Despite a just-released survey sponsored by Circuit City indicating that half of viewers are sick to their intestines of reality/talent contest TV programming, the search for reality gold continues unabated because the shows are cheap to produce, inspire fierce loyalty and involvement from the fans they do generate, and the Golden Fleece – American Idol – is by far the most popular show in the nation.
If the risk is low – meaning "cheap" – and the potential payoff is huge – meaning Idol – then producers and networks are willing to keep tossing shows up on the schedule to see if anything sticks.
NBC announced this week that its latest offering/victim in the reality sweepstakes will be The Real Wedding Crashers, based on the smash '05 New Line Vince Vaughn/Owen Wilson comedy about a pair of divorce mediators who crash weddings for kicks and chicks. The six-episode show will be co-produced by Ashton Kutcher's Katalyst Films and New Line Television and follow the antics of "improvisational actors" who will go undercover at real weddings and "disrupt" the proceedings with unspecified "pranks." The show will also attempt to "occasionally bring families together in emotional moments."
You know, so everyone won't hate them for ruining the wedding.
"Everyone loved Wedding Crashers, and we wanted to see if we could capture that same kind of inspired frivolity in a real-life series," said Craig Plestis, head of alternative programming at NBC. "Working with Ashton and knowing his memorable experiences with the jokes he pulled off on Punk'd made it that much more enticing. This series has a big upside potential for hidden-camera humor."
If this series works, will they start punking funerals next? Pretty low "frivolity" factor there, but all kinds of potential to "bring families together in emotional moments."
I hope Kutcher and the other producers realize that while the Wedding Crashers film has all kinds of hilarity, frivolity, and hijinx, what really made the film go was how hard it worked to make the premise plausible: the pair didn't just randomly show up at weddings and start hitting on anything hot in a dress. They researched the families involved, worked up complex back-stories and personas, and then, most importantly, they became the life of the party. They danced, toasted, entertained, charmed, facilitated, and acted as the social lubricant that everyone wants at a party. They gave the hosts no choice but to welcome their presence, to be grateful, even honored by their presence. They worked hard to enhance the proceedings by being there.
The film also boasted an emotional grounding found in the powerful bond between the Vaughn and Wilson characters, and the vulnerability each displays upon finding love with a wildly disparate pair of sisters.
I hope the show can capture at least some of the multi-dimensional appeal of the film and not just send goofballs into weddings to mess with people. I hope the actors can actually enhance a wedding – an event that is still a deeply meaningful moment in many people's lives – with their participation, but I am not overly optimistic.
No date was announced for the series premiere.