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October 10, 2015

Things I Hate About TV: Celebs Screwing Their Charities on Reality Shows

by Joel Keller, posted Apr 4th 2010 3:02PM
'Celebrity Apprentice' season 9 ep 3
It's a time-honored tradition in the world of TV: a celebrity goes on a game show or reality contest, playing for his or her favorite charity. Then, instead of buckling down and trying his or her hardest to get as much money as possible for that charity, they laugh and joke as they either go down in flames on the show, or -- even worse -- don't look like they're even trying.

The latest case of this happened on last week's 'Celebrity Apprentice.' And, with the next episode set to air tonight, I wanted to talk about why the results from last week got me so annoyed.

If you watched the episode, you'll know that ex-Met, Dodger and Yankee Darryl Strawberry seemingly fell on his sword and asked Donald Trump to fire him instead of firing the RockSolid team leader that week, sprinter Michael Johnson. At first, Straw looked like he was sacrificing himself because he thought Johnson did a fantastic job despite the fact that the Norton and LifeLock execs liked the Tenacity team's ad campaign much better than they liked the men's campaign.

As a Yankee fan who appreciated his contributions to their late-'90s championship teams, I at first thought, "Good for Straw; he's being a team player as usual." But it didn't take long for the evidence of why Darryl really wanted to get fired started creeping in. Trump asked Straw if he was a tired and wanted to leave. Straw struggled and tried to dance around answering, but he finally admitted that he was "a little" tired.

Then, a couple of days after the episode aired, Strawberry admitted to the New York Post that he was more fatigued than he let on. "I knew physically and mentally, I was done," he told the tabloid. "So, I made sure I went instead of him. Honestly, I hit the wall."

Mind you, this wasn't after a dozen or so episodes; this was the third episode, which meant that they had been taping for only a few days. Holly Robinson Peete, who, like Strawberry, was playing to fund autism research, got angry with her fellow contestant, saying he was "giving up on his charity."

I'm with Holly. If Straw didn't think he was going to at least try to raise money for his charity via the show, why did he go on in the first place? I'm sure he cares a lot about his cause, and has raised a lot of money for it outside 'The Apprentice,' but at that moment he looked like he wasn't willing to go the extra mile to get them money they desperately needed. I'm sure it reminded a lot of Met fans of the version of Straw that played for their team in the '80s.

It's not like we haven't seen this behavior from celebs in the past. How many people went on the celebrity versions of 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire' and gambled away something like $125,000 on a wild guess, then didn't even look like they felt bad about doing it? Or how many times have you seen someone go on celebrity 'Jeopardy!' and laugh his or her ass off as he completely blew questions that were too easy for the Teen Tournament?

One could argue that the seeming nonchalance is a cover for being embarrassed. But, really, it just looks like they don't care.

Straw is lucky; the Post article says that we'll see him back on 'The Apprentice' at some point this season, where he'll get a pleasant surprise from The Donald. But if I were the people he was raising money for, I wouldn't have been very happy with him after last Sunday's dive.

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I agree with Cathy-celebs should pull out their checkbooks and write a check, especially if they withdraw early from the competition. And, Sharon should be sent home, too. Why hasn't Trump sent a doctor to her suite to verify her mystery illness? The women should have sent 2 women home this week. Holly is afraid of Maria because Maria is a strong woman who Holly cannot boss around.
What was Michael Johnson's emergency?

April 12 2010 at 9:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Okay, here's the thing. This is reality TV. As with all such shows, the emphasis is HEAVILY on the TV side of that expression and only incidentally on the reality side.

This isn't about raising money for charity. If it were then every contestant would be trying to be project manager every week since that's the path to winning money for your charity.

And, anyway, it's "only" 20k. For you and me that's a lot of money to give to charity. For a real celebrity it isn't that much money. Even for a C-lister like most of these folks, it isn't all that much.

This is about getting your mug on TV or, maybe, doing something kind of fun.

April 05 2010 at 9:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would guess that there would be an agreement with the charity to begin with that would lnclude the charity getting some financial gain out of it to start with.

Like Judge Judy, even if you loose the case, the production company is still footing the damages that have been awarded.

April 05 2010 at 3:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
F Story

I think you need to look up what the word "screwing" means. There's a big difference between "screwing" their charity and what they are really doing: disappointing their charity. It is not like the charities are pre-determined and celebrities are randomly assigned them; rather, the celebrities choose them. So to say they are "screwing" them is not really fair. The charities would not even have the option to get anything in the first place if not for the celebrity. And it is not like the charities have to give up anything, expend any time, effort or resources... they simply either receive money or they don't, in which case they are in the same place they were had the celebrity not selected them in the first place.

April 04 2010 at 7:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to F Story's comment
Joel Keller

I used it in the right context as far as I'm concerned. If you go on a show and don't even try, you're not just disappointing the charity, you're truly screwing them. Why not just write them a check, as the commenter above suggested?

April 04 2010 at 7:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If the point was money for their charities then said celebrities would pull out their checkbooks and draw from their personal funds. There might be some small degree of "raising awareness" but, let's face it, it's really about past-their-peak celebrities trying to get another 15 minutes.

April 04 2010 at 3:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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