Monthly Archives: May 2006

The Guy on the Right (Episode 5-14)

Sean and Lee started their final tasks on this season’s penultimate episode of The Apprentice, and it already seems obvious that Lee will not be hired next Monday night.

After both Allie and Roxanne were eliminated, Lee and Sean were called to the boardroom where they were told they were the final two candidates for the title of Apprentice. They’d receive their last tasks the next morning, but that night they each had to decide which three previously eliminated candidates they would like to assist them in the task.

All of this season’s former candidates were waiting for Sean and Lee when they returned to the suite. As soon as the ousted contestants realized only six of them would be selected to help with the final task, the campaigning began. Everyone pulled Sean and Lee aside to express their sincere loyalty and desire to work with whoever would get them another two weeks on TV.

To no one’s surprise, Sean’s first choice was his dream girl, Tammy. He rounded out the team with Andrea and Tarek, who was nominated by Tammy and Andrea. Sean’s goal was to create a team of smart people who could work well together, and he got the best people to match that description.

Lee’s first choice, also to no one’s surprise, was his surrogate father, Lenny. Like a good politician, Lee wanted to shore up his “base,” selecting a team of only those people he was sure wanted him to win. Lenny helped Lee determine who was most loyal to him, and Roxanne made the cut along with Lenny’s shocking recommendation, Pepi — who had been fired way back in week two.

In the board room the next morning, the mood was jovial as the final tasks were revealed: a celebrity hockey tournament and a charity concert featuring the Barenaked Ladies. Everyone laughed as Trump joked about his personal rule – always go with bare naked ladies.

Lee confidently offered to take the hockey tournament and give Sean the concert. Lenny felt good about their chances, promising Trump, “We’re going to bury them so deep nobody will find them for 20 years.” Then both teams left to start their big assignments.

Carolyn, who’d been giggling through the entire boardroom, finally got to let everyone else in on the joke after the teams departed. “Who was that guy on the far right?” she asked Trump with tears in her eyes. Trump didn’t know either, and he had to check on a sheet of paper to find Pepi’s name. “‘Pepi, you’re fired.’ Did I say that?” Trump asked, sending Carolyn into fits.

Sean’s team drove to the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, site of the concert. Proceeds of the event would benefit the World Wildlife Fund, who hoped to raise at least $100,000 through ticket sales, donations, and additional fundraising. Andrea and Tarek got the main corporate sponsor for both teams’ events, Pontiac, to donate two cars to be auctioned off.

While Tarek and Andrea worked with Pontiac, Sean and Tammy selected a menu for a pre-concert party. They spent so much time going over minutiae, it sounded like they were selecting the menu for their wedding reception. Tarek, who had not worked with Sean before, was concerned that Sean was more interested in being with Tammy than winning the task.

Lee’s team started their task with a trip to Denis Leary’s production company, as proceeds from the hockey tournament went to the Leary Firefighters Foundation. Liz, the foundation representative, was unimpressed when Lee suggested a firefighter date auction, and sent them away to develop some classier fundraising ideas.

As Sean’s team had done, Lee’s team met with Pontiac executives, and he also got them to donate two cars for an auction. However, Lee missed an opportunity when he didn’t follow up on Pepi’s suggestion that Pontiac match the funds raised at the event. Perhaps Lee’d forgotten who Pepi was, as well.

Lee’s laid-back, casual approach to the task concerned Carolyn, who was observing Lee’s team when Liz from the Leary Foundation called demanding ideas. Unimpressed with Lee’s latest suggestion of a silent auction, Liz decided she needed to come meet with them again that night — although there was no guarantee that the team would generate any new ideas, even with a few extra hours to plan.

In Atlantic City, Sean’s team faced an even more serious crisis. Stress or a mystery ailment caused Andrea to start coughing up blood. She left the team to see a doctor, and Sean told her not to worry about making it back for the task. Sean and his remaining team members made plans on how to pick up the slack.

The final task concludes next Monday night at 9:30 Eastern / 8:30 Central, followed by the live boardroom hiring. It looks like Sean is a lock for the job, even if Andrea can’t return. There’s no way that Lee can please Liz. She said that she ran the hockey event for the last five years, so there’s nothing Lee can do that will be up to her standards.

Tomorrow at Noon Eastern / 11 a.m. Central, Pontiac will continue to promote its charitable side, along with its G6 convertible. Go to http://www.pontiac.com/apprentice, and Pontiac will donate $1 to the charity of your choice, up to a total of $500,000. Voters will be entered into a drawing to win a G6 for themselves and for their charity.

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DWTS Offseason Update: 5-26-06

Bergeron the Frontrunner for GMA Job
As soon as Charles Gibson announced that he’d be leaving Good Morning America to anchor World News Tonight, Tom Bergeron became the most likely candidate to fill the GMA vacancy. But according to The Boston Herald, Tom isn’t willing to trade his duties as host of DWTS and America’s Funniest Videos for a daily 3 a.m. wake-up call.

Max Is Back
After an especially busy month, including his appearances on GMA last week, Maksim Chmerkovskiy posted an update at his official forum. He’s finishing up a fitness DVD, and he’s even working on a project with Donald Trump. The Donald’s going to remove all of the labels from his unsold bottles of Trump Ice water and relabel them “Max Ice.”

Stacy’s Partner in Crime
If you’re interested in learning more about Stacy Keibler’s boyfriend, he’s got a role in the Jennifer Aniston/Vince Vaughan film The Break-Up.

Another DWTS 3 Candidate
According to an interview with The Edmonton Sun, DWTS producers approached Vanessa Anne Hudgens to fill one of the celebrity spots on Season 3. The 18-year-old actress, who stars on the Disney Channel show High School Musical, turned down the offer to participate.

This is pure speculation, but don’t be surprised if the Disney-owned ABC network tries to pull talent from its cable affiliate. One of the Disney Channel’s teen stars would be the perfect match for a young pro dancer that producers would be wise to invite for next season: Valentin Chmerkovskiy.

Work Vs. Friendship (Episode 5-13)

Best Friends Forever Allie and Roxanne turned on each other as soon as they faced elimination. Consequently, Trump fired them both for lack of loyalty on tonight’s episode of The Apprentice.

Sean was excited about Gold Rush’s chances for this week’s task: designing new uniforms for Embassy Suites employees. He planned to use his metrosexual fashion knowledge to avenge Tammy’s ouster last week at the hands of Allie and Roxanne.

Both teams worked with fashion designers, seamstresses, and models to design new uniforms for front desk staff, doormen, suite keepers, and breakfast chefs. 120 Embassy Suites employees were to judge the uniforms at a fashion show. During the task, Trump’s kids, Don Jr. and Ivanka, shadowed the teams as viceroys.

Interviews with company executives and staff inspired the men of Gold Rush to upgrade — rather than completely redesign — the current uniforms. Though they were concerned with style, Gold Rush’s focus was functionality. They picked stylish, comfortable fabrics to complement practical changes like breathable chefs jackets and all-weather wear for doormen.

Lee, Gold Rush’s Project Manager, was happy to defer to Sean’s superior fashion knowledge. Lee admitted he wasn’t sure what a metrosexual was, though he figured its domain lies about halfway between a heterosexual and a homosexual.

Although they interviewed many of the same employees, Synergy chose to emphasize style over function. Allie took the role of Project Manager only because someone needed to claim the role. She said that she and Roxanne would be more like “co-PMs.”

However, it wasn’t long before Allie started wielding her power like an iron fist. She treated their designer like a hired hand, criticizing his designs (which she helped create), his fabric choices, and even calling him by the wrong name.

Silently, Roxanne went along with everything, probably hoping that Allie would dig her own grave. Roxanne didn’t object when Allie insisted on a skirt for the front desk staff, even though employees in that position had requested pants. Heck, Roxanne didn’t even object to culottes for the cleaning staff!

At the fashion show, Gold Rush’s designs crushed Synergy’s. The desk staff appreciated that Gold Rush designed pants for them, and everyone else liked that the uniforms were comfortable, adjustable, and not too dissimilar from those they already had.

By contrast, Synergy created short-sleeved, cuffed jackets for the door staff and hard-to-wash, shiny, khaki chef’s jackets. Worst of all were the puffy-sleeved, khaki suite keepers’ dresses, which were, in Sean’s opinion, “patronizing.”

The 120 Embassy Suites employees voted in favor of Gold Rush, 83-27. After the victory, Don Jr. praised Sean, saying “his metrosexuality paid off.” Sean’s and Lee’s reward was dinner with Don Jr. and Ivanka.

Don Jr. and Ivanka were very open about their life with The Donald, even telling Sean and Lee that Trump wears a pink bathrobe. They also said their dad likes to come home from work and plop down in front of the TV with a cheeseburger and a glass of milk. While they were in college, the kids were given a $300 monthly allowance; if they needed extra money, they had to work for it.

The younger Trumps didn’t just talk about themselves and their dad. They seemed to be genuinely interested in their dinner companions. Ivanka was especially amused when Lee spilled the beans on Sean’s crush on Tammy. Sean said that Tammy was gorgeous, and, when the show was over, he hoped to convince her that they should have “lots of Apprentice babies.”

Meanwhile, the BFFs shared their last night in the suite together. They vowed not to bash each other in the boardroom. And things started out cordially enough, with Allie allowing that their uniforms weren’t received the way they’d hoped.

Ivanka wouldn’t let Allie off the hook for bad design: “Puffy sleeves, come on!” Slowly, Roxanne’s sense of self-preservation kicked in. She claimed she’d protested some of Allie’s decisions. Allie insisted that they’d split the decisions equally, refusing to accept greater culpability for the loss.

Then, things got personal. Allie said Roxanne was a better attorney than an Apprentice, and that everyone agreed that her bad attitude made her hard to work with. Roxanne blasted Allie for being high-maintenance and rude.

Trump put a stop to things. He was disappointed that they’d forsaken their friendship so quickly after losing, so he fired both Roxanne and Allie. To their credit, the two had patched things up by the time they they were interviewed in their post-show cab ride.

Next week’s penultimate episode pits Lee against Sean in their final task. They get to choose teams from all of this season’s previously ousted candidates. Surely, Sean will choose his true love, Tammy, for his team, and Lee will choose his true love, Lenny.

DWTS Offseason Update: 5-21-06

DWTS Moves to Tuesdays
When Dancing with the Stars returns in the fall, the show will air on Tuesday nights at 8/7 c, with the results show airing on Wednesdays. None of the other networks has anything that can really compete with DWTS in either timeslot. Edtya Sliwinska was on hand at ABC’s upfront last week to help promote the show — a good indication that she’ll be back for season 3.

Stacy’s Seizure Scare
Stacy Keibler is reportedly doing fine after suffering a minor seizure last week. Tests cleared her of any major health problems, and doctors are confident that it was a random incident.

Drew’s a Swaddling Machine
People Magazine’s latest issue features an interview with Drew Lachey, who’s enjoying every aspect of fatherhood. He’s an expert diaper changer and swaddler, and he’s in charge of lullabies, naturally. Baby Isabella’s favorite music? Sly and the Family Stone.

Hip Hip Hooray

Nice guys finish first! Hippies BJ & Tyler pooled their massive
brain power to edge out Frat Guys Eric & Jeremy during the final leg of
The Amazing Race 9.

Thanks to winning the Fast Forward
on the previous leg, the Hippies had a two-hour head start when this
leg began in Bangkok, Thailand. Their lead evaporated when the first
clue sent them to an elephant park that didn’t open until 4 a.m.

All
of the teams grabbed a T-Mobile Sidekick from an elephant (he’d run out
of minutes). The clue instructed them to fly to Tokyo and find the
busiest intersection in the world, Shibuya Scramble.

At the
airport, the Hippies were too slow in picking a flight, and they got
closed out of the first flight to Tokyo. They arrived almost 90 minutes
behind the other two teams, but made up time when Ray & Yolanda
struggled with driving directions.

The Frat Guys were first to
spot the clue on one of the dozens of giant screens in Shibuya. It
directed them to “Find Hachiko,” a famous dog memorialized in a statue.
A man on a bench near the statue had their next clue, and they assumed
that he was Hachiko.

The Detour clue gave them the choice of
“Maiden” or “Messenger.” The Frats chose “Maiden,” which required them
to carry a young woman in an ancient transportation device, because
they wanted to see if she was hot. When their passenger popped out of
the cab wearing a French maid’s uniform, Eric said, “This is like a
naughty fantasy come true.”

BJ & Tyler, now in second place,
elected to do “Messenger” and ride bicycles to deliver packages to two
nearby buildings. It was easy for them because Tyler’s Japanese
girlfriend has taught him the language, and he was able to ask for very
specific directions.

Team RaYo didn’t have such luck, as they
struggled to understand the people they asked for directions. When they
finally found their clue, they carried the maiden as well, a physically
demanding task, but one which went pretty quickly.

Upon
completing their Detours, teams were told to find the Capsule Land
Hotel. Only when they arrived did they realize they’d be spending the
night in tiny, stacked compartments.

At 9 a.m., the Frats were
the first team to make their way to Fujikyu Highland amusement park.
Jeremy was surprised to learn that the mountain next to the park wasn’t
Mt. Tokyo, but in fact, Mt. Fuji.

RaYo stopped at the most
American place they could find, Denny’s, to ask for directions. They
still couldn’t understand the man who tried to help them. Things got
worse on the highway when they lost their toll ticket. A tollway
employee was able to help them, and he patted Ray’s behind as a stunned
Ray got back into his car.

At the amusement park, a Roadblock
sent Jeremy, Tyler, and Yolanda on three thrill rides. During the
rides, they needed to look for a man on the ground holding a sign with
the name of their next destination. Tyler enlisted the help of some
cute girls, who liked touching his beard.

The sign read “Lake
Yamanaka,” the sight of their next Pit Stop. The Frats and Hippies left
the park at the same time, and arrived at the lake for the most
embarrassing race to the mat ever. They raced in swan-shaped
paddleboats to a larger swan boat in the middle of the lake, with the
Hippies outpaddling the Frats for first place.

RaYo arrived two
hours behind the other teams but were not eliminated. Instead, they
were stripped of their money and possessions and left to beg in a
country where the language barrier had completely unnerved them.

As
was the case with the Hippies when they lost their belongings, RaYo’s
brush with elimination also removed their fear of losing. They’d been
given a second chance, so they figured they might as well have fun.
They were able to enjoy the remainder of the race without the tension
that plagued them this leg.

Teams left Lake Yamanaka after
midnight but weren’t able to catch a hotel shuttle to the airport until
6 a.m. The Hippies struck a deal with the clerk at the hotel, who then
had this exchange with the Frat Guys:

Eric: “Do you have Internet?”
Clerk: “Yes.”
Eric: “Can we use it?”
Clerk: “We don’t have Internet service here.”

Meanwhile, the Hippies used the hotel’s Internet lounge to research flights to their next destination: Anchorage, Alaska.

RaYo
stopped at another American-sounding restaurant, Jonathan, to beg for
yen on the way to the airport. The intoxicated businessmen happily
doled out cash to Yolanda, because they thought she looked like Janet
Jackson.

Teams took separate flights to Taipei, but all boarded
the same connection to Anchorage. Once there, RaYo fell behind quickly,
as they repeatedly stopped to confirm directions to their next
destination, Mirror Lake.

At the lake, teams had the non-choice
of one Detour task. Due to inclement weather, teams couldn’t
participate in a Detour option that involved flying in a single-prop
plane. So, instead, each of the teams chose to drill 10 fishing holes
through the lake ice, and then push a heavy, wooden shelter over two of
the holes.

While no one had an easy time with the challenging
physical task, the Frats finished first and drove to Kincaid Park to
strap on snow shoes and search for the next clue. RaYo arrived at the
frozen lake just as the Hippies were leaving.

Even though RaYo
were far behind when they found the snowshoe clue that directed them to
the Anchorage Airport, they were able to catch up at the airport and
join the other teams on the evening’s only flight to Denver, Colorado.

After
arriving in Denver at dawn, teams searched for clues in a historical
park. Ray & Yolanda, who reached the park last, took too long to
find a clue in a chicken coop and fell out of contention for the grand
prize. At this point, as it had been for most of the season, it was a
two-team race between the Frats and the Hippies for first.

Eric
& Jeremy left the park with a five minute lead on the Hippies but
got nervous when they reached their final Roadblock at the Red Rocks
Amphitheater — where the season began. In a field full of national
flags, one person had to find a flag from each of the nine countries
they’d visited on the race, and then arrange them in the order they
were visited.

Eric had to gather and arrange the flags by
himself, but Jeremy could offer suggestions. Teams could also use a
placard that had all the correct flags, plus a few red herring flags,
to help. The Frats had hoped the final challenge would require more
brains than brawn, and they now worried that the Hippies Ivy League
educations would give the bearded buddies a huge edge.

The Frats
had good reason to worry. BJ initially skipped the Russian flag, this
season’s second international destination, but properly ordered the
rest of the flags. Meanwhile, Eric & Jeremy couldn’t remember what
the flag of Thailand looked like, forcing Eric to return to the field
to try different flags.

Eventually, Tyler figured out which flag
belonged to Russia, clinching the victory for the Hippies. They arrived
at the mat in tears, where Phil and the eliminated racers waited for
them with open arms. Even Monica & Joseph looked genuinely happy.

Tyler
said that the $1 million meant they might actually be able to do
whatever they wanted with their lives, though he didn’t specify what
that might be. Probably buy a diamond-encrusted hacky sack and some
personal drum lessons from Mickey Hart.

When the Frats finally hit the finish mat, an obviously disappointed
Eric said that finishing in second place meant that he’d probably have
to return to waiting tables. But his share of the Frats’ $100,000 prize
might help him delay that for a while.

Ray & Yolanda beamed
at the mat, having overcome their frustrations in Japan. They said they
were both in love, but when asked if they planned to get married,
Yolanda said, “Not today.”

CBS announced today that TAR 10 will return this fall in another new time slot: Sunday night at 8/7c. That puts it up against football on NBC and Extreme Home Makeover on ABC. However, TAR will get a strong lead-in from 60 Minutes and will be followed by popular crime dramas Cold Case and Without a Trace.

This lineup bodes well for TAR’s ratings. At least it can’t be worse than going up against American Idol. Let’s hope the next season features even more fun and likeable teams to root for. And if you’re interested in being on the Race, open casting calls for season 11 started this week.

Catch Them While You Can

As the TV season winds down, here are a few shows worth catching before they’re gone — some of them for good. (All times Central)

Invasion Series Finale
Wednesday, May 17 – ABC 9 p.m.
This sci-fi gem never got the respect it deserved. It didn’t help that even those turtles from the Comcast commercials thought the first five episodes were slow. Still, show creator Shaun Cassidy took more narrative chances with this than any other series currently on the air. The sheriff convinced a guy to cut off his own arm, for Pete’s sake! Invasion has been consistently more compelling than its lead in, Lost. Tune in Wednesday to find out the fate of the human race.

Max Chmerkovskiy on GMA
Friday, May 19 – ABC 7 a.m.
The long rumored “Dancing with the Rising Stars” segment is finally airing on Good Morning America this week. Max and his students, who introduced the mini-competition on Monday, return on Friday for the final dance-off. What’s better than a good looking guy teaching kids how to waltz?

Deadliest Catch Marathon
Saturday, May 20 – Discovery 6 p.m.
…Good looking men fishing for crab, that’s what’s better! The studs of the Bering Sea dominate Discovery’s airwaves for a 4-episode marathon. Okay, most of them look like crusty seadogs, but they have their charm. There’s grumpy old Hiram, goof-offs Matt and Casey, and Edgar, the Brad Pitt of the fleet. My personal hero, Captain Sig, always comes up with a few good lines. Nothing inspires a crew quite like depriving them of food and sleep, and then calling them “robots.”

Heavy: The Story of Metal
Monday, May 22 – VH1 8 p.m
“Photograph” by Def Leppard is the greatest song ever written, and I’m counting on this documentary to confirm that. VH1 runs this four-part series Monday through Thursday, tracing the history of the music that helped shape my worldview. I believe that, as Kiss sang, God did give rock and roll to me, and that Yngwie J. Malmsteen really fought a dragon with his guitar.

Top Chef Season Finale
Wednesday, May 24 – Bravo 9 p.m.
Every episode of this series has been entertaining, so the finale should be good. Viewers will learn this Wednesday night if the emotional Dave and the emotionless Tiffani will face off for the grand prize. Whatever happens, as Dave says, it is what it is.

National Spelling Bee
Thursday, June 1 – ABC 7 p.m.
The National Homeschool Competition, er, Spelling Bee goes prime time this year. Past Bees on ESPN have produced legendary moments like this. 11-year-old social outcasts + intense pressure = good TV.

Death to Traitors? (Episode 5-12)

If Donald Trump’s business credo for this week’s Apprentice, “Death to Traitors,” was accurate, Roxanne or Allie would’ve been fired. But the title was misleading, as Tammy took the fall, despite her teammates’ mutiny.

Microsoft and Wal-Mart teamed up to give teams the task of promoting the Xbox 360 by setting up an interactive display inside one of the latter mega-corporation’s stores. After avoiding Wal-Mart for some seven years, I was glad to see that it still looked just as crappy as the last time I gave them any of my money.

The men of Gold Rush took it easy, having outsourced most of their design to two printers. One printer worked on the walls of the display, which would attach to a printed floor and ceiling that were being generated by another printer, Adrien. Sean and Lee had plenty of time to relax and express love for one another over fries and noodles.

The boys were finally spurred to action when Adrien revealed that he’d underestimated the project completion time by more than seven hours. As the task’s deadline approached, they had a floor and walls, but no ceiling from which the walls could hang. Lee taped the walls to anything he could, and Gold Rush was left with a sad, sagging display.

Fortunately for them, their concept was good. It incorporated a variety of products available at Wal-Mart that worked with the various facets of the Xbox 360. And everything was priced clearly.

Soon after the company executives were done judging the display, Adrien arrived with the ceiling. Sean is currently awaiting trial for Adrien’s murder.

On Synergy, Allie and Roxanne unconsciously sabotaged Tammy the Project Manager’s plan, once they decided they didn’t like it. Tammy envisioned a red carpet lounge where shoppers could experience the different entertainment features of the Xbox 360.

Allie and Roxanne checked out mentally and spent more time playing with hula hoops than contributing to the project. As Tammy explained the concept to Viceroy Bill Rancic, Allie rolled her eyes at him to indicate her displeasure.

When Tammy confronted her team members about the frequent eye-rolls, Allie and Roxanne feigned shock. They clarified that their facial expressions were eyebrow raises, not eye rolls. Hoping to motivate her team, Tammy said she really wanted them to help her win the task for herself, a statement that Allie and Roxanne filed away for boardroom ammunition.

Given the task of designing the signs, Roxanne put forth minimal effort, reasoning that she just needed to carry out Tammy’s orders as written, and the blame would fall on Tammy for bad design. The signs wound up being too small, making the whole display look amateurish.

Despite their incomplete execution, their focus on accessories and pricing earned Sean and Lee a victory. For their reward, they were flown to DreamWorks’ Studios in California, where they were allowed to read for bit parts in the animated film, Over the Hedge.

They both made the film’s final cut. Lee made his film debut as Lunch Table Larry, with compelling lines like, “Look out!” Sean seemed to have found his true calling, thanks to his reading of a man tending a grill: “I truly believed in my soul that I was Barbeque Barry!”

When Synergy took their seats in the boardroom, Trump said their display “looked like a cheap, third-rate liquor lounge.” The pitch and volume of Tammy’s voice got higher and higher as she defended her display, contesting that no one offered any other ideas.

Roxanne went on the attack against Tammy’s bad design and selfish attitude, invoking her prior “It’s all about me” comment. Allie stayed mute until Ivanka and Bill called her out for her eye-rolling. She apologized to Bill and Tammy, although Tammy said she would’ve appreciated the apology more when she initially asked for it, during the task.

While Roxanne and Allie were criticized for giving a half-hearted effort, and Trump said he hated traitors earlier in the episode, he fired Tammy because she couldn’t command the respect of her team. In effect, he rewarded Roxanne and Allie for being quitters.

Next week, the show returns to its regular timeslot, and the two teams face off in a fashion show showdown. On Gold Rush, Lee’s and Sean’s brains take a vacation when confronted with a room full of models.