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I've Got a "Secret" I Don't Want
April 9, 2008  | By David Bianculli
The CBS celebrity competition series Secret Talents of the Starssounded like a horrible concept, but I didn't want to prejudge -- and couldn't, because it was televised live last night. Well, now I've seen it, and it's time for the postjudging...

Secret Talents of the Stars wasn't as horrible as it sounded. It exceeded those low expectations, by being even worse. It's the sort of series that shouldn't have made the cut at a third-tier cable network, much less a broadcast operation once known as the Tiffany Network. If CBS puts on a few more shows like this, it should be known as the Dollar-Store Network.

Host John O'Hurley announced, at the start, that Secret Talents was a six-week series. That's a pretty nasty threat, but apparently that's how long it takes to showcase four stars per week out of a field of 16, then present the semifinals before crowning a winner. Well, that's one way, anyway. Another way would be just to cancel the show immediately, after one smelly showing, as CBS once did with its ghoulish compete-for-an-inheritance reality series, The Will. (Remember, CBS: Where there's a Will, there's a way.)


Last night's featured artists were Olympics skater Sasha Cohen doing gymnastic dance contortions (not much of a stretch, except for all the stretching); George Takei from Star Trek singing "On the Road Again" (and butchering it in William Hung fashion); Clint Black trying standup comedy (barely passable); and singer Mya showing off a genuine passion, tap dancing.

Mya was truly impressive, the only one of the four who had any business asking for the audience's time to showcase a "secret talent." Broadway producers should look her way, immediately, and cast her in something like Chicago or a Busby Berkeley musical remake. (Update: Heard from one sharp-eared person already, who noted that Mya has been in Chicago -- that fabulous film version -- as one of the "Cell Block Tango" girls. How cool is that? I'd forgotten that completely.)

She and Black were the favorites of all three judges, who were cloned almost laughably from the American Idol mold. Instead of genial Randy Jackson, goofy Paula Abdul and surly Simon Cowell, Secret Talents of the Stars gives us R&B singer Brian McKnight as the affable music guy/black guy, actress Debbie Reynolds as the "I love everybody" enabler, and producer Gavin Polone as the judge with all of Cowell's attitude, but none of his tact.

"It's your voice," he said to Takei, "that I think kind of sucked."

I could say that of this show, but there are other ways to say it. Especially in broadcast TV prime time.

The talent and judges, except for Mya, were a total waste of time. And here's the kicker: The viewers, given a few minutes after each performance to vote for their favorite, ended up rejecting Mya and advancing Clint Black and Sasha Cohen instead.

But maybe that's good news for CBS. If the only viewers who would sit still for Secret Talents of the Stars are people who wouldn't know actual talent if it hit them in the face, CBS appears to have found them. Coming up soon... Danny Bonaduce on a unicycle!

I'm not kidding. And after last night, I'm not watching, either.




Lisa said:

Mya was the best by far. She gave a great performance, flawless like Brian said. I was shocked she didn't make it. And she IS going to be on Broadway!!! Doing Chicago, you are good!!!
She does Broadway May-July as Velma Kelly
(Wow! I had NO idea. You're better... for knowing that already. -- David B)

Comment posted on April 9, 2008 11:56 AM

Tom said:

Dave--No need to post this, but reading your review brought back the sense of fun when I was at the Enquirer and would see one of your pieces from Akron days show up on the wire. I would stop whatever I was doing and read it (and wish I could write like that someday).
Fun piece to read, and I imagine it was fun to write.
Thanks for the smiles and remembering what made being part of a newspaper fun.

(Dear Tom: What do you mean, no need to post? Great to hear from you. That's Tom Brinkmoeller, folks, formerly of the Cincinnati Enquirer and one of the best TV critics in the business when I started, back in the Paleolithic Era. -- David B)

Comment posted on April 9, 2008 12:05 PM

anchorgirl said:

Okay, I missed this one...but I did get to see one of those TV faux pas moments that'll live in infamy: On American Idol Gives Back, Billy Crystal, a god to me, I tell ya, introducing Miley Cyrus as Milly Seerus. Oh my.

Almost as bad as my thinking Bill Cosby played a trash man in his first solo series. D'oh! Was there a character in it who was, or an episode about catching up with the trash truck? Or was the head injury I had four years ago worse than I thought?

(I could accuse you of confusing Bill Cosby with "Sanford & Son" star Redd Foxx, who played a garbage man, but I won't. I have a better explanation: One episode of "The Cosby Show," the 1969-91 sitcom in which he played a phys-ed teacher, had him forced to borrow a vehicle to take out a date he wanted to impress -- and ultimately borrowing a garbage truck. Do you feel better now? Does your head? - David B)

Comment posted on April 10, 2008 12:49 AM

PETER said:

Look what I just found. I am so going to see MYA in Chicago. She was truly robbed on CBS and only elevated them. I refuse to watch it if she's not on there. It's pointless of a show now. We love girl. Keep it movin to bigger & better things where you're appreciated! DISCOUNTED TICKETS TO SEE MYA ON BROADWAY MAY-JULY! http://www.broadwayoffers.com/go.aspx?MD=2001&MC=CHMYA24

Comment posted on April 10, 2008 2:07 PM

Tammy B said:

MYA, MYA, MYA was the best. She looked the best, had the most personality and best talent of them all. Was she not white enough or something????? Sacha was definitely not on point. She looked way too nervous, needed help and assistance through way too many of her moves. Plus she didn't do anything I haven't already seen her do on skates. I'm so disappointed in the voting system and America too. You heard all 3 judges. Mya was the best. I'm not watching this show or supporting this show. What a joke!

Comment posted on April 10, 2008 2:13 PM
rere said:

well i heard today that the show was canceled after only one episode. thats not a shock! there is no show if the celebrity with the best talent didnt make it. mya's was the best performance of the night

(Read my April 11 BIANCULLI'S BLOG for an I-told-you-so follow-up! -- David B.)

Comment posted on April 10, 2008 10:00 PM

anchorgirl said:

I could no more confuse Bill Cosby with Redd Foxx than I could Beah Richards with Moms Mabley. I mean, seriously, Dave.
But thanks for clearing up the other thing.
(As for my head, it's fine -- until I try to dredge up plot lines from shows I last watched when I was 15. Then, a Pythonism comes to mind: Doctor!! My brain hurts!!)

Comment posted on April 11, 2008 2:41 AM

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