Inane dreams can come true
BLAST FROM THE PAST: I didn’t actually own a television for nearly two decades, starting roughly the year Knight Rider debuted, and ending just about when they brought back Family Feud...
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BLAST FROM THE PAST: I didn’t actually own a television for nearly two decades, starting roughly the year Knight Rider debuted, and ending just about when they brought back Family Feud. Actually, that’s not totally true – in the pursuit of trying to pretend it was always 1958 in my apartment, I picked up a vintage RCA Victor black and white set from an antique dealer at some point in the mid-‘90s, which I hooked up to a VCR and fed a steady diet of old movies, jazz programs and episodes of the Ernie Kovacs Show. Like most exercises in willful anachronism, it didn’t last long before I wanted to watch something more contemporary – and something that didn’t look like it was being beamed from space.
When the woman who is now my wife moved into my flat with me, one of the first things I did to try and make her comfortable – besides taking down the animal carcasses and black metal posters – was buy a television. After a few evenings of staring at the eerie blue glow from the screen, she decided she’d better order cable so we’d have something to watch on it (besides old episodes of the Ernie Kovacs Show.) And so it was that I spent dumbstruck days watching Coronation Street and Designing Women, and marveling at just what you could get away with on TV since 1982.
I’d heard of this reality TV thing, but only had the vaguest idea of what it looked like – I’d been poor for too many years, and the only TV I ever watched was in bars, or while house sitting for friends, and going by what I’d read about reality shows in magazines and newspapers, I’d imagined something between a D.A. Pennebaker movie and the movie Running Man; some unspeakably vulgar spectacle filmed guerilla style, with shaky handheld cameras. Scanning the channels, the first reality show my future wife and I became addicted to was something called The Mole, which featured a pallid but earnest young man named Anderson Cooper as its host, revealing challenges to the contestants, one of whom, we were told was the titular mole, devoted to sabotaging the chances of his or her teammates.
With no end in sight to the Hollywood writers’ strike, the reality tide is pouring in to fill the vacuum left by scripted shows left unwritten, and The Mole is riding that tide, returning four years after it was canceled, and after two Cooperless seasons in its celebrity incarnation. According to a Variety story, this is thanks to Scott Stone, a partner in Stone Stanley Productions, the now-defunct creators of the original series. “In my staff meeting every week, people would say, 'Don't even bring it up.'” Stone told Variety. “I kept throwing it out that it was eventually going to be the right time. And it perennially ends up on lists of people's favorite reality shows. That kept the fires burning inside me.”
Cooper, now a star CNN anchor, is unavailable for hosting duties, but Stone says a search for a new host is underway to make the planned summer air date. I don’t know what the point of all of this is, except to illustrate that Hollywood, truly, is a place where dreams come true. No matter how inane. And that’s my “glass half full” moment for the day.