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Published: Wednesday, 6/17/2009

Calvacade of celebrity reality shows

Welcome to the Blade blog Culture Shock, a three-times-a-week riff by Pop Culture Editor Kirk Baird on pop culture news, events, and trends. The blog appears Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings here, with the odd night or off-day posting if something is merited.

Add MC Hammer, whose new show premiered Sunday on A&E, to the latest retro-pseudo-celebrity list to get his own reality show.

Others famous names with their own shows include Tommy Lee, Gene Simmons, Danny Bonaduce, and many others.

Having watched at least an episode of each one, I can say I found none of them really interesting. Reality shows are supposed to be guilty pleasures. Instead, these reek(ed) of desperation for attention, money, or both.

Does anyone really care about the Gene Simmons clan, or Tommy Lee s attempt to survive a semester at college? A scripted TV show s success depends largely on its entertainment value. A reality show is no different.

And don t tell me there s not a list of years-past-their-heyday celebrities who would sell their soul for a chance at TV fame and (minor) fortune.

With that in mind, here are a few suggestions of some celebs whose lives would be worth tuning into on a weekly reality show:

Ted Lange. You know him best as Isaac Washington from The Love Boat, the hippest, pointing-est cruise ship bartender to ever grace network TV. Lange himself isn t so interesting, but what he could bring to the show is: a weekly visit with a former Love Boat cast member, like Gavin MacLeod (Capt. Stubing) or Lauren Tewes (Cruise Director Julie McCoy), and even series guest stars such as Charo, Barbi Benton, Jamie Farr, and Ann Jillian. And yes, every time Lange meets someone friend, foe, or stranger alike he performs his signature pistol point. Perhaps in one episode, he hops behind the bar, gets his former costars drunk, and they all croon the Love Boat theme song.

Gary Coleman. The diminutive star of Dif rent Strokes loves trains, which is only appropriate given what a train wreck his life often is, the latest being his pseudo-marriage to Shannon Price. A reality show chronicling his marriage would be entertaining enough. But throw in a weekly domestic disturbance that requires a visit by the police as really happened to the couple and you ve got real must-see TV.

The Village People. Is justification of such a show really needed?

America s Top Elvis Impersonator. OK, this doesn t involve a celebrity at least, not yet. But nothing says America like Elvis impersonator. We love our Elvis. And we love our people who think they re Elvis. Best yet, we get to vote on who stays and goes, with the finalist being crowned The King. It s Elvis, meets reality show, meets democracy in action. It doesn t get more American than that.

Ted McGinley. The patron saint of Jump the Shark is the star of a new reality show, and has the opportunity to ruin his own show.

Kathie Lee Gifford. Yes, her career tanked after leaving Regis, but Kathie Lee is always ... interesting to watch. And don't tell me that a camera crew following her around 24-7 wouldn't capture some classic moments for TV audiences.

Agree or disagree with a posting? Lemme know. Have a topic or suggestion? Lemme know that, too. Send an e-mail to kbaird@theblade.com or call 419-724-6734.



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