Thursday, February 01, 2007

NBC Universal Family Turns On Itself Like Jim Carrey Hitting Himself in "Liar, Liar"

In a a surprising move reminiscent of Jim Carrey hitting himself in Liar, Liar (a Universal Pictures production), MSNBC, a subsidiary of NBC Universal, the parent company of Bravo, published a scathing online article today about Top Chef. You can read the article here, but we include some cherce bits for your delectation:
A hairy situation
The defining moment of the season came a few weeks ago when some of the remaining five competitors decided, after a night of drinking, to shave their own heads, and then shave Marcel's. At least, that's what viewers saw. After Ilan and Elia shaved their heads, Cliff woke Marcel, and as Ilan cheered him on, wrestled Marcel to the ground and held him in a headlock. As a result, Cliff was sent home for violating the show's rules.

That wasn't quite what happened, however. Careful viewers noticed that, in one of those scenes, Elia still had all of her hair, and was on the floor laughing as Marcel angrily stormed off. In other words, she and Ilan shaved their heads only after their attempted hazing of Marcel went awry. Editing the scene out of order seemed designed to protect the show's integrity, which was waning episode by episode as interpersonal conflict took over.

After the incident, the producers refused to allow head judge Colicchio to dismiss all four participants, like he wanted to do, and thus let Marcel win the competition by default. On his blog, Tom wrote that "[p]roducers stepped in with a veto. Sending all of the chefs but Marcel home wasn't going to happen."

Of course, the departure of those four contestants would have prematurely ended the series on a low note. But it would have also been a fitting note, as the competition and cooking often fell away in favor of "Real World"-style immaturity and unnecessary drama packed with deceptive editing.

Less about food, more about drama
In its second season, "Top Chef" became more of a soap opera set on a reality show than a competition about cooking. Otto quit the competition after admitting to have taken food from a store that his team didn't pay for, although he did return it. Mia quit to save Elia from elimination. Michael used his budget for one challenge to buy beer for himself. All the chefs were spared elimination but put on probation after accusations of cheating during a challenge. Cliff was sent home for his part in hazing Marcel. Betty fought with Marcel. Frank fought with Marcel. Ilan screamed at Marcel. Elia accused Marcel of cheating but offered no evidence.


Cardamon said...

Insincere or not, I LOVED the article. It was nice to see all of those points made in one writing.

I hope Marcel sees that one.

Anonymous said...

That article summed it all up neatly and concisely...and I'm glad it came from MSNBC.

Anonymous said...

It is clear from the judge’s blogs what happen, Bravo and the Producers decided that Ilan was going to new the beginning of filming. That is why no police were not called after the assault on Marcel and why Marcel was made to be the villain so that they would have a defense just incase Marcel or anyone else sued! What others and I want to know the answer to the two of the bigger questions. First, why has the FBI not put these "Reality Show" producers in jail? They clearly are breaking federal laws governing game shows (yes, believe it or not Top Chef is a game show); their own videotape can get each producer and judge serious jail time. Top Chef own judge’s blogs clear says that after the assault on Marcel the Judges wanted to disqualify all 4 of the contestants involved in the affair. The producers interfered and say that was not going to happen, clearly a violation of federal law, Top Chef’s disclaimer at the end of each show that the judge’s must conifer with producer is in itself a violation of federal laws governing game show. And secondly and more important, why are the news media not investigating this. Answer these questions and you will uncover the biggest scandal in America Today.

Anonymous said...

I realize that I'm many years late to this Top Chef conversation but here's a thought -- maybe Marcel has Aspergers? Unbalanced skill-set, a preference for a very specific interest (molecular gastronomy), social/leadership skills not on par with his peers, not a mean person by any means, just a odd shoe in a house of steel tip boots.

This observation doesn't condone Ilan, Sam, & Elia's behavior and it also doesn't authorize Marcel's aloofness. But ... there's an underlying thread here about intentions. I honestly don't think Marcel's intentions were ever ill willed, unlike some of his TP peers.

There was certainly a Lord of the Flies thing here with a a group that delighted on middle school power dynamics. Oddly fascinating but terribly sad that it was *real* and not some literary novel.

In some ways, I felt that Sam redeemed himself in the finale ... somewhat. Although -- it's also possible the he realized that he would be perceived as a jerk and was making moves to salvage his rep. Still ... his offer to assist Marcel in the final show showed self reflection, processing, and humility. Even if he was coached by an agent -- it still was a decent effort.

Elia's comment in Season 8 that she hoped Marcel had 'matured' was galling. Really? Honestly? She's in the group that showed the most egregious lack of maturity and humanity.