Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

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Tuesday

17

February 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 8

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice, Pop Culture

Last night I picked Geraldo Rivera to become the next Celebrity Apprentice.

I was wrong.

I haven’t spent much time fretting over my inaccurate prediction. My recaps have spelled out many of my thoughts on Leeza’s chances. I never thought she couldn’t win, just that there wasn’t a clear logical reason to pick her over Geraldo. It’s one thing to want her to win over Geraldo (who doesn’t), but to say she was a better player is a bit of a stretch.

Before I go into that, I want to point something out. For the past few weeks I’ve talked about Trump’s love of playing kingmaker. I’d cite this as the only real reason Arsenio Hall beat out Clay Aiken. The trouble was that Geraldo is rooted at Fox News and Leeza didn’t appear to want to make a comeback.

Trump snuck in a potential Today Show’s opportunity for Leeza. While I won’t say that played a “deciding factor,” I will say that if he had ever said that before, I would’ve picked Leeza easily. The Today Show’s ratings are bad enough that this seems like a possible option.

Leeza had one thing going for her over Geraldo. She possessed a far better record. How much does this matter?

Less than you’d think.

If record mattered, Trump wouldn’t have canned all of Infinity in the last task before the finale. It was kind of ironic to see Johnny Damon bring up Leeza’s record repeatedly considering he was also part of the team that won five in a row. Trump was never going to have a finale that included the semi-articulate Damon or a Real Housewife.

Let’s explore the five-task win streak. If you looked at the pieces, you don’t really see this powerhouse that should curb stomp the likes of Geraldo and Lorenzo. That’s not to downplay the legitimacy of their wins. They had the better concept more often that not, especially with the Nordstrom task.

How much was Geraldo to blame for those losses? Nordstrom, not at all. Chock full O’Nuts, meh. They lost that one to a bizarre video featuring fake fighting between Brandi and Kenya. I won’t pin that on anyone, even Leeza as project manager, who mostly deferred to Ian.

Then there’s the booze cruise. This is really the task where Leeza’s prowess proved better than Geraldo, though Hooter’s was more of a downfall than his “screw the terrorists” comment. We’ll give credit where credit is due here.

The Trump National Doral was a disjointed mess as a task. Could have gone either way, at least from what we saw on TV. I wouldn’t say either Leeza or Geraldo factored into the decision.

Which brings us to Babies Luv Buns. Another task where Leeza and Gerlado could have sat out the task completely and made no impact on the outcome. You didn’t need a helicopter to beat Babies Luv Buns.

What’s the point of this? Leeza might have had a better track record than Geraldo, but in that five loss streak, she only truly bested him once and that wasn’t the task she was PM on. Was Leeza a better candidate to become Celebrity Apprentice?

No. Don’t believe me? Find a point in the show where Leeza won it for her team. Difficult, right?

The final task worked in her favor as well, even though it was basically an afterthought. She raised more money in the last task, but the emphasis on collective earnings throughout the show during the finale seemed to indicate that wasn’t much of a deciding factor. Tony Orlando seemed to be better than Olivia Newton John (apparently the Josh Grobin mention in the previous episode was a complete afterthought). Who knows?

So why did she win? Despite my analysis, which picks apart her legitimacy as a candidate, she really wasn’t bad either. The 3-0 record as PM matters. It stands up well against Geraldo, who had a 2-0 record prior to the finale. She played safe. Safe won.

The fact that Geraldo won both Lorenzo and Ian over makes his loss all the more puzzling. He raised more money and wasn’t completely hated like Annie Duke. So why did he lose?

As far as finalists go, Geraldo looked like Piers Morgan and Leeza resembled Arsenio Hall. One was dominant. One was not. I don’t think anyone is going to shed a tear that Leeza won. I’m not, but it was the wrong call. Unless Leeza ends up working for the Today Show. I did probably overestimate how much of a factor Trump’s love of Fox News would play, but the man does love his nepotism.

That’s it for Celebrity Apprentice recaps. Thanks for reading them. I’m going to take a break from recaps until Game of Thrones. My new book, A Trip Down Reality Lane, comes out in a week. I encourage you to check it out (what’s a little shameless self promotion).

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Tuesday

27

January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 5

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

Trump has done something unusual for two weeks now. He’s used the phrase “a lot of money” to refer to the amount that the winning Project Manager gets for his or her charity. He’s never done this before, leading one to think he’s hiding the dollar amount because it’s less impressive than previous years. The fact that NBC has basically cut this season in half seems to back this notion. $20,000 is typically the standard amount for a non-fundraising task plus occasionally the sponsor throws in more money.

The problem is that if he’s hiding the money amount because it’s lower, then the $25,000 gift to Sig Hansen doesn’t make much sense, as it would be higher than the winning amount. I’ve seen reports that Brandi got $50,000, but have been unable to verify them. Trump withheld the money again with the task that he personally sponsored, making this all the more confusing.

Despite Trump’s insistence that a boat task would cater to Sig Hansen, I’d argue that his team was at a disadvantage from the start. This wasn’t a “boat task.” It was a “party task.” Team Infinity had a certain player that plenty of people want to party with.

Johnny Damon.

Who wouldn’t want to dance on a boat with a World Series champion New York Yankee (putting aside my Red Sox fan bias for a second)? Sig knows boats. He doesn’t know parties.

Geraldo supplied the line of the night with “screw the terrorists.” It’s hard to argue with that notion. But it was supposed to be a party and having a Fox News reporter deliver a “fair and balanced” tour isn’t exactly as fun as dancing with Johnny Damon. At the very least, they could’ve incorporated taking shots into the “screw terrorism” theme. Apparently having Hooters was enough.

So they lost even though the other team didn’t really have a theme. Which was still better than Mardi Gras. They didn’t need a theme. All they needed was music and Johnny Damon and for Kenya not to screw things up with that horrid song.

Sig loses. Sig goes home. Another downside of the compacted episodes is that we don’t really get to know everyone. Sig is usually the least interesting person in the room, unless Eric Trump is there. His team missed him. Geraldo gave him money. Despite his temper tantrum, he seems like a nice guy. Right from the start, he had about a 0% chance of winning. Fishermen don’t win Celebrity Apprentice.

The second task was just okay. I’m not a big fan of the Trump centric tasks, even though I would win them all if I were on the show. Winning them is easy. Suck up to Trump and make it classy. Kate Gosselin failed with the latter.

The class element might have been harder than you’d think. This task pitted the star of a TLC reality show about her excessively large family against the star of Sharknado. Yet Ian pulled it off. Again.

The Kenya/Vivica fight was a little much. Shopping takes awhile. This had always been the case. Kenya wasn’t Project Manager. Her not being at home base when she was on a team with only four people should not have been treated like a snub. But it was.

Kenya did establish herself as a dominant boardroom player, even though it was pretty clear that Kate was a goner. Trump hinted this in the last task when he singled Kate out in his firing of Sig. Kenya makes better television. She fought in the boardroom. Trump rewards people who make his show interesting.

Only three weeks left. Feels odd and a little sad. After waiting a year and half, we’ve been rewarded with condensed episodes so NBC can air boring knockoffs of other network’s hits. What a shame.

I’m going to stick with my final four predictions from last week. Kenya is emerging as an interesting player, but I don’t think she’s a legitimate contender. She’s too hated. Being called the next Omarosa is nice and all, but she was never a legitimate contender either.

The one question that’s surfaced since last night is, can Geraldo win it all after losing so many tasks? He’s three for nine overall. The answer to this is simple.

Yes.

Trace Adkins made it to the finals in season one with an 0-2 record as Project Manager. Winners Bret Michaels and Arsenio Hall had far less impressive track records in their respective seasons than he has. At 2-0, he can survive without even needing to tap into his boardroom abilities.

This was a big win for Ian. He’s 1-1, but his loss came with $300,000 raised for his charity. Brandi, Kenya, Johnny, and Leeza are all 1-0. Whoever wins next week will practically guarantee themselves a spot in the final four.

I feel comfortable calling Geraldo-Ian in the finals. There’s history between the two. Trump isn’t going to put Brandi, Kenya, or Johnny in the finals. They’re not strong enough. Vivica could make it with another win, but it seems unlikely she’ll get that chance. She also suffered her fair share of unfavorable boardrooms.

Leeza could be a sleeper candidate. She needs another win as PM to get there though. If she doesn’t step up, Trump won’t reward her.

Ian and Geraldo hate each other. That above all else is what matters. Unless one of the two screw up, this is the likeliest outcome.

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Tuesday

20

January 2015

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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.

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