A Weighty Issue: A Celebrity Version of “The Biggest Loser”
When The Biggest Loser launched on NBC in 2004, an original concept on television was born. People were given the chance to lose weight, compete for serious money and prizes, plus change their life from years of obesity. The trainers are now major celebrities, former winners are now role models, yet the ratings for NBC have been mediocre at best. This could explain why last season the show invited a former sports star to compete, but why spot there?
For a show to last this long on TV, ratings usually is the big reason but The Biggest Loser has never eclipsed over 11 million viewers or a Top-30 spot in the Nielsen ratings. This could explain why the show agreed to have former Olympic Gold Medal wrestler Rulon Gardner to compete.
Rulon did need the show having gone from an Olympic athlete to weighing 474 pounds. Gardner was well on his way to a potential win having lost 173 pounds, but he shocked the trainers, staff, and contestants on the April 26th episode by announcing he would be leaving the show “for personal reasons”, and left the show without a final weigh-in. This came after Rulon lost a challenge on the show that would have had him on the cover of a Wheaties box, something he hoped for but never received after his Gold Medal in 2000. He is the only contestant to quit in the history of the show.
This season we see another former athlete – Antone Davis (a former NFL offensive linemen who played for the Philadelphia Eagles). You would think the former athlete may have an unfair advantage, and Antone at 447 pounds did not look that heavy. The 6’5″ strongman has regained his NFL body now weighing 335.
Obviously The Biggest Loser has been a godsend for many people, but how great is a show when not enough people are watching it? Since the show now has dabbled in some semi-famous people, how long before NBC attempts to do a “Celebrity” version?
VH1 tried a knockoff version last decade with Celebrity Fit Club, but the celebrities were toward the “D List”, and they were not required to stay at a ranch and work out literally 24/7. The next step could be perfect timing for NBC, and this might induce trainer Jillian Michaels to return.
The show could use a makeover for one season to hopefully spur the ratings a tad higher which NBC would appreciate – keep in mind that the network only has Sunday Night Football in the Nielsen Top-20 and The Biggest Loser has been a downward ratings trend the last 4 seasons.
So where should NBC turn potential celebrity payoff? Hard to point a finger at a celebrity and say you’re overweight, especially since according to my doctors I’m overweight (at 5’9″, I’m suppose to weight about 170 – not happening and not due to lack of trying, but I like good food too much). Not many Celebrities may have the guts to do this, but to tie this to a charity, exposure, and better health …….. you may have a chance at these celebs:
Nick Frost – One of the funniest British actors who some know for his work with Simon Pegg in such films as Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and Paul. This could be a great tool for America to get to know a true talented guy.
Kevin Smith – Caught undeserved flack last year about his weight over airline seating, yet Kevin has always kept his sense of humor over being heavy. Smith once said “I broke a toilet – that’s how heavy I am. I can’t take all the credit -that was an old toilet and a very waterlogged wall — but my size took that toilet down.” You would not think the creator of Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma, and the soon to be released Red State would do a show like this, but many did not think he would direct Bruce Willis in Cop Out. Expect the unexpected with Kevin.
Mike Tyson – What else does he have other than having appeared in The Hangover? The former heavyweight boxing champ has tried a reality show about pigeons, and a Dancing With The Stars type show in France. Yes he comes with baggage, but he’s trying hard to rehab his image – this could help.
Val Kilmer – The former A-List actor has been steady at work with 7 new movies out next year, but his days as a leading man have faded as his weight has increased. Still an actor of immense talent who looks at least 100 pounds heavier than his Top Gun profile, Kilmer may look at this as a chance to resurrect his career a bit more. Keep in mind Val has always been a bit offbeat – ideally suited for this, but I believe he idolized Marlon Brando (and look how heavy he got).
Kelly Clarkson – Some people were shocked to see her recently on The View looking heavier. Kelly has always been your normal girl in a world where most woman in Hollywood are wearing a size zero. Not fair, yes there is a double standard, and I always found Clarkson attractive, but like most people who commented on line she did not look like herself with the ladies on ABC. Her weight not should not affect her talent, but this business is so image conscious.
Tony Siragusa – The former Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle has never been small, and has become larger since his retirement in 2001. A larger than life personalty, “Goose” is a sideline reporter for FOX on its football coverage. NBC would be smart to steal him away, put him on Sunday Night Football and have him on The Biggest Loser (he would be entertaining)
Courtney Love – Two Words …….. Hot Mess! Probably needs Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew more than The Biggest Loser, but she needs to start somewhere.