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Joe Governor

Fox TV considers new California-based reality show

Memo to: Fox Television President Randall Cramer; Fox Director of Reality Television Susan Checkovich

From: Jimmy Jazz of Jazz & Johnson

Re: Pitch for new reality show

I'm jazzed to share Jazz & Johnson's newest pitch:

Approximately 200 candidates will be sequestered in the California governor's mansion, starting now and ending Oct. 7. Their every move will be filmed. In the style of the hit TV series Big Brother, these candidates must compete for the coveted spot of "governor." Every night, viewers will "tele-vote" candidates out of the mansion until, on Oct. 7, the winner is announced.

In order to prove their worthiness as gubernatorial candidates, each participant will have to perform tasks, sometimes in Survivor-style teams, sometimes alone, as in America's Next Top Model. Possible "tasks" might include:

* must balance the California budget--and they must do so with one hand tied behind their back by a lobbyist!

* Contestants must navigate an obstacle course, dodging campaign finance investigators, teachers on strike, PETA protesters and a jostling pack of go-for-the-jugular journalists. The contestant who makes it to his town car first without answering any questions wins.

* Contestants are thrust into a crowd of potential voters. The contestant who picks up the most babies and shakes the most hands within the allotted time wins. Bonus points for kissing old ladies; extra bonus points if the old ladies are Latina.

* Contestants are given graphs and charts to explain California's dire economic situation to a group of journalists. The contestant who confuses the journalists most and gets a quote such as "I'd like to focus on the positive" in the next morning's paper wins.

On occasion, a candidate will be slipped an envelope containing "dirty secrets" about other candidates, a la Meet My Folks. Said candidate must then decide whether or not to leak the secret to the press. Let the ethical turmoil begin!

Invitations will occasionally be meted out to individual candidates, wherein they may choose one other candidate to accompany them on "dates," a la High School Reunion. These "dates" might include being interviewed by Katie Couric or getting a photo op with Nelson Mandela, a beloved pet or whichever child was most currently rescued from a well.

A significant part of the show will focus on teamwork. California needs a governor who is "a uniter, not a divider," and each candidate must therefore prove his/her ability to make alliances. These alliances could be tested with various "temptations," just as on Temptation Island. For example, a candidate who has formed alliances might be given a sum of money. He would be told that how he uses the money will be a secret, and he can either spend it on himself, in the form of TV advertisements, or he can spend it on the group, to purchase subsidized car registration renewals. The other members of the group would, of course, be informed of how the money has been spent. Cue hilarity.

In order to facilitate audience participation in narrowing down such a large group of candidates, we might consider incorporating a panel of experts--it worked on American Idol. To parallel the good cop/bad cop/swinger vote cop setup of American Idol, we could install Rudy Giuliani as Simon, Jessie Ventura as Randy and Jesse Jackson as Paula Abdul. We might also consider a nondescript, forgettable host--perhaps Gray Davis would agree to it?

Jazz & Johnson is thrilled about the possibility of partnering with Fox TV to create this exciting new reality series! Oh, and like every other reality series, this one would have a twist at the end: The winner gets to be governor, yes, but he or she also must deal with California's problems. May the best sucker win.

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From the August 14-20, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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