Can we please just stop trying to revive the variety show?
News broke this morning that Nelly, of all people, is in talks with the producers of The Biggest Loser to produce a new variety show called Nelly’s Night in Vegas. To which I say: Um, for realz, let’s just stop while we’re ahead, Nelly. And The Osbournes. And John Mayer. And just in case you ever try it again, you too, Rosie O’Donnell. I don’t know how many times a celebrity has tried to revive the tired, past-its-prime variety show as the baby boomer generation knew it–Carol Burnett and Friends, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour–but Variety‘s explanation has me worried that we could be in for another Dolly-sized mess. “Nelly’s Night in Vegas is currently being pitched to networks as aweekly series that would feature Nelly performing and interacting withcelebs.” Oh, no. “Show would look like a talkshow-variety hybrid…with asidekick and house band, as well as guests and performances. Because itwill shoot in Vegas, there may also be an in-studio gaming element.” Oh, HELL no!
See, here’s the thing: I like Nelly a lot. But I don’t know how badly I want to see him front a show, week in and week out, that plays like a variety hour. Because I can’t really name you a “variety show” that has been worth keeping around for all that long. In fact, so much of TV already tilts toward the ol’ variety genre in one way or another these days. I can gorge on American Idol, a week’s worth of Ellens, some Chelsea Lately, and an episode of America’s Best Dance Crew and get all the celebrities, dancing, singing, wisecracking and general fanfare that I need. Why limit it to just one hour?
There’s one caveat here, of course: Jay Leno is about to walk away from his Tonight Show desk and plop himself down in the 10 p.m. time slot at NBC, every single night of the week, to front…a variety show. But Jay’s a different case. He is, by extension of his training as a stand-up comedian and late-night talk show host, the natural fit. His celebrity does not outshine his ability to do the job. I expect he’ll be pretty comfortable in the role of ringleader, though it’s anyone’s guess what the ratings will look like. But Nelly? Fronting a variety show? Adding himself to the long (and frankly, kind of sad) roster of artists and entertainers who keep flogging a past-its-prime format? I’ll pass.
What about you? Do you think artists and entertainers should be keeping the variety TV series alive? Or is it too little, way too late?