Why Does NBC Think 'I'm A Celebrity...' Will Work Now?
Lately, NBC's managed to eke out some buzz for its upcoming reboot of I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here! by leaking its subpar cast out in dribs and drabs. Stephen Baldwin! Janice Dickinson! Disgraced governor Rod Blagojevich, maybe! Here's the thing, though: this series already failed when ABC attempted it in 2003 (even its host, John Lehr, called it "one of the worst reality shows of all time.") Why do the suits at NBC think they can make it work?
Sure, the pump has been primed for celebrity reality since 2003, but at the network level, that star-seeded format tends to work best when it's upbeat and aspirational (see Dancing with the Stars). Watching unliked D-listers scramble around in the jungle for a month ain't exactly that. For NBC to demand such ridiculous commitment from its audience as to schedule Celebrity four days a week for three weeks (then three days in its final week), it has to offer the viewer investment of wanting to see someone succeed -- and with this title, format, and cast, that doesn't seem likely.
Other than Blagojevich, who may not even be allowed to legally take part, the cast is filled with reality veterans like Dickinson, Sanjaya Malakar, and Dog the Bounty Hunter. Unless NBC pulls a couple surprises out of its hat at today's junket, the show's in danger of becoming a low-rent version of Bravo's Battle of the Network Reality Stars. Sure, the MTV team-up probably helped the network nab Heidi and Spencer (and made a mockery of MTV's much-publicized refocus on shows that "empower" their audience), but those two aren't nearly as interesting without a phalanx of story editors and producers to prod them in the right direction.
If NBC's desperate for some cheap reality programming, why not pick up the Susan Boyle-enhanced Britain's Got Talent? After all, the network already has the rights to the American version, and the UK edition has become a global phenomenon with more Boyle performances yet to come. Wait, that would make too much sense. Carry on, brave lions Ben Silverman and Jeff Zucker -- your mission to turn NBC into VH1 (with Jay Leno) is truly Peabody-worthy.