Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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Just when I thought Sanjaya Malakar had cured me forever of my reality TV addiction, FOX comes back at me with its newest prime time drama masquerading as a reality show that was never really real.
Have you seen the trailers for "Drive?" Picture the annual Cannonball Run without rules, or Smokey and the Bandit with glamorous actors instead of Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jerry Reed and Jackie Gleason.
"Drive" is populated by a cast of characters all of whom are running away from, or toward, complications in their personal lives while driving cars at breakneck speeds in a mysterious multi-million dollar race with no finish line. Got the picture? It sounds impossible to resist.
I hereby take a solemn vow that I will not watch an episode of "Drive" unless of course, I'm exercising on the NordicTrack, which makes TV justifiable. (Say, do you think I could sell a concept for reality a show about a fitness gym?).
I hate to say it, but Sanjaya rules the air waves. The guy kind of gives me the creeps, but he's arguably the smartest American Idol contestant ever. There would be no American Idol TV show without the acerbic Simon Cowell as protagonist. However, the callow fellow Sanjaya is far wiser than he seems. He might be smarter (but not wealthier) than Cowell. He understands that once you make it to Hollywood, the judges are irrelevant to the success of the contestants. All that matters is researching the demographics of American Idol viewers and understanding which of those viewers actually take the trouble to cast more than one, if any, ballot. After that, you tailor your song selection, clothes and haircut to appeal to your target demographic.
It's just like running for president of the United States. The first person you hire is the media consultant.
Sure, Sanjaya possesses no more than modest singing ability - I can't see him singing the Star Spangled Banner at the 2008 Super Bowl. But that's often beside the point in today's media culture of celebrity worship. Jennifer Lopez displayed real talent on Idol last week. Does Paris Hilton have talent? Does it matter?
The truth is, all of the final dozen American Idol contestants have been given enough face-time on the most-watched show on TV, that with the right agents, they should all be multi-millionaires. You can go to the FOX Web site right now and download a digital bobble head doll of any of them. That's what I call star power.
Type the name "Sanjaya" into Google and within .06 seconds, you'll get 7.9 million hits. They include newspaper articles, YouTube videos, MySpace pages and countless blogs. Tell me he isn't already the American Idol.
If Robert Goulet and Julie Andrews were contestants on American Idol this season, they wouldn't receive as many votes as Sanjaya. Hell, Luciano Pavarotti doesn't want to go up against Sanjaya's Mohawk.
Sanjaya just wants to be the latest in a long list of boys and girls who succeeded in making teenyboppers swoon.
Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett, Paula Abdul, Scot Baio, Lisa Bonet, Debbie Gibson, Patrick Swayze, James Dean - meet Sanjaya.
I'm going to get reacquainted with my home exercise equipment.
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