’t necessarily mean that what you’ve chosen is any good.  I know that a lot of people like to hate on SNL on the internet (I believe the phrase “Is this show still on?” is a common “joke” (ironic quotes firmly in place)), but I can’t fully hate the show yet because there are always funny moments every week, and that’s why God invented TiVo (that has to be invented by God, right?  Humans are not that good).  But, SNL, “Deep House Dish” and that Bronx talk show … they’re not funny.  Really not ever.  And I really like Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, and Keenan Thompson.  Those sketches, though, are just … ugh.  Oh, and finally, SNL went online to have people cast votes on what their favorite digital short of the year was (and maybe the whole episode should have just been digital shorts).  Did anybody really think “Dick in a Box” wouldn’t win?

Click to continue reading This Week’s Channel Surfing Thoughts

Gallery: This Week’s Channel Surfing Thoughts


Mark Burnett Ahoy Mateys… ‘Tis time for Survivor on the high seas. Aarrggh! The latest Mark Burnett reality series, Pirate Master, will take place, in part, on a big ‘ole pirate ship. The show will begin on May 31st at 8 p.m., the same date that Survivor debuted seven years ago. “This is high stakes, high seas, high adventure and the life of a pirate,” Burnett said. “It’s a huge—and hard—adventure, with jumping off waterfalls, swimming up canyon lakes and crossing mud-filled jungles.” This series will follow 16 people as they search the island of Dominica for treasure. $1 million of treasure, to be exact. The booty will be located in different locations to spice things up, as Burnett says, “Every week there’s treasure, and it’s worth a lot of money. Most reality competitions finalize with somebody getting half-a-million or $1 million. In this case, it’s spread each week!” To feel the part, the contestants will wear pirate costumes during their 33 day adventure. That Mark Burnett is a genius—using the popularity of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise to fuel the success of his latest production.

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Gallery: Mark Burnett’s Pirate Adventure


Mark Burnett Mark Burnett, the creator of Rock Star: INXS and Rock Star: Supernova, is being sued by a writer and producer who believes that he stole her idea. According to TMZ.com, Sharlene Sullivan is suing Burnett and CBS for more than $2 million. Her proposal: “lead vocalists for rock bands would compete and would be judged by well known musicians/rock stars” was registered with the Writers Guild of America in March 2003. Her idea started to see the light of day when she met with a director who was interested in developing the series, but eventually the director dropped out due to lack of interest. Interestingly enough, said director worked on the seventh and eighth season finales of Survivor and worked on The Apprentice—two Mark Burnett shows. She claims that Burnett used her “key ideas.” INXS claims that they conceived the idea in 1999, well before Sullivan’s synopsis was submitted in 2003.

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Gallery: Rock Star: Lawsuit


Colby DonaldsonFollowing in the footsteps of Survivor contestant Elisabeth Hasselbeck, who co-hosts on The View, Survivor castaway Colby Donaldson will be joining Rachael Ray. Perhaps an effort to appeal to the male demographic, or just another personality to cut Ray’s over-the-top persona? His job is “content buddy”—he’ll give viewers more of a male perspective and conduct interviews. Donaldson told Us magazine that he is “thrilled to now be with Rachael Ray enjoying this daytime adventure with real people. I love hanging out with Rachael and the food perks are pretty great too! It’s good to know my days of eating bugs are over!” Ray’s show has done very well in the ratings and earned a renewal, so seems Donaldson will be sitting pretty on the daytime talk show. You may remember him from his runner-up status on the Australian edition of Survivor, or from the all-stars edition, where he was the seventh to be booted. You could have seen him on Curb Your Enthusiasm, or maybe you know him from the razor ads. At any rate, he will be a handsome addition to the show.

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Gallery: Former Survivor Contestant Joins Rachael Ray Show


Survivor logo Hey, not too shabby for an aging franchise. The latest installment of SurvivorSurvivor: Fiji—earned almost 17 million viewers on its Thursday debut. This is the series’ fourteenth season, and it certainly doesn’t seem to be losing any steam. And this comes despite any new gimmicks (like the social experiment of last season). Survivor: Fiji took the top spot for 8:00 - 9:00 p.m. So, that means it beat out Ugly Betty by a fair amount—9% for households, 35% for viewers 25-54, 23% for 18-49 year-olds, and 17% total viewers. Similarly, it bested NBC’s showing of My Name is Earl and The Office, earning 35% more of the adults ages 18-49. Despite the significant viewership, it did fall short in one category: the 18-34 demographic, where it came in third, following Ugly Betty and Earl/The Office. I am one of the few who did not watch the latest installment. My loyalty lies with Earl and The Office, and quite frankly, I’ve grown tired of Survivor‘s concept and host.

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Gallery: Survivor: Fiji Grabs 17 Million Viewers


Jeff FoxworthyTV Envy recently reported on an upcoming game show from Mark Burnett, testing the smarts of contestants on grade school level questions. At that time, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader did not have a host attached. Look no further folks, because Jeff Foxworthy will be taking on the job. The comedian, who became popular for his “You Might be a Redneck” jokes, may be just the quirky host this new game show concept needs. The Fox show will begin on Tuesday, February 27th, following American Idol. I’m looking forward to this because, since I’m not a huge game show fan, I can appreciate the fun of seeing how well people retain that elementary school knowledge. I know I, for one, have emptied most of that information out of my head. I have to start brushing up on this stuff before my first grade son figures out that he knows more than me! The topics that contestants will be quizzed on include math, history, geography and science. They are able to get help, but need to call on real grade-school kids for their lifeline.

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Gallery: Jeff Foxworthy to Host Game Show


Mark Burnett Here’s a fun development from Mark Burnett—a game show that tests people on 5th grade level questions. The Fox show, titled, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (clever) begins in late February and will run for six episodes.
Viewers anxious to discover if they are, in fact, smarter than a 5th grader will be able to find out on FOX starting at the end of February. The air time will be a bit funky, with episodes airing at 9:30 p.m. on February 27th and 28th. The show will most likely get a big bump since the episodes will follow American Idol. March 1st and 8th promises an hour-long episode each night—yet again following Idol‘s lead. Then, on March 15th and 22nd, the game show will be at 8:00 p.m. Do you think you’re smarter than a 5th grader? You may think so, but consider that most of us emptied 5th grade geography, history, math, and science out of our brains long ago. The questions come from 1st through 5th grade text books, and be assured that the contestants can ask for help—from actual grade school kids.

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Gallery: New Game Show Tests 5th Grade Smarts


Survivor logo CBS announced that Survivor will go on at least for another year. And why not? The reality show competition, where contestants use their survival instincts for a shot at a million dollars is a ratings winner. With an upcoming 14th season airing soon, Survivor still manages to bring it. The additional year will have two more back-to-back seasons in store, marking seasons 15 and 16. Survivor: Cook Islands, the latest season to air, did well with 15.75 million viewers. That’s big business considering the popularity of their competitor, the freshman hit Ugly Betty. There has been no announcement yet about what the next two seasons will have in store or where they will be located. You can be certain there will be some new twists up Mark Burnett’s sleeve though, I’m sure. “Survivor: Fiji” starts on February 8.

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Gallery: CBS Greenlights Another Year of Survivor


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