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During the July 4th weekend things are pretty quiet in Madrid. First of all it’s hot. Really hot. The temp gets up to 100F around 6pm which curiously is the time when it peaks everyday. The good news is that the mornings are amazing. They temp range here goes from the high 60’s to 100 over a 24 hour period. From 6:30am to about 11am it’s really pretty nice…and the time when if you’re like me and absolutely have to get out and move. If you’re doing the Spanish lifestyle math then you already realize that if you’re having dinner at 10pm getting up that early is going to be painful. For that reason I’ve put myself on the Modified American Plan with 8p as dinner time.
So outside of sleeping, eating and the early morning window of high activity, the rest of the time you “chill” and never has that word had a more paradoxical context than here, especially in the afternoon, which was why they invented that Siesta thing. For me it’s my time for catching up on the news and the goings on back in the good old USofA. First stop was this weekend’s edition of Celebrity Apprentice President featuring episodes of the lead character howling at the moon about “cancel culture” and the debasement of statues honoring historically significant believers in white supremacy who were practitioners in the art of treason resulting in 655,000 Civil War military deaths, 250,000 more than in WWII for those of you keeping score at home.
As I watched and read all of this it got my Network TV exec “spidey senses” kicked into high gear and I realized I was watching a show that had “Jumped the Shark”. For those not familiar with the term, back when Happy Days was the most successful network TV show, as it got longer in the tooth, the writers reached further and further to keep the stories going. In this celebrated episode Fonzi has to water ski and “jump over the shark”. It was a clear signal to the audience that Happy Days were no longer here again and its descent from there was somewhat inevitable. In a more formal definition, the term Jumping the shark is used to describe a moment when something that was once widely popular, but has since grown less popular, makes a misguided attempt at generating publicity that instead only serves to highlight its irrelevance.
And that’s when the word cancelled popped back into my head. Back in the day, when I was working as a Network TV exec we were paid to understand the audience well enough to give them the shows they wanted and get rid of shows they didn’t. Despite program testing it was and still is a very intuitive process and one where your “gut” has a lot to do with how nice a car you get to drive as well as where your kids are likely to go to College. Mine was good enough to stay in the game for a good while and accumulate more than my share of wins…and of course more than a few losses. The operative words were and I think still are “pick-ups” and “cancellations”. Pick-up calls are the happy ones of course and the cancellation calls are professional death notices of a sort.
One of the most amazing quotes I ever read from the current star of Celebrity Apprentice President was his statement that everything about him is an act. What’s primarily amazing is that it actually hints at an interior life that can tell the difference between acting and real life! Who knew? But beyond that it’s also the truth about what I feel like I’m experiencing when I keep up with this stuff... I’m watching a character play a role that is really frightening, mostly in bad taste, unintentionally funny and for these and a host of other reasons oddly compelling and really good TV. Like NASCAR you can’t help watching because you know the crashes are going to be spectacular.
He’s really done well, when you look at things through this perspective. He got this rolling with The Apprentice where he played a successful tycoon (reality notwithstanding) and then when that started to fade played the same character but now surrounded with Celebrities ranging from Meatloaf to Gary Busey to goose the ratings. When that faded he morphed the same character into playing The President of the USA! And for 3.5 years he kept it going despite the fact that he never knew his lines, showed up when we wanted to, pissed off the rest of the cast and never tried to build his audience beyond his core fans. Then when the story got really complicated around him, he kept going back to playing the same scenes from earlier episodes over and over until the audience started to notice and then…here comes shark and its got a cancellation notice in its teeth.
I know that in today’s world anything can and will happen and November is 3.75 months away, but my gut tells me that this show is no longer “Network TV” and headed for cancellation. Oh it still has an audience, every show we cancelled had millions of followers, just not enough of them to stay on the prime time schedule. So while Celebrity Apprentice President still has a lot of fans its future is probably on Cable. Maybe Fox News will pick it up.