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January 2015



Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 4

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

It looks like two tasks an episode is going to be the standard for this season. For those of us who have waited over a year for Celebrity Apprentice to return, this is kind of a bummer. Not every episode is worthy of two hours and this has often been a problem.

Shawn Johnson’s immediate departure was a complete no brainer ten minutes into the episode. Not stepping up is more often than not a bigger death sentence than being project manager and losing. Jamie Anderson might not have gotten the can if she was a halfway competent boardroom player. Gary Busey survived many boardrooms and only about 80% of that can be credited to being good television.

Her excuse was stupid as well. Who among the contestants was “fit” for a Nordstrom’s task? Vivica A. Fox certainly wasn’t. Kenya looked comfortable as PM, but her qualifications are hardly better than an Olympic gymnast, putting aside the fact that Johnson’s career doesn’t require her to wear shoes. So Johnson’s termination is hardly a surprise to anyone.

Athletes are historically terrible at Celebrity Apprentice. Johnny Damon has a win, but it was against a fellow athlete (Anderson). Furthermore, they’re boring. Jose Canseco was the only one in the history of the show to display true flare, but he had to leave to be with his dying father. Lennox Lewis wasn’t exactly a dynamic player, but his partnership with Piers Morgan made for great TV. No one will miss Shawn. Flying under the radar doesn’t work. Unless you’re Sig Hansen.

Lorenzo Lamas’ firing was tragic because he’d actually blossomed into a decent player. He’s shown ample character for a complete has been and appears to be a good guy. I’m not sure I can completely blame him for the loss either.

This is a downside of not having one task per episode. Under the usual format, we get to see the teams meet with the executives. Which is usually boring, but it would have shown us how risqué the Chock Full of Nuts people wanted their viral videos to be. If I were Lorenzo, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to do something as inappropriate as having two Real Housewives rolls around in bed together.

Which is why Lorenzo probably would have survived. He could’ve served Sig or Kate Gosselin up on a silver platter to Trump. Hansen appears to be a nice guy, but he’s boring and has a limited skill set. He also hasn’t been a project manager. It’s hard to believe Trump would have kept him over the Lamas, who by all indications did a decent job.

This wasn’t a particularly interesting episode, except for Kenya’s quip about Brandi’s marital embarrassments. A quip which will probably cost her in Trump’s eyes down the road. Both boardrooms were fairly obvious right from the get go.

So let’s turn our attention to this question. Who can beat Geraldo Rivera? The man displays a Piers Morgan like dominance over his teammates, but also an Aubrey O’Day desire to control the entire creative process. Being a journalist and not a member of the Pussycat Dolls should help him look more like the former to Trump.

My answer to this question in the beginning was simple. Geraldo’s biggest enemy was himself. Domineering contestants self-destruct. But now Geraldo is dug in. He’s 2-0 and is practically guaranteed to make the final four. Sig needs to be PM, probably next week, before Geraldo is even eligible to do it again. Even then, he can survive a loss if he doesn’t completely implode. I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out either.

Vivica is good. Kenya is good. Ian is good. Kate is probably better than anyone wants to admit, but the fact that no one seems to like her is a huge problem. Brandi will likely face off against Sig in the first task next week if the cards fall the way they’re supposed to.

If I had to make a final four prediction now, I’d say it’s going to be Geraldo, Ian, Vivica, and Leeza based on records and Trump’s nepotism. I wouldn’t necessarily say Leeza is all that deserving, but she’s got a win and Trump likes her more than most of the contenders. Kenya’s battles with Brandi are cute, but Trump isn’t going to reward that sort of behavior with a final four appearance. As we saw with Kevin Jonas, things can change, but I feel comfortable with this prediction.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge Joan Rivers’ final appearance on the show. I wrote a Celebrity Apprentice centered tribute to her shortly after her death that you might find interesting. Rivers saved what was a pretty weak season two cast and had continued to entertain in her appearances as a boardroom advisor. She’ll be missed mostly for her actual comedy work, but also for Celebrity Apprentice, at least in my mind.



September 2014



The Importance of Joan Rivers to The Celebrity Apprentice

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

For the second time in less than a month, we’ve had to say farewell to a true comedy legend. Joan Rivers’ impact on entertainment is both profound and well documented. As such, I decided to do a tribute based more on her impact on my television guilty pleasure, The Celebrity Apprentice.

From top to bottom, it’s hard to argue that season two of Donald Trump’s faux business competition was its weakest. Neither team meshed particularly well with each other. The men had the argumentative Herschel Walker and Clint Black, the boring Brain McKnight, Jesse James, and Scott Hamilton, as well as the comedic, yet short lived Tom Green and Andrew Dice Clay. Green pales in comparison to other season’s joke contestants such as Gary Busey and Rod Blagojevich. Then there was Dennis Rodman, whose alcohol infused antics were funny for a little while until it became clear that the NBA Hall of Famer had a serious problem that needed to be addressed rather than laughed at.

The women weren’t much better. Joan along with her daughter Melissa, provided most of the team’s entertainment value. The team was compromised mostly of even less famous dead weight than the men. Claudia Jordan, Natalie Gulbis, and Tionne Watkins did absolutely nothing throughout their time of the show. Khloe Kardasian, who back in 2009 had yet to become a household name, was famously fired for taking a task off to deal with a DUI, which seems reasonable until you consider that contestants are frequently allowed to miss tasks for other engagements. Annie Duke filled the role as the season’s high roller, but her semi-celebrity status and bland personality made her far less exciting than other big money players. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Brande Roderick did nothing, but her status as one of the more memorable contestants goes to highlight the core problem with this season as a whole.

The Joan/Melissa Rivers dynamic is one that had never been done before on CA. Alliances have been made over the years, but we’ve never seen two family members participate at once. Since Trump has a fascination with the dated men vs. women mold, the two Rivers started off on the same team. This was fairly uneventful for the first part of the show, which is to be expected as the real drama needs time to develop. We saw the seed of a Joan/Annie feud planted in the second episode, but that was just a glimpse of what was to come.

While being on separate teams didn’t cause the drama that Trump would’ve liked, it did make for some exciting boardrooms. Joan or Melissa would often interject on the other’s behalf in confrontations, often to the chagrin of the boardroom advisors. Piers Morgan openly challenged the notion that Joan should defend her daughter, a question Trump was smart enough not to ask.

Joan provided the season’s most memorable moment when she chastised Annie and Brande for their tactic’s, which lead to Melissa’s firing shown here.



The two most important things to take away from this video are that Joan is a great mother and that she knows that this show is a joke and should be treated as such. Her line “I don’t want to hear this charity nonsense” seems foolish when you consider that the show’s prize is $250,000 to the winner’s charity plus the hundreds of thousands raised throughout the show. But that’s just the surface level of what was at stake here.

Joan showed character in thwarting Brande’s sympathetic stance. But she was right in assessing that the show is essentially an extended 15 minutes of fame for the bulk of the cast. She had arguably the strongest ties to her charity than any of the other contestant, having served on the board of directors for God’s Love We Deliver since 1994, but she knew that the game, like anything else, should be played with class. And when class wasn’t shown to her daughter, who had her fair share of tirades, she walked out with her. That’s what you do.

Of course she came back to win and showcase her charity to millions of people who may not otherwise know their great work. It’s not hard to imagine what that season would have been like without her. It was an uneventful season filled with boring and unlikable “celebrities.” Except for Joan, who came out winning for a whole number of reasons.

Rivers made a career of calling things as she saw them, but what made her special was that she could do that with a sense of class and human decency. Her victory on Celebrity Apprentice wouldn’t crack the top 100 of her career accomplishments, but that goes to show you what an extraordinary woman she was. You wouldn’t be able to say the same about Piers Morgan or Arsenio Hall, who owe their post CA success to Trump’s rigged nepotistic nonsense. She will be missed for many reasons, but I’ll remember her most fondly for “poker players are trash darling, trash.”