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Reality show’s host chosen for wrong reasons

II admit that I watch a lot of TV, maybe too much. The pattern I had observed was that to get a television show, you had to be funny, talented or stand out somehow. Once again, I was wrong.

Monica Lewinsky, one half of the most well-publicized extramarital affairs in history has been handed the reins of Fox’s new dating show, Mr. Personality. Of course, the premise of the show is secondary, but it involves a woman being courted by masked men who will not be able to reveal their faces until she chooses a suitor. The twist lies in the fact that the one she chooses could be ugly. But who cares? Monica Lewinsky is hosting it.

Given that this is a Fox project, we probably shouldn’t be surprised that the host was picked for her infamy more than her talent or television experience. We all know who Monica Lewinsky is and what she did. The woman could walk on the moon and cure cancer in a week, and she’d still be most famous for her tryst with President Bill Clinton. I think Fox thought it had a so-so concept and needed something to put it over the top. Its solution was to find a woman who didn’t do her laundry.

The Web site for the show fails to mention Lewinsky’s principal claim to fame. It mentions that she graduated from Lewis and Clark College in 1995 with a Bachelor of Science in psychology. I’m sure L&C was grateful for that plug. The site also mentions that she designed a line of handbags, she lives in New York and is considering a future in law. Way to duck the big issue. Nothing about the Starr Report, nothing about her time as a White House intern, nothing about the fact that she gave Jay Leno a good two years of material.

“Since Fox is the network that has had the greatest success with this genre, I was very excited when they approached me to host the show: It sounds like good fun,” Monica says on the show’s Web site. I think we all remember what happened the last time someone convinced her an activity sounded like good fun.

So, how the heck does Fox justify this? The show’s co-creator, Bruce Nash, had this to say: “It’s already a unique concept, and she’s certainly well known.” Yeah, she’s well known. She was on the news every night for two years. I just wouldn’t say she’s known for something that would draw viewers in, especially since you can’t do on TV what she’s well known for (and it isn’t designing handbags).

Executive producer Brian Gadinsky said this to the Chicago Sun Times about hiring America’s favorite mistress: “First, tune-in, curiosity. We thought she’d be a great choice to garner interest in the show.” I agree, but it’s more of a train wreck mentality that’s likely to draw people in; something you can’t turn away from. “It’s worked. Everybody’s talking about it.” Well, he’s got me there. “We wanted to find someone who had the attributes of a great personality, who was very friendly. Someone who was not a cutout, not polished, but accessible.” Yeah, we all know she’s friendly.

What I disagree with is creating a circus atmosphere the way the network seems to be doing. Yeah, it’ll probably get people to watch initially, and gullible people like me will talk about it. I don’t agree with Fox pretending that Monica Lewinsky is a television personality when she’s a remnant of a scandal that embarrassed the entire government. I hope this experiment fails and teaches Fox the difference between fame and infamy.

Chris Ricketts is a junior majoring in