‘Celeb Apprentice’: Casting call!
A few weeks back, Piers Morgan beat out Trace Adkins to become Donald Trump’s first Celebrity Apprentice. I say ”first” because NBC announced last week that the show will be back in early 2009 with another celebrity edition. Frankly, I am ecstatic. And you should be too, because Celebrity Apprentice is perhaps the best bad reality show in existence. The first season was simultaneously better and worse than every other bad reality show in recent memory, and that includes enjoyably awful programs like Big Brother, Paradise Hotel, and two insanely idiotic installments of Celebrity Mole. It’s easy to be a bad reality show, but to be a great bad reality show, you need to operate on a whole other level. Everything about your entire existence has to be amusing in its pure ridiculousness. Paradise Hotel truly captured this best with the way producers kept manipulating the rules and contestants kept talking about how cutthroat ”the game” was, even though it was unclear for 90 percent of the season that there even was a game, or any sort of prize attached to it. Celebrity Apprentice, I believe, now has it beat.
First of all, the entire premise of The Apprentice was that contestants showed off business skills, like how to sell and market a product, with the prize being a job working for Donald Trump. A questionable prize, to be sure, but a prize nonetheless. The entire season of Celebrity Apprentice, however, revolved around famous people calling up their famous friends to pay $10,000 for a hot dog. In other words, the only real skill involved was having a thick Rolodex. But the thing that sunk/raised Celebrity Apprentice to new lows/highs was the show’s brilliant casting. Watching buffoons like Stephen Baldwin (who hilariously insisted on referring to himself as ”Stevie B.”) and Vincent Pastore (who evidently thinks he’s still on The Sopranos, judging by the number of Mob clichés he trotted out ad nauseam) pretend to be legitimate businessmen was beyond priceless. The question now becomes: Can Celebrity Apprentice rebottle the magic — that very bad, bad magic — that made it such a demented delight to begin with? Will Celebrity Apprentice 2 deliver the goods? To make sure that answer is a resounding YES, I’m offering up my own casting suggestions, following the very clear archetypes established from this first landmark season.
Archetype: Favorite TV Actress of Yesteryear Who Now Has Face Pulled So Tight She Actually Looks Younger Than I Do
Last season: Marilu Henner
Next season: Morgan Fairchild
I love Marilu Henner…when I don’t have to look at her. The woman is slowly starting to resemble that character from Brazil who just keeps getting her face pulled tighter and tighter until she either looks 13 or like Skeletor from Masters of the Universe. Freaks me out. Morgan Fairchild seems to fit the bill to replace her, as long as she’s not off doing telenovelas for My Network TV.
Archetype: Crazy Stubborn Rock Star Who Refuses to Admit He’s Ever Wrong
Last season: Gene Simmons
Next season: Ted Nugent
No, Gene, it’s not a freakin’ Kodak world! You’re wrong! Perhaps my favorite moment of the entire Celebrity Apprentice season was when Simmons dared Trump to fire him by bringing into the boardroom two people that The Donald had no justification in letting go. It was brilliant because Trump knew Simmons made great TV, and was trying to do anything not to fire Simmons for that reason alone (I call this: the Omarosa Defense). Watching the big boss man forced into getting rid of Simmons, with no out whatsoever, was positively delicious. So what sort of crazed, half-cocked elder statesmen of rock could possibly fill Gene’s platform boots? Why, the Motor City Madman, of course! It makes perfect sense. Like Simmons, Nugent is a mouthy, self-absorbed rock god who has already starred in his own reality show (three, actually: Surviving Nugent, Wanted: Ted or Alive, and Supergroup). He also is responsible for one of the greatest album titles of all time: If You Can’t Lick ‘Em…Lick ‘Em. Plus, there’s always this: If someone mouths off to The Nuge, he might just pick up his bow-hunting instrument of death and shoot someone. You think I’m kidding. I’m not.
Archetype: Mixed Martial Arts Fighter Most of America Does Not Know or Care About
Last season: Tito Ortiz
Next Season: Kimbo Slice
First off, with a name like Kimbo Slice, you can’t really go wrong. Secondly, with a beard like Kimbo Slice’s, you definitely can’t go wrong. That thing is so bushy, it’s like that one Harlem Globetrotter’s Afro in those old Scooby-Doo cartoons that stored basically every household item known to man. Now, it is true that as far as I know, Mr. Slice does not date an international porn star, as Tito does Jenna Jamison. However, he did get his start as a bodyguard for an Internet porn company. Wow. Mixed martial arts and pornography: Do they ever not go together?
NEXT: The classy reality host we’d love to see go wild on Celebrity Apprentice
Archetype: Female Softball/Baseball Celebrity
Last season: Jennie Finch
Next season: Morganna, the Kissing Bandit
Jennie Finch could toss a softball 71 mph, but no one moves faster on the diamond than Morganna, the buxom former stripper who would run out of the stands and on to the field to suck face with legendary players such as Pete Rose, Cal Ripken Jr., Nolan Ryan, and, naturally, Dickie Thon. Sign her up and watch her molest The Donald!
Archetype: Foreign-Born Reality Show Host/Judge
Last season: Piers Morgan
Next season: Phil Keoghan
You say the New Zealand-born Keoghan lacks the acid-tongued drive of British America’s Got Talent judge Morgan? Au contraire, mon frere! You can just tell the dude is dying to bust out of his stuffy, constrained Amazing Race gig. Seriously, what does he get to do on that show except cock an eyebrow, explain what the hell a Fast Forward is, and then try to fool teams into believing that they’ve been eliminated? He can do more! So much more! On Celebrity Apprentice, Keoghan would be like the good Catholic schoolgirl who goes away to college and loses her mind…not that I would know anything about that. He would revel in his newfound freedom and no doubt start talking smack to Nugent while challenging Kimbo Slice to a no-holds-barred cage match. Keoghan unleashed!
Archetype: Sad Sack Baldwin Brother
Last season: Stephen Baldwin
Next season: Daniel Baldwin
Sure, ”Stevie B.” may have had a creepy whisper-laugh, but he is nowhere as creepy as the eldest Baldwin boy. Put Celebrity Rehab star Daniel in the cast and it’s only a matter of time before he starts e-mailing inappropriate pictures of his ”Little Baldwin” to Morganna.
Archetype: 1980s Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Girl Turned Wannabe Actress
Last season: Carol Alt
Next season: Kathy Ireland
I’m basically nominating Ireland because she’s the only 1980s SI cover girl that I had more of a crush on than Alt. Unfortunately, Ireland’s acting résumé doesn’t even come close to measuring up against her predecessor’s. While Kathy did turn up in 4 episodes of Melrose Place trying to seduce Grant Show, Carol clocked in (and rocked in) 17 — count ’em, 17! — episodes of Thunder in Paradise, starring Terry ”Hulk” Hogan and a speedboat. And that wasn’t the only cheesy syndicated action series Alt showed up on. She also made an appearance on Baywatch Nights (with Lou Rawls!) and something called Peter Benchley’s Amazing, which I’m pretty sure aired at 3 in the morning. Still, Kathy Ireland was hot, so she’ll do.
Archetype: 1976 Olympic star
Last season: Nadia Comaneci
Next season: Bruce Jenner
Let’s be honest: The Olympic torch itself would have been a more dynamic personality on Celebrity Apprentice than Comaneci was, but Jenner seems perfectly suited for the show. Hey, if he can go from a conservative, buttoned-down lawyer to a short-shorts-wearing manager of a homoerotic disco band in the Village People’s Can’t Stop the Music, then he can do anything.
Archetype: Larger-Than-Life Boxer
Last season: Lennox Lewis
This season: Butterbean
Lennox Lewis was a heavyweight champion of the world. Not bad. But Butterbean was a SUPER HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION OF THE WORLD! Take that, Lennox! Plus, he’s 600 pounds. That’s what widescreen TVs were made for!
Archetype: Random Overexposed and Temperamental Reality TV Personality Who Has No Business Whatsoever Being There Except to Scream at People
Last season: Omarosa
Next season: Toni Ferrari
It was insane how long Trump kept Omarosa around just because he liked the way she blatantly disrespected people. But you know what’s even more insane? Toni Ferrari! She bugged her eyes out to epic proportions on Love Cruise, perpetually seemed on the verge of beating up the entire cast and crew of Paradise Hotel, and then acted like an all-around crazy woman throughout Kill Reality. She’s like Omarosa cubed! A team consisting of Toni, Ted Nugent, and Butterbean is a truly frightening thing.
Archetype: Country Music Star
Last season: Trace Adkins
Next season: Billy Ray Cyrus
Yes, Trace has that silky-smooth voice, and he provided several moments of hilarity related to his having to fetch wheatgrass juice and black nail polish for the Backstreet Boys, but could he get Miley to show up for his big finale auction? I. Don’t. Think. So.
Archetype: Person Who Continues to Milk Small Role on Culturally Significant TV Show for Personal Gain
Last season: Vincent Pastore
Next season: John O’Hurley
Vincent ”Big Pussy” Pastore never met a Sopranos reference or Mob cliché he didn’t milk to no end. And by the time he left Celebrity Apprentice (which included an aborted ”rat” scheme), he seemed to be legitimately confused as to what show he was actually on, and whether he was a real person or a figment of David Chase’s imagination. I’m not gonna lie: This is a tough spot to fill. No one milks a role like Pastore. Except maybe John O’Hurley. He followed his turn on Seinfeld as J. Peterman by rehashing the same shtick on any other program or commercial he could get his hands on. And when that stopped working, he started milking his Dancing With the Stars fame to no end. Unfortunately, he lacks the bumbling, nonsensical charm of Pastore, but then again, doesn’t everyone?
Archetype: Person Everyone Looks at and Says, ”Who the Hell Is That?”
Last season: Nely Galan
Next Season: My neighbor Darrell
You can’t convince me that more than 11 people knew who the hell Nely Galan was when she began her impressively ineffectual run on Celebrity Apprentice, so why not my neighbor Darrell? He’s a kick-ass math tutor who recently won the award for tackiest T-shirt at my annual Tacky T-Shirt party. True, he has nowhere near the amount of collagen pumped into his lips as Galan does, but he can tell you the difference between an acute and an obtuse angle, and that’s just as scary. He also has a ridiculously nice plasma HD set, so he could invite all his buddies over to watch him make like David Krumholtz and use the power of math to solve any problem that comes his way in the boardroom. There’s also no way he could possibly suck any worse than Galan did on the show.
Archetype: Playboy Playmate
Last season: Tiffany Fallon
Next season: Uhhhhh, I don’t know. Does it really matter?
Seriously, it doesn’t. They’re like lambs being led to the slaughter. Very, very sexy lambs. Watch out for Daniel Baldwin, though!
NEXT PAGE: Paying tribute to Charlton Heston, and remembering the 5 best high school TV shows
OBSESSION OF THE WEEK
Charlton Heston passed away a few days ago. He and I were on opposite ends of the political spectrum, and I’m pretty sure I fell asleep at least six times the first time I was forced to watch The Ten Commandments as a kid. But the dude had a pretty remarkable career. I loved watching him grow a mustache and thinking he could pass himself off as Mexican in Touch of Evil, seeing him steer that chariot through the Colosseum in Ben-Hur, and telling those damn dirty apes to keep their stinkin’ hands off him in Planet of the Apes. I suppose it’s kind of sad that the last two things I saw him in were Tim Burton’s awful Apes ”reimagining” and Bowling for Columbine, in which he was ambushed by Michael Moore. (Again, I’m about as anti-gun as they come, but hoodwinking an old man clearly not in possession of all his faculties, even if he is the president of the NRA, seemed like a low blow to me.) In any event, his work on the screen speaks for itself, and I may just have to go and try and stay awake through The Ten Commandments in his honor. (Don’t miss Chris Willman’s 1999 interview with Charlton Heston, in which the actor reminisced about his legendary career.)
Watch the video below to see My Top 5 High School TV Shows of All Time.
NEXT PAGE: Your letters about Star Wars animation, Rocket From the Crypt, and more
Thoughts on my last column regarding Star Wars animation, Ivan Drago, and the live prowess of a late, great rock & roll band. Let’s open the mailbag!
I totally agree with you on the suckiness of the Star Wars cartoons. The Droids and Ewok series were bad enough to make me lose interest in all things Star Wars until they re-released the original trilogy. The Christmas special was attached to some bootleg DVDs I bought a few years ago, and it was beyond that ”so bad it’s almost good” territory. It was just plain awful. However, I’ve got to part company with you on the Fetts. Aside from ”the Others,” I’d argue there’s never been lamer or more overrated villains than the Fetts. For all his alleged badazzness, Jango went out like a palooka against a Don King-promoted fighter when he got his head clopped off by the badazz purple-lightsaber-wielding Mace Windu. And Boba’s big heroic death? Eaten by some gigantic coochie with teeth in the desert after he gets schooled by a blind Han Solo. We’re led to believe a guy who can’t beat a blind Han Solo has got game? Even Jango’s videogame on the PS2 was bad! —Enrique Fernndez Roberts
Oh, Enrique, you’re killing me on the Boba Fett thing. Because it’s true! I love the guy, and totally deem him to be an intergalactic badass, but yes, his death scene (complete with a pathetic wail) was beyond lame. Of course, I could geek out and point out that according to the books, Boba Fett in fact survived the Sarlacc pit, but I won’t. I’ll just block your e-mail from my mind and go on living in ignorant bliss.
Yeah, big Star Wars fan who’s concerned about the animated series. Don’t like the animation style — didn’t like it for the first Clone Wars series either. Which brings up another concern — how much is this series going to retread/contradict the earlier series? And now I’ve got to buy all the new toys they designed to match the f—ed up animation style. —Jason Cohen
I actually watched the preview the other week for the new Star Wars: Clone Wars (a bit repetitive, don’t ya think?), and actually thought it looked okay. One always has to be concerned about the ”expanded universe” and how it will affect the characters we all know and love, but admit it, Jason: You’ll be there opening day. As will I.
Dalton, you’re awesome & I love you, all 90 pounds of ya! Between you and Doc Jensen, I can’t decide who has the best columns!! Keep it up! —Jana Trevino
Oh, Jana, it’s not even close. Doc Jensen by a mile! He goes to levels that, frankly, scare and confuse me due to their level of intelligence and sophistication. I can’t even begin to compete. Sometimes, though, just for kicks, I’ll call him up and say the word ”Lost” and watch him go on and on about time travel and Hydra stations until he works himself up into a sci-fi theory-spouting frenzy. Good times.
I am not ashamed to say that I love Rocky IV. My favorite movie in the series and, in my opinion, the best Cold War movie. Ever. Ivan Drago is the villain you love to hate (who could hate Mr. T?). The Russian handlers come to the US of A and talk crap about Apollo (and later Rocky — puny and weak?!), Drago is on the juice and comes into our house and kills Apollo! After being treated to a James Brown stage show! And then is so matter-of-fact about it. BS! But then, as he proceeds to get his own beatdown at the hands of Rocky, he acknowledges that Rocky is not a mere man and bucks up to evil Russian bureaucrats, providing the first glimmer of hope that ”if I’s can change, and you can change, we alls can change!!!” And the wall comes down. —Anne
I agree on all counts. But let’s also not discount the greatness of Red Dawn in the Cold War-movie canon. It starts with a teacher walking outside and getting blown to smithereens by parachuting Soviets, and how can you not like a cast featuring Patrick Swayze, C. Thomas Howell, Harry Dean Stanton, Charlie Sheen, Lea Thompson, and Jennifer Grey? USA! USA!
Thank you for reminding me to go dig out the CDs of one of my favorite bands of the ’90s as well, Rocket From the Crypt. I can say without failure that I fell in love with them when I first heard them LIVE in concert. Imagine my disappointment when the exact thing you mention, energy, was missing from the recorded albums. I was able to learn to love the different ”sound” of the CDs, but nothing will ever re-create their live energy and punch. And yes, I did try time & time again to get friends to listen to their music so that I could drag them to a show; none of them ever did. Their loss. — Trevor Holliger
I actually dig most of the Rocket From the Crypt albums, but you’re right that I’m right that nothing could capture the manic energy of their live show. I felt the same way about the band Helmet as well. First time I saw them live, they blew me away. Wish I could say the same for their albums.
What bands do you nominate for being much better live than in the studio? What are your favorite high school-themed TV shows? And who would you cast in season 2 of Celebrity Apprentice? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to firstname.lastname@example.org, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. C ya next time!