TV critics aren’t generally fans of reality shows. But NBC’s reality megaseries "I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here!" is generating particularly harsh scorn from a different subset of the media scribe tribe: reporters.
Within the last few hours, two well-known Reporters Who Cover Television have taken slams at NBC’s much-promoted summer series. Their problem isn’t so much with the show’s content, but with the "controversy" surrounding the on-again, off-again participation of "stars" Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt (aka "Speidi").
The Hollywood Reporter’s James Hibberd is positively scathing in his critique of "IAC-GMOOH!" over on his blog, The Live Feed. He slams the whole concept as "an increasingly awkward con job" and takes NBC executives Ben Silverman and Paul Telegdy to task for their participation in the melodrama surrounding the Speidi chronicles.
"Can you imagine Coach from ‘Survivor’ getting Les Moonves on the horn? Melissa Rycroft on a ‘Dancing With the Stars’ results show calling Steve McPherson for a pep talk?" Hibberd rants, referring to Pratt’s on-air communication with Silverman. "Scripted or unscripted, it was odd."
Actually, it seems pretty logical to me that Speidi would have Silverman on speed dial. Silverman’s life has long resembled an episode of "Entourage," and Speidi are very much a part of the under-40 Hollywood mafia. (That said: Yeah, it was all probably planned).
Hibberd — who broke the news of "IAC-GMOOH!’s" revival back in February– is even grouchier with Telegdy.
"It’s one thing to air a silly (and possibly bogus) reality competition. It’s another thing to drag your executive ranks into US Weekly," Hibberd fumes, upset that Telegdy talked up the Speidi controversy on Ryan Seacrest’s radio show Wednesday. "As much as "The Hills" was a huge hit for MTV, you didn’t see its top execs like Tony DiSanto and Brian Graden diving headfirst into the storylines. It’s like parents getting mixed up in their teenager’s high school gossip. Don’t they have more important things to do?"
Dayyum! Or, as Florida Evans might put it: Damn. Damn. DAMN.
Broadcasting & Cable editor Benjamin Grossman also seems annoyed with "IAC-GMOOH!" He’s pretty tame compared to Hibberd, however, calling the show an example of the "lows" of network TV and singling out its use of Speidi for particular scorn.
"Apparently all NBC can do to sell this show – which is a remake of an old concept that basically marries Survivor with Fear Factor — is to have a big scandal about these two idiots quitting the show and then returning every episode," Grossman blogged.
I wish I could join in on the bashing of "IAC-GMOOH!" Right now, however, all I can add is my valiant attempt to get others to use my tortured abbreviation for the show. (It works better phonetically: "Ayak- gmu!")
When NBC first started leaking out potential cast members for the show, I thought I’d be instantly hooked. There’s still a chance I’ll catch up on it via this weekend’s MTV marathon. But the failure to get Blago involved in any way other than PR stunts, plus the lack of any cheesy stars of the 1980s, has made it less than must-see-reality-TV for me.
Plus, why ruin my appetite for cheese when the summer’s main TV course is just a few weeks away? But first…