reality dramas, looking for another monster hit like "Survivor," the
networks are unveiling a slew of them at the press tour here. They are still importing
European hits, including those bizarro formats from Holland. (What is it with that place?)
voyeurism pitting people against each other? Or provocative, fun
storytelling in exciting locales? You decide. Herewith a sampler of the new crop:
on Fox. A "committed" couple goes to an island where their relationship
is put to the ultimate test. The man — who admits he has "stepped out" on his lady before
— is tempted by a bevy of scantily clad models and slinky career women desperate to find a man.
Will Bill sell his soul on the temptation-filled isle of Manhattan? Will Hillary break down in tears
and tell her guy he doesn't know how bad it hurts when he does these things?
A couple on Temptation
Island, the Fox press release promises, will get
the opportunity to "find out if what they think they want is actually what they do want."
"Chains of Love"
on UPN. "From bondage to bonding, an
ultra-interpersonal reality series," UPN calls this. A photogenic brunette
has four illegal aliens chained to her, who must spend their days and
nights laboring to please her. Their personal space is dictated by a
10-foot chain with wrist and ankle cuffs, which the network says
provides a lot of "funny physical comedy." Nobody moves, eats or sleeps
without the permission of "The Link," as the woman at the center of the
Chain Gang is known. She might give her immigrant captives their
freedom, or she might not. Meanwhile, they must try to win her affection
and get her help securing green cards by cheerfully doing her bidding —
vacuuming, picking up after her teenage sons, washing clothes and
dishes, fetching dry cleaning, helping the caterers, following her dog with
a pooper scooper and cleaning the neighbor's house for peanuts. At the
end of each episode, Miss Linda (as in "Miss Linda, should I scrub the
bathroom now?") will unlock the shackles of one slave, who will then run
away as fast as possible.
UPN. UPN says this midseason offering, modeled on the
W.W.F., "catches the fast-paced excitement and ominous drama of
human `hunters' pursuing human `prey' in a jungle-like setting." The
wicked, menacing and competitive "warriors," armed with laser rifles
firing paintballs, snares and booby traps, will be a quartet of familiar
faces: George W.W.F. Bush, Stone Cold Dick Cheney, Donald "That's
Right About Those Negroes, Mr. Nixon" Rumsfeld and Colin "Charge
$200,000 a Speech if the Lebanese Are Paying" Powell. The action will
take place on the grounds of the White House, in the rugged terrain of
the Rose Garden. The fleeing "prey" will be lesser cabinet members and
under secretaries, dressed up as annoying hippies from the 60's.
big-game hunt is designed to appeal to coveted young male
viewers and to occupy the young male president, who gets cranky if he is
not allowed long diversions outdoors after brief policy sessions indoors.
The last hippie to elude the disciplinary forces is rewarded with a jackpot:
a Brooks Brothers suit, a rep tie and the ambassadorship to the Court of St. James.
Mir" on NBC. The network is buying a Soyuz rocket to
launch the winner of a cosmonaut training contest into space to link up
with the Mir space station. The first winner is Al Gore, who, as it turned
out, was eager to leave Earth in the Balance and be shot off the planet.
"The Mole" on
ABC. ABC calls this a "gripping mystery adventure
show" that follows 14 diverse members of the Bush cabinet as they try to
figure out who among them is The Mole. The Mole is a secret agent of
the Confederacy, trained in cultural espionage at Bob Jones University,
whose goal is to foil the moderate efforts of the others. He will do his
best to sabotage the compassion in the conservatism (in the conservatory
with a lead pipe, a candlestick, a rope, a wrench or a revolver). The
player who can ferret out The Mole before he dynamites rights for
blacks, women and gays and makes the Supreme Court even more
Neanderthal and partisan than it already is will take home up to $1 million
and the thanks of a grateful nation.