The Men! The Men! – American Idol 4 – 2/28/05

By Annie

It’s men’s night and week two of the semi finals. I just adore men’s night. It’s a guaranteed hour’s worth of great music!

Up first is Mario :love: who attempts to dispel rumors of his baldness. Is he bald? With a voice like his, who cares? He sings “I Love Music”. He is flawless in my eyes. He has confidence and style and doesn’t miss a note. Randy seemed to like it but said he wants more from his voice. Paula agrees and adds that he is consistent and made a good song choice. Simon says Mario looks like he’s been doing this for years and doesn’t need advice from any of them.

Pinch me! Is Simon being nice?

Anwar, the music teacher is next and sings “What’s Going On”. I think he starts off weak and I’m not impressed with the performance, although nothing was wrong with it. The judges were more pleased than I. Randy says he has excellent control. Paula says he is consistent and the best vocalist of the competition. Simon said he sounded fantastic.

Note: Second nice comment from Simon.

Joseph Murena sang “Let’s Stay Together”. It is, by far, the best I’ve ever heard him. Randy said he was expecting more but was good. Paula said he was much better than last week. Simon said he sounded okay.

David Brown was up next and sang “All in Love is Fair”. For a moment or two I thought I was at a family wedding with Cousin Olaf singing. Someone get me a pillow for my sleepy head! Randy said it was pitchy in spots. Paula said it was “better” but believes the best is yet to come out of him (how diplomatic!). Simon told David he has “left his sparkle behind” and needs to sort himself out.

Constantine gets the audience up on to their feet as he belts out “Hard to Handle”. He was totally rockin’ – and pitchin’! But do we care that he missed a few (or more) notes? Of course not because he has those dreamy-come-hither eyes. Randy said it was pitchy at time but good. Simon said you could find the same caliber performance from any bar band. Ok, Simon may be right but let’s keep Constantine for a bit longer, okay?

Scott Savol sings “Never Too Much” for us and, as usual, sounds terrific. I think Scott has softened his appearance a bit with a pair of glasses and pink shirt. He seems less “thuggish” and I’m certain this will help in the competition. All three judges agree, he did a great job.

Note: Another nice comment from Simon.

Travis comes out shaky and nervous as he sings “All Night Long”. I wasn’t impressed with the singing but he does work the stage well. Randy said it was 100%improvement. Simon says he is not the best singer but is a born performer.

Nikko has never been one of my favorites. Until tonight. He sang a very seductive and moving version of “Lets Get It On”. This was a fantastic performance from a guy that I’ve thought all along was nothing more than mediocre. Randy said he “sang the song”. Paula is too flustered to speak (I feel your pain, Paula!). Simon says it’s a 1,000% improvement.

Note: Yep – another nice comment from Simon. And that was not a typo – he said 1,000%.

Anthony Federov is another one that has mellowed his looks. He is far less dorkified this week. He even borders on looking – hot! He sings “I Want to Know What Love Is”. It was beautiful. Randy said he “brought it home”. Paula agrees and Simon says “fantastic job”.

Note: I’ve lost count now.

Wrapping up the show is Bo who rocks us with “Whipping Post”. It’s clear that he has a stronger voice than Constantine and tonight we see more of the Constantine-style flirty looks which totally rounds out his performance. He is comfortable, confident and knows how to work the crowd. Randy loved the song, loved the clothes and said he was “da bomb”. Paula says he is the real deal and is proud. Simon said it was an extraordinary performance.

Final Note: I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many positive things out of Simon in one night. Obviously, there’s a reason for it. These men were excellent performers last week and this week they have really shown improvement. I can hardly wait until next week!

Annie@realityshack.com

He Called Today – Starting Over, 02-28-05

by LauraBelle

I had never really heard of the Butterfly Effect, but I find it an interesting concept that most certainly applies to the women in the Starting Over house. They start out doing such little changes in their lives, and that leads to bigger things, and before long, they have completely Started Over.

Rhonda leads Group introducing the women to the Butterfly Effect. This is an idea by Edward Lorenza, a meteorologist that in 1961 theorized that a butterfly flapping its wings in Peking can have an effect on the weather patterns in New York. Rhonda brings it up to show the women that the smallest of changes you can make in your life will could lead to big changes.

All the women are handed sheets of paper with blank butterflies. They are asked to write down on the Left hand side of the butterfly the small changes they have made in the Starting Over house, and on the Right side the big results that have occurred so far.

Vanessa talks of letting go of others allows her to let go of herself, and that when she respects her failures, it begins to lead to a larger freedom in herself. Renee believes contacting her dad has led to her learning to forgive. Rhonda asks the women to hang their butterflies in their room as a constant reminder that it only takes some small little things to work towards these bigger changes they are looking for.

Rhonda also announces to Bethany that her assignment this day will be to have African dancing lessons. Bethany stops this idea cold and says she doesn’t dance and isn’t feeling very open. Asked to share, she says she doesn’t know what’s wrong. Rhonda believes it is a huge breakthrough for Bethany to begin seeing how her negative body image effects her life and stops her, but urges her to realize many women have the same feelings, and it’s not really a step back, but more a step forward. Not just Rhonda, but Rachael, too, is concerned about Bethany’s hang up over her body image

In a one-on-one with Rhonda, Cassie learns she will be making a video for her son today. She thinks it is a great idea, but she is afraid to hurt the adoptive mother. I’m not sure if she sees it or not, but the adoptive mother has done so much to shut out everyone out of her son’s life. I don’t think Cassie should be so concerned about her feelings. Rhonda asks her why she should move forward if she’s so concerned of hurting feelings, and Cassie says she can’t give up as it makes her feel so much better about herself. To prepare for the video, Rhonda is sending Cassie to a salon. Cassie is reassured it is not for a cut, but just makeup and a”fluff.”

Iyanla holds a two-on-one with Renee and Rachael. They have something so obvious in common these past few days, despite having a hard time originally connecting to each other in their first few weeks in the house. They are both working towards reuniting or uniting with their fathers. Iyanla wants them to see their father’s side, so she is sending them to talk with fathers who have been there. They are going to speak to some veterans that have had breakdowns in their relationships with their children.

Bethany is meeting with Rhonda about her body image problem as Rhonda is growing more and more concerned with this. Bethany had such a hard time the day before shopping with Candy for lingerie, but says it wouldn’t matter what she shopped for, all of it makes her feel like nothing looks good on her. She has felt this was as long as she can remember, but for a person with amnesia, it’s hard to say how long this really is. After Bethany got sick she was put on steroids and gained thirty to thirty-five pounds. She knows she doesn’t weight as much as she used to except in her mind. Looking at her body as objectively as she can, she sees a round face and is upset she can’t see her toes. Rhonda tells her it’s not a stomach preventing this it’s her breasts.

Rhonda asks if Bethany wants to change and she says she does; she wants to be able to shop and dance freely. Bethany believes she is as she has been living too long this way. Rhonda says looking at her she sees a beautiful, smart, charming, charismatic woman, trying to get her to see this perception is only in Bethany’s eyes, making Bethany ask why guys never notice her. She’s not open enough to it, Rhonda explains. Been there; done that, Bethany. Rhonda’s right.

Rachael and Renee have already left to meet with the veterans, but Vanessa answers the phone and it’s Rachael’s long lost dad, Jerry. Vanessa gets Candy as she’s not quite sure what to do. Candy takes the message that Jerry called and he wants her to call him collect. Knowing this needs to be handled with kid gloves, she then calls Iyanla to let her know, an Iyanla decides to call Jerry first, knowing if the wrong feelings are put out there, it could destroy everything Rachael is working so hard towards.

Meeting with the veterans, Rachael and Renee introduce themselves and give a quick history on why they are wanting to reunite with their fathers. The first man speaks up and says his story is actually similar to Rachael’s. His child’s mother and step-mother had passed away within months of each other, leading his child to feel very abandoned. Another man urges them to take their time, as if it’s not handled properly, it can be devastating. Yet another explains that even though they may have never met, the child is still in the father’s heart.

Vanessa meets with Rhonda, wanting to talk about her anger last night. She had been discussing her session with Dr. Stan with her mom, and her mom disagreed with Dr. Stan’s assumption that Vanessa’s parents were living out their own dream and were more disappointed with themselves than with her. Not being sure if it’s anger or sadness at the heart of this, Rhonda asks Vanessa to keep a feelings journal.

After Cassie’s makeover, she meets with Bethany in the park. Bethany thinks Cassie looks beautiful, leaving us all to wonder why she can’t ever see that in herself. He videotapes Cassie’s message to her son, as Cassie says her dream is to meet him and look in his eyes. She tells him she loves him. Bethany is so honored to be chosen to help with this, and says helping Cassie has helped her be in a better mood. Excuse me, Bethany, I do believe that would be that Butterfly Effect.

Iyanla meets with Rachael and Renee when they return to the Starting Over house. They are draped in the blanket Rachael usually reserves for herself, saying they are cold. Renee believes today was all about forgiveness, and Rachael thinks it’s funny the veterans turned the tables on them, wanting to know their intentions in reuniting with their fathers. Renee believes it was great support they were given by the men.

The African dancers, a man and a woman, show up at the house for the dance lesson. Vanessa sees them as joyful and happy. If you have a heartbeat, you can dance by just moving to your own heartbeat, the dancers tell the women. The dancing is explained to them by planting a seed, harvesting and then partying when the work is done. At the end they are instructed to say, “I’m great.” It is explained that God created us and God is perfect. God makes everybody special. Bethany notices that the female African dancer has no worries about her body image. The women each dance individually, and though throwing the cabbage patch in, Bethany does do it, and admits her butt never moved like that.

Iyanla meets privately with Rachael, and says, “He called today.” Rachael knows exactly who “he” is. Iyanla says she spoke to him herself, and that he didn’t know Rachael’s mother had passed away. He also didn’t know that there were moves about trying to get her adopted. If he had known, he would have stopped it. He wants to see Rachael. The first thing he told Iyanla is that he’s been waiting for her. I literally got chills at this point. Rachael is basically just left in shock, but realizes her intuition was right that he would reach out to her with open arms. Iyanla will now call him to let him know Rachael is home and ready to talk.

The show ends, leaving us in suspense, waiting to hear Rachael’s phone call with her dad. As it ends, I notice for the first time, the ever-present blanket is not draped around her, but slouching on her lap. Thinking about that, if the butterfly effect holds true, her father reaching out is leading to something bigger. Perhaps Rachael feeling safe for the first time since her mother and stepfather died.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Wickedly Perfect Episode #8- No Walk in the Park

by Heather Angel

It’s day 21 at the estate and only five contestants remain. That is until Joan Lunden joins them to break the news that all the previously kicked off players are back for this week’s challenge and have a chance to get back in the game. Then, just like ghosts from episodes past, the old contests appear. Team Artisan, consisting of Dawn and Mitch choose Tim, Kimberly, Michelle and Margo to be on their team. Darlene, Heather, and Amy of the Crafty Beavers pick Tom, Denise and Mychael to be in their group. Darlene is a bit skeptical about working with Tom again because their personalities clash.

Joan explains that the teams will each get part of a vacant lot which they will need to landscape into a community park. Part of the park must be a meditation area and part a picnic spot. For the individual project, the team members will each make a topiary by clipping a live
shrub into some sort of shape. This project is very important because if the judges like the topiary made by a returning contestant on the winning team best, he or she will get a second chance and be back in the game. The teams each get a $5000 budget which they can spend at Sears’ on-line store and 24 hours to complete this challenge.

Dawn, of Team Artisan, says she and her husband have landscaped many yards so this project feels like second nature to her. The Crafty Beavers don’t share Dawn’s confidence. They are slow to come up with a concept. Frustrated about wasting time, Amy emerges as a leader; even though she says she doesn’t like that role. All is going well with Team Artisan until Mitch accidentally cuts off the tip of his thumb while trimming his topiary. He has to go to the hospital to have it bandaged. Meanwhile, his teammates solider on without him.

The Crafty Beavers are having a tough time pulling their park project together. Darlene thinks the climbing wall the team has built is ugly. She and Heather start to argue about the meditation area and where they should plant trees. As the sun starts to rise, the other teammates realize that Heather’s meditation area is not working so they start to tear down everything they had built. Darlene freaks out and suggests putting up a latticed pagoda. Tom says Darlene does a good job at the last minute.

Judges Candace Bushnell, David Evangelista, and Bobby Flay visit Team Artisan’s community park and there they find a fireplace in the meditation area, a children’s play area, dog run, and a pond with a wooden bridge across it. The Crafty Beavers have a latticed meditation pagoda with a small reflection pool, a fire pit, and a picnic table (which Darlene single-handedly built). The judges are very impressed with Darlene’s work. Heather tries to take credit for all the work as her teammates roll their eyes. David tries to climb the fitness wall and a piece falls off.

Back at the estate the judges say Team Artisan’s park was well planned out and that they had a great meditation area. They say the Crafty Beavers’ put in their sod badly and that their fitness area was not sturdy. Team Artisan is this week’s winner. The judges chose Kimberly’s as her team’s best topiary so that means she’s back in the game (after having been kicked off by Mitch just last episode). Mitch says there is more talent in the piece of thumb he cut off than Kimberly has in her whole body. The judges choose Amy’s and Darlene’s topiaries and their team’s worst. The returning members and Heather get to vote and, despite her talent, this week Darlene gets the ax.

Heather can be reached for comments or questions at heather@realityshack.com

Interview With Hayden Kristianson from The Amazing Race 6


by Carrie

Hayden and Aaron almost made it to the end of the race; but some creative editing made it look like they gave up at the last minute. Find out what really happened at that infamous roadblock and much more!

Hi Hayden! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us today, and congrats on your engagement! Have you set a wedding date yet? Will any of the other teams be invited?

We had originally set the date for Dec 17 ’05. Aaron, however, is going to culinary school starting in July ’05 and will finish in October ’06. Planning our wedding and taking time off for the honeymoon won’t work out because his school is 5 days a week, 5-7 hours a day. So we’ve pushed the date back to the winter of ’06. My brother is also a Marine and he’s in the wedding party so we’ll have to wait until he’s back from deployment. We’ll invite some of the Racers for sure.

Hayden, do you have any regrets over giving up? Do you still blame yourself for the elimination? I’d say it was bad luck with the cab drivers more than anything!

That’s the big misconception about that roadblock, I didn’t give up! We made a strategic move, we were told we had to get to the gondolas by 7:00 p.m. because they would be closing down. We could either stay the night and start again in the morning when the gondolas started back up, or take a 4 hour penalty for not completing the road block. Why would we ever start the task again in the morning and be nearly a full day behind the top two teams?

At 6:59 pm I looked at Aaron and said “I’m done, we’ll take the penalty” because I had been there for 4 hours. In our wildest of dreams we never thought at 7:00 on the dot, Rebecca would get her lock open. She had been there for nearly 5 hours. We knew we could beat them to the pitstop in a foot race. But at 7:00 she got her lock open, right when our time was up. I rushed back and tried for a few more minutes and I couldn’t get my lock open. I never quit at anything though, I’m way too competitive and it really bothers me that the show made it look like that. But the cab driver getting us lost for nearly two hours before we even got there didn’t help our confidence at all!

How do you feel about the way you were portrayed on the show? Was it an accurate depiction of the way you two really are together?

The things you saw absolutely happened. I am a fiery, strong-willed, outgoing person. I say how I’m feeling and I’m never one to hold my feelings in. Aaron is laid-back, mellow, and much quieter. That’s why we work so well together, we balance each other out. You know how they say opposites attract! But what was truly frustrating while watching this was the way things were spliced together. There are 36-50 hours per leg and some episodes Aaron and I may have only gotten 5 minutes of air-time total. There was so much positive stuff left out. We got along great 80% of the time, and the other 20% of bickering is unfortunately all they showed. But drama makes better ratings, not us laughing and goofing around and getting along great! Our family and friends know who we really are and how we really are together, and that’s all that matters to us.

What was the toughest leg of the race for you (other than your final leg) and why?

Corsica for sure! Nothing seemed to go right that leg and Aaron was so consistent throughout the whole race. I on the other hand was all over the place. I think my hormones were really raging at that particular time and I was at my lowest point of the race. Exhaustion had really set in and I was very homesick for my family and dog. I call my parents every day and am very attached to my little shar-pei so I was really missing them. You’re not allowed to speak to them the entire time so I was having a very difficult time with that, especially during that leg of the race.

What advice would you give to others who want to be on the show? How could they prepare for the race?

Make sure you have a strong relationship with who you’re racing with because it can cause some people’s relationship’s to disintegrate! But it can also make you a lot stronger which is thankfully what happened for Aaron and I. I would say get in great shape, study maps (something I REALLY should’ve done!) and study climates to know what to pack.

If there was ever an All-Star edition of The Amazing Race, would you consider trying it again?

Possibly, depending where we were in our careers. We really believe in moving forward and never looking back. If we were at the same place in our lives that we are now, then definitely!

Obviously the editing is such that we can only see small snippets of what actually happens while you’re out there traveling the world. What were some things that happened that didn’t make it on air, but you wish had been shown?

Aaron’s and my positive interactions and goofing around. Before Lena and Kristy were eliminated we had an alliance with them. On the bus ride from Norway to Stockholm we were singing stupid songs like “baby got back” and crying almost because we were laughing so hard.

Then before Ikea opened in Sweden we walked to McDonald’s for breakfast and were singing some more and 80’s dancing. We were having a blast.

There was also the time when we were on our way to Ethiopia where Aaron, Kendra and I were messing with Freddy while he was sleeping by sticking things up his nose and poking him with things. I started to brush his hair so he looked like he had a curly afro. Kendra and I practically fell off our chairs laughing. But they made me look so one-dimensional the whole time like I’m always pissed off and whiny! Which I will agree I can act that way for sure, and I definitely did on the race but I had fun too! I think Ethiopia was one of the only episodes where my true personality was shown at all.

The Amazing Race 8 is apparently going to be a “family” edition. How much more difficult do you think the race would be with a team of four, rather than two? What do you foresee to be major obstacles for a team of four?

I really have no idea how they’re going to make this work. It’s hard enough with two people! It’s going to be very hard to get a cab.

Was it difficult for you to recover and settle back into your daily routine after doing the race?

For Aaron it was a breeze, he’s so resilient. For me though, I had a hard time adjusting. I kept dreaming that we needed to go get a clue and I’d wake up a lot in the night to see what time it was because I thought we had to get to the mat to leave. I also felt some guilt because I felt the way it all ended was my fault and that Aaron really deserved to run every leg of the Race. I was grateful to be home, but it felt strange to not have cameras chasing after us and it was so quiet compared to what we had been doing for 30 days. But I got over all of that after a couple of weeks!

Thanks Hayden, and best of luck to you and Aaron in the future!

If you’d like to keep up with what Hayden is doing, please check out her fabulous website at http://www.haydenkristianson.com.

Comments are welcome! You can contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.


Perspective Shifts – Starting Over, 02-25-05

by LauraBelle

Body image is a very delicate matter with us women. It can take years to feel comfortable with what we see in the mirror, and some of us never do feel comfortable with it. There are so many different types of things that can cause it, and the longer Bethany is in the house, the more it looks like her poor body image seems to be somehow connected to whatever traumatic event it was that caused her to get amnesia.

Iyanla walks into Group today with her very familiar greeting, “How Ya Livin’?” All the women answer, “Large!,” in unison. The focus is particularly on Renee as she asks how she is today, and Renee replies she’s okay. Pressed for information, Renee admits to getting into it a little with her brother, Reggie, on the phone. When he had asked how the visit with their mom, Suzanne, went the day before, Renee had answered that she felt her mom was a little overwhelmed. Reggie’s first response was, “Why, what did you do?” Renee spoke up for herself and told him not to speak to her like that, yet then still went and made explained to Reggie what exactly she had done. “Why do yo feel compelled to explain yourself when someone is dishonoring you?” Iyanla asks. She suggests to Renee it is probably just old habits. She tells Renee she needs to believe in herself if she expects others to feel better about her.

Iyanla points to the empty chair next to her, otherwise known as the “Love Seat” by Rhonda, and says that means someone is possibly leaving or receiving a step. She makes the women wait as she caresses the seat, before finally mentioning he seat happens to be for Candy, and Iyanla laughs as she says she was trying to provide a little levity. Candy is receiving two steps today – transcending tabus and define femininity, and she admits getting past some of the tabus were harder than others.

Telling the women she has a little assignment for them, Iyanla pulls oils, lotions, lingerie and feathers out of a bag. As she pulls the lingerie out, one of the women quips, “Did you take that out of my drawer?” Iyanla holds up the items and wants the women to decide whether each is sensual or sexual. Holding up the thong, five of the women say sensual, but Bethany says sexual. Asked why, she says it doesn’t do much for her, so it would have to be for the other person.

Next, Iyanla tells the women to put their hands over their eyes, and stick out their tongues. Iyanla drips honey over their faces. Bethany has a problem being able to do this and feel it. Cassie says receiving the honey is sensual as it is soft, and feels good on her skin. Bethany says she understands sensual to be how she feels, and sexual she doesn’t understand at all, just getting her first kiss a few days earlier.

Rhonda and Vanessa are going to work on Vanessa’s first step, facing failure. Vanessa defines failure as not accomplishing a plan, and her plan was to go to the Olympics and win and get sponsors, etc. Because she didn’t succeed, she feels she failed her mom, dad, brother and fans. After she quit, she feels some fans still loved her, but some thought she was a spoiled brat. To see how close she is in her perceptions of her fans, Rhonda is asking her to go the corner of Hollywood and LaBrea with a huge picture of herself on the balance beam. She is going interview people about failing to make the Olympics and ask if she failed them. Rhonda wants Vanessa to realize she is asking her to do this not to shame her, but to set her free.

Candy and Iyanla set to work on her next step as they work towards awakening her dormant power. Seeing that Bethany and Candy have similar body image problems, Iyanla is assigning the two of them to go to a lingerie shop, which Candy admits sends shockwaves through her. Iyanla says they need to see the difference with class and trash. After, they are going to crate body oils for themselves.

Vanessa is on the corner of Hollywood and LaBrea and apologizing for letting people down. Along with her picture, she also shows them a list of the awards she has won and not won. Looking at her accomplishments she is told it is impressive and she did not disappoint them. One person says if you put something into it, you are definitely a success and not a failure. Another says it is so low on her list of disappointments this day. Finally, a man tells her not going after her dream is the true disappointment.

Iyanla meets with Renee, and they decide they can now offer Suzanne compassion after finding where they were both at in the relationship. Next up on the block is a visit with Renee’s dad, as there are definitely some things they needs to clean up. Renee says she tried to write a letter to him, but got stuck. When Iyanla asks her to reach into her heart, she says she felt abandoned, and everyone was able to make her feel this way as she held no responsibility. Iyanla hands her several pairs of sunglasses that look like they were right out of the Elton John Collection. She would like Renee to look over her journal from when she first came to the Starting Over house and attach those earlier perspectives to these sunglasses.
?Driving to the lingerie shop Bethany says she is sick to her stomach and she hopes there is no mirrors there. Yeah, good luck with that. At the store, the owner shows them around and then tells them she will take them to brassiere measuring. Bethany believes her boobs are too big for the lingerie, and feels like her fat is is going to be hanging out all over the place. Candy tries on several stunning pieces and Bethany tells her she is so brave. Bethany is putting up such a fight, and Candy asks how she is ever going to have sex if she can’t take her clothes off. This makes me remember my grandma saying her own grandmother was proud of the fact that no man had ever seen her naked. My grandma always wondered how her grandmother went on to have a stable of kids without a man ever seeing her naked.

The two body image-impaired women move on to a scents store where they will create their own scents. Candy says she is looking for something sensual and Bethany is looking for clean and fresh. Bethany’s gives her scent the original name of Bethany. Candy says she wants her scent to be one a man can be in when he smells it on your neck. She names her Pure Love.

Rhonda meets up with Vanessa who tells her she still feels like a failure, but that it was okay to fail. Mostly she found she really doesn’t affect other people that much, as they are all busy living their own lives. Rhonda asks what Vanessa would say to the broken picture of the young girl on the balance beam so that she knows it’s okay to take risks. Vanessa says she would tell her you don’t have to carry other people with you, in the end you are the only one that stopped.

Renee shows Iyanla her collection of old perspective sunglasses. She sees that before she was selfish, she overreacted, cut herself short and look for external validation. Iyanla helps her make some new perspective sunglasses which include not thinking the worst in people, opening up, and that Renee herself matters. She has had a dramatic perspective shift.

Now that she has new lingerie and her Pure Love Scent a color stylist comes to meet with Candy and the other women to show her what colors work best on her. She drapes the different colors around Candy’s neck, who is astonished to see how much better she looks in some colors than others, such as thinner and/or younger. Next up is a makeup lesson, and Candy says in her entire forty-four years, she has only wore makeup three times. The color stylist tells Candy she has great skin and hardly any lines on her face for her age. She is simply astonished when she hears Candy has eight kids and eight grandkids.

Bethany talks to Rhonda about her day, which she calls not good. She tells her she doesn’t feel well, and Candy did so well. Bethany thinks she looked horrible in everything she tried on. Rhonda is shocked at just how distorted Bethany’s body image really is and wonders if it’s somehow connected to her amnesia. Ding. Ding. Ding. Rhonda asks her if she’s willing to think differently and Bethany says she doesn’t know how not to be disgusted.

It is just all so incredibly sad. Someone who feels that badly about themselves. If before her amnesia she was so much more vivacious, it just makes you wonder what it was that shut her down that way. What could have happened to her that was so horrifying it shut her down physically and emotionally and took all her memories away from her? Stay tuned this space, as I think Bethany and Dr. Katz are going to uncover the truth very soon.

I welcome all questions and comments and LauraBelle@realityshack.com

I Don't Know Who I Am – Starting Over, 02-24-05

by LauraBelle

What brings many of the women to the Starting Over house is questioning who they really are. Vanessa, Bethany and Renee are all young girls that know who they were as children, but aren’t real sure now that they have a choice, who they want to be as adults.

Vanessa and Candy are lying in their beds talking, and Vanessa says she has realized she really didn’t want to do the Olympic trials, and that’s why it became so stressful to her. Candy asks why she feels so bad if she really didn’t want to do it. She made a conscious decision not to continue it, and now that she’s not, it should be okay. Candy also counsels that she couldn’t have stopped doing it any other way. No one ever taught Vanessa how to handle all that pressure when she was so young.

Vanessa realizes it could have been worse; she witnessed a Chinese gymnast land on her neck, making her paralyzed for the rest of her life. Candy tells her with great fame comes great future, and asks if Vanessa has ever considered writing a book to help other young gymnasts deal with those unspoken pressures. Candy was told not to take care of her young roommate, and well … you can’t take the mother out of the mom.

Renee meets with Dr. Stan and the neuropsychologist to get her learning disability test results. The neuropsychologist reveals that with visual tasks Renee does quite well. Renee admits to always seeing herself as visually creative. On goal-oriented tasks things get difficult for her. This came into play as she got older as it affected her working memory. Dr. Stan and Renee agree to ask Renee’s mom for more information during her visit later this day.

Dr. Stan meets with Bethany back in his office for another hypnosis session. I still can’t help but think of junior high slumber parties as Dr. Stan slips into all the colloquial hypnosis terms such as Bethany’s eyelids are getting heavier and her body is becoming relaxed. Dr. Stan tries to get her to recall a number of things such as softball and recess, but it isn’t coming as easily as it did the other day. Trying to recall second grade, she only remembers playing in the woods at night with her brother, Caleb.

Where is Jessica, Dr. Stan wants to know. Bethany remembers that her sister is playing dress up, and remembers Jessica was a ballerina, Bethany was a bride and laughs hysterically remembering that they forced Caleb to be a bridesmaid. She remembers her mom taking pictures of it. Bethany’s mind begins to shut down again, and Dr. Stan brings her out of her hypnotic state, convinced even more her amnesia was caused by a traumatic experience. Me too, Dr. Stan.

Back at the house, Renee and Iyanla meet and discuss Renee’s mom visiting this day. Renee admits to feeling nauseous and holding a lot of anxiety. Renee plans to talk to her mom about when she had been molested by her neighbor. It makes her feel dirty and icky. She also plans to ask about her newfound learning disability and apologize for being disrespectful and selfish. Iyanla tells Renee that “to take the teeth out of something you have to lay it all out on the table.” I just love Iyanla’s sayings. I even find myself repeating them.

Dr. Stan is all over the place today, now showing up at the house to lead Group. Seeing Vanessa sitting in Denise’s place, Dr. Stan says, “Denise, you’ve changed!” Making us miss Denise even more, of course, as she would have had a great response for that. Dr. Stan is actually here to talk about rejection. He asks the women to recall the one rejection they have had in their life that they just couldn’t get over.

Cassie remembers a relationship she had when she was fourteen that has taken her twenty-five years to undo to make her feel okay about it. Rachael isn’t thinking of romantic relationships, but instead the one she has with her Aunt Cece, who she feels a deep rejection from, not being allowed to spend time with her on birthdays, Christmases and many years spent totally apart. Candy thinks instead of a rejection by just one person, of a rejection by all people and what she perceives them to be thinking of her. The real issues here is obviously how she sees herself, she is told, and she agrees.

Bethany isn’t open enough to anyone to be rejected. Asked if she was aware of that, she says not until now. Dr. Stan believes that is why she has cocooned herself up with people that adore her. She doesn’t have to worry about being rejected. Even after the kissing booth the day before, she still thinks there won’t be anyone else that will want to kiss her again. It brings out every empathetic bone in my body when she says things like this. When bringing up the three hot soap stars that kiss her the day before doesn’t help, Cassie suggests she’ll need to kiss one-hundred guys before she finds the right one, but at the end she’ll find success with it.

Vanessa knows her rejections come from how people perceive her. She believes she is chameleon-like, becoming the many different people she is expected to be by others. The reason why she does this is she doesn’t know who the real Vanessa is. Dr. Stan tells her when you are clear about who you are, it’s your best defense against being rejected.

After Group, Renee’s mom, Suzanne, arrives to spend the day. She admits to feeling a little uncomfortable at first, and Iyanla tries to reassure her by telling Suzanne she is glad she came. Yet, she also warns she’ll experience Renee differently today than when she was at home.

Dr. Stan has his first one-on-one with Vanessa. My, he’s busy today. He asks her why she is at the Starting Over house, and she says to find a new identity other than Vanessa the gymnast. All she knew from the time she was five to eighteen was one goal, to make it to the Olympics. She liked it because it was something to reach for, she liked working hard, she felt special and she liked the feedback.

Vanessa is asked by Dr. Stan if that was her dream or someone else’s. She admits that this is why she is confused, and why she believes she sabotaged herself at the Olympic trials. She felt stuck. She sabotaged it by eating unhealthy, as she needed comfort and the food brought that to her. Her pressure started a few years before with offers for books and commercials.

Vanessa wants to leave the Starting Over house feeling okay with her past and having a better relationship with her family. She would like to not care what others think so much. Dr. Stan wonders how depressed her family is for themselves or if they’re really just depressed for Vanessa. He tells her she is not responsible for their disappointment. If she shattered their dreams, that’s their problem. Asked what she would like to do instead, she would love to perform some way still, such as dancing. She wants to be a choreographer like Paula Abdul.

Renee thinks her mom looks like a deer in headlights, but proceeds to jump right into it and brings up being molested by the neighbor when she was seven or eight. She remembers vaguely telling Suzanne about it, and Suzanne not believing her. Renee says she felt very abandoned.

Suzanne says she doesn’t remember that at all. Renee brings up how she was left to be babysat by him, and Suzanne just can’t recall any of it. She does mention, though, that this man was a prominent member in his church, and urges Renee to remember how he died. He committed suicide. They all realize perhaps his desires to be with young girls led him to that.

Suzanne does feel bad she wasn’t able to help Renee back then, but insists she doesn’t remember, and it’s hard for her to believe she didn’t believe Renee when she was told. It suggests that it was a communication problem, and Iyanla says it really doesn’t matter now. As an adult child that feels not all the things my parents did were the right thing, I understand this. As a parent of two children, and knowing I don’t always do the right thing as a parent, I understand this even more. Renee admits to feeling shame and ickiness now because of her experience, and Suzanne chastises her some, saying Renee must know that Suzanne wouldn’t have put up with that for even five minutes.

Next, Renee brings up her brother, Reggie’s abuse of her, both physical and emotional. Renee says her mom allowed that to happen hurt her. She tells Suzanne today it wasn’t all puppy dogs and ice cream. Suzanne defends herself, saying she was raising two kids by herself after the divorce and worked forty hours a week. She always grounded Reggie, but it just didn’t stop the behavior. She had to choose her battles and couldn’t do it all alone. Still, all Renee hears is Suzanne defending Reggie.

Iyanla senses Suzanne withdrawing and tells her how it happened doesn’t matter, all that matters now is that Renee grew up feeling abandoned. Suzanne brings up the divorce and says she knows it was a concept Renee and Reggie wouldn’t understand, and she didn’t want to badmouth their dad. Renee’s learning disability is discussed at this point, as this is more than likely the reason she couldn’t understand. Suzanne says the teachers never mentioned a disability, and she assumed they were correct in their other assessments of Renee.

Upon Iyanla’s urging, Suzanne tells how she feels. She tells Renee she is so much like her dad, yet she completely shut him down, and would get mad at Suzanne when she would try to make her understand. Renee admits to blaming him for spending her college money as the reason she didn’t go to college, instead of the fact that she felt she wasn’t smart enough.

Next, Iyanla urges Renee and her mother to make requests of each other on how they would like the relationship to improve. Suzanne asks to be treated as a mom, not a checkbook. She tells Renee she gets upset, calls and expects a solution right away. Renee says she appreciates Suzanne coming and sharing. She just wants her mom to hear and listen, and says she loves her. Suzanne cries for the first time and says Renee was always her baby.

Iyanla asks if all the cooties are out, and is halfheartedly assured they are. She asks them to list some things they appreciate about each other. Renee appreciates her mother’s beauty, intelligence, love, independence, that she takes care of Renee’s dog, and that she is there for her. Suzanne appreciates Renee’s humor, independence, thinks coming to the Starting Over house was brave, and appreciates her love. Renee and Suzanne hug to end their fierce conversation.

All these women are just searching for who they are, post-amnesia, post-failure, post-confusion. Even looking at the other women the formula still doesn’t stray much. Candy is looking for a feminine identity away from parenting and working, Rachael is looking for who her dad is, so in essence herself, and Cassie is searching for who she is with or without her son, and as a reformed alcoholic. That’s what Starting Over is; it’s discovering who you really are and having the courage to take those necessary steps.

I welcome all questions and comments at Laurabelle@realityshack.com

Interview with ANT of Celebrity Fit Club


by Deanna, aka Panndyra, Goddess of Chaos

[b]Hi ANT. Thanks for taking time out of your hectic schedule. You’ve been awfully busy lately. Tell me what’s been going on?[/b]

Well, as you know I’m hosting Celebrity Fit Club on Vh-1. I’m also a regular on the Dennis Miller Show. It’s on CNBC daily. I’m going to be covering the red carpet at the Oscar’s for the Style Network too.

Plus, I’m a regular judge, the only regular celebrity judge on Steve Harvey’s Big Time Challenge. That airs on Sundays too. So, you can watch me on the WB at 9pm (Eastern Time). Then, you can flip the channel to catch me at VH-1 on “Fit Club” at 10 pm.

Last week’s episode had Vivica Fox and the Reverend Al Sharpton as judges.

[b]How did you get the gig on Celebrity Fit Club?[/b]

I have to say that the exposure I got from being on Last Comic Standing helped me get this gig. But I had been on VH-1 before. I was kind of a fixture. But I really think the more national attention I got (from being on LCS) was what helped the execs make their decision.

[b]So why did you want to host Celebrity Fit Club?[/b]

I used to be fat. I know how hard it is to lose weight. I thought that I could be more empathetic to the celebs than maybe another host could because I’ve been there.

[b]Since you brought it up, I must say you’re looking fit and buff these days. How did you get into ‘fit club shape’? Any tips for me and my readers. C’mon, dish?[/b]

There’s no magic pill. No big secret. It’d be great, but it ain’t gonna happen. When the experts say it’s all about diet and exercise, it’s the truth. Without the two, you can’t lose the weight.

I do an hour of cardio every single day and 100 push ups every single day no matter what. That gives me the freedom to eat pretty much whatever I want.

[b]Who do you think is most likely to continue with the program after the show ends? Least likely?[/b]

Ralphie and Wendy. Ralphie’s had some rough patches, but he’s unwavering. Many people who gained weight while on a weight loss program while being on national television, wouldn’t keep at it like he has. He hasn’t gotten so discouraged that he’s given up. He keeps doing it. There’s something to be said for that. I’m proud of him.

Wendy. I love her. She’s like the nicest person. Having her as a friend is hysterically fabulous, but I get a lot of Snapple sent to me. It’s made from the “best stuff on Earth”, but it ain’t the healthiest.

It’s so funny because people may think that she can’t be that nice and sweet but – she’s genuinely like that.

Daniel Baldwin. He’s such an evil person. He keeps spiraling out of control. What you’ve seen on the show so far is nothing like you will see. How’s that for a sound bite?

It’s been hard on the cast especially. Everyone’s so committed to losing the weight and sticking with the program but one bad apple really does seem to spread and try to ruin the bunch.

[b]Which celebs would you most like to see on Fit Club?[/b]

Mo’nique, Queen Latifah, Mindy Kohn, Countess Vaughan and Kirstie Alley but she’s got the Fat Actress gig going now.

[b]Your comedy cd, “Follow My Ass” became available at the end of last year. How’s it doing? What was it like putting the compilation together?[/b]

It’s going pretty well. It was a good experience. I’m under contract to do two more CDs, but we’ll see. You can buy it at the Comedy Central Shop and anywhere else that fine music products are sold.

[Author Note: The actual URL at the Comedy Central Shop is – http://shop.comedycentral.com/sm-ant-follow-my-ass-cd–pi-1891823.html

No pressure, folks! But it’s funny as the shizznit, y’all!]

Who else do you still hang with from the Last Comic Standing Crew – besides Ralphie, ‘cuz he’s on the Fit Club?

I still talk with most of them. I’m going to the Dominican Republic with Tammy Pescatelli and Kathleen Madigan in May. I hang with Alonzo sometimes and I’m still friends with Jay London.

[b]Is Harvey really that harsh? Basically, I’d like to know if there’s a lot of ‘creative editing’ on this series or not.[/b]

Pretty much what you see is what happens. Harvey is really just like that. Most of the stuff is just like you see it. Of course, they edit for dramatic effect and cut stuff because of time issues, but it’s not as “creative” as you see on other shows like Last Comic Standing where you were supposedly talking to someone who may not have even been in the room.

[b]What’s next for ANT? As if you weren’t currently busy enough![/b]

I’m really swamped and I’m really happy. I’ve gotta be thankful for it, but I’m just really busy. It’s what I’ve always wanted. So I’m grateful … especially for my fans.

[b]There, you have it, Shackers. That’s my interview with ANT of “Celebrity Fit Club” – and lots of other TV projects. He’s as nice as he’s busy and even funnier in person, if you can imagine that! Please check him out wherever and whenever you can.

Don’t forget to visit his web site – http://www.antcomic.com for video clips, images, scheduling information and so much more! It’s worth a bookmark, I’d say![/b]

** If you have questions or want to chat about this interview, feel free to contact me at panndyra@realityshack.com. Thanks much! **


Mad Props Versus Street Cred – The Apprentice 3, Episode 6


by aurora

As Stephanie and Bren return to the suite this week, Alex is afraid that Steph will be angry with him and the rest of the team for calling her out on her negative behaviour. She surprises everyone, however, by telling them there are no hard feelings. She’s there to learn and appreciates that they were honest. Somewhere a senior editor is cursing – drama avoided.

The Challenge:

The teams meet up at the offices of Sony Playstation, while Trump has one of those rehearsed scenes with the execs where he tells them what a great job they’re doing. Jill is once again filling in for Carolyn, but we’re told that Carolyn will return next week. This is good news – no offense to Jill, but Carolyn is fantastic and I miss her.

This week’s task is to create a graffiti wall in Harlem to advertise the new Playstation game, Gran Turismo 4. Trump is not fond of graffiti, but even he has to admit that some of it is “amazing”. There will be a focus group from Sony judging the results, and along with the two execs will decide who wins the task.

Assigning Project Managers:

Net Worth – While John is busy actually playing the game, Tara decides that she will lead the team because she knows Harlem. Okay. She wants to emphasize the growth and revitalization of Harlem in their ad. John and Audrey aren’t too sure about this – they think maybe the ad should have something to do with the game itself. Tara says that she knows what she’s doing though, and sticks with her plan. She says that if she loses to Magna in this challenge, she’ll lose her “street cred”.

Magna – Alex takes over as PM for Magna, saying that he’s tired of losing. They waste no time in meeting with Sony and heading out to find an artist.

Strategies:

Tara’s ‘vision’ is a backdrop of mean-looking buildings, with a car breaking through into an area of restored buildings. Oh, and maybe a guy with a big afro waving somewhere. When Jill stops by to see how they’re progressing, she comments on how the artwork might be relevant to the area they’re working in, but maybe not so much to Sony. Tara brushes off the comment, sure that she’s sitting on a winner.

Craig is put in charge of supervising painting, but Tara neglects to inform anyone else that Craig has any say in anything. Audrey, working directly under the supervision of the graffiti artist, butts heads with Craig and tells him that she won’t be spoken down to. She feels like Craig is treating her like one of his four children.

As a last minute touch, Tara decides to add the phrase “Tear it Up” to the design, front and center. No one is sure where the phrase came from, but she seems to like it.

Meanwhile, Magna has decided to paint a New York skyline with leaves and branches and stuff at the bottom, symbolizing the urban jungle. The problem? There are no jungle scenes in the game. Alex admits that he knows nothing of hip hop style, and recruits some guys who are walking by to give their impression of what the wall needs.

The guys take a look and decide that the wall needs “mad props” and “bling bling” – terms that Alex has apparently never heard. One person suggests cash falling from the sky, and somehow Bren channels his inner homeboy and suggests a fist full of cash with a huge ring that reads “PS2”.

Trump decides to take a look at the walls, and drives by in his massive limo. There’s some music in the background – a song saying something about “Trump is in the ‘hood” – which results in a lot of laughter in my home. Sure, Trump’s got a lot of bling, but the closest he has to mad props are his pink silk ties. Moving on.

Showtime:

The Sony bosses arrive at Net Worth’s wall, and Tara steps into the spotlight, taking credit for everything but the painting itself. She drones on and on about her vision, her ideas, her not wanting to insult the residents, yadda yadda. While the rest of the team seems put off by this, I’d be reveling in it. “Yay, if we lose, she’s already taking credit for the whole shebang! Woot!”

The execs call in their focus group, and everyone huddles together and whispers for a while before saying goodbye.

Over at Magna, it’s pretty much the same scene. Alex is a little out of his comfort zone describing the mad props to the execs, and he stresses a bit when the focus group arrives.

The Results:

The Sony guys arrive at Trump Tower and meet with Trump and his “eyes and ears” in the boardroom. The candidates are all waiting in the lobby, milling about and looking nervous, as the clock slowly goes ‘round and ‘round.

Trump finally gets his results and thanks the Sony men. The teams are brought in and shown clips of the focus group’s reactions to their creations. First up is Magna, and the reactions are all very positive. One mom says that she noticed the “E” for everyone, and would have no problem letting her son play the game. Big score for Magna.

For Net Worth, the comments are less than complimentary. It seems that one man is offended by the way Harlem is portrayed (oops Tara), while the rest think it’s a nice piece of art, but it doesn’t really get the message across.
In case it’s not obvious by now, Magna finally wins another task and a reward, sending Net Worth to the boardroom, where of course, someone will be fired.

Net Worth’s reward is a professional photo session with a world-renowned photographer that I’ve never heard of.

In the Boardroom:

Trump wants to know what went wrong, and Tara wastes no time in putting the blame on John and Audrey for not telling her that there was more to the game than the streets of New York. Because she’s just the leader – they should have taken initiative. John says that he just assumed Tara knew there was more to the game, and Audrey says that she did say something. George wants to know who’s lying, and Tara finally admits that Audrey did point out there was more to the game, but thought she was talking about Gran Turismo 3.

Craig mentions that Tara’s vision of the wall never changed, even after their meeting with the Sony people. Jill wants to know where the line “Tear it Up” came from, and Tara explains that it’s a hip hop allusion. Jill points out that it has nothing at all to do with the game.

Audrey and Craig’s argument comes up, but doesn’t really amount to much except that all of a sudden everyone is pointing fingers at Audrey. When asked who he’d fire, Craig says Tara.

Tara decides to bring Audrey and Craig back into the boardroom with her, even though she had previously said she would take John and Audrey for not telling her more about the game.

When the three of them return to the boardroom, Trump asks Tara why she brought Craig with her. She says that it was because his bickering became a distraction. As Craig is defending himself, he throws in something about Audrey being recently married and likes to say that she’s the boss because she makes more money than her hubby does. Alrighty then.

Ultimately, Trump tells Tara that she owned the design and the vision for the wall, and missed the mark completely. It wasn’t about Sony or the game, it was about her perceived sensitivity for the neighborhood. Tara is fired.

In the Cab of Shame:

Tara says that she doesn’t really understand why she was fired. She was the leader, but it was ridiculous for this group of grown adults to assume that she would call all the shots and make them her underlings. And denial ain’t just a river in Egypt, apparently.

Quotes of the Week:

“I am the hip, urban demographic!” – Tara

“Erin looks like a Barbie doll college girl/ Hooter’s waitress.” – Alex, pointing out how far his team is from the target demographic

“(Bren) looks like a stunt double for Orville Redenbacher.” – Alex, at the photo-shoot, wondering why the beautiful models gravitated to Bren.

Comments are welcome! Drop me a line at carrie@realityshack.com.


Permission To Humiliate – American Idol

by LauraBelle

American Idol has been known for its dramatic moments, both planned and unplanned, in all four of it’s successful seasons. I believe this Wednesday they finally crossed the line.

We would all prefer to remember “A Moment Like This,” Kelly Clarkson’s big tearful moment in the sun, but we also remember Randy Jackson and Simon Cowell nearly coming to fisticuffs over Simon calling RJ Helton a Loser. We also remember Christina Christianson being voted out the same night she collapsed and fell, so ill she needed to be hospitalized and couldn’t participate in the show. Not to mention this when Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkelman began teasing contestants and viewers by promising the results ” … after the break”.

The second season had some memorable dismissals. Frenchie Davis was pulled right before the semi-finals after internet pictures were dug up that she had posed half nude to earn money for college. Corey Clark was let go mid-way through the Finals after research turned up his arrest for beating up his sister. Week to week we waited to find out whether Marine Josh Gracin would be pulled from the show and sent to the emerging war in Iraq. Ruben Studdard’s slim victory over Clay Aiken was overshadowed by the lawsuit against him by the company that had provided him with his area code jerseys.

Apparently the producers found that the third season needed a little more hype and controversy. It wasn’t enough that sixteen-year-old crooner, John Stevens, was getting death threats for his endurance in the competition, and Ryan Seacrest’s promises of results ” … after the break” had long since become tiring. Instead of calling the three lowest vote-getters down to the front stage and dismissing them one by one back to the couch, until the person receiving the least votes was standing all alone, American Idol came up with a new tantalizing strategy. They separated the singers into 3 groups, A, B, and C. One group would be sent back to the couch, and after a break, it would be divulged which group had the lowest amount of votes. The audience was stunned to find that the three women that had been termed “The Three Divas” were the bottom three. Jennifer Hudson, Fantasia Barrino and Latoya London.

Of course, the controversy couldn’t end there. After Jennifer’s dismissal, the question of race came up. Since all three African-American women had ended in the bottom three, and all had been known to be very talented, the question was raised if Jennifer was let go because of racial reasoning in voting. Even one of her biggest fans, Elton John, joined this fight.

This season, American Idol producers must have felt the need to do something BIG. What could top all those previous unforgettable moments? How could they tease the voters a little more? They changed up the semi-finals process this year, and two females and two males needed to be voted out Wednesday night. Along with Ryan Seacrest’s ” … after the break” promises, they also began giving contestants safe hope. The women were seated in two rows, the top row was called safe, and deer-in-the-headlights, Melinda Lira, was let go from the bottom row. The same process was used for ousting Jared Yates. To eject the second woman, Ryan called the bottom row of women safe, and ejected Sara Mather, so visibly upset she couldn’t dance to her song, and sang an upbeat Motown number solemnly.

The men, of course, expected the same treatment. The bottom row was told they could relax, then the top row was forced to line up in two rows next to Ryan. Two by two, Ryan called them safe. Even the last two were safe, leaving everyone in a collective, “Huh?” Quick as you could say controversy, Ryan called out to Judd Harris on the bottom row and said he was out, after previously alluding him to think he was safe by telling his row they could relax.

This seemed unbelievably cruel. It made me feel as if I was listening again to the fourteen-year-old version of my sister, teasing me unnecessarily, then running away laughing after ten-year-old me started crying. The cruelest part of all is the knowledge that they did this just for controversial suspense. That poor guy is going to relive Ryan saying that to him for the rest of his life.

While tempted to publish Fox’s email address here so that everyone can send them letters to say how disgusted they are with them, I find myself refraining, as that’s what Fox wants. They want controversy. They want us to write letters and make phone calls and talk about it around the water cooler. They live for that.

It’s the same with their telephone voting rules. Viewers have complained all four seasons of crowded phone lines, and the unfairness of people voting more than once for their favorite. They want American Idol to change the rules to one vote per household. There is no way they are going to do that; they would lose that desired controversy that they thrive on. They want people in an uproar every week complaining about the voting system – it’s their bread and butter.

Sadly, this behavior of theirs will never stop. They care more about their ratings and controversy than the lives of the performers. Perusing message boards yesterday I found people that actually loved the way Judd was ousted; they thrive on drama as much as Fox does. I hope contestants will just realize in the future what they are walking into when they sign that Fox contract – they are giving Fox permission to humiliate them.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

We Lost the Challenge, We Won The Day – Survivor: Palau, Episode 2

[i]by atarus[/i]

We open the episode with nighttime on Koror. Caryn is talking about how they were on a high from the challenge, they had the flint and were gonna have fire, and then bam. Capsized and nothing. She wasn’t happy. And what made the campsite worse was that Janu found rats in the campsite, and began the “Ick Ick Ick” rats dance. (You would think a Las Vegas showgirl would be comfortable with rats.) Caryn then goes off on a mini-rant about how much the island sucks and how it was a mistake to come here, and blamed Tom for it because he made the rash decision to go to the new island. Caryn and Tom get into an argument, and when I say argument I mean Caryn yells at Tom and Tom kinda just shrugs and nods while Caryn yells. Katie comments that Caryn is being annoying, the group had made the decision to try the new campsite, it was a mistake, she needs to stop complaining about get over it.

On Ulong, Stephenie says that the tribe agrees it was a good idea to boot Jo. The tribe, however, has a problem with selecting a leader, but James steps up and says that “This tribe is American, we’re gonna have a democracy.” (I burst into giggles at this point because military music actually starts playing in the background. I’m honestly expecting James to pace back and forth in front of Ulong and deliver a redneck Patton speech.) They get the treemail for the challenge, and Angie says she is determined to show that she’s an asset to the tribe.

At the challenge, Jeff asks Koror about their flint, and they fess up to the fact they lost it. (Bad idea, psychological advantages are still advantages.) Jeff looks like the cat that ate the canary, and openly admits to Jeff that he’s happy they lost the flint. Hah, I could have only made that sentence more confusing if I said that Jeff looked and Jeff and winked, and Jeff only laughed and asked Jeff how he felt. Neener neener. Anyway, Ian mentions that it doesn’t bother them, that their tribe is the “Bad News Bears.” I wish I knew what that reference meant. Because then I could be cool like Ian. Because Ian is cool. And tall too.

Jeff unveils the challenge, it’s an obstacle-ish course, they have to swing across a pit, cross rotating drums, go over a balance beam, cross a rope, and grab a flag. The first tribe to get all ten flags back wins. What do they win? Fishing mask, fishing gear, and flint for Ulong if they win. At this point I’d like to register a complaint to CBS. False advertising. What happened to the “getting no help” part in the preview for the premiere? *shakes head* I’d like to see a Survivor where the twist is NO REWARD CHALLENGES PRE-MERGE. Make them actually survive. Anyway.

Oh, there’s one part I forgot. On the rotating drum and balance beam part, the other tribe gets to throw swinging sacks at the people crossing. Tom and Gregg volunteer to throw sacks for Koror, and Jeff and Ibrehehehehem get the sacks for Ulong. Willard sits out. And so the game begins! James and Coby go first, Coby has trouble and falls in, but James gets across, gets a flag, and tries to get back. He leaps across the drums, falls off the platform, and hits the water hard. Bobby Jon has the same fate, struggling with the drums before ending up slipping into the water. Ian falls in after retreiving the flag, and Jeff Probst is shaking his head, wondering if the challenge will ever finish. However, Angie steps up the pace and she kicks ass through the obstacle course, obtaining the first flag for Ulong. Meanwhile, Katie gets stuck on the *first* part of the course, not being able to swing across.

At this point, my friend who is being sexiled from his college dorm room walks in to watch with me. (Not by his choice, he was kicked out.) Anyway, at this point it shows Willard giving advice to Katie on how to swing across the pit properly. My friend looks at me and asks “Since when did they let Mr. Miyagi on Survivor?” I started laughing hysterically. And from now on, Willard will be known as Mr. Miyagi. Anyway, long story short, Ulong kicks Koror’s ass as they win 10 to like 3 or 4. Ulong is happy, Koror isn’t.

Jeff is happy because now he can feed his tribe. Angie is happy because the tribe realizes she can actually do something besides be mopey and have tattoos. BJ comments that Angie dominated during the challenge. Jeff then transforms into his superhero identity “MEGA-A$$HOLE” and comments that he’s happy the other tribe lost their flint, and he hopes they never find it.

We then shift to Koror (nice segue CBS!) who is gamely out searching for their lost box. Tom is the narrator of the story, saying they went out at a bad time, it was almost like paddling in a fast-moving river. Both he and Ian dive in to look for the box, and eventually they find it. Ian says it got tiring treading water and diving and diving and treading water, but finally he hooks the box to a rope, and with a combined effort the lead box is raised and Koror obtains their flint. Ian says “Even though we lost the challenge, we won the day.” Awwww, Ian, how cute.

At Ulong, the group is having a nice group sit by the campfire…well without Ashlee, who decides to go to sleep because she’s tired. Jeff notes that “she didn’t eat anything, and we don’t want people slowing us down.” BJ says that they are a tribe, and some things you have to do as a tribe, like sit around a campfire when nobody really wants to and they *actually* want to go to sleep, but fear everyone’s talking about them, so they sit up and talk about the person that had enough sense to get some sleep. When they do go to sleep, observant Angie notes that Kim and Jeff have become cuddle buddies. Alright, raise your hand if you think that if Ashlee had flashed Jeff some of her ample boobage and cuddled up next to him, he’d be less inclined to think that she’s slowing the tribe down. Everybody thinks that too? Good.

The treemail for the immunity challenge instructs the tribes to learn Morse code. Huzzah they aren’t wasting the war theme. I’m happy. The challenge is simple. Hah. No it’s not, this is Survivor. Each tribe has a box tied by a rope through a barrel to a pontoon. They have to drag it 50 (feet? yards? inches? some sort of unit of measurement) across the sea floor. Every ten whatevers, a buoy will pop up to let them know how far they have to go. Once they reach 0, they can dive down, and open the box, which contains eight canteens with morse code on them that are tied together. They untie the canteens, go back to the beach, and have a phrase that they have to make using the morse code on the canteens. The phrase they need, once correctly identified in canteenage, wins that tribe immunity. (Privately, Mark Burnett laughs at the Survivors. “What, you thought this would be just a mental challenge? Hah! Such stupid Survivors.”)

Katie sits out for Koror, challenge starts. Ulong has the head start, as Mr. Miyagi has trouble swimming to the pontoon, but once he’s there, the fun begins. We watch Jeff, Ibrehehehehehem, James, and BJ all try to be manly and pull the box in. Angie, Ashlee, and Stephenie all get in on the action too. Kim, however, refuses to even dive, and kinda just hangs there. Koror, on the other hand, starts high-tailing it. Maybe it was editing, but every time it switched to Koror, it was Tom and somebody moving that box. Tom and Ian. Tom by himself. Tom and Ian again. Tom and…uh…is there anyone else on Koror? Anyway, long story short, Tom is He-Man, and while Ulong can’t stand underwater for more than ten seconds, Tom is heaving and hoing, and they get the box to them way before Ulong is even close. They retrieve their Morse code, go up on the beach, and start deciphering the clever phrase they need for immmunity…..Immunity. *slaps forehead* BAD MARK BURNETT. BAD. NO CREATIVE POINTS. Anyway, as a slap in the face to all those Ulong at home watching, we see them dragging the box and seeing the “30” marker pop up as Koror wins immunity.

Have we learned a lesson today? Yes we have. Koror = fish. Ulong = monkey. Land challenge = Ulong domination. Water challenge = Koror domination. Let’s see if it holds.

Ashlee comments that everyone was disappointed that they lost, and on top of it all, oh my gawd it’s raining and maybe our fire went out. Hunny, this is Survivor. That happens. A plague of locusts wouldn’t phase me on Survivor. I’d just assume it was a twist. Anyway, Angie and Stephenie and somebody (I think it was James) are discussing who to vote for, and they say Kim because of the Jeff and Kim sex party going on at night. James is irritated because Kim didn’t even help at all at the challenge. Jeff, of course, tells Stephenie he wants to vote for Ashlee because she’s slowing down. (“And her boobs aren’t mine for playing with.” He says to himself when Stephenie leaves.) BJ tells Stephenie that Kim and Ashlee are really the same, it just depends on who he feels like he wants to vote for. He doesn’t feel threatened by Jeff and Kim yet. Stephenie is annoyed because herself, Angie, Ashlee, and James all want to vote out Kim, but BJ is the cornerstone and undecided. Kim wants to know if she’s being voted out, and tells James to tell her, and James gives her a wink and the finger point/gun thing and says ok.

At TC, um, Jeff asks some questions to Ulong. Honestly I wasn’t paying much attention at this point because I could care less what happens to Ulong. I think Kim almost cried in there at some point, and there was major denyage by Jeff and Kim that there was any “alliance” going on. To be honest, I get major Sook-Jai vibes from this group, with James being the Robb of the group. (as in, the only entertaining one on in the bunch…you either love him or hate him, but he’s the entertaining one regardless)

So they vote. Ibrehehehehehem speaks his first words of the episode, saying that he’s voting for Kim because Ashlee picked him in the tribal pick ’em and he’s just being honorable or something. They really just showed his voting confessional to remind you that he’s actually on the show. Jeff votes for Ashlee and says that “he’s a man of his word, and to be honest you just bug the hell out of me.” The part we don’t see is him saying “You bug me because I can’t see those big knockers of yours and can’t use them as pillows.”

Anyway, in a vote of 6-1-1, Ashlee is voted out. Kim gets a vote (from Ibe) and Jeff gets a vote (from Ashlee). I love the WTF? look that Jeff gets when he sees his name come up. (Ashlee knows what I know. That Jeff’s an ass. Not you Jeff, the other Jeff. Yeah, you Jeff.)

Ashlee’s Final Words: I’m so incredibly grateful for this opportunity, my tribe sensed that I was ready to go home, and I’m sorry I didn’t use the excuse that I was cold to cuddle up to Ibrehem, he’s cute. (Oh gawd, please Ashlee don’t ruin my perfect image of you.)

Next Time: Koror goes hunting (SHARK ATTACK!), Ulong runs into a problem when Jeff has leg problems (..must…hold…back..laughter…), and Caryn and Katie get into a fight (ohhhh, yeah, THEY are on Koror. I forgot.)

So basically, this season is not impressing me too much. I can count the number of people I care about on one hand, and add the people that I can accurately describe and have distinct personalities on the same hand. I like Coby, James, Tom, and Ian. I hate Jeff. There are, in fact, 11 other people left on the show. But really, they fail to entertain me and I honestly don’t really care about them either. Okay, I care about Mr. Miyagi. Because he’s fun. But the other 10, I find it much more entertaining to make fun of them. Why were people excited for this season again? I think about 15 million people are going to shoot me for this, but bring back Vanuatu. Please. E-mail me at atarus33@yahoo.com if you have a different opinion. (Everyone probably does.)

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