Sunday, February 1, 2009

VH1 Scores a TD With TO

Producers at VH1 must feel like they just scored a touchdown. Terrell Owens, a star football player known for his diva-like antics, is going to be the subject of a new reality television show on VH1 this summer. This currently untitled show will follow Owens, also known as TO, as he and his best friends and publicists attempt to reshape his image. Throughout Owens' career, the player has committed several acts of immaturity and recklessness. To list a few of his actions: TO has continually complained about not getting the ball in games; he once publicly accused a former teammate of being a homosexual; and he even almost died from an overdose on hydrocodone.

If there is one this I have learned about television producers, it is that they love to publicize the most private details of a celebrity's life, particularly humiliating or chaotic ones. What might VH1 get out of this football prima donna? 

If VH1 is lucky, TO might be a walking disaster much like Danny Bonaduce. Breaking Bonaduce, a VH1 reality show meant to document the former child star's attempt at rehabilitation, followed the volatile man has he repeatedly found ways to endanger himself and those around him. Over the course of the show, Bonaduce shot up steroids, exhibited alcoholic tendencies, and even tried to commit suicide. While typically these things are preferably kept quiet and private, VH1 let anyone with access to cable television watch Bonaduce tear himself apart physically and emtionally. After the series ended, Bonaduce's wife filed for divorce and full custody of their children. Some rehabilitation.

TO, instead of self-destructing, could actually change for the better, which might be fine with VH1. Perhaps this TO's show will take the shape of former child star Scott Baio's Scott Baio Is 45... and Single. In this show, Baio confronts his inability to commit in relationships and by the end of the series, proposes to his girlfriend. VH1 seems happy enough with this success story, as it just began airing Scott Baio Is 46... and Pregnant. (Or is VH1 just waiting around for the ensuing carnage when Baio snaps...who knows?)

The important thing to recognize is that this new TO show is not about whether TO actually gets better or worse. As long as Owens somehow changes, the network will be happy. Maybe they will be able to witness the star athlete consuming illegal drugs, or destroying the few friendships he possesses. Or perhaps TO will see the world from a different point of view and become a better friend and teammate in the process. Either way, VH1 is going to cash in, maybe even squeeze another season out of the guy. In short, as long as TO can succeed or fail in typical dramatic fashion, VH1 is going to score this summer.

Greg Klausner

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