Wednesday, Jan. 31
See Elisabeth Filarski! She’s on Survivor II !
She’s cute! She’s smart! She and her castmates look great in their spiffy Survivor gear, supplied by one of the show’s most prominent corporate sponsors, Reebok!
She’s a former Reebok intern!
The athletic 23-year-old–a former college softball player who has already inspired her own fan Web site, Elisabethfilarski.net–got the Reebok internship with the assistance of her boyfriend’s father, Don Hasselbeck, a former professional football player who now works in marketing for the Canton, Mass.-based company.
Mr. Hasselbeck–whose son Tim, a quarterback for the Boston College football team, has been dating Ms. Filarski for several years–told The Observer he helped Ms. Filarski get the internship when she was a student at Boston College. Mr. Hasselbeck said Ms. Filarski worked in the company’s design department, but he was not positive when; he estimated 1998 or 1999. “She worked with a couple of young designers over there,” Mr. Hasselbeck said.
But Mr. Hasselbeck, who pointed out that Ms. Filarski was out of school and employed with Puma when she applied for Survivor II last year, said there was no effort by anyone associated with Reebok to promote her candidacy.
A Reebok spokesperson, who confirmed that Ms. Filarski was an intern but could not give a specific date for her tenure, said that the company didn’t know Ms. Filarski was a contestant until Survivor II (it’s actually called Survivor: The Australian Outback ) debuted. “We didn’t know the identities of any of the contestants until they were actually aired on television,” the spokesperson said.
A Puma spokesperson said that Ms. Filarski has since left her job there, but added that she may do freelance work for them in the future. In Ms. Filarski’s biographical sketch for the Survivor II Web site, the Rhode Island native’s profession is listed as “footwear designer.”
CBS spokesperson Colleen Sullivan said that network executives and Survivor creator Mark Burnett knew that Ms. Filarski worked for Reebok–it was on her application, Ms. Sullivan said–but didn’t consider it to be problematic. There are no rules prohibiting contestants from having worked for the show’s sponsors, she said.
“Whether or not they worked for [the sponsors] is not even something we can take into consideration,” Ms. Sullivan said. The only disqualifier of that type would be if the applicant worked for CBS, she added.
Mr. Hasselbeck said that Ms. Filarski had at one point expressed some concern that her internship could give people the wrong impression. “She asked me not to say anything to anyone for fear that they would say, ‘Well, there’s some involvement there,’” he said.
But Mr. Hasselbeck, who spoke very highly of his son’s girlfriend, said that everything about her selection was on the up and up. He said that since the word started spreading at Reebok about Ms. Filarski’s brief stint there, some of his coworkers have asked him if she won. Mr. Hasselbeck said he had no idea.
Efforts to reach Ms. Filarski herself were unsuccessful. A telephone message left with her father Kenneth in Cranston, R.I., was not returned by deadline. The person who answered the phone at Mr. Filarski’s house said that Elisabeth Filarski was not available for comment.
Tonight on CBS, a repeat of the Super Bowl premiere episode of Survivor: The Australian Outback . [WCBS, 2, 8 p.m.]
Thursday, Feb. 1
Welcome to New York –Now Get the Hell Out! What, pray tell, has become of Welcome to New York , the reasonably charming Christine Baranski-Jim Gaffigan news-biz sitcom that got a warm reception from those chronically hard-to-please TV crits last fall? The Queens-taped show, which is produced by David Letterman’s Worldwide Pants outfit, was mysteriously M.I.A. during CBS’s mind-numbing self-promotional blitz during the Super Bowl; WTNY was even absent from a gushy ad touting the network’s roster of comedies. (To show you what a slight that was, the still-kickin’ Becker got a mention.) And now comes word that, starting this week, WTNY may be bumped indefinitely from its Wednesday-night post- Bette slot to accommodate repeats of the previous week’s episode of Survivor Deux .
In other words, it looks like sayonara time for Ms. Baranski and Mr. Gaffigan. It’s not entirely their fault. Bette Midler’s much-ballyhooed vehicle Bette turned out to be quite a clunker for CBS; it never gave WTNY the lead-in that network executives had hoped for. A brief, unmemorable shift to Monday nights didn’t do much to improve WTNY ‘s standing, either. There was also the issue of the show’s name: In some parts of this land, believe it or not, people see “New York” and go “click!” And Mr. Gaffigan, who landed a deal with Worldwide Pants after killing on the Late Show with David Letterman one night, was a relative TV unknown.
A spokesperson for CBS declined to comment on Welcome to New York ‘s future–never a good sign. And in what we hope is an unrelated career move, Mr. Gaffigan has signed on to play a child-molesting clown on an upcoming episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Tonight on CBS, it’s the it’s-such-a-big-gigantic-deal-it-merited-two-separate- New-York-Times-Magazine -feature-stories Thursday-night premiere of Survivor II , which is running against a 40-minute, double-stuffed, “Super Sized” episode of Friends , followed by 20 minutes of trenchant ha-ha bits from the cast of Saturday Night Live . Throw your TV out the window. Read. [WNBC, 4, 8 p.m.]
Friday, Feb. 2
& Remember that (sort of) top-secret reality-TV series that Real World creators Bunim-Murray were developing with ABC–you know, the one that was supposed to feature real-life New York journalists working on a real-life New York dot-com magazine? Well, this reality show is so realistic, it will never make it to the air! Following in the footsteps of practically every dot-com rag ever to hang out its cyber-shingle, the ABC-Bunim-Murray venture has been quietly led out behind the barn and snuffed without a single journalist cast. A source at Bunim-Murray said the decision to kibosh the show was made before Disney, ABC’s parent company, decided to vaporize its listless entertainment portal, Go.com, on Jan. 29. ABC did not return a request for comment.
So what if you were one of the hundreds of hopeful rubes–and you know who you are, dearies–who sent a buffed-up résumé to Bunim-Murray, hoping that your pen would be plucked for TV stardom? Better hope your embarrassing cover letter– My experience at George has ably prepared me for television because– doesn’t wind up on eBay!
Tonight on ABC, Two Guys and a Girl . Yes, this show is still on. Yes, you still haven’t watched it. [WABC, 7, 8 p.m.]
Saturday, Feb. 3
You want a television phenomenon that is about to screeeech to a halt? Try wacky guys performing wacky stunts upon unsuspecting, sometimes angry people for big yuks in the 15-to-34 advertiser demographic category. First Tom Green, now Jackass–can’t a guy run bare-assed down Park Avenue anymore without being trailed by a Steadi-Cam and a posse of underpaid Viacom interns?
Nevertheless, another wacky-guys-doing-wacky-things show is in our midst. Called Impostor, it premieres tonight on Channel 35, the home of Robin Byrd and Al Goldstein (among other TV titans). Impostor is a neo- Candid Camera , taped entirely in New York by a college-centric cable TV company called Burly Bear. Pranks to date include having a cast member don surgical scrubs and spill a Styrofoam carton of cow organs on the sidewalk near Washington Square Park, and sending another joker to pretend to be a deranged serial killer washing bloody clothes in a Laundromat. Someone got so freaked that they actually called the cops, who came and told everyone to knock it off.
Most of the show’s victims are New York City college students. In the Allen Funt role is a nice, rangy Yale grad named Guy Maxtone-Graham, the show’s supervising producer. Mr. Maxtone-Graham, a former writer for Beavis and Butthead (we had the same reaction: writers ?), declined to say which institution had the most gullible collegians. But he offered: “People are just stupid enough for the show to work.”
It sounds like the best stunt so far was when Mr. Maxtone-Graham and his merry pranksters set up a phony fortune-teller shop on MacDougal Street and posted signs offering free readings to anyone with a student I.D. One undergrad sucker was told he was very smart, athletic and popular, but that he also suffered from a severely eruptive colon. “And the guy actually copped to it!” Mr. Maxtone-Graham said, still sounding dumbstruck. “It was an incredible lucky break.”
A lucky break, indeedy. Impostor airs tonight at 9 p.m. on the wild ‘n’ crazy wilderness of cable’s Channel 35 (available in lower Manhattan only, so hit up your hip brother on East Third Street). [CHN35, 35, 9 p.m.]
Sunday, Feb. 4
This week, the Travel Channel–the peppy network that usually satisfies us by trekking off to some creep-infested, jet-set rock like Ibiza and reminding us why we’re happy we can only afford a lean-to on Cape Cod–unloads Manhattan on the Beach , an exhaustive chronicle of last summer in the Hamptons. A British crew taped the three-episode docu-soap, which features appearances by all those allegedly fabulous bold-facers you regularly read about in Page Six.
Travel Channel director of development and production Doug DePriest said that the Manhattan on the Beach series, which he hopes will turn into an annual event, represents something of a departure for the network. He said he was pleased with what those plucky Brits dug up on the famously debauched eastern shore of Long Island. “What we look for is, ‘Is it enough outside of people’s experiences that they’ll be attracted to it?’” Mr. DePriest explained.
Oh, c’mon! Who doesn’t have fond summer memories of Nikki and Paris Hilton dancing on their lawn furniture? Sadly, the Travel Channel is getting the PG-13 version of Manhattan on the Beach ; the U.K. will see the naughty original with, you know, boobs and stuff. Manhattan on the Beach premieres on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 8 p.m.; episode one repeats on Friday, Feb. 9, at 10 p.m.
Tonight on the Travel Channel, World’s Most Dangerous Places . Not included: behind Alec Baldwin in the donut line at Dreesen’s. [TRV, 79, 9 p.m.]
Monday, Feb. 5
We can’t let the week pass without commenting on the debut of the XFL, the mucho-hyped pro-football partnership between NBC and the World Wrestling Federation. It goes without saying that the XFL is up against some pretty grim economic history (the N.F.L. is a monopolistic juggernaut, and the alterna-leagues USFL and W.F.L. both tanked after a few years). And after watching Kerry Collins complete a pass last Sunday to every Baltimore Raven besides Art Modell, it’s hard to imagine that anyone in these parts has the stomach for any more gridiron action until September.
But what’s really grating about the XFL is its insistence, furthered in endless commercials by league shill-for-hire Dick Butkus, that today’s N.F.L. consists of pampered sissies overprotected by league rules. This is complete and utter bunk, as any Giant still picking Ray Lewis’ fingernails out of his spinal column can attest. Mr. Butkus was undoubtedly great in his day, but he must have sniffed too much liniment in the Soldier Field locker room if he actually thinks that today’s players–bigger, stronger, faster, practically to a man–wouldn’t run roughshod over the ball-huggers of his era. The XFL should stick to what it really is: a freaky league for freaks who can’t get enough.
By the way, that big-budget, Matrix -y “EyeVision” camera thing that CBS uncorked during the Super Bowl? Keep working on it, fellas. Looked like Atari.
Tonight on NBC, the network stretches the ever-expanding definition of celebrity by including Joan Lunden, TLC’s T-Boz and Jennie Garth in In Style: Celebrity Weddings . [WNBC, 4, 8 p.m.]
Tuesday, Feb. 6
On TNT tonight, Turner & Hooch . The Hanksian nadir. [TNT, 3, 8 p.m.]
Follow Jason Gay via RSS.