Re-inventing the Wheel

March 27, 2008

Execs at Channel 9 have decided the best way to take on the ratings Goliath that is Deal or No Deal is to roll out a new version of Wheel of Fortune.  To support the transition from Ch 7 to Ch 9 they’ve signed a host who’s also making that journey – ex Home and Away actor and Dancing With the Stars contestant Tim Campbell.

The original version of Wheel graced our screens for almost 25 years and viewers endured new hosts and the impact of technology when the co-host was no longer required to turn the letters around, but still had to turn up in ballgowns.

So how is the latest incarnation of the television version of hangman going to win this coveted timeslot?  Well, the new name hints at their strategy – Million Dollar Wheel of Fortune.  The idea of throwing more money at a tried format made no difference to Price Is Right when Larry Emdur was directed to give away an apartment and wads of cash to a few very lucky audience members.  So why will this be any different?

Looking at the newest US series, there are more similarities to Deal than to the old Wheel.  The wheel itself no longer dominates the set and the clues certainly seem skewed differently to the old days.  If nothing else, having young women scream and hold on to one another like this is sure to get someone watching.


The story goes that Britney personally called the producers of How I Met Your Mother and begged to appear alognside ex-Doogie Howser. She thought this’d be a great way to re-brand herself and get back in the spotlight for all the right reasons and it seems NBC news agrees. Check it out for yourself here.

You can also buy yourself a piece of her comeback by bidding for the clothes she wore on the show. Everything up for sale resembles something worn by a character on Little House on The Prarie and I’m more than disappointed that there are no underpants listed, but this may be the only time us normal chicks can be seen in something worn by the pop princess.

Sabotage via Sunrise?

March 18, 2008

The rumour is that this ‘attack’ on Mel and Kochie was set up by Channel 9. You’d think they would have come up with a protest message that was immediately understandable.

Maybe the Aussie Temptation Island contestants are chasing their pay cheques. Piaf, is that you?

Get Back

March 18, 2008

Brilliant news just in – there’s going to be a new Muppet Movie. Jason Segel, an actor from Judd Apatow’s alumni, has teamed up with the Henson puppeteers to make it happen. The great thing about reprising The Muppets is that they are timeless and ageless. No rapidly diminishing, juiced-up Sylvester Stallone jumping rope in tight too tight tracksuit pants, or Harrison Ford trying to pull off Indiana Jones moves while holding in his middle aged spread.

The value in any remake is that the people who previously loved the show come back and, hopefully, bring the next generation along. The challenge, however, is that the new audience have no knowledge of who the characters are and why they should care. Will today’s kids blindly accept Gonzo as the weird looking one who hangs out with chickens, without a convincing back-story? What will they make of the domestic violence that dominates the relationship between Kermit and Miss Piggy? Will Scooter finally come out?

Whatever happens, let’s hope it’s so successful that the weekly TV show returns. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed seeing cloth creatures until Puppet Up at last year’s Melbourne Comedy Festival. As the singing, dancing menagerie fill the stage a wave of nostalgia washed over the audience. Although much more adult-oriented than the original, the magic was that of childhood all over again. If you didn’t get to the show, take a look this made-for-TV version.

Speaking of forgotten magic, another gang being brought back to life are the beautiful high schoolers of Beverly Hills 90210. Long before Dawson and his Creek or the OC’s designer wardrobes, twins Brenda and Brandon were showing us right from wrong in the world of the beautiful people. CW in the States have committed to a new series. It feels soon, considering that the original only left our screens 10 years ago. But, considering how much older than their characters the actors were, it’s feasible that Kelly and Dylan could return as the parents of a clan of rebellious teens. Donna could make a guest appearance as the sex-ed teacher who preaches abstinence. And on the weekends they could all visit Andrea at the old folks home.

What else is it time to bring back?

Australian sports fans will rejoice when Wide World of Sports returns after a nine year absence. Tune in Sunday morning from 9.30am for a ninety-minute nostalgic experience. Ken Sutcliffe is hosting and will share the desk with a team of revolving regulars including Adam Gilchrist, James Brayshaw, Nicole Livingstone, Giaan Rooney and Michael Slater.

To get you warmed up, here’s a firm favourite of the original WWoS intro, an extended clip of Brian Meeker or ‘The Vault Man’.

On Sunday March 2nd at 9pm Oprah Winfrey’s first foray into primetime, reality television lit up the screens. ABC in the US aired the first episode of Oprah’s Big Give. 15.6 million viewers tuned in to see the billionaire talk-show queen preside over her latest vision. It was the third highest rating premiere in the US this year; beaten by Moment of Truth and The Sarah Connor Chronicles (I’m assuming this is not the same group of 15 odd million Americans). It’s hosted by one of Oprah’s flock of discoveries – interior designer Nate Berkus. Guess we’re lucky it’s not Dr Phil.

Contestants travel to unfamiliar towns across the US (two of the exec producers came from The Amazing Race) and use an allocated budget to help the hopeless in unique ways, to become America’s greatest philanthropist.

The contestants earned their place by filling out a comprehensive 11-page application. The Big O’s stamp is all over the form. From the subtle ‘What pets do you own or have you owned?’ to the blatant ‘How often do you watch The Oprah Winfrey Show?’ But my favourite question by far was ‘Excluding appearance and involvement with this show, what is the next meaningful milestone that you will be set to experience in your life?’ Check out the ten people who worked out how to answer that and fulfilled the need for great back story.

Like all reality constructs, there’s a catch phrase ‘Give big, or go home.’ The contestants’ efforts to do this are judged by a motley trio – Jamie Oliver is the nice guy, Malaak Compton-Rock who used to work for the UN is the woman who sits in the middle and football player Tony Gonzalez is the bad cop. Each episode ends with the worst giver or the least altruistic or the most selfish player being kicked out. The Big Give Big Twist is that the last man standing gets $1 million and they don’t know it.

The reviews have been mixed. The Hollywood Reporter called it ‘Shallow as a birdbath’ and even those who liked it are not sure about using altruism as competition.

The second episode aired last night and the audience slipped by 25%. It’s a pity, because if the ratings remained high there’d surely be an Aussie version and Oprah’s already found her Aussie host. Anyone for Jamie Durie’s Big Give? At least he’s used to chasing ratings by standing next to poverty-stricken subjects as they cry over their surprise gifts.

Two moments between female friends have been attracting attention this week. The first appeared in the wake of Natalie Imbruglia’s marriage break-up and subsequent girl power holiday with gal pal Kylie. The other was a a desperate attempt by Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston to attract audience numbers like they used to on Friends. You be the judge:

Kylie and Nat’s airport greeting

Courtney and Jennifer are finally more than friends