Defamer is committed to informing its readers of exciting opportunities to be humiliated by television networks desperately trying to fill out the non-American Idol portions of their primetime schedules with similarly intellectually challenging fare. And in the service of this noble mission, we direct you to Craigslist's virtual casting office, where the drive to recruit those soon to be flummoxed by an inability to retrieve facts once readily recoverable from their ten-year-old minds is in full swing:
Fox orders eight episodes of the Mark Burnett game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? Unfortunately, the competition won't pit adults against school kids, just ask them questions from fifth grade textbooks. The children will, however, be on hand as lifelines and to remind their elders how stupid they've become in their dotage, a decreased mental capacity probably resulting from watching the network's brain-smoothing reality TV programming. [Variety]
Frequent Academy Award nominee (but zero-time winner) Ennio Morricone will receive an honorary Oscar for his legendary score-composing work, a recognition the Academy hopes will make up for decades of painful snubs. [THR]
Johnny Depp's shingle goes on an acquisition spree, buying up the film rights to three books and hiring writer D.V. DeVincentis to adapt Nick Hornby's lighthearted suicide novel, A Long Way Down. [Variety]
The Devil Wears Prada actress and Texas fright wig model Anne Hathaway enters the supernatural thriller part of her career, signing up to star in Passengers, the story of a grief counselor to whom freaky, Sarah Michelle Gellar-level shit inevitably happens. [THR]
Film production company Bauer Martinez celebrates the holidays by laying off 20 percent of its staff, citing the recent bombing of their Van Wilder sequel and Harsh Times as reasons for the Yuletide firings. Merry Christmas, new job hunters! [Variety]
TV producer Mark Burnett has dug his hit-sniffing snout back into the competitive reality show trough and rooted out another winner: By applying the same basic fundamentals of dog-eat-dog survivalism set in literal and urban jungle locales that made Survivor and The Apprentice such enduring hits and merely relocating them to the high seas, CBS is all but certain they have another smash on their hands with Burnett's latest concoction,
Survivor With Boats a pirate-themed reality show:
Just two weeks into the much-derided, color-coded current season of Survivor, producers have opted to do away with their four race-warring tribes by blending them into two diverse groups. No reason was offered—no seismic, segregationist-TV-history-altering moment, such as Sundra of the Manihiki tribe refusing to relinquish her seat at the back of a canoe; just host Jeff Probst, newly enlightened student of the Pan Asian experience, announcing, "You have been living together as tribes base upon ethnicity; it is now time to integrate." But, as Reality Blurred points out, alignments within last night's losing Aitutaki tribe seem to indicate the race vs. race fun is far from over:
· Survivor: Race Wars producer Mark Burnett options the rights to a series of children's fantasy books similar in tone to Harry Potter, but instead of the children assigned to Gryffindor and Slytherin houses, they're segregated accorded to—on second thought, we can't bring ourselves to finish this joke. [Variety]
· As we mentioned before, Jim Carrey kissed UTA goodbye, and is pointing himself towards a CAA tomorrow. [Variety]
· Fox head Tom Rothman brags to the Merrill Lynch Media and Entertainment Conference about his company's "fiscal discipline," except where "creative ambition" is concerned. To illustrate his point, he then runs a 27-minute, behind-the-scenes featurette entitled, "'Garfield: A Tail of Two Kitties': From Dream To Screen Reality." [Variety]
· The creator of Medium sells a pilot to CBS called The Meant to Be's, about a dead woman who, "in order to 'pass over,' ... must return to Earth and help people improve their lives." No word yet on which generously beracked actresses are on the shortlist to star. [THR]
· The producers of Invincible, a movie about football, and The Rock, star of football movie Gridiron Gang, are collaborating on The Game Plan, Hollywood's first major attempt at dramatizing the competitive world of professional miniature golf. Just kidding—it's another football movie. [THR]
People do tend to hang out in their own ethnic groups socially. Not because of exclusion or hatred of others, it's just quite normal. Where I come from, you go to Santa Monica and certain pubs, it's nearly all English people. You go to Fairfax Boulevard in Los Angeles, it's all Ethiopian people. Go a little further up and it's Orthodox Jews. I mean, people do cluster in areas.
Amid a flurry of media criticism, and with corporate sponsors dropping like so many swatted tsetse flies, reality TV wunderkind producer Mark Burnett finds himself forced to justify his decision to pit race against race on the new season of Survivor. Burnett has finally spoken up in defense of his humanitarian vision, through the unlikely (and mostly unread outside of the TV business) forum of the letters section of Cynthia Turner's Cynopsis. An excerpt:
The rules of media celebrity are fairly simple: You fluff a boldface name, you smack them down, and repeat until said individual's celebrity can no longer withstand another cycle. Martha Stewart is the perfect example, as her post-prison comeback might be fizzling. Her company's shares dropped 16% yesterday and her version of The Apprentice continues to blow. Stewart's magazines are doing well, but not enough to cover other losses.
11:00 It s the goddamned Gifford Miller commercial. We instinctively zone out and miss the Martha opener. Thanks a lot, Giff.
11:01 Ah, here we go: The show leads in with some cutesy stupid intro with Mark Burnett, who s wearing a gold ankle bracelet as a cutesy stupid homage to Martha.
11:02 Intro music is Motown-esque (will Google song later), montage-style: photos of her big moments, sentencing, dogs, ponchos, smiles, laughs. You re getting all of Martha, whether you want her or not. How bold. Martha walks out carrying her black French bulldog. Crowd is only slightly less enthused than the usual Oprah audience.
11:03 Opening with a monologue. I am unfettered, I am free, no ankle bracelets. Explains that all producers and staff have fake ankle bracelets, which comes off more uncomfortable than funny.
11:05 We re fully into the obligatory New Orleans reference. Cue moving montage of the beauty and heritage; voice over is traditional Martha monotone: On a recent visit to New Orleans, my day began with caf au lait and a beignet, a local tradition.
11:07 The old stock footage of Martha s time in NOLA (complete with references to some article she worked on in 1991), combined with Martha s voiceover, is sleep-inducing. It s like a bad NPR parody, but not a parody.
11:10 We understand that the hurricane shout-out is obligatory and basically unavoidable, but Martha s flat voice is about as warm as George W s. Yesterday was also 9-11. Thanks, we had no idea. Let's fucking cook something...
Martha Stewart gave a flashy press conference yesterday, in which she revealed not just her court-ordered ankle "bracelet" but also some spicy details about her forthcoming spin-off of the Apprentice. Producer Mark Burnett notes that Martha's version of the show will feature a "softer" palette of colors to reflect her "artistic business," so we imagine the boardroom in which she fires domestic failures to be painted with her signature Lawn Frost and Picket Fence colors (accents in Bedford Gray, of course). And her theme song? Sweet Dreams by the Eurythmics. Because nothing says Martha Stewart Living like Annie Lennox moaning about being abused.
After a prison stint for conspiracy and obstruction of justice, the Martha Stewart basked in the afterglow of daily media handjobs. New television shows, a slow return to work, the glowing Vanity Fair spread — she kinda ruled. Yet no matter how high our heroine climbs, someone will insist on pushing her down a rung on the ladder of positive PR.