Archive for Thursday, March 20, 2008

Talent show filters reality through kids

March 20, 2008


When the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald observed "There are no second acts in American lives," he had clearly not met Danny Bonaduce. The former child star of "The Partridge Family" has spent much of his life in the public eye, transforming from lovable small-screen imp to reality television's most notorious celebrity train wreck.

Now, the former Danny Partridge wants to give back by hosting "I Know My Kid's a Star" (9 p.m., VH1), an eight-week showcase for young talent and their stage parents. At the end of the process, some young performer will get a break, his mother or father will receive an education in the hard-knock life of Hollywood, and together they will receive a $50,000 check.

The kids and their parents were supposedly chosen for their talents and potential "it" factor. But they were clearly selected to add to the show's freak-show quotient. I'm speaking of the adults here, who get down to feuding and fighting almost immediately upon entering the show's prerequisite mansion.

Speaking without an ounce of irony or self-awareness, one stage parent likens her role to that of Judy Garland's mother. One dad treats his tap-dancing son like the mute half of a ventriloquist act. Together, they seem like characters out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary.

The gathering gets off to an auspicious start when one young contestant vomits upon meeting Bonaduce. Reality TV producers must live for such moments. All of the editing tricks in the world can't produce a real live regurgitation!

And who can blame the little tyke? Bonaduce's odyssey of too much, too soon and too often has taken its toll on his once cherubic demeanor. Like many formerly strung-out abusers, Bonaduce appears to have become addicted to the gym. The camera focuses rather cruelly on his neck - a less than telegenic sight - a purplish mass of muscle and veins. If I were 9 years old and nervous, I might lose my lunch, too.

Give Bonaduce some credit for approaching this talent show with the brutal honesty it probably deserves. This seems less like a tryout for "Annie" than a new variation on "Scared Straight."

¢ Now in its second week, "The Smoking Gun Presents: World's Dumbest Criminals" (8 p.m., TruTV) presents a roundup of human behavior at its least inspired. Every week, the show will present footage of crimes gone wrong, operating a vehicle without the brain engaged and athletes whose quests for the record books transcend common sense. It also showcases "The Smoking Gun's" stock-in-trade, celebrities behaving badly. One of them is Danny Bonaduce.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ Back-to-back games of the NCAA Tournament (6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., approximately, CBS).

¢ On two episodes of "Miss/Guided" (ABC), a sexy substitute (7 p.m.), a misadventure in vanity (7:30 p.m.).

¢ Sayid confronts Ben's spy on "Lost" (8 p.m., ABC). Maybe he can explain what happened on last week's episode.

¢ After a surprise eviction, two contestants plan a charity concert on "Celebrity Apprentice" (8 p.m., NBC)

¢ Wendy copes with a cranky screenwriter on "Lipstick Jungle" (9 p.m., NBC).

¢ Eli and Taylor take on a case of earth-shattering consequence on "Eli Stone" (9 p.m., ABC).


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