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Human Misery For Fun and Profit: The TeeVee Dead Pool Decided

A tough thing it is, courting TV fame and fortune. Oh sure, there are the upsides. You don't have to wait for tables at restaurants. People go out of their way to be nice to you. Larry King lofts softball questions and Rosie O'Donnell gushes about you before an adoring audience. And of course, the orgiastic bacchanals at Hef's.

But there's a dark side to fame -- a soft underbelly that looks oh-so-inviting to the untold number of rubes who show up in busloads from Kansas and Montana and Utah to "make it" in Hollywood, only to have their dreams crushed into a squishy goo inches in front of their tear-stained eyes.

Because for each would-be star or starlet who makes it -- the lucky ones who get the money, the fame, the high-grade heroin -- there are tens of thousands who do not. There are those unlucky souls whom Dame Fortune waves untold riches and desires at before yanking them away at the last second as She cackles like a mad banshee.

Consider the case of the poor, unknown schmoe tapped to star in the title role of ABC's Timecop. Here he was, on his own network program, rubbing elbows with noted character actor Kurt Fuller and following in the footsteps of Belgian kickboxer Jean Claude Van Damme. And then -- whammo! Yanked off the schedule after just two episodes, not even a trace that you were the lead-in to Dan and Al and Frank and their football shenanigans.

Or how's about poor, dumb Jon Ales? He thought he had slipped off the constraining shackles of MTV and made it to the Big Time... starring as a genie in an inane sitcom, but the Big Time, nonetheless. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Bill Bellamy! Try that one on for size, Kennedy! No more introducing Whitesnake videos for our good buddy, Jon Ales. Nothing but fine wine and easy women and stacks and stacks of folding green.

That is until Jamie Tarses, the blood of Timecop wiped clean off her hands, raised the hatchet once more to crush the dreams of little Jon Ales, consigning him to ash heap of history alongside Martha Quinn and Adam Seale and late night CD pitchwoman Nina Blackwood. Then, presumably, Tarses went back to boffing Chandler Bing.

Or look upon the sad edifice of Royale Watkins and despair! For his fate could be yours or mine. Here was Royale, a stand-up comic on the rise, deemed worthy by Warren Littlefield of appearing in a show to carry the redoubtable "Must See" label. But what Warren puts together, he can also tear asunder. Royale's show, Built to Last, was cast out of the "Must See" family. And if Royale is ever hoping to hop aboard the Bus O' Fame and Fortune, he's probably going to have the catch the route that runs through UPN or The WB.

We're two months in to the new fall season and already shows are begin to fall from the sky faster than stockbrokers when the market turns south. Built to Last led the slaughter, followed by Timecop and You Wish. And then, like Eastern Europe circa 1946, the others began to fall. Over the Top, Total Security, Sleepwalkers -- all dead, dead, dead. The Tony Danza Show, 413 Hope St. and Hiller & Diller were all sent to their rooms. And UPN canceled Head Over Heels -- proof positive that if a tree falls in a forest, and nobody's there to hear it, it would still get better ratings than anything UPN could ever broadcast.

Which just goes to prove our point. TV can be cruel. But TeeVee readers can be crueler. Television, after all, merely destroys the aspirations of actors, writers, key grips and hangers-on, sending them back to the crummy waiter jobs and soft-core pornography occupations from whence they came. But you people... you actually profit off the misery of these wastrels.

Our annual TeeVee Dead Pool contest is over, and the winner is none other than reader Pat Dougherty. Not only did Pat correctly peg Built to Last as the first show to plummet into the earth's magma, the pride of the Dougherty family also fingered You Wish as one of the first three shows to die without dignity.

For such laudable foresight, Pat gets to choose between a fabulous array of prizes, including a stylish TeeVee T-shirt! A Hickory Farms sausage and cheese gift pack! Or a dream dinner date with one of our own wacky, tick-free TeeVee writers!

Finishing in second was a reader from the frozen north whom we identify only as Sanj Arora. Apparently tapping into the heretofore unknown ability of Canadians to spot which TV shows based on Jean Claude Van Damme movies will be really, really stinky, Sanj nailed Timecop as the second show to implode on its own crappiness. Sanj will get to pick whatever prize escapes the grubby hands of Pat Dougherty.

And then in third place -- utter chaos. Six of you correctly predicted one of the first three shows to be cancelled, with many readers hopping aboard the doomed coattails of Jon Ales and his little genie show. So Mike Berr, Kenneth Costello, Ken Haller, Jody LaFerriere, Shawn Nystrand and a fellow who only identified himself as Redcap -- you're all winners to us. We wanted to get each and every one of you a fabulous prize. But we're not exactly flush with cash here at TeeVee. So instead, we'll just be sending you a crummy autographed picture of Warren Littlefield. But if our love and appreciation could fit in a box, well dammit, we'd send that too.

One final note: a reader by the name of Cajo Johnson, entered our contest, predicting that Meego would be the first to fall. What was unusual about Cajo's entry was his vow that if he won the TeeVee dream dinner date, he would "make Michaels scream like a woman." With the contest safely decided, Michaels can now stop his nightly frantic phone calls to CBS president Les Moonves, begging him to keep Meego on the air.

Sorry, Bronson Pinchot. You're on your own now.


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