Tuesday, October 9
Hollywood producer Bubba Kaye announced yesterday that Dying with the Stars, his new primetime show, will debut on POX TV in 2013. Kaye's latest network entry once again ingeniously combines hospital medical drama with a reality game show format -- a formula the legendary showman used to produce two mega-hits for POX: That's Not My Baby! and Whose Lung Is This Anyway?
The press conference -- held at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center where the new series will be shot -- was a vintage Bubba Kaye display, hyped to the max. "Dying with the Stars packs a one-two punch," the producer boasted. "Audiences will get the drama of death combined with the glamour of celebrity. I tell ya, this show can't miss. Think of Elvis, think of Princess Di, think of Michael Jackson! Folks, you all know me; I'll tell ya no lies. Dying with the Stars has it all -- sexy doctors and nurses, celebrities spilling their guts, 'mano-a-mano' competition, and real deaths on live TV."
The press was assembled in the Reagan Center's operating room theater, an eerily appropriate venue, given the show's premise, which Kaye took some pains to describe. "When a beloved celebrity becomes terminally ill, we launch a nationwide search to find an ordinary person -- some poor schnook nobody ever heard of -- who's at the same stage of the same illness. Then we medevac this schnook directly to the Reagan Center, plunk 'em down in the Presidential Suite where our beloved celeb, ensconced in a replica of Lincoln's Bed, is fighting for life. We place our little pipsqueak in an adjoining bed, turn on the TV cameras, and let the games begin! The big star and the little pipsqueak then compete to win a $10,000,000 prize by surviving the other."
Unlike other competitive game shows Dying with the Stars dispenses with a panel of celebrity judges. "God and God alone will select our winner," Kaye stated piously. "And, lucky for me," he added, with a wink, "God works a lot cheaper than Mariah Carey."
Each of the contestants on Dying with the Stars will be supported by a team of highly qualified medical specialists. "These teams will be competing to keep their guy alive and for big prizes too," Kaye explained. "Trust me, they're gonna pull out all the stops to keep those contestants conscious -- or at least breathing. You can expect to see some wild experimental procedures and new drugs, I promise. The excitement will be contagious."
National Inquirer's reporter started the questioning. "Bubba, how you gonna get celebs to die on live TV?" she asked. "Isn't that sort of icky? Aren't they likely to be offended by the idea or maybe even nauseated?"
"Lady, that's a really good question," Bubba replied sarcastically. "Especially coming from the Inquirer." He rolled his eyes and continued. "Look, kiddo, we expect Dying with the Stars to attract 70 million viewers weekly in more than 100 countries. So I'm giving some great old stars a chance to take their last curtain call before the world's biggest audience. Christ, is it any wonder a lot of 'em are begging me to cast them? And some ain't even sick yet!"
"Like who, Bubba?" demanded the blogger from DeadMovieStars.com, "Kirk Douglas? Mickey Rooney? Michael Douglas? Come on, name names!"
"No can do, not yet," Bubba replied. "A lot depends on the health status of the talent when we go into actual production. For example, if a contestant's cancer goes into remission, we can't use him. But, what the hell, surprises like that are what make reality shows fun."
"Exactly who you talking about, Bubba?" demanded the blogger from DeadRockStars.com. "Aretha Franklin? Engelbert Humperdinck? Yoko Ono?"
"For chrissakes, give me a break," protested Bubba. "Live television is a helleva demanding medium! Timing is everything. We've got no choice but to cast celebrities who are dying on our schedule, not theirs."
Bubba's remark caused some reporters to squirm in their seats, but he failed to notice.
The reporter from Funeral Marketing News took the floor. "Mr. Kaye, will you describe the 'pre-death agreements' you've asked some stars to sign?" he asked. "Specifically, please discuss the provision in these contracts that require celebrities having a heart attack to call your office before they dial 911."
"That's just a technical production issue," Bubba answered. "See, for the show to work we gotta get our cameras there before the ambulance arrives."
The correspondent from the Vatican's L'Osservatore Romano could take no more. "Signore Kaye," he bellowed, "in the name of all that's holy, I demand to know, do you actually consider watching celebrities die a form of entertainment?!"
"No, I don't," Kaye answered. "I consider watching celebrities competing to live a form of entertainment. Competition -- that's the American way, that's what made this country great. Too bad you Eye-talians don't get it. Maybe that's why your economy's tanking."
The "Eye-talian" responded by giving Bubba the finger, and Bubba returned the favor.
Then Perez Hilton popped up. "Bubba, I hear you're pulling out all the stops to sign Jerry Lewis for your premiere," the gossip columnist declared. "True or false?"
"Not a word of truth in it," Bubba replied. "Rumors to the contrary, Jerry Lewis is in perfect health -- as far as I know. He's as fit as a fiddle -- or was, the last time I checked. At least, that's what his agent told me yesterday."
"Don't bullshit me, Bubba," Hilton answered. "Look, I heard you're hot to sign Jerry because you're convinced his participation will guarantee you a big hit in France. Now we all know Jerry is beloved, even revered, in France, but what makes you think the French want to see him die on TV?"
Hilton's remark caused the Paris Match correspondent to erupt in fury. "Monsieur Kaye, you disgust me! You are a monstre! Forty million Frenchmen consider Jerry Lewis un grand artiste! They can't be wrong! In the name of French civilization -- in the name of Voltaire, of Sarah Bernhardt, of Marcel Marceau -- I implore you, do not commit this sacrilège, this atrocité!"
Bubba, unimpressed, merely shrugged. "C'est la vie," he muttered. Then, with pleasure, he spotted Nancy O'Dell, co-anchor of Entertainment Tonight, and called on her. "Sorry, Bubba," O'Dell answered. "I just got a text from my producers informing me that ET won't be covering this story after all." Bubba looked flabbergasted. O'Dell continued, "They're afraid Dying with the Stars will give the celebrity news industry a bad name."
"That's a laugh, Nancy," Bubba replied, "coming from ET of all places!"
"Bubba, what ET does is legit," O'Dell protested. "Sex, drugs, alcohol -- gay, straight, bi -- wealth, power, fame -- weight loss, weight gain, plastic surgery -- private yachts, private planes, private parts -- Bubba, these topics are legit! That's because people want to live vicariously through celebrities. But they don't want to die vicariously through them."
"Damned right," exclaimed Perez Hilton. "Our industry depends on the public's obsession with celebrities. Dying with the Stars is so disgusting it'll turn people off celebrities! Then where will we be? Out of work, that's where!"
The Wall Street Journal's celebrity news editor sounded a note of somber caution. "You'd better beware, Mr. Kaye. According to the International BLS, 270 million people - or four percent of the world's population - are involved in the celebrity news industry in some way. This includes 5 million celebrities, their agents, accountants, lawyers, personal assistants, yoga instructors, etc., plus, of course, the 265 million people who are clinically obsessed with celebrities, including groupies and stalkers. That's a lot of people to piss off."
"Bubba, see what's at stake?!" implored O'Dell. "I beg you, in the name of our beloved industry, cancel Dying with the Stars! Bubba, I've got three kids to support! Cancel that goddamned show!"
Matt Drudge, who up to now had kept quiet, interrupted O'Dell. "Hey, Nancy, breaking news!" he shouted. "Rupert Murdoch just sent out a tweet announcing that POX is cancelling the show!"
"Bullshit! No way," Bubba exclaimed. "My contract with POX is iron-clad."
"It's true, Bubba," hollered Perez Hilton. "I just got Rupert's tweet. Apparently, millions of AARP members are gonna boycott your show. POX can't take the heat."
"Rupert can't afford to cancel!" Bubba declared. "Hell, he signed one of my pre-death agreements. The asshole should've read the fine print. It'll cost POX a half-billon bucks to cancel." Then Bubba drew himself up solemnly. "Listen, you bums! Don't count me out! I got tricks up my sleeve you ain't gonna believe."
Saturday, October 13
Television producer Bubba Kaye was shot dead by an unknown assailant last night as he walked down Hollywood Boulevard. Kaye, 79, collapsed and died instantly on the sidewalk at the corner of Hollywood and Vine -- ironically, the very spot where beloved character actor William Frawley (I Love Lucy's Fred Mertz) dropped dead of a heart attack on March 3, 1966.
Kaye had just left a press conference at the Knickerbocker Hotel where he announced that his new show, Dying with the Stars, would premiere next April with Fidel Castro, former president of Cuba, as a special guest star. Kaye said the Lifetime cable network would broadcast the show, not POX TV as previously announced. (Perez Hilton reported just yesterday that Kaye purchased an interest in Lifetime for a half billion dollars.)
In yet another irony, Kaye's death was videotaped on a cell phone by a tourist from Ohio, a self-described I Love Lucy "fanatic" who was there, he said, "to take pictures of the place where Fred died." When police arrived at the scene, they seized the tourist's phone but not before he'd posted a clip on YouTube where it went viral, logging seven million views overnight.