Who wrote "Breakfast at Tiffany's"? Nowadays, you could be a millionaire if you know this answer. The recent surge in the popularity of game shows has me baffled. Television has the ability to make fools (and millionaires) out of ordinary people. We watch these trite shows and think, "Man, I could be a millionaire." Sure you could. A million dollars is a small amount to part with for the billion-dollar-a-day networks.
Shows like "Survivor" and "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" (oooh - me! me! me!) and "Greed" (what a befitting title) are here to shock - and most of all - make us watch. MTV was doing stuff like this for years with "The Real World." The whole idea is to put "real people" in "real life" and film it for 2000 hours. Then edit it down to the half hour of juicy stuff, and blast it across the globe via cable TV so everyone can empathize and associate with the cast. As a friend of mine once said about "The Real World": "Oh yeah - that's real. Five unemployed 20-somethings with unlimited expense accounts live on the beach in a 2-million-dollar condo and argue all day. Nothing could be further from the truth."
I have a couple of ideas for new game shows that would be a little more realistic, and much more entertaining:
Baby Bear Cub Run 2000
The Players: Five average American contestants. One baby Black Bear cub. One Mama Black Bear. One 1982 Chevy Station Wagon (the motor has been secretly removed by Network Producers).
The Scene: A deep, dark cave off of Forest Road 174 in Yosemite National Park (the home to the black bear mother and her cub).
The Idea: America sympathizes as the Baby Bear Runner snatches the cub from the cave and dashes to the car with the flailing, wailing baby in arms. Even though the keys are in the ignition, the station wagon is going nowhere. Other contestants can choose at that point, to act as decoys (for a portion of the prize, perhaps) or remove the howling cub from the Runner's arms and try their own luck at the five-mile trek to safety.
The Prize: The first contestant to get the cub to the Yosemite Convenience Store parking lot, 5 miles away, wins free medical attention for one year. And one million dollars, I suppose.
The Secret: The mama bear has been starved for six months, yet she has been receiving nutritious "Nut-Patties" from the network, which gives her energy for the "long haul." The Chevy Station Wagon hasn't been operational since 1991.
Who Can Get Kicked From Survivor II First?
The Players: The cast of Survivor II - "The Australian Outback" (coming next season) and a Rival Network (choose one).
The Scene: The Australian Outback, apparently - details are sketchy on the upcoming show from CBS.
The Idea: A rival network offers rewards that are more enticing to the contestants of the Survivor II show than the actual prizes offered on said show. Getting booted is better than trying to "Survive" for the six weeks for the puny million-dollar prize (and incredible loss of dignity). The first person to be voted out of the game receives a hefty reward. Point is: be as annoying as you can possibly be in the shortest amount of time. Upon arriving at the Survivor II set, contestants are encouraged to engage in screaming and shrieking at irregular intervals. Accompanying this are two-dozen other suggestions "for being extremely irritating" from the rival network, and six thousand items that I can personally itemize about "being such a jerk, people want to hit you." Get kicked from the 'ol Outback - and get kicked early - and you will win money plus the hatred of CBS and the love of its rival network.
The Prize: As a rival network, there is an offer of $1,000,000 to the first person to get themselves booted from the "Survivor II" set. The second person punched from the "game" gets a cool $900K. The third gets $800K, and so on.
The Secret: Every CBS lawyer must be in the opposing network's pocket, because there is no way this would fly without 200 years of litigation that would consume and test the very limits of the United States justice system. By the way, in case you need reminding, Truman Capote wrote "Breakfast at Tiffany's." If I remember correctly, that question was worth $50,000 on "Millionaire." The average person should be able to answer that, but just about anyone can answer that question in a multiple-choice scenario with a "lifeline" or any of the other aids the network are willing to provide. That's 50 grand to remember the name of one of the greatest American authors, one of the best novellas, not to mention one of the best movies of all time. I'm sure Capote, who died in 1984, would howl like a banshee, knowing that some fool in 2000 pinpointed his timeless work for fifty thousand filthy network dollars.