NBC Summer Press Event report
Find out what Wolf said and what's in store for next season on NBC and Bravo after the jump...
During breakfast we talked to the gladiators (Toa, Jet, Phoenix, and Wolf) and hosts Laila Ali and Hulk Hogan. (I sat next to Hulk Hogan. Very cool, brother.) First was Toa and Jet. The latter is actually last season's female winner Monica Carlson. She looks a lot different; new hair with blue streaks and a new six-pack complete her Gladiator transformation. When asked about this year's contenders, both Toa and Jet exclaimed that they are bigger, stronger and have better stories than last season's. Toa added that one male contender is an ex-Marine who was shot and told he would never walk again. And, although the Pyramid and Powerball remain his favorite events, there are a lot of new flashy competitions that will wow fans this season.
Hulk Hogan also talked to us about his favorite event. He said he's going to get the stunt coordinators to let him try one of the new one, Rocketball. In this event, gladiators and contenders are shot up into the air and have to make baskets while they fly past.
After Hulk left, Laila Ali sat down with us. When asked what event she would like to compete in, she replied quickly, "the joust." Who would she like to face? "One of the bigger girls. Probably Helga," she said. Ali also mentioned that she was five months pregnant (due in early September).
Finally, we got to chat with Wolf. This guy is intense. I know you're going to tell me that he's probably told to keep in character. But if that's the case, I don't think he ever leaves his AG persona. When asked for his reaction to his fanbase and many appearances on other TV shows (i.e. The Soup, Best Week Ever), Wolf said that when he first heard Elvis on the radio, he knew the world would never be the same. He wants to do everything (like Elvis) and he always knew he was destined for super-stardom.
Someone also asked if he was afraid of getting hurt on the show. Wolf recoounted how he was gored by a bull once in his days as a professional rodeo performer. Then he said that he's not afraid of anything because, "there isn't a man on earth that can hurt me." As for his favorite events, Wolf listed Pyramid and Powerball because "I love hurting people." He also mentioned Hang Tough. Wolf enjoys it because he can play with the audience and intimidate the contenders. And my day was just getting started...
The second season of American Gladiators premieres May 12th from 8-10 p.m. ET on NBC. It's regular time will be Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.
Judge John Rich declared, "absolutely," when asked if he would be in this competition. He seemed happy that network TV is finally catching on to the mass appeal of country music. Rich remarked that the winner of Nashville Star will have a huge fanbase at their fingertips, much like a Carrie Underwood.
Speaking of Underwood, what is the main difference between Nashville Star and American Idol? Rich responded that Idol infuriates him as an artist. He said it's fine for the judges to be hard on the contestants. Indeed, along with his fellow judges Jewel and Jeff Swift, Rich plans on giving some tough love. But he thinks some of Idol's comments are scripted and he believes some judges are hugely disrespectful to the contestants. Who, for example? John Rich said that Paula Abdul doesn't comment on the performance she just saw (sometimes referring to something she watched in a rehearsal video). Sometimes she can't even come up with anything cognizant to say at all. All this, Rich maintains is disrespectful to the artist on stage because it's his / her moment and they are depending on constructive feedback.
Audiences can expect other differences too. NS contestants will have to write an original composition and perform it on the show. Of course, songwriting isn't the only determining factor as contestants will cover songs from a catalog of classic American music as well as contemporary artists. There will also be a wider age range than American Idol allows (ages 16 and older are welcome). Finally, Nashville Star will allow not only single acts but duos and trios as well.
Nashville Star premieres Monday June 9th from 9:30 to 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
Last Comic Standing
This season, Last Comic Standing will start with celebrity talent scouts, among them Josh Gomez (Chuck) and Kate Flannery (The Office). Flannery explained that the prospective comics would come in and do their act for 2 people. If they were good enough, they were then called back to perform in front of a very large (very drunk) crowd. She added that she saw a lot of potential and she was honored to be a part of the process, "you're helping people reach their dreams." Bill Bellamy (host) joked, "They're actually dreamkillers."
Josh Gomez also commented on the talent scout's role. "It's so subjective. I have my own sense of humor. I know what makes me laugh. I have a very sick sense of humor. If they were wearing an outfit, they were going through," he laughed.
Bill Bellamy observed that this season they weren't just looking for funny people. They were looking for personalities. Audiences will want to learn their stories. When asked if the show was harder for women than men, Bill Bellamy answered, "Yes, because it's a male dominated sport. But the women are really good. There's a lot of girls out there with perspective and originality."
Last Comic Standing premieres Thursday May 22nd on NBC at 9:30 p.m. EST. It then moves to its regular time on Thursdays at 8:30.
Jaclyn Smith was asked whether she'd ever want to be a hair stylist, "That's a difficult task and I wouldn't even dream to take it on. I think people underestimate what it takes to be a great stylist." About hosting the show Smith remarked that she tried not to get so emotionally attached. She really liked every single stylist this season and was sad to see them go. On the other hand, Kim Vo (colorist to the stars and new judge for the show) had no problems eliminating contestants. He said it was refreshing to tell people exactly what he thought. This is unrelated but Kim Vo is responsible for Britney's new "lighter" look.
What can we expect on this season? Better contestants and better challenges. Mark Kunitz (producer) said that the best in the business are coming out to compete, people with established careers and thriving salons. Also, there will be new challenges one which involves cutting hair blindfolded. No models were hurt but the stylists walked away with some nicks.
Season two of Shear Genius premieres Wednesday June 25th at 10 p.m. ET on Bravo.
Celebrity Circus will immerse stars like Christopher Knight, Blu Cantrell and Antonio Sabato, Jr. in the death-defying world of the circus. The celebrity cast (which also includes Olympic gold medalist Janet Evans and supermodel Rachel Hunter) will compete each week in front of a live studio audience doing stunts like the tight wire and flying trapeze. Phillipe Chartrand, the head trainer and life-long cirque performer, exclaimed that the contestants will learn in 8 weeks what takes 8 years to master. He added that he wanted to show America the trials and the emotional ups and downs that go into working on a circus show.
The celebs explained what it was like to do the stunts. Stacey Dash said that she learned how to breath differently, to walk differently. Rachel Hunter said that she's been to the hospital twice. Christopher Knight said that the process starts with "wide-eyed amazement" but quickly moves to "sheer terror."
When asked what does the cast members' loved ones think of the experience, Jason "Wee Man" Acuna retorted, "We're all single now."
Celebrity Circus premieres on Wednesday June 11th at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC. It then moves to its regular time on Wednesdays at 9 p.m.
Baby Borrowers is a new "social experiment" program based on the hit British show. It asks five teenage couples (ages 18-20) to "fast track" to adulthood. They will have to set up a home, get a job and become parents (caring for infants, toddlers, tweens, teenagers, and finally seniors). We got to talk to one of the couples, Alicea and Cory from Houston and the mother who let them "borrow" her then six-month-old baby, Kristy Pew.
The couple learned a lot from the experience. When asked if it put them off the idea of having their own children, Alicea laughed, "Oh, definitely." Cory added that he realized you just don't have to have money to be a parent, you have be ready and mature enough. He recounted that changing the diaper was the worst for him because he has a weak stomach.
Kristy was asked about why she let two teenagers "borrow" her infant for three days. She explained that the house had many safeguards, there was a full-time nanny to shadow the teens, and she was allowed to watch the whole time. Kristy commented that she wanted to participate in the show because it shows teenagers the rigors of parenting.
Baby Borrowers premieres Wednesday June 25 at 8 p.m. on NBC. Visit us here at TV Squad for an "Early Look" of the show sometime later this week.
|American Gladiators||64 (37.9%)|
|Shear Genius||20 (11.8%)|
|Nashville Star||28 (16.6%)|
|Last Comic Standing||37 (21.9%)|
|Baby Borrowers||14 (8.3%)|
|Celebrity Circus||6 (3.6%)|