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And in the center ring, Britney Spears gets devoured by lions! Whee!
January 19, 2008 12:44 AM   Subscribe

With the success of American Gladiators and no writers in sight, tv networks are reaching into the past for ideas. You knew it would happen sooner or later. Yep... they're digging deep: Circus of the Stars is coming back. Could Battle of the Network Stars be far behind?

(Kinda) special moments from circuses and "stars" past:
David Soul sensitively bonds with tigers!
Weird Al on the sway pole!
William Katt races the Wheel of DEATH! (probably the most impressive, really)
Richard Simmons as... RUBBERMAN!
People I don't know and Balki on trapeze!
Pernell Roberts and his lethal hands!
David Janssen throws knives at Lynda Carter! Who then rides a horse in circles to the worst music you will ever hear!
Dierdre Hall hangs on an elephant!
The Big Ragoo pulls a Houdini as Debbie Reynolds worries!
Emma Samms cheats a fiery death!
Harvey Korman twists Mary Hart around!

I'm just hoping the famewhores from The Hills gets violently shot out of a cannon or something. Preferably into another country.
posted by miss lynnster (60 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Did that really happen?
posted by stavrogin at 1:15 AM on January 19, 2008


It may be the horrible spawn of the writers strike, but I still say that Celebrity rehab is gold.

Horrible, horrible gold.
posted by Artw at 1:34 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Gong Show.

BOONG!
posted by Mblue at 1:36 AM on January 19, 2008


If Britney does get devoured by lions, the AP is prepared...
I was looking for an excuse to use that link somewhere...
posted by wendell at 2:01 AM on January 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


How about Rendition of the Network Stars? I'd pay to see that.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:03 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


The horror....the horror......
posted by The Light Fantastic at 3:17 AM on January 19, 2008


Ya know what?
Chintz Factor aside.
I grew up with this and say what you will. but that William Katt one is truly badass and wouldnt seem out of place in a proper circus.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 3:24 AM on January 19, 2008


What the strike reveals is that some people will watch test patterns if that is all that is on.
posted by srboisvert at 3:55 AM on January 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Please turn off yer dang boob-tubes and go out to see a PLAY with actual livin' an' breathin' actors who are doing their level best to make you happy. In real time. Tarnation!
posted by Dizzy at 4:12 AM on January 19, 2008


Believe it or not, I'm riding a wheel
In a place that looks like Paree.
High and away,
On cocaine and a prayer
Believe it or not, it's just me.
posted by psmealey at 4:20 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


What's disturbing to me is I can 'hear' PSMeasley's variant on the Greatest American Hero theme being sung in my head when I read it. *shiver* I feel so old. I'd change "like Paree" to "like gay Paris'!" It 'sounds' better.

"Who could be that?
Believe it or not, it's just Katt!"
posted by ZachsMind at 5:14 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I loved BNS. Nothing beat Bobby Conrad's temper.
posted by dasheekeejones at 5:28 AM on January 19, 2008


Dude, I'm so old that I can sing the song from memory, but I can't remember a thing about the actual show.
posted by psmealey at 5:28 AM on January 19, 2008


Dizzy: "Please turn off yer dang boob-tubes and go out to see a PLAY with actual livin' an' breathin' actors who are doing their level best to make you happy. In real time. Tarnation!"

I've done that many times in my life. In fact, I've actually been in more than my share of those plays. I strongly prefer the boob toob to going out to theaters and sitting in uncomfortable seats surrounded by people coughing and sneezing in my air. And someone always brings a child too young to enjoy the show, but old enough to make sure the rest of us don't enjoy it. Oh, and then there's cellphones that people always conveniently forget to put on vibrate. Shall I go on? Don't get me started on the ambulance that drives by the theater in the middle of the second act when the leading man and his lady are about to kiss for the first time.

People complain that television is for crap. We took for granted how good we got it. I don't wanna go back to footlights and backdrops. Screw dat!
posted by ZachsMind at 5:32 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


No combination is as heady as slightly past its freshness-date celebrity and sequins. I can't wait!

And I'll finally get to find out how many former American Idol stars can fit into a clown car. My guess: 26!
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 5:38 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


and they wonder why viewership is down overall...
posted by caddis at 5:39 AM on January 19, 2008


PSMeasley, I happened to see a DVD of GAH back when I had Netflix. Time has not been kind. I remember when I was a kid thinking that was the funniest, most innovative series. Now I look at shows like that and (the original) Bionic Woman and Charlie's Angels and Dallas and Fame and Dukes of Hazzard and CHiPs... time has been so unkind.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:45 AM on January 19, 2008


So, to celebrities in the 70s, was "Battle the the Network Stars" the step before or after the "Love Boat" on your way down?
posted by psmealey at 5:50 AM on January 19, 2008


Battle For The Network Stars was supposed to be a sign that you arrived. It wasn't until after the first one aired that anyone began to see it as a sign that you were being shown the door. To be fair though, I think it depended on how athletic you actually were. If you were middle aged and they talked you into participating in the tug of war? You were on your way down. If you were in your early twenties and they were counting on you to make points for the blue team, you were still on your way up. I think we've largely forgotten about all of them by now tho, so it doesn't really matter all that much.

What's a sign that you never arrived and can't stoop any lower? Battle of the REALITY show 'stars'.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:04 AM on January 19, 2008


I read "Wheel of Death" as "Wall of Death." Still, that was impressive, and how I want to try strolling around the wheel of death myself.
posted by piratebowling at 6:14 AM on January 19, 2008


Trump's show Celebrity Apprentice is pretty much the new version of Battle of the Network Stars. It'll do in a pinch. I would like a more wide scale version of celebrities cannibalizing each other. How low will they go to keep their face in front of the public? Without writers they are Kato Kaelins waiting for the next free ride.
posted by 45moore45 at 6:15 AM on January 19, 2008


What's a sign that you never arrived and can't stoop any lower? Battle of the REALITY show 'stars'.

Dear God. The mill and factory laborers of the Victorian Age were pretty much human fodder, their blood oiling the Wheels of Industry - but were they ever recycled human fodder? Ingested, digested, and passed through the bowels of the voracious crap-eating machine that is Television, only to be pooped on a plate, garnished aside a sprig of parsley, and served up again?

It makes me feel so superior, to instead be sittin' out here cranking out the Web 2.0 user-generated content of the Intertubes.

All, all is poop. Poop and mirrors that show you all different sides of the same poop, over and over again.
posted by XMLicious at 7:20 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Please turn off yer dang boob-tubes and start reading MetaFilter
posted by nax at 7:35 AM on January 19, 2008


Reality shows I've actually liked include Fear Factor, Deal Or No Deal, 1900 House, This Old House, the first few seasons of Amazing Race (got old by season three), The Osbournes, Road Rules Northern Trail, Real World Boston, the first season of Biggest Loser and the first season of Big Brother. Oh! And Who Wants To Be A Super-hero.

At first I didn't wanna give Dancing With The Stars a chance, but I tuned in only cuz I heard Emmit Smith was gonna be on, and I wasn't disappointed. Also I thought Jerry Springer's story that he wanted to learn to dance for his daughter's wedding - that was ubercool. All the rest of it was as annoying suck as I feared it would be. I have similar stories for most of the following.

Reality shows I haven't liked include Big Brother two and three, Apprentice anything, American Idol, Survivor anything, The Mole anything (except occasionally the celebrity one was funny), Temptation Island, Joe Millionaire, The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here, Blind Date, Lost (2001), COPS, The Surreal Life, and any other Road Rules (besides s5) or Real Worlds (besides s7) I've seen. America's Got Talent, Dog Eat Dog, Greed, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Weakest Link, Average Joe, Star Search, Making The Band, Project Greenlight, For Love or Money, Fear, Murder In Town X, Last Comic Standing, The Contender, Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, Extreme Makeover (with rare exception in the Home Improvement spinoff), The Swan, Supernanny, Trading Spaces, Pimp My Ride, My Big Fat Obnoxious anything, Punk'd, Scare Tactics, multiple Candid Camera ripoffs of recent years except for rare occasion of Jamie Kennedy's Xperiment, and tho I admire Jerry Springer the person, I can't stand the trash talk shows from pretty much everything since Donahue.

Understand, I wanted to like many of the above. Others I tried despite my better judgment. I gave them each a fair shake, and more often than not was left wanting. This is a suck genre. Reality shows I haven't even attempted to watch include anything with Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, Nick Lachey, Jessica Simpson, Tommy Lee, anything with the term "model" in the title or variants like "runway" and the like, and I try to avoid anything with Simon Cowell on it tho over the years I've found that mildly difficult to do.

Essentially I think the word 'reality' should be replaced with the word 'fabricated' but the phrase 'reality television' has so permeated society as to now defy meaning. Make no mistake though: this is fabricated television we're talking about. No writers. No talent. No longevity. Nothing real. Just a lot of complicated producing.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:51 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


When the term "Boob Tube" was coined it was surely in anticipation of so called reality television.
posted by caddis at 7:57 AM on January 19, 2008


In The Onion's Our Dumb Century book (possibly the funniest volume ever), there's a small headline from c.1979, which reads, "'Battle of the Network Stars' Claims Life of Sheriff Lobo."

I am cracking up just thinking about it.
posted by Dr. Wu at 7:58 AM on January 19, 2008


Holy crap, I had forgotten all about Lynda Carter's existence. But someone must have liked her. She even had her own TV special. Rubberband, rubberband man.

ZachsMind: you sure watch a fuckload of bad TV.
posted by pracowity at 8:05 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


"UPDATED Strike Chart: How Long Before Your Shows Go Dark?"
posted by jaronson at 8:18 AM on January 19, 2008


I thought all those shows were absolutely terrible, but I loved Battle of the PBS Stars.
posted by juiceCake at 8:27 AM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm going to pitch a crossover-reinstallment of 'American Gladiators' and 'BattleBots'. Muscular men and women with sledgehammers fighting heartless circlesaw-wielding robots. Death or malfunction!
posted by Anything at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2008


What's a sign that you never arrived and can't stoop any lower? Battle of the REALITY show 'stars'.

This was last summer or something though. Which means no one needs a strike to dig deep into the vaults.
posted by smackfu at 8:35 AM on January 19, 2008


Will there be enough B- and C-list celebs to go around by the time a renewed "Battle of the Network Stars" is greenlighted? I think Trump just snapped up what's left of anyone worth remembering for the new "Apprentice".

But then again, Paula Abdul was completely forgotten when American Idol debuted.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 9:03 AM on January 19, 2008


Thank god I don't watch that much television, and the television I do watch is all infotainment like The Discovery/History/Learning Channel and (the?) food network.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:39 AM on January 19, 2008


So, surprise surprise. I have a story. Yeah I know, when don't I? :)

When I was in high school, my mom & I drove up to Pepperdine University to check it out... I was thinking about going there for journalism. During the tour of the grounds, I noticed that there was some kind of weird sporting event going on and there were tv cameras everywhere. I asked what it was and I was told they were filming Battle of the Network Stars. Anyhow, so afterwards we were supposed to sit through a bunch of orientations and junk but I was too obsessed with being thisclose to Battle of the Network Stars. So I told my mom I was going to the bathroom but actually I snuck out and wandered over to where they were filming. I walked around and gawked at all of the cheesy celebrity goodness, oh my GOD I don't think I'd ever been so excited in my life. When I returned to the orientation, my mom was all pissed at me. I told her I got lost. Needless to say, I didn't go to Pepperdine. And I never told my mom. (I think I might call her today and tell her just for fun, actually.)

One thing I still remember super clearly is that I developed a HUGE crush on Jon-Erik Hexum while watching him running around the field shirtless and talking to him for a second. Sadly, then just weeks later he accidentally killed himself by goofing around with a prop gun. So I was all sad that my hot new boyfriend was dead but I had to suffer in silence because I didn't want to let it slip and have my mom find out that I thought lame celebrity gatherings were way more important to attend than college orientations.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:47 AM on January 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hexum was from my neck of the woods, Tenafly, NJ.
posted by Jay Reimenschneider at 11:08 AM on January 19, 2008


You know the Mary Worth comic strip acted out by fans, and the Garfield strip acted out by fans?

Soooo ........... how about, the original scripts of old TV shows, acted out by fans? Star Trek would be fabulously watchable geek heaven. The Beverly Hillbillies. MASH. A cheap and dirty remix.

Or, original scripts acted out by B-list actors desperate for work. Gilligan's Island, with Ginger played by Courtney Love and The Skipper by Fred Thompson.

Get Smart, with Maxwell played by Pee Wee Herman and Agent 99 by the cute one from Buffy.

The Waltons, with John Boy played by in drag and the dad played by the guy who played John-Boy the first time. Charlie's Angels, with Tara Reid, Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears in the title roles (Charlie played by the "lets get read to rumble" guy) (Camille Paglia would love it).

Or, bring the original cast back to do the same script in an ironic metaknowing sense. "Thirtysomething" played by sixtysomethings.
posted by Rumple at 11:19 AM on January 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


PracoWity: "you sure watch a fuckload of bad TV."

There was a time when I was in support of reality television as a viable genre of television. I enjoyed how Big Brother One was about the kinds of people you would never see on normal TV, and that the producers of the series came out looking like the bad guys.

Then Big Brother Two was an about face and a one eighty. The producers went out of their way to make themselves look squeaky clean, and the people inside the house were little more than unlikeable archetypes for a falsified nonexistent plotline of the producers' manic and disturbed imagination. Soap operas are an improvement to such utter stupidity.

I still give new 'reality' shows a shot now and then, hoping someone figures it out. What essentially works for me are the ones that know they're the ugly step child of game shows and make no attempt to pretend to be anything else. Fear Factor was the best. It knew it's depraved and despicable. It happily wallowed in its own juices. Ya gotta respect dat.

You know one 'reality' television series that's so good, I hesitate to call it a reality show? MythBusters. Essentially, it's Nonfiction Television. Not quite documentary. Certainly not soap opera. Produced and fabricated to a respectable degree, but does endeavour to capture scientific discovery in an extemporaneous way that captures the imagination of the audience.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:37 AM on January 19, 2008


What if Clutch Cargo was a ventriloquist?
posted by doctorschlock at 11:41 AM on January 19, 2008


XMLicious: All, all is poop. Poop and mirrors that show you all different sides of the same poop, over and over again.
Everything is crap, crap, crap!
From all your pop stars to what you buy at the Gap!
The engine of celebrity consumes its fuel,
Now we flush it down with our digested gruel,
- it is crap!
Everything is crap.
hu-guk-guk-guk-guk!
posted by JHarris at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2008


Z-mind:

1) Everything you say about the hassle of seeing live theatre is true.

2) But to my mind you can't beat it for the best fun in the world.

3) I do it for a living, so I'm biased. It pays for shit; the people are nuts.

4) I still love it.
posted by Dizzy at 1:03 PM on January 19, 2008


Ah, Battle Of The Network T And A. The biggest T's! The nicest A's!

Please turn off yer dang boob-tubes and go out to see a PLAY with actual livin' an' breathin' actors who are doing their level best to make you happy. In real time. Tarnation!

Meh. If they were really doing their level best to make me happy, words like "tantric," "naked," and "intruder" would come up more often.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:07 PM on January 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


See a Mamet play!
Homes uses "intruder" at least a dozen times in "American Buffalo."
See a Pinter play!
The brother shits "Tantric" like a goose in "The Homecoming".
(And for the record, the absolute bestiest swearing EVER is in Shakespeare...)
posted by Dizzy at 1:12 PM on January 19, 2008


I spent my junior year abroad in Paris in 1987-1988. I was out one night at a gathering of Americans from various universities around the country, and we were engaging in the inevitable dick measuring that competitive college students indulge in (whose school had more nobel prize winners, school ranking in US News/World Report, mean SAT scores, that kind of bullshit), when some dude weighed in with:

"I go to Pepperdine and I took at hot tub with Burt Reynolds at Battle of the Network Stars, how many of you fuckers can say that?"

That put an immediate end to the conversation.
posted by psmealey at 1:18 PM on January 19, 2008


ROU_Xenophobe: Ah, Battle Of The Network T And A. The biggest T's! The nicest A's!
Goddammit, I was SO coming here to post that!
pracowity: Holy crap, I had forgotten all about Lynda Carter's existence. But someone must have liked her. She even had her own TV special.
And you know, if they DID do a Battle of the Network T&A, I'd totally tune in even if the nearly-60-year-old Lynda Carter was on. Re-runs of Wonder Woman were what helped shoot me into puberty out of a neutrino cannon!
posted by hincandenza at 1:41 PM on January 19, 2008


Did they shower together too?
posted by miss lynnster at 1:49 PM on January 19, 2008


Holy crap, I had forgotten all about Lynda Carter's existence. But someone must have liked her. She even had her own TV special.

For American boys of a certain age, she was a revelation. I believe I reached puberty at precisely 2:12 of this clip.
posted by stargell at 2:46 PM on January 19, 2008


One thing I still remember super clearly is that I developed a HUGE crush on Jon-Erik Hexum ... Sadly, then just weeks later he accidentally killed himself by goofing around with a prop gun.

Years later, working with real guns loaded with blanks at Disneyland, part of our training included a warning about the "Hexum Effect." In short, blanks can kill you. So, in a weird way, he's still remembered by many.

Unfortunately, not everyone remembered the Hexum Effect, as while I was there, one of my friends blew two of his fingers off with the cannon on the Columbia sailing ship.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:16 PM on January 19, 2008


See a Mamet play!
Homes uses "intruder" at least a dozen times in "American Buffalo."
See a Pinter play!


Dizzy, what I meant was that if the actors really wanted me to be happy, they would offer me sexual gratification instead of or in addition to merely performing a play.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:28 PM on January 19, 2008


I can't say I'm pleased about the return of Circus of the Stars. Seems like every time it would air, there would always be a ticker on the screen regarding some natural disaster that is brought on by Nell Carter's trained dog act. The big earthquake in Quebec in the 80's comes to mind.
posted by dr_dank at 4:05 PM on January 19, 2008


Well, maybe Nell's trained dogs are the hounds of Hell. That would make for an interesting show at least.
posted by miss lynnster at 4:14 PM on January 19, 2008


I have a secret that I would like to share with the author of the article entitled "Oh no: ABC is bringing back Circus of the Stars":

You don't have to watch.
posted by Flunkie at 5:42 PM on January 19, 2008


ROU_X---
You've obviously never been invited to a cast party...
posted by Dizzy at 6:10 PM on January 19, 2008


And you know, if they DID do a Battle of the Network T&A, I'd totally tune in even if the nearly-60-year-old Lynda Carter was on.

They could have the "catfight" event between her and Erin-Grey-as-Wilma-Deering.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:47 PM on January 19, 2008


Actually, Lynda Carter is still pretty dang hot.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:06 PM on January 19, 2008


Her cabaret act in NYC was reviewed very favorably a coupla months ago too.
posted by Dizzy at 8:09 PM on January 19, 2008


miss lynnster, you forgot the Laff-A-Lypmics!!
(awesome post once again.)
posted by not_on_display at 8:42 PM on January 19, 2008


What the strike reveals is that some people will watch test patterns if that is all that is on.
posted by srboisvert at 3:55 AM on January 19


I'm watching test patterns right now.


And I am not ashamed.
posted by louche mustachio at 1:35 AM on January 20, 2008


That YT of Weird Al on the sway pole was one of the awesomest things ever. I almost couldn't watch it. My respect for that man (and I say this as someone who has two of his albums on vinyl, make of that what you will) has just tripled.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:02 AM on January 21, 2008


Dizzy, I empathize. I loved it too, but I got bills to pay. Tummy trumps the heart. They don't teach you that in drama class.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:55 AM on January 21, 2008


I've been teaching drama class at the University level for 12 years now, and that is the very first thing I tell my students.
I also tell them that talent has very little to do with success in our field.
I make a living from acting and teaching, but most of my friends from undergrad and grad dropped out years ago. I've been lucky and rabidly tenacious.
We both know how it can break our hearts. But I still can't get enough of it, idiot that I am...
posted by Dizzy at 6:00 AM on January 22, 2008


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