Scott D. Pierce: 'Grease' NOT the word

Published: Friday, Feb. 23 2007 12:09 a.m. MST

Now that the Utah finalist has been eliminated from "Grease: You're the One That I Want," there's no reason to watch this dreadful show.

Not that the presence of Jason Celaya actually made this NBC reality/competition show worth watching. Nothing could accomplish that miracle.

To say that "Grease" (Sundays, 7 p.m., Ch. 5) is derivative is an understatement. It's a talent competition adjudicated by three judges (the mean one has an English accent) and various guest judges. And viewers vote for their favorites.

"Wait a minute — it's got three judges, right?" asked "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson.

Yup.

"One is kind of a British guy?" Jackson asked.

Yup.

"Coincidence," said "Idol" judge Simon Cowell, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Gee, only a couple of years ago NBC was complaining bitterly that Fox was ripping off one of its reality shows.

It's not just that "Grease," which will have two winners (they get the roles of Sandy and Danny in a Broadway revival of the musical), is derivative, it's also a huge bore. And it plays out about as naturally as plastic.

Leading the plastic parade is host Billy Bush, the smarmiest man on TV. This is a guy who makes Ryan Seacrest look genuine, sincere and talented.

And Bush, who is terrible as host of "Access Hollywood" and worse when he does red-carpet "interviews" (and I use that term loosely) at awards show, either has never watched TV or was, well, somewhat less than truthful when he told TV critics that "Grease" will "look unlike anything else on TV. When it goes live, it will sweep people off their feet. There will be nothing like it on TV — live singing, dancing, production numbers. That will blow people away."

No, it won't. I defy anyone who has watched a TV talent competition to watch this one and tell me it looks "unlike anything else on TV."

Bush isn't alone in his insincerity. The only thing less natural than the interplay between the regular judges — Jim Jacobs, Kathleen Marshall and David Ian — is when they interact with guest judges like Olivia Newton-John and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's so lame it's actually painful to watch.

And, while you might think that these hopefuls are amateurs who made their way to the competition from small-town America, many of them are professionals who did what they always do to get a part — audition.

Hey, I like "Grease" as much as anybody, but week after week of watching mildly talented people striving to become Danny and Sandy is enough to make me wish a sinkhole would open up and swallow Rydell High.

This is a bad show. Bad, bad show.

MY DISTASTE for "Grease: You're the One That I Want" has nothing to do with the fact that Utahn Jason Celaya was eliminated. It's not like I had any rooting interest; I've never met him.

Quite honestly, I don't disagree with the choice that viewers made. And you can hardly blame the judges for choosing not to "save" him from elimination two weeks in a row.

(The two male and two female contestants who have received the fewest votes from viewers each week perform for the judges, who decide who gets to stay and who goes home.)

Celaya was last in audience voting two weeks in a row. To have allowed him another chance would have undercut what little credibility the show has.


E-mail: pierce@desnews.com

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