On The Lot Starts Tuesday

The same night that Blake Lewis and Jordin Sparks compete for America’s votes for the last time on the second-to-last episode of this season’s American Idol, a new competition begins immediately afterwards.  On The Lot, the latest Mark Burnett creation, follows a special 85-minute edition of Idol this coming Tuesday, May 22nd at 9:25 p.m. on CTV and Fox.  (Sorry, House fans.  The popular drama is not airing that night.)
 
This past winter, thousands of budding filmmakers from around the world submitted short films under 5 minutes to the producers of the show hoping to be among the 50 semi-finalists to get their mugs on the boob tube.  Canadian Press TV Critic Bill Brioux was one of the many to have their entries accepted and available for free viewings on the official On The Lot website.  However, his 1980 student film, Puck Soup, is out of the competition.  Brioux never made it to the second round.
 
Essentially a Hollywood version of American Idol, starting Monday, May 28th, surviving contestants will need to win over not only professionally accredited judges with their weekly submissions but also the viewing public who will have the opportunity to vote for their favourites.  For the two episodes airing this week – besides the hour-long debut on Tuesday, there’s a half-hour follow-up Thursday, May 24th at 9:30 p.m. – actress/author Carrie Fisher, and producer/directors Brett Ratner (Red Dragon, X-Men: The Last Stand), Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Pretty Woman) and Jon Avnet (Fried Green Tomatoes, Risky Business) will be providing feedback to the aspiring Spielbergs and have the final say on who will move on to the next round.
 
Although hyped as a global search for the next great movie director, 42 of the contestants are American.  Of the remaining 8 semi-finalists, one is from Spain, another is from South Africa, there’s an Italian competitor, 2 Englishmen and 3 Canadians (2 from Toronto and 1 from Vancouver).  Obviously, the odds are overwhelmingly in favour of an American winning a million dollar development deal with Dreamworks Studios, the big prize everybody’s competing for.
 
By the end of Thursday’s show, 18 finalists will be selected, not 16 as was previously announced.  To make the final cut, all 50 contestants will be put through a “Hollywood Boot Camp”, whatever that means, they’ll have to shoot another short film in 24 hours and shoot a one-page script in only an hour using professional crew members.  They’ll also learn why “pitch” meetings are a horrible fact of life in Hollywood. 
 
Whether this show actually discovers the next Scorsese who will then go on to have a remarkable career as a respected filmmaker, of course, remains to be seen.  One thing is for sure.  It will have a big audience Tuesday night.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 20, 2007
3:54 p.m.
 
UPDATE:  I was wrong.  The ratings were horrible.  According to Mediaweek, the show was unable to hang on to much of the American Idol audience that first night.  In fact, fewer people watched the second half hour than the first.  Had I somehow seen the pilot before its air date, I would not have made such a bold and stupid prediction.  Like much of the audience, I was unable to watch the whole thing myself, it was so dull.  After 10 or 15 minutes, I shut off my Television set.  (I did tune in again a little later in the broadcast but again, shut off my TV.  I checked out the second episode midway through for a second before bailing for good.)  There were too many wide-eyed contestants vying for screen time, the pacing of the program was awfully slow and the competition, what little I saw of it, was just not that interesting.  Also, CTV screwed up royally in their promotion of the show’s debut.  TV plugs said that On The Lot was supposed to start at 9 p.m., right after Idol.  According to their website, though, 9:25 p.m. was the “actual” start time.  Both were wrong.  The show didn’t actually begin until 9:09 p.m., according to this Los Angeles Times article.  Either way, Fox and CTV have a forgettable failure on their hands.  Will either network stick with the show for its entire run?  Never one to shy away from a prediction, I’m gonna bravely say no.
 
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, May 27, 2007
1:05 p.m.
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Published in: on May 20, 2007 at 3:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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