[Doing guest coverage of The Cut is sg-dub. You can read his blog at http://weakisht.blogspot.com/.]
Let me first say that yes, I know that almost every new reality show is merely derivative of past reality shows. I’m cool with that, as long as they are well done. Even before seeing one second of Tommy Hilfiger’s new summer show on CBS, I thought it was a blatant rip-off of one of the best shows to premiere in a while – last year’s “Project Runway” on Bravo. I loved Runway; the originality of the show AND of those involved and I never knew why NBC (which owns Bravo) never gave it a shot. What I didn’t expect was how Apprenticey The Cut would be. Not only were many of the sweeping Midtown Manhattan camera shots exactly the same as we’ve seen before, but he mentioned his industry was worth “billions,” the dubbing was equally atrocious, and he feigned the same phony over-the-top disgust with the show’s hopefuls. Finally, not wanting to be outdone by The Donald’s infamous hairdo, The Tommy is rocking a hair part that has only been previously equaled by God at the Red Sea back in the day.The show opened with Hilfiger explaining to us just how famous he is. “If you’ve ever opened any newspaper, watched TV, or looked at a magazine, you know who I am.” I sort of doubted that, so I called my dad who has certainly done all three every day of his adult life and asked him. “Hey Dad, how ‘bout that Tommy Hilfiger?”
“Who’s that, did the Eagles draft him or something?”
“No, but thanks, I’ve gotta go get back to the TV.”
“Ok son, your mom and I love – *CLICK*”
Sorry pops, it was time to meet TV’s newest batch of reality whores, and you never loved me like my TV loves me anyway. (Wow, that sounds awful upon edit.) After Tommy blabbered about his rags to riches story (unlike his daughter Allie’s own reality show, “Rich Girls,” on which she blabbered about her riches to richer riches story) we began meeting the contestants. Flamboyant gay dude, check. Neck bobbing, finger pointing black woman with attitude, check. Snobby uptown bitch, check. Latino, check. Wacky artsy woman, check. Old white guy who takes his shit waaaaaay too seriously, check. Driven career woman, check. Scruffy tough guy, check. A bunch of milquetoast average to above average looking white people, check. Former beauty queen, check. Romber, hey CBS – you forgot someone! For shame.
Tommy critiqued a few of the outfits the gang chose to wear and reminded them all about first impressions. At this point, it would be fruitless to run through all 16 fashionistas, so I’ll spare you. Tommy chose St Louis housewife and mother Julie as one of the most stylish, as well as Brooklyn artist and baby’s daddy five times over, Rob. Rob paints “art” on his clothes just like that freaky girl who loved Morrissey back in 9th grade French class did, but Tommy thinks that’s cool now, apparently.
Julie and Rob were tasked with choosing their teams based on nothing more than how each was dressed. The most notable person Julie chose was midlife crisis poster child Jeff. Yet another in the fabled history of old guys on reality shows who seem to be crack addicts. His contrived ego and absurd excitability immediately drew my ire. “God spent all day Friday and a better part of Saturday creating me and when he was done, he loved what he’d created.” Who says that crap? Picked last was Felix, who stood defiantly with his skateboard at his side. Just as I was noting how corny he is, they showed some footage of him busting a backside railslide and a switch ollie over a car hood. “Yeah,” I thought,”but does he know fashion?!”
Over on the other side, Rob first picked Chris who was fully decked out in Hilfiger gear, head to toe. Chris mentioned that he was from “the ghetto” three times in one minute. In case you were wondering how someone from Connecticut could possibly be from “the ghetto,” I can confirm that his hometown (Bridgeport) is absolutely ghetto. Trust me. Rob had the pleasure of getting the last pick overall which is always a fun reality moment. The last person picked for any team anywhere feels like crap. The last person picked on a network primetime reality show premiere? Not sure, but I’d guess uncontrollable diarrhea… with hemorrhoids. The loser this time was DeAnna from Hollywood, who looked more like a homeless transvestite in her gold lame Marilyn Monroe get up. The Cut was showing promise.
At this point, WAY into the show, they ran the opening montage. No real reason to mention it except to say I was very surprised to hear that the Rolling Stones sold “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” to be used on the show. I mean, the Stones never do that kind of thing. After the opening, the teams met on the corner of Broadway and West 50th, stood in perfect high school softball team picture poses and awaited Trump – err, Hilfiger to arrive.
Upon arrival, Hilfiger bragged about his success (worth bragging about, I suppose) and reminded us of his creative genius. Back when he was unknown in the 80’s, he bought billboard space in Times Square and apparently started some campaign that “made his name.” So, for the first competition of The Cut, each team would have to design and create a gigantic (real) billboard in 2 days. Right there in bustling Times Square! Actually, I can’t go along with Hilfiger’s error. You see, 50th is a few blocks north of what is typically considered Times Square. You non New Yorkers may even have noticed the glaring lack of gaudy signs, electronic news crawls, and naked cowboys associated with Times Square. What you did see was two blank billboards above an Applebee’s in the Theater District. If Hilfiger learned anything from Trump, it’s that a little truth stretching is okay.
With a loft space in SoHo (though who knows, maybe it was in Queens) and a design studio nearby, the teams retreated to plan out their ideas. At the loft, which was decorated in a weak Restoration Hardware meets Brady Bunch style, the 16 hopefuls went through the whole room/bed-picking thing. Note to all those reality show editors who read TVgasm: we do not need to see this activity ever again unless actual blood is drawn. Thank you. Like, omigawd, the boys have to sleep on bunk beds and there’s no closet space and, and, and… SHUT UP. You are in Manhattan. Oi. The first personality really came through during this exercise as Cuban exile and pro skater Felix waltzed into the girls’ room and stole their rolling rack (a small little mobile closet thing). The girls, of course, yelled at him to stop but he simply acted like it was his and kept taking it away. Shrewd gamesmanship or plain insanity? Time will tell, Felix, time will tell.
“Team Broadway,” (the one led by Rob) convened and began throwing ideas around. Chris, the as-to-this-point-quiet dude from Connecticut’s ghetto, stepped up and declared he had the skills to win and declared himself the team’s leader for this task. He even showed everyone his portfolio from college. I must give Chris props for coming out of the ghetto, going to college, and becoming a success. I really mean that – but now that I’ve said it, he’s now fair game. Hey Chris, what kind of tool brings his art school graphic design portfolio to a mixer? In fairness, Chris came off pretty well as opposed to DeAnna, the bleach blond woman who looks like a tranny. I’m sure Hilfiger will hire a young woman who dresses like Angus Young. Puh-leeze.
DeAnna : An AC/DC in AC/DC
The other team, “Team 50th” was also having a brainstorming session. Jeff, the middle age guy blurted out the slogan, “Wear my building.” He was appropriately met with blank stares. Over time, Team 50th did come up with a minimalist NYC skyline concept with a good slogan, “TomMY NY.” Get it? My NY! Flamboyant Queen Tommy declared that he would just have to have the tertiary colors represented as they are just to die for. The orange, purple, and green NY skyline idea was born. Faaaabulous!
Another blow to gay acceptance. Thanks reality TV!
Just as I was getting a little bummed again by the show’s lack of originality, I was jolted by a commercial as I was speeding through on the TiVo. Now, I never rewind for commercials. So what was it that drew my in? Our fair Julie Chen, in what was (for me) the first Big Brother 6 commercial of the year. Not even the sight of Jase, Adria, Cowboy, or The Savage will deter me come July 7. Sufficiently perked up for the 2nd half of the show, I was eager to see what these teams could come up with. Team 50th immediately began painting and creating their sign. They painted the bottom fifth blue and taped the borders for the buildings they were going to paint. Jeff, the midlife crisis guy exclaimed, “What a freakin’ experience dude! It’s awe-inspiring! I’m in awe, I’m inspired!” You just know he drives a Corvette and calls the women he works with “honey.”
As the hours ticked by and Team 50th were really making progress, Team Broadway were still nowhere to be seen. They had designed a different concept; one which used a humungous abstractly painted canvas that they would power staple to the billboard, along with some creative Hilfiger logos. They finally showed up in the middle of the night and proceeded to staple the thing perfectly and quickly. Upon completion, Chris, who was mostly responsible for the whole idea, declared the billboard to be a “monument in history.” Yeah dude, I heard they were thinking of moving it down to Ground Zero to take its rightful place next to the planned memorial.
With only a few hours to go and a cold steady rain falling, Team 50th still had a lot to paint and it wasn’t looking good for them. Several team members who were enjoying hot cocoa inside a diner came up with the plan to nix the Statue of Liberty on their painting in the interest of time. They confronted the others (who were doing all the actual work) and were met with anger and stubbornness. “We shouldn’t change the frickin’ vision,” screamed Jeff. This allowed us to see the first of Princess who promptly told Jeff, “take the base out ya voice.” I’m hoping one of you can explain that one to me – I’m getting old apparently and I’m not hip to all the slang these days. Jeff backed down from Princess, but they continued painting Lady Liberty.
At the deadline, both teams did get finished and both were very proud of their work. Before Hilfiger arrived, freaky DeAnna realized that her precious thrift shop coat was left out in the rain and that none of her compatriots “saved” it from the elements. Ok, yeah, that sucks. But DeAnna went completely wacko; screaming at everyone and making no sense whatsoever. Her anger was totally nullified by the fact that she was wearing a C3P0 colored fanny pack across her belly the whole time. Sorry, DeAnna, but when you look like Aunt Trailer Park after a long day at Dollywood, your rants are completely toothless.
As if to mock those of us who claim that The Cut totally ripped everything off from the wonderful “Project Runway,” the horrible “Wickedly Perfect,” and the now silly “Apprentice,” Hilfiger appeared next with an old white guy named George who would help him select the winning team. I kid you not.
We’ll get started when Carolyn arrives.
Hilfiger claimed he was “torn” and selecting a winner would be tough. Felix, the badass Cuban skater guy started crying. Um, ok. Whatever. We learned that the Boardroom on The Cut is named, “Style Forum.” We watched the gang drink wine and live it up for a night. We saw annoying jackass Jeff take a bubble bath while self proclaimed sexpot Vlada danced around in her bra for no discernible reason. We enjoyed seeing Tommy (the gay guy, not the famous rich guy) get more face time with his well-rehearsed line (regarding the bath time dalliance), “This is not Circus Seximus!” He followed up that line with a coy knowing smirk and an air of sophistication that just screamed Mensa to me. He went on to try to wow us some more with “veni, vidi, vici,” but after saying “veni,” he couldn’t stop giggling “I came! A ha hahaha! Aren’t I just toooo much!”
At Style Forum Hilfiger discussed the billboards and claimed that they both sucked. He talked with the major players on each team and took some to task for their bad ideas. It was a somewhat open forum, which was a pleasant surprise. “Team 50h” had the best design element of either sign – the TomMY NY” slogan that Felix came up with. Some woman named Liz who had no camera time up until this point claimed that she was part of the creative process that came up with the tag line. As if Felix dreamed up “TomM” and Liz followed with “Y NY.” Her pithy plea made no sense and Hilfiger made note of her lying ways.
After some bad dub-overs from the CBS editing team, Team 50th were declared the winners despite the juvenile graphics – thanks to Felix’s slogan. Now it was, of course, time to eliminate someone from the other team. Hilfiger called out Chris because he was the leader of the team and did a pretty good job of it. Chris had to pick the two teammates whom he felt were the most useless. He called out Amy and Jessica, neither of which did anything at all on camera. (Ok, Jessica did save the team a few bucks and Amy did whine some.) Each woman made her plea and Jessica explained very well about how she came up with a good idea to save the money. Amy looked hurt by this so Hilfiger asked her if Jessica did indeed come up with that. Amy replied, and this is a direct quote, “I will not lie. I do think that that is a good version of the story and I think it is almost specifically correct.” She went on to say how she did not have sex with that woman either.
Not to be outdone in the catchy phrase department, upon dismissing Amy, Hilfiger unveiled, “Amy, you’re out of style. You have to take the runway.” He didn’t even look the least bit embarrassed saying that either.
What did you think? Does this show have a chance or is it just too derivative?