The buzz seems to be the best part of cable TV's fall scheduleIn a recent TV movie about John McCain, actor Scott Glenn said, "A man without honor is nothing."
Well, a TV show without buzz is nothing, too, which is why cable stations previewed their upcoming programs to a roomful of publicists last week at the Television Academy in North Hollywood. And if you're one to believe that show biz reflects culture, then we have a pretty scary culture out there. The new reality shows make even my neighbors seem normal. Most of these freaky offerings are from the cable networks - somewhat ironic given that broadcast networks were the first to popularize the genre as a way to combat ratings losses to cable. (Or so explained an NBC publicist I spoke to. I haven't been keeping that close of a score.)
Wanna see a blind man climb Mount Everest? Been dying to hear a Kenny Rogers-Lionel Richie duet? Eager to see some Hollywood wannabes crawl over each other on their way to the top? Tune in this fall!
In Girls Next Door, a group of shameless hotties park themselves in a quiet suburb, and risqu? hilarity ensues. The biggest bimbo claims to be a PR pro. Makes me proud.
Another TV trend picking up steam is celebrity gawking. Apparently, TV folks are certain that we're willing to watch famous people do pretty much anything: play poker, file their nails, lounge in their "cribs," or make smoothies. One network, I think it's A&E, is going to give us Celebrity Charades. There was a time when people actually played charades themselves, with their real friends. But now, brain-melted as we are, we'd rather have the rich and famous play for us. We won't even have to move.
Perhaps we can get celebrities to handle everything else in our lives. Take out the trash. Make dinner. Haul the kids to piano lessons. Handle bedroom activities. "Not tonight, honey, I have a headache. Can't you just watch Celebrity Sex? Heather Locklear is standing in for me, and you're being played by Ray Romano."
Fortunately, there are a few shows that look promising. Showtime previewed two intriguing series, Weeds and The Sleeper Cell, and presented the best promo reel. The National Geographic Channel was good, too, and its upcoming special on 9/11 looks to be the most insightful examination of the tragedy yet presented. But overall, based on what I heard from other publicists in attendance, the fall season may only get stung by the buzz from this crowd.
Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer