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BREAKING NEWS: Was the Fix In On NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice"? Take Your Own Smell Test
May 11, 2009  | By David Bianculli  | 1 comment

I've already written one column today about why I thought Annie Duke, rather than Joan Rivers, should have won the just-concluded edition of NBC's Celebrity Apprentice. But now, the day after that finale, comes some news about Rivers and her next TV project, the timing of which smells awfully fishy...

TV Land announced today that, beginning August 12, Rivers will host a new series for that network called How'd You Get So Rich?, in which she will interview millionaires about their good fortune, and how they got it.

Nothing suspicious there. But read to the bottom of the press release, and it turns out How'd You Get So Rich? is co-produced by Mark Burnett Productions, with Burnett himself listed as one of the show's co-executive producers.


Mark Burnett Productions also happens to be the production company, and Burnett one of the prime creative forces, behind Donald Trump's Celebrity Apprentice. So, unless this TV Land deal was hammered out of whole cloth in the hours since Rivers won last night at 11 ET, Burnett had the star of his next TV series competing to take the trophy as the winner of his current one.

Earlier today, I referred to Annie Duke's chances in the finale as feeling like a stacked deck. Now I know why. Even if the current Rivers win and future Rivers series are wholly coincidental, they also smell -- reek, in fact -- of implied conflict of interest. Did Rivers, with a victory, increase her value as host of a show on TV Land?

You be the judge.

In this instance, you may be the only judge impartial enough to make the call.




cheap jordan shoes said:

Real estate mogul Donald Trump put his germophobic tendencies aside to plant a kiss on the cheek of Joan Rivers, winner of "Celebrity Apprentice"!

Comment posted on May 11, 2009 9:33 PM

Rich said:

I'll say this...I have no love for Joan Rivers. It's my opinion that she's a whining, cackling, holier-than-thou, temper-tantrum surrounded by an angry skeleton held together with spite & plastic surgery....Having said that- I also think she's earned everything she's gotten in life and has a distinguished career from talk shows, to being Johnny Carson's guest host, Game show regular, endless comedy & charity shows, headlines in Vegas- Joans is successful even at this point in her twilight years.

I don't think the fix is in. I'll admit it's absolutely possible but you do realize that Joan was making millions way before Trumps show. Her QVC success alone gives her cred enough to explain "How to make millions" selling 'Stuff'- (I'm trying to be polite here). She's strangely always had a sharp eye for certain things. She was an ardent supporter of shock-jock Howard Stern as early as 1991 (before he invade California & Hollywood) and she's got the survival instincts of a cockroach in Hollywood (that's a compliment!)- She is not a dummy. I can't say the same for Melissa (sorry!).

I think it boils down to 'Who is TV Lands primary Demo?'- It's not Annie Dukes or Brande Rodericks set. The people who really LOVE those 'older' golden shows are more familiar with Joan. I suspect that whether Joan won or lost "The Apprentice" this new show may have 'sweetened' the deal. Maybe it's the other way around?? Maybe TV Land said "Hey, well give you this Millionaire show (More contacts & friends for Joan!) if you do a stint on The Apprentice"- like a back scratch move. Maybe Joan would only do it if Melissa got 'certain treatments'?. Joan have never had to prove herself and I personally thought someone of her 'calibur' was slumming in "The Apprentice"- Melissa probably can't get arrested without Joan.

I don't see a fix. I think trump probably picked Joan over Annie cause Joan's got 'chops' and let's face who the hell is Annie? She's a poker champion but who cares compared to a former pop-star, Playboy model who became a TV actresses and sports players. Even Melissa is more famous than Annie. I'd have rather seen Brande vrs Joan (even if Brande lost I'd understand)- but I think NBC & Trump played up the feud. Which made both Melissa & Joan look catty, bratty, vindictive, & childish! Tom Green & Omerosa laugh at how Melissa handled being fired.

No Fix in my opinion but if there was it was purely for ratings. Many people were upset that young spunky soap actress (and former Playboy model) Kelly Monaco kicked John O'Hurleys butt on the first "Dancin' with the Stars"...then again she was like late 20's and he was like twice her age? They had to have a 're-match' just to appease the 'Older Demo' that following fall remember?. Can you see Annie coming back to guest on "Celeb Apprentice 3"?- No, you go with the 'Name' which is Joan Rivers.

Comment posted on May 11, 2009 11:24 PM

giggles said:

Well, I typed a comment yesterday and your word verification bumped me all the way back to "Jail" and I did not pass "Go." I was too lazy to type it all over yesterday.... But since you've asked, I'll try again....

"Amazing Race" had me on the edge of my seat (along with the rest of the family) the whole hour. No, really? The whole series. (This is the first time I've watched any of these reality shows from beginning to end. Except for Big Brother. Call me weird.) I have not been that emotionally involved in tv like that for a very long time (except for golf...I know, again with the weird) I wanted Luke and Margie to win so badly, I cried. But they still won, in their special way, as you have pointed out here..... That said, was the fix on there too??!! How unfair was it that a significant part of the race was through China and Victor and sister were able to speak Chinese? Whining by the cheerleaders aside, I think that was totally unfair and slanted the race for them!

Now, I do not like Donald Trump, nor the show (didn't watch any of this or any other season!) but I did watch the very end of this finale (because you told me to!) Very clear to me that (catwoman-meeeeeeeeeeeeeooooooooooooowwwwwwwww) Joan should not have won! She personally attacked Duke and threw totally unprofessional hissy fits, and underperformed Duke the entire show, it seems.... (Even if it was compelling tv, I didn't like it and would not watch to see that behavior. Ever.) And yet? Huuummmmm, definately fishy! And add on your illuminations? Well, Something's not right here at all!

Comment posted on May 12, 2009 8:25 AM

Phillip R. Crabb said:

And the sad part is, is that "The Apprentice" really hit its stride this season, and after all that and a 3-hr finale, sold out.

It's more than a bit ironic that Donald Trump chided his panel of former participants for their honest opinion as to who should win, and then completely lost backbone on his own decision, with built-in insulation from end-of-show time constraints.

I thought this particular series had brought notable momentum with it that would carry a larger audience to further seasons, but this ending really fell hollow...and on top of the 'breaking news' you just brought, I feel a bit taken for granted.

Donald Trump bases this show on balsy decision-making and risk-taking, and in the final analysis, he showed neither.

Comment posted on May 12, 2009 9:41 AM

michael said:

Fix? Why?
Just because Trump picked Piers Morgan last year when his friend heads up the charity Piers was playing for?
Because Joan's really close friends with a member of Trump's family?
Because he changed the rules of the final challenge to make it NOT about fundraising since he knew Annie would kick Joan's butt in raising money?
Because, somehow, Joan won the "who had the best celebrities at the party" category with no celebrities (only impersonators) at her event?
Because he asked only Joan-friendly celebs (other than fan fave Jesse James) to appear on the finale?
Because they cut off the ending of the show so he wouldn't have to address his horrible choice?

Nah, this was logic pure and simple.

Comment posted on May 12, 2009 2:04 PM

Running Man Rerun said:

OK, the finale to me looked like a re-run of "The Running Man" where the ratings matter but the truth does not. Annie is Arnie (Arnold Schwarzenegger), who does not know the game is rigged against her (by making fund raising only 20% of the criteria in a charity event, which is ludicrous), Damon Killian, originally played by Richard Dawson, is revised with The Donald playing that role. I love the part where Killian announces that his show has just been extended another season. Donald got that part right, announcing NBC has just extended the show. From Wikipedia: "Killian is altering the odds unfairly to defeat a man he likely considers a true warrior." Who is Joan Rivers? My vote is Dynamo. "Dynamo sings opera and shoots lightning".

I guess truth, or CA's version of it, is stranger than fiction, even Stephen King's version.

Comment posted on May 12, 2009 4:23 PM

Rich said:

Very interesting indeed. I just wanted to say 'for the record'- My argument and comment was in answer to the question of "Did Joan get the 'TV Land' show gig as a perk of having won the Apprentice"- that somehow winning the Apprentice meant she deserved the TV Land deal. No there was no fix in the 'that deal'- However, I don't think she actually "won" the Apprentice - as it's obvious Annie kicked her ass. But I understand why Trump picked Joan over Annie. Fix for the winner of Apprentice- probably. TV Land - no.

Comment posted on May 13, 2009 12:03 AM

Greg Kibitz said:

Sorry, but Annie Duke would never be able to run a large organization. Like any poker player, ultimately she's a lone shark and that may work sometimes but ultimately it is not enough. She listens to no one and takes no input.

Yes, Annie's ideas were often very good and she diligently got the job done with them but her way is one that leads to either spectacular successes or very dismal failures, an all-in strategy if you will. At best she can only really effectively work with one other person and only if that person does exactly what she wants them to do, even if that person is her boss/PM. The only thing she did not do is try to micromanage Mr. Trump himself. Yes, she has lots of ties and raised more money (most of it gambling blood money) but at some point that well will dry up.

Furthermore, if you remember, it was clear Joan was working for her charity and thinking about nothing but her charity and Annie's only goal was quite clearly only one of vengence, to destroy Joan first and foremost. Joan may have let Annie get to her in the boardroom with the odd comment (albeit a a bit extreme) but it never once distracted her from the real goal of her charity and serving the clients. Joan always kept her eye on the ball and the real prize. And even though Annie raised more money, she lost sight of what she was really working for (her charity) and instead obsessively went after the less laudable goal of win or lose and not how the game is played.

As far as the planner quitting goes, Joan was getting much worse service from the planner than Annie was getting from his subordinbate and Annie simply wanted to bring in her own person to help, a person who knew her best and could best be relied on to achieve her vision (as any of us would want to do) and the planner was clearly doing a crap job and giving Joan lip service and not even trying to achieve her vision. The planner was clearly in over his head and, in the end, both teams got a better event planned by bringing in their own well known and trusted folks rather than relying on a firm that could not even take a little criticism from their client. And again, Joan's pleas for help were TO the charity FOR the charity and Annies were TO her friends AGAINST Joan and the charity was only represented by the photo frames.

So, IMO, Joan was absolutely the right choice and that is what Joan won out on 3 of the 5 criteria and there were criteria so if the fix were in then Trump would have gone against that tally, not with it. And I doubt anyone can argue that the criteria were not applied fairly.

Comment posted on May 13, 2009 2:24 PM

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if you remember, it was clear Joan was working for her charity and thinking about nothing but her charity and Annie's only goal was quite clearly only one of vengence, to destroy Joan first and foremost.

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