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On the Lot--Million Dollar Turkey

By gabe | Gabe's Declaration of Principles May 25, 2007 at 6:27AM

On the Lot--Million Dollar Turkey
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Confession: I love reality television. I am a real fan.

Those who know me know this: I am an unabashed fan of programs as varied as THE AMAZING RACE, AMERICAN IDOL, DANCING WITH THE STARS, THE BIGGEST LOSER, LITTLE PEOPLE BIG WORLD, ONE PUNK UNDER GOD, RUN'S HOUSE, GENE SIMMONS FAMILY JEWELS, and I have at some point followed SURVIVOR, THE APPRENTICE, THE OSBOURNES, REAL WORLD, BIG BROTHER, AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL, PROJECT RUNWAY, SIMPLE LIFE, FLAVA OF LOVE, SURREAL WORLD, TEMPTATION ISLAND, THE BACHELOR, and more

In many ways, I am the ideal audience for a program like ON THE LOT--a reality competition that must have been pitched as THE APPRENTICE meets PROJECT GREENLIGHT.

(The fact that both shows that spawned this monster are BOTH officially kaput should be the first sign that things are not going to be so hot on the lot.)

Pitting a flock of fifty young filmmakers from all walks of life against one another, the contest promises to land the winner a "MILLION DOLLAR DEVELOPMENT DEAL" at DREAMWORKS.

"Million Dollar Development Deal" at Dreamworks? Who left Dr. Evil in charge? And what has he done with Mr. Spielberg?

If the "two part" pilot, which piggy-backed after AMERICAN IDOL on Tuesday, and SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE on Thursday, is any indication, this show is a total bore.

While uber-reality TV guru Mark Burnett's fingerprints all over this thing, he seems to have lost the touch that made SURVIVOR and so many other shows so successful. Partnering with Steven Spielberg might have been a stroke of genius, but unlike Burnett's once brilliant APPRENTICE, which put ego maniac Trump front and center, Spielberg is nowhere to be found in the pilot.


Instead they attempt to inject some AMERICAN IDOL/DANCING WITH THE STARS style pizazz into the mix, courtesy of the judges, on hand to dispense bons mot on these wanna-be's: Carrie FIsher (looking like she overcame her fear of plastic surgery); Brett Ratner, whose self-deprecating cameo on HBO's ENTOURAGE gave him a certain degree of credibility, until I realized that he wasn't in on the joke, and that a Drama-less RUSH HOUR 3 is, in fact slated for release this August; and Garry "GEORGIA RULE" Marshall...replaced in episode two by Jon Avnet, whom we are told made Tom Cruise a star!

In reality show fashion, the producers cook up some challenges. Challenge #1, pitch a story from a basic log line. Challenge #2, make a 24 hour film, in teams of 3...The big catch so far is these tasks have been assigned on short notice and back to back. So they are all doing this on no sleep.

This is how the judges whittled the group down from 50 to 36...

Amidst all this sound and fury, the show failed to signify anything.

How is it that a program about finding this generations next great story teller failed to create a single ounce of conflict. How did they fail to develop a single interesting character? How did they manage to completely trivialize the creative process of movie making? And finally the judges--Where was the brutal Simon Cowell honesty elixir to cut some self-obsessed dictatorial Preminger down to size? Couldn't Carrie Fisher muster some of her tradmark biting wit?

And what the hell happened to Chelsea Handler after the first episode? She knows how to insultpeople. Though she started out much like THE BIGGEST LOSER's hostess Caroline Rhea in the pilot, by episode two, she seems to have followed Mr. Marshall Off the Lot, leaving Carrie Fisher with voice over narration duties. and perhaps leaving her with no choice but to be the "nice" Abdul-esque judge.

In the coming attractions, they seem to promise that show will pick up, once they weed out the rest of the scrubs from the bunch. In the coming stages as the audience will have the opportunity to view the films in progress, and vote for who advances to the future rounds.


Based on its brutal ratings thus far, I have my doubts the show will reach it's conclusion. Nevertheless, I intend to start voting the second I'm allowed--now if the producers will actually let us get to know some of the filmmakers so I can figure out which one reminds me the most of Sanjaya.

artie-lange-eating-giant-pancake.jpg
With any luck, the "winner" will have to remake Spielberg's 1941, with Artie Lange in the Belushi role.