Tuesday, May 15, 2012

To everything, there is a Season:
Tweet #savethesingoff

Fans are urged to tweet: #SaveTheSingOff today to attempt to trend it on twitter.

This week of Season finales has drawn an unclear line in the sand between cancellations and new opportunities, unexpectedly intertwining the fates of three of my favorite shows: Live! with Kelly, The Sing-Off, and Two and a Half Men.

LIVE! with Kelly

Ever since Regis Philbin left the cohost position of the LIVE! with Regis and Kelly show on November 18, 2011, TV viewers have enjoyed watching a parade of short-term fill-in guest hosts, everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Kim Kardashian, and Apolo Anton Ohno to Jim Parsons. The suggestion is that at some point, a permanent host will be chosen from those who have appeared. Facebookers are urged to "like" their favorite hosts on the show's webpage.

I watched a similar parade of female guest hosts test the waters after Kathy Lee left the show in 2000 and a female cohost position was vacated, and I knew instantly that Kelly Ripa was the clearly perfect choice to fill her shoes the moment she appeared. Peppy, silly, comfortable, and wiling to put up with a curmudgeon like Regis, she was the perfect complement. I had watched her debut on "All My Children" and thought this was a much better fit for her. The show has since won a slew of Daytime Emmys and other awards.

Now Regis has left, and the search is on. I have my own personal favorites.

Alec Baldwin, who appeared on Leap Day, February 29, was one of my top picks. He handled the position with panache, taking the good with the bad, not squirming when a slimy giant bullfrog was brought out on stage to leap for Leap Day (he failed to leap and merely sat), interviewing with knowledge and confidence, and even acting out a steamy improv romantic scene with Kelly to illustrate the over-the-top acting required in soap operas. Baldwin is currently a primary player on 30 Rock, but I wonder if he could perhaps be enticed to join Live! instead.

Michael Bublé, who appeared before Christmas on December 15th and 16th also was a huge favorite of mine, though one would not think that a grammy-award winning crooner who's used to singing to entertain could do such a lovely job. He was open and revealing, talking naturally as if he were sitting around chatting with good friends. He made fun of himself, impersonated others while recounting stories, was a willing model during a high tech gift feature, and was truly entertaining during the full show. I apparently am not the only one who's a fan -- he has 1311 likes, more than any other guest host. Perhaps while starting a family, he would be willing to settle down in NYC for a few years and cohost the show.

Finding the next Regis has been a challenge. Kelly is the *nice* one, so adding another pleasantly upbeat host creates an imbalance at the helm. No, Regis's replacement will have to be a little bit mean, have a humongous ego so as to not cower when interviewing the really huge stars, a healthy dose of arrogance combined with an open revealing self-criticism, a ton of previous star knowledge, and a huge heaping helping of true snarkiness. 

For this reason, although I do love his fun attitude, Nick Lachey is not a good fit. He desperately wants the job, and has even gone so far as serenading Kelly proposing that she choose him to be the next co-host …

The Sing-Off

Nick Lachey currently hosts The Sing-Off, an a cappella singing group competition show, featuring groups performing in their pure form, without autotune, choral pedals, or musical instruments. Groups compete and are intelligently judged by Sara Bareilles, Shawn Stockman, and Ben Folds. Sadly, the show is in danger of being cancelled. 

It's not the show's fault that it did not do as well last year during Season 3 as it had in previous years. Last year, the show ran a full fall season, and although I did manage to watch every single episode without fail, I actually enjoyed the show much more in Seasons 1 and 2 when it ran as an off-season filler over the holidays. However, I loved the way it culminated with a Holiday Special in December during Season 3, where Christmasy songs were the ideal fit for pure choral arrangements.

The Sing-Off was also pitted head-to-head against Two and Half Men, debuting the exact same day that Ashton Kutcher was taking over the role of Charlie Sheen after his sensational interview where he claimed to have "tiger blood" and "Adonis DNA" and was fired from the show. I would imagine that even some of the upper management of NBC was tuned to CBS every Monday night at 9 PM out of mere curiosity, instead of watching their own broadcast of the Sing-Off. 

However, host Nick Lachey should relax, because Sing-Off fans, led by a campaign to trend #savethesingoff on twitter today are going to most likely bring the show back for another run. Started by a fan and retweeted by heavy-tweeters @BenFolds, @SaraBareilles, @ShawnStockman, and @NickSLachey, the show has launched a campaign today to bring the show back for Season 4. It's a bit ironic that the Sing-Off is using twitter to achieve this task, since Ashton Kutcher himself is known as the one who made twitter a popular social networking tool in April 2009, by inspiring others to sign up for the service and "follow him" so that he could become the first person to have more than a million followers.

Ben Folds himself has just successfully funded his own new album release for Ben Folds Five, solely utilizing the social media sites of Facebook and twitter to get out the word to pre-purchase Cds, vinyl, and tour t-shirts in the form of pledges. 

Two and a Half Men Spin-Off?

The season finale of Two and a Half Men marked the graduation of Alan's (Jon Cryer)  son, Jake (Angus T. Jones), who had been living rent-free along with his dad, first with Charlie (Charlie Sheen), then Walden (Ashton Kutcher) after Charlie's unexpected death when he fell in front of a subway train in Paris.

Jake and his good friend Eldridge (Graham Patrick Martin) are then required to either go to college or get a job. They choose the latter, and Alan gets them both a job at Walden's new business, Electric Suitcase, Inc., where they promptly burn the place down their first night at work by infecting the system with a virus they accidentally acquire while downloading porn. 

Faced with a 24-hour deadline, Warren and Eldridge look for another new job and end up enlisting in the army so they can "be all you can be." The show ends with the cast of family and friends crying as they leave for boot camp.

This opens up a whole new realm of opportunities for the network and actors, especially if the two friends are placed in a pilot of their own, a la Gomer Pyle, which itself was a spin-off of Mayberry RFD, a show based on the real life town of Mount Airy, NC, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Winston-Salem, from whence Ben Folds was born and raised. 

If such a show is spun off, I would hope that CBS would film it on real North Carolina dirt, not astroturf. Perhaps their fictional lives would have them join an a cappella army choir  and appear on Live! with Kelly. Oh, the irony!

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