Let's face it. Reality television is television's reality.
Begrudgingly, I've come to accept that fact. The sitcom and the drama, with few exceptions ("CSI," "Arrested Development," "Everybody Loves Raymond"), have been relegated to "filler" while the networks debut the next reality flash-in-the-pan. But it's not only prime time that's being affected.
It Grrrr!s me to no end to see career television people choose a relative newcomer to fill one of the most sought-after openings in broadcasting. After an extensive "search" last year, producers of ABC's "The View" (search) were apparently so stumped that they had to go all the way to the Australian Outback for their newest co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Too bad they only needed to tune into "Survivor" to get there!
Nope. Doesn't work for me. No matter how cute, bubbly or even talented Elisabeth Hasselbeck is, there are plenty of cute, talented women who have been busting their butts in the broadcast/entertainment industry, learning how to chase stories, interview people, cut tape, write, produce and so on and so on, who would give their left (fill in the blank) for that job, but who didn't get the job because they didn't appear on a reality show!
But who am I, right? I can only say Grrr!
Now, word is that big-time Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, former Disney bigwig and co-founder of DreamWorks SKG, is joining Sylvester Stallone (search) to produce yet another reality entry. This one, called "The Contender," will focus on the sport of boxing.
Since reality guru Mark Burnett ("The Apprentice") is reportedly involved, I have no doubt the show will be good. But isn't it a cop-out for Katzenberg and Stallone to go the reality route when many of their Hollywood contemporaries who have also delved into producing television — like Steven Spielberg ("E.R."), Jerry Bruckheimer ("CSI") and Edward Zwick ("Thirtysomething") — have worked hard to put together compelling drama, using their peers from writing, producing, and acting?
What, will the winner of "The Contender" get a legitimate shot at the title against, say, Roy Jones Jr.? (search) That, too, would be unfair to all of the boxers who have been paying their dues but who didn't make the cut to get on the show. Whatever, Jones would knock any reality TV boxer's lights out anyway.
The Bathroom's Empty. Find Your Own Urinal!
OK ... I was the cause of someone else's Grrr! the other day, and he let me know about it. FOX News Channel promotions editor Tim Walter (who, incidentally, has just been accepted into the FDNY — congratulations and good luck, Tim), has admonished me that when confronting three urinals, one should NOT choose the one in the middle. From now on, Tim, I promise to make room for the other guy. Grrrrr!
And while we're on the subject ... Flush the toilet, lift the seat, don't use your cell phone while you're on the throne, and for crying out loud ... WASH YOUR HANDS! Grrrrr!
And another thing ... A reader named Lou Stavly, from Maryland, has had it up to here with restaurants that put "too-cute" signs on bathroom doors to indicate men or women. "My son had to ask me if he was a stallion or a filly," he wrote. Grrr!
In a lot of cases, tech support is an oxymoron. Over the weekend my high-speed DSL line was not working, yet again! When I called technical support, all I got was some know-nothing "help" line employee just looking to get me off the phone.
"Do you have a speaker near your modem? Do you have a cordless phone? Do you know if you have a security system?"
Do I know if I have a security system? I should hope I know! Do you mean to ask me if I have a security system, or if I simply know if I have one?
After unplugging every phone in the house and isolating the modem, the problem still persisted, prompting the "help expert" to determine the problem must be the alarm.
OK, right. So explain to me why the problem is sporadic and, oh by the way, it works fine now?
Actually, don't bother. The next call I made was to the cable company. Not only did I order a cable modem for my Internet access, I am also going to try Optimum Voice (search) for my phone service, thereby eliminating my need to ever contact the phone company for anything ever again.
No Grrr! Just action. I'll let you know how the digital phone service works in future columns.
Here's one of my favorite Oblivion moments. You pull over to the shoulder because a fire truck, ambulance or cop car is heading to an emergency situation with sirens blaring and lights flashing, and some clown who has been traveling behind you passes you on the emergency vehicle's tail. Grrr!
Congratulations! You're Pre-Approved
My wife and I received an unsolicited pre-approval letter for credit the other day from a large bank. The interest rate: 19.99 percent. Wooohoooo, sign us up baby! Yeah, right.
Whenever I get these pre-approved offers with ridiculous APRs, I circle the interest rate (usually hard to find because of the fine print) and write "Get real" on it.
I do this so the bank's employees can waste the same amount of their time opening what they think is an application — as I wasted opening the "great offer" letter. Grrr!
Minimus Kitten: Adventure Cat
Almost as annoying as vanity license plates are people who own motorcycles or Mini Coopers who wave and beep at each other while driving on the road (as if they belonged to some cheese-ball fraternity).
But here's another one for you. My friend Jason named his Mini. Its name? Minimus Kitten: Adventure Cat. Time to think about a pet, bud. Grrr!
Now For Your Grrrr!s
This one came in during the day with the subject "A Real Time Grrr!" and it made me laugh my butt off ...
David D. in Pleasanton, Calif., Grrrs!: Right now as I type this, I am typing as loud as I can in an effort to drown out the slurping and lip-smacking sounds that the ill-mannered and poorly raised slob in the next cubicle is making ... with his yogurt! Now how can someone actually make noise eating something soft like yogurt? What is really sickening is that he belches like a fat pig after EVERY bite ... and then when he is done, he sucks his teeth and flicks his tongue and says things like ... "ahhhh yea" and "oh man, yea." I overheard he's going to have Chinese food for lunch. I may have to resign! Grrr! Grrr! and Grrr!
Erin Fagan in Phoenix Grrrs!: This is to the woman whose child would not shut up during "Riverdance" last night at the University of Arizona. It was an incredible show and would have been even better if her little boy did not have to interject every minute: “Is that lady dead, mommy?” “Mommy, I want a drum set.” “Mommy, I’m tired.” This was a very special night for my husband and me. We had enough smarts to leave our two young children at grandma and grandpa’s house for the evening. And parents, if you can’t control your children, don’t ruin the show for everyone around you. We paid $100 to see "Riverdance," not to hear your kid ramble through the entire show about how hungry and bored he was. Lady, you get a double GRRRR! for being so inconsiderate and I really would like your address because I would like to buy your son the loudest drum set on the market. GRRRRRRRRR!
Liz Miranda Grrrs!: Mike, I get so angry when I have to get gas and have to wait for someone else not only to get their gas, but while they hold everybody up while they go inside to pay. Not only that, but they do some shopping while they're in there, and there's a line inside too, and not only that they don't even hurry!! Why don't they pull up and park for these extra things!!! That's what the parking spaces are for!!! I have waited as long as 20 minutes for some of these inconsiderate people. Why did I wait, you may ask? Because you never know how long they're going to take!!! GRRRR!!!
Mike H. in Las Vegas Grrrs!: I am surprised you did not Grrr! when you mentioned "20 minutes of previews and 10 more in commercials" in your "Sit Back and Relax, Enjoy the Show" paragraph (last column). Grrr! for having to go early to movies to get a good seat and endure commercials after paying for tickets, stale popcorn and flat drinks. If I wanted to watch commercials I would have stayed home and watched TV! Then, to add insult to injury, we have to sit through a documentary about not copying/bootlegging movies. A special Grrr! for today's society for accepting the fact that it is OK to spend all that money at the movies and then not say anything about having to sit through commercials. GRRR!
Tamara Bey Grrrs: I had the biggest Oblivion the other day. I was at Wal-Mart when I was removing a cart from the cart line when an old lady apparently thought my whole purpose in life was to make sure she had one. As I was pulling it out she came right up to the one I had and took it out of my hands and walked away with it! I just stood there dumbfounded. I really wanted to tell her that she was not the only person in the world, contrary to what she thought. Then I thought of the term "Oblivion" and it just made me smile. Stupid Oblivion.
Janette Shaw of NYC Grrrs: One night last week, I had an incident with a gum chewer. I found a seat on the express bus, and all of sudden a woman to the right of me started chewing her gum like "Bessie" the cow. I was so shocked that I turned to look at her. This didn't deter her; she just kept chewing her cud. I usually carry my Discman for situations just like this. Unfortunately I had just broken my headphones at the gym and I was music-less. Finally she fell asleep and Bessie was quiet for the remainder of the ride to the Bronx. Grrr!!!!
In my last column, I Grrr!'d banks for disabling the cars of folks who didn't make their car payments, asking how they expected people to make car payments if they couldn't get to work?
D. Bartlet disagreed with my Grrr! : Usually I agree with you — except for your comment on how (people) can be expected to pay (their car payments) if the bank takes their car away. These people are not paying because they made the choice, not because they lost their car. GRRRRRR! Your comment was just like the items you put in your column. Funny is it?
I responded to Mr. Bartlet, "I can't win them all."
Mr. Bartlet wrote back: It was refreshing to receive your e-mail. In this day and age most would not respond personally, or worst, would make excuses. You, on the other hand, responded almost immediately and had a simple answer, not an excuse. Once again kudos and keep up the good work.
Hey, I've made mistakes before, and I'll make more in the future, but I will always own up to them. Excuses are a waste of everybody's time.
Lori Larimer of Columbus, Ohio, comes to my defense regarding one of my last column's Grrr!: As far as I am concerned, you can tell Adam Pye that the only reason I ever started reading your column was because of your picture and I am certain that "glamour shots" probably couldn't even begin to make Adam look remotely as hot as your picture. Sounds like a little jealousy to me. Grrrr!
Until next week, Grrrrrrrrrr!
Mike Straka is the project manager for FOX News' Web operations and contributes as a features reporter and producer on "FOX Magazine" (Sundays 11 p.m. on FNC), a producer on "Sunday Best" (Sundays 9 p.m. on FNC), and as a reporter and columnist for Foxnews.com. Straka appeared in the film "Analyze This" and was an actor in the long-running Off-Broadway hit "Tony n' Tina's Wedding."