By Bruce Fretts
Updated June 27, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
FAME: Byron J. Cohen

On NBC’s Fame, another of this summer’s spate of ”American Idol” impersonators, producer/cohost Debbie Allen (who also appeared in the ’80s movie and TV drama of the same name) incessantly explains she’s looking for the ”triple threat” who can sing, dance, and has a ”bigger-than-life personality.” Given the level of talent — and I use that term VERY loosely — ”Fame” seems more like a casting call for a Six Flags variety show. Take Justin Jacoby, a white rapper who’s best described as a real-life version of ”B-Rad” Gluckman from ”Malibu’s Most Wanted.” Congenitally incapable of locating the beat, Jacoby wheezed his way through such laughable lines as ”These rhymes are so sick/You stand around me and catch the flu/Achoo, achoo.” (Somebody get me a SARS mask!) Inexplicably, the obligatory trio of ”Fame” judges praises the sub-subpar contestants, including the Eminem manqué. ”You just lit a fire under my butt!” gushed Carnie Wilson, who was introduced by terminally out-of-sync emcee Joey Fatone as ”an actress, recording artist, actress, best-selling author…and she’s just lost 150 pounds!” Guess that makes her a quintuple threat.

As for the other appraisers — inarticulate ‘N Sync manager Johnny Wright and JoJo Wright (whose two-tone ”Eraserhead” ‘do is even worse than fellow L.A. DJ/”Idol” host Ryan Seacrest’s awful coif) — two Wrights do make a wrong. But their roles are dwarfed by Allen’s massive hunger for the spotlight. ”Honey, you had your turn to talk — this is my turn to talk!” she hissed when Wilson dared interrupt one of her rambling monologues. Allen’s alternately snippy (”It’s like a cat got you by the throat”), dippy (”Fame is not a one-stop destination, it’s a path”), and slangy (”What are you wearing, Miss Thing?”), like she wants to be Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, AND Randy Jackson.