You’re TV’s Cindy Brady. You’re the tag-along little sister with a big mouth. You lisp. And you’re outta here.
Let’s face it, if you had to be stranded on a Pacific island with a member of the Brady Bunch, Cindy has got to be your last choice. Even Susan Olsen, who played the Shirley Temple-ish imp, would boot her alter ego.
And that’s exactly what Olsen did.
The Zap2it.com Web site started a “Brady Bunch Survivor” game last week, allowing viewers to ponder what would happen if America’s most squeaky-clean TV family had to face the rat-eating rigors of Survivor.
Cindy Zaps Cindy
“I can’t imagine what good Cindy would do for the others,” Olsen said, “so I zapped her.”
You can imagine the encumbrance of being Cindy Brady. It’s no wonder Olsen has become a spokeswoman for migraine awareness. For years, she had to live down rumors that she had a secret life as a porn actress.
But as TV Guide reported last year, Olsen merely resembles the star of the 1986 X-rated skin flick Crocodile Blondee.
“These sorts of things happen all the time,” says Olsen, who now hosts an Internet radio show on ComedyWorld.com.
Olsen and a lot of others voted the littlest Brady off the mythical island of Palau Suburbia, and now it’s left to Greg, Marcia and the rest to muddle through.
Why care? Well, ratings don’t lie. And based on the success of Survivor, Peeping Tom TV is in. You’ll see more of it this fall, and expect producers to mix in old sitcom staples.
Remember The Love Boat? It was a great work program for Sonny Bono, Jimmie “J.J.” Walker and coochie-coochie girl Charo when their careers went into the “Where Are They Now?” file. It may have been trash, but it’s never to late to start recycling.
Coming this fall to Fox: Love Cruise. I know it sounds familiar, but cruise director Julie McCoy would never approve of this. Eighteen single men and women between the ages of 22 and 35 set sail for 10 days to an exotic locale, and along the way, they’re set up on a series of revolving dates and sexy games in a search for the perfect mate. And, of course, the peering eye of hidden cameras will film their every move.
“The participants will pair off by themselves. It will be up to them,” says executive producer Bruce Toms of Bunim-Murray Productions, producers of the hit MTV series The Real World and Road Rules.
“It’s going to be fairly flexible. But every 48 hours you get to re-pair if you don’t like what you have. That’s where things should get interesting.”
The Bathing Suit Litmus Test
Of course, after the debacle of Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire, casting is going to be quite rigorous. We’re talking background checks, credit checks, STD checks, even psychological testing.
On top of it all, you should be comfortable wearing a bathing suit on TV.
“If you look at this purely as a blind date, you will have a lot of assurances that there isn’t a red flag in your potential mate’s past,” says casting supervisor Laura Korkoian.
If only Darva Conger could say that …
Other new shows in development are going to get even more daring. In NBC’s Chains of Love, four men will be chained to a woman, and every 24 hours she’ll cut one free. Talk about Love, American Style — can you imagine a round-the-clock date with no potty breaks to despair in privacy that you could have avoided all this if only you had listened to Mom?
If you prefer both fists raised in a TV free-for-all, Temptation might be your new show. Here, four or five couples will test their loyalty at an exotic resort, where they will be set up with singles who fit each partner’s ideal of a “dream date.”
Of course, these couples can’t be married or have children, and they must have been involved for six months.
“It’s a hybrid of many ideas,” says executive producer Chris Cowan. “We want to create a primetime soap opera. It’s not a prize-oriented show.”
The couples will be separated to retest the dating waters. Then, they’ll be brought together again and we get to see the fireworks.
“The participants might see their mates interacting with other singles,” Cowan says. “But if they do, it will not be posed. We don’t want to manipulate them.”
Grandma’s Strapped to the Roof
Cowan already has in the can 12 episodes of another show, When Hidden Cameras Attack, an updated, friskier version of Candid Camera, and in that show, manipulation is the name of the game.
In one episode, producers called up Los Angeles taxis, posing as a guy who needs to rush to the airport to sign a big contract in New York. When the driver arrives, the man explains that his grandmother just died, “and could we just drop her off at the morgue on the way to the airport?”
The driver sees a rocking chair with a figure, resembling a corpse, wrapped in a blanket and scented with a stink bomb.
“We asked the drivers to strap grandma to the roof, just like they did in National Lampoon’s Vacation,” Cowan says. “And eight out of 10 drivers actually did it.”
Eventually, the production team pops out of its hiding spot and producers tell the unsuspecting drivers that it’s all a stunt. “Mostly, people are happy to let us air them,” Cowan says. “… Of course, there are exceptions.”
So rest assured, even if you never got boob-tube glory for marrying a multimillionaire, chowing on vermin or shacking up with a stranger, rest assured there are ever-increasing opportunities for average folks to enjoy the instant fame of public humiliation.
And while you may never reach full-blown Bradydom, there’s always syndication.
Buck Wolf is a producer at ABCNEWS.com. The Wolf Files is a weekly feature of the U.S. Section. If you want to receive weekly notice when a new column is published, join the e-mail list.