Archive for Monday, August 4, 2008

VH1 presents 9 Circles of Diddy

August 4, 2008

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First there was "The Apprentice," which quickly got overexposed and even spun off into a disastrous Martha Stewart edition. So can we really be surprised by "I Want to Work for Diddy" (8 p.m., VH1)?

Sean "Diddy" Combs and "Apprentice" host Donald Trump share many things, among them a passion for possessions and flagrant self-regard. But in this show, creator and executive producer Sean "Diddy" Combs makes Trump look like St. Francis of Assisi.

"Diddy" appears throughout the show talking about how busy, influential and important he is and how he expects his assistant to read his mind and be there at his beck and call.

Even by the low standards of reality television, "Diddy" is a mess. The first episode rarely focuses on a single character, so it's difficult to distinguish between Diddy's would-be serfs and desperate servant wannabes.

On "The Apprentice," folks auditioned for a corporate position. A job, if you will. Diddy is looking for a personal assistant, a position defined entirely by the mercurial whims of the big boss. Diddy brags that he fired somebody after an all-night stint just because he said he was "tired."

While not remotely entertaining, the show is a remarkable and bracing example of how the rise of celebrity culture has coincided with our era's brutal business practices to create an environment in which people will gleefully abandon friends, family and dignity to bow and scrape before a vulgar Mephistopheles like Diddy.

¢ Nothing is more fleeting than summer, youth or the career trajectory of a teenage star. Miley Cyrus will perform on tonight's "Teen Choice Awards" (7 p.m., Fox).

¢ Teens of another sort are the focus of the documentary "Baghdad High" (8 p.m., HBO). The filmmakers allowed Iraqi high-school seniors to shoot more than 300 hours of footage on their own.

The filmmakers discovered that the focus on kids, their clothes, fashions, cliques and even pop-culture obsessions (Britney Spears and David Beckham) allowed this film about Iraq to depart from the all-too-depressing norm.

¢ The Travel Channel invites viewers to plan trips closer to home during their "Staycation Week." Following that theme, "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" (9 p.m., Travel) samples the cuisine of the American Southwest.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The three-hour documentary "China's First Emperor" (8 p.m., History) profiles Qin Shi Huang, who conquered and consolidated six states to create what we know as China more than 2,000 years ago.

¢ "History Detectives" (8 p.m., PBS, check local listings) examines legendary ephemera.

¢ "Top Gear" (8 p.m., BBC America) looks at new cars fit for a 21st-century James Bond.

¢ Murder undercover on "The Closer" (8 p.m., TNT).

¢ A woman's murder reveals an agent's secret life on "CSI: Miami" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ A winner emerges on "Nashville Star" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ A mother vanishes on "Saving Grace" (9 p.m., TNT).

¢ Ghosts pledge a sorority house on "The Middleman" (9 p.m., Family).

Cult choice

Eccentric director Terrence Malick ("Days of Heaven") takes an epic approach to the 1607 settling of Jamestown in the 2005 drama "The New World" (8 p.m., IFC).

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