Hey, networks! I've got your reality right here


Ah yes, summertime. The beaches. The picnics. The reality shows. The wall-to-wall unscripted fare that fairly blankets primetime during this once originals-free season has become as much a part of our summer lives as sunburn -- and often nearly as painful.

Did you happen to catch the debut Monday night of NBC's "Age of Love"? That's the one where a tennis superstar dates 13 women age 21-48 in his search for love (but not the tennis kind) in groups dubbed "Kittens" and "Cougars." I am not making this up. This isn't a TV series so much as an eight-week salute to sexism.

Without even trying hard, I could come up with a few handfuls of more enticing reality show ideas than the lame stuff coming down the pike between now and August. Please allow me to share those right now:

-- "The Biggest User": Cameras follow men and women who have admitted to contestant coordinators that they're in their current relationships only for the money/sex/social standing. Just how far will they go in the interest of exploitation and manipulation? In this Fox half-hour hosted by Kevin Federline, we'll find out.

-- "Project Run Away": In this reality-competition extravaganza, Americans convicted of crimes ranging from assault to armed robbery are promised amnesty if they can elude law enforcement for 48 hours after being staked to a one-hour head-start and supplied with $10 and a bottle of spring water.

-- "Eating With the Stars": A group of overweight Americans sign on to drop their excess poundage while dining with dangerously thin celebrities, testing their ability to subsist on fewer than 350 calories a day in this feel-good entry hosted by Nicole Ritchie.

-- "The Doc Whisperer": After being presented with enormous medical bills they can't possibly pay, people who lack insurance are seen enlisting the services of a man (not Michael Moore) who uses a low, soothing voice to convince doctors to drop the balance down to near zero in the interest of exerting compassion in this unique nonfiction series.

-- "America's Got Wack Jobs!": We meet the colorful characters in a real-life insane asylum, one of whom will be eliminated and put out on the street each week via a nationwide vote of who is "least disturbed."

-- "Dino or No Dino": Is it Dean Martin singing on that record -- or perhaps David Hasselhoff? In this tuneful reality game show, contestants work to separate Dean from the pack (rat and otherwise) in the hope of taking home a $1 million grand prize.

-- "On the Lawn": They've got leaf blowers and they aren't afraid to use them. The nation's gardeners face off with mowers, blowers, rakes and shears in showcasing their landscaping skills. At stake is a one-year contract to beautify the exterior of Paris Hilton's estate along with the unlimited use of an '82 Chevy pickup truck.

-- "Are You Smarter Than a Golden Retriever?": It's human vs. canine for all the marbles in this reality game hosted by Paula Abdul that pits human contestants against golden retrievers in a series of challenges involving logic, probability and treat-based motivation.

-- "Last Comic Dancing": In "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" style, comedians here engage in stand-up of a different sort, struggling to remain on their feet through a nonstop marathon dance competition -- cracking jokes to take their mind off of their agony and exhaustion.

So hey, network programmers, no need to thank me. I'm here to help. It's what I do.