Celebrity Apprentice Recap: “Laugh On”
Posted by ImaJustSaying on May 9, 2011
Published: Monday, May 09, 2011, 12:00 PM Updated: Monday, May 09, 2011, 2:45 PM
Last week’s “Celebrity Apprentice”dumped its quiet player and dodged the key disruptive factors plaguing the two teams, well, namely team ASAP.
This week’s does the opposite. Over the course of three hours, three celebrities go home and four advance, in an episode that runs longer than commercial-free “Apocalypse Now Redux.” (Note: Scroll down a bit to predict the season winner in our poll.)
Coming off Hope Dworaczyk’s departure, tension among ASAP’s ladies goes unresolved. Star Jones says NeNe Leakes’ aggressiveness to resolve their disagreements turned her off, and she refuses to speak with the volatile Atlanta housewife in private after the boardroom meeting.
“I did not want to place myself in physical proximity with someone who, quite frankly, had behaved in such a deplorable manner,” says Star, addressing the camera. “I was not afraid that I would ever sink to NeNe’s level. That’s not my style. But, what I was afraid of is she’d attempt to bring me there.”
Donald Trump jumbles up the teams, with La Toya “Second Chance” Jackson dispatched to Backbone after being reinstated and NeNe and Meat Loaf switching sides.
The gang of seven learns their task is to produce a stand-up show at Gotham Comedy Club. The winning team raises the most money from selling a batch of 50 tickets. The project managers are La Toya for Backbone and Meat Loaf for ASAP.
TEAM BACKBONE – COMEDY TASK
When the team returns to the so-called “war room,” NeNe is missing. The task begins without her despite John Rich, Lil Jon and La Toya’s repeated calls that go straight to voicemail. A quick establishing shot catches a flyer outside Trump Tower that reads “WANTED: NeNe. Reward if found.”
After John came close to bleeding his country music resources dry during the art auction tasks, he expects to come up a bit short this time. But then, he gets his chum Jimmy Fallon to agree to perform an original song, “Yer Fired,” at the show and make a donation of $10,000.
Sell-out moment of the night: Fallon strums his acoustic guitar in the team’s trailer, singing in a Johnny Cash voice that grows generic. The celebrities sing along. The song includes the rhyme, “Have a mimosa/ and call up Omarosa.”
As the leader, La Toya has the toughest time tracking down big-shekel donors. Larry King, for one, is not answering his home phone.
Meanwhile, Trump urges NeNe – still AWOL from her new team – not to quit. Although little is seen from NeNe’s actual perspective, La Toya receives a text message affirming that she has dropped out because she refuses to continue working in a “negative environment.” For those wondering just when NeNe would retreat, the stream of invective stops here. (In 10 weeks’ time, no money was raised for her charity, Atlanta Union Mission: My Sister’s House.)
La Toya emcees the “fabulous” stand-up show, with limited range when it comes to being intentionally funny. Among the three comics is Rachel Feinstein, who placed seventh on last year’s “Last Comic Standing” season.
TEAM ASAP – COMEDY TASK
Star reels in “30 Rock” star Tracy Morgan, who appears in a short video shot in his dressing room. The video would run during the team’s upcoming comedy show, featuring a few rejects from “Last Comic Standing.” Among the comics is Jessica Kirson, from the NBC competition’s third season, who specializes in abrasively silly jokes.
Meat Loaf begins to get very emotional, in what’s the first of several hearty cries this episode. He has been soliciting big donations for his designated charity, Painted Turtle, and worries that if the other team wins, all that money raised will go elsewhere, and not where he promised. On Meat Loaf’s behalf, Star calls Trump and asks if they could retain the share they raise in the event they lose. No, Trump says, because the game is about winning above all else.
At the comedy show, Meat Loaf gets back into the spirit, eliciting crowd laughs and some forced smiles from Kevin Kline. “If you don’t laugh, I will personally kick your ass,” Meat Loaf deadpans. Marlee Matlin does her own “deaf comedy jam,” bolstered by her interpreter Jack Jason’s jovial cub-scout voice.
WHAT WENT WRONG – COMEDY TASK
In the boardroom, Trump laments his decision to spare NeNe last week because he initially sensed her potential for greatness. Those with potential alone are usually “losers,” notes team adviser Jim Cramer.
John offers to match the amount of money that Meat Loaf’s charity would not receive if Backbone were to win. However, ASAP does win and Painted Turtle earns $184,580. Meat Loaf’s eyes, of course, well up with salty discharge once more.
Lil Jon blames the project manager for the loss, while La Toya does not point the finger at anyone else. Trump makes La Toya not only the first contestant to return after a firing but the first to be fired twice. The sidewalk lights up in a weird “Billie Jean” nod as La Toya exits the building. Credit is due for her ability to cram the word “experience” three times into a single comment.
In the next task, the celebrities produce a promotional video for OnStar services now available for purchase in local electronic stores for any vehicle. Executives judge them on creativity, product integration and brand messaging. Project managers are John, for the third time, and Marlee – a rematch from the fifth week.
The team is down to John and Lil Jon. The former works on the script while fighting off a debilitating sinus infection, and the latter directs the video shoot. Mired in writer’s block, John researches the meaning of “virtually” on dictionary.com.
They shoot a series of vignettes with the tagline of “Discover OnStar and upgrade your life” that features a soccer mom and college girl. The video is edited with little time to spare.
TEAM ASAP – ONSTAR TASK
Marlee may be the manager, but Meat Loaf takes on the most responsibility in developing an ambitious, multiple-location short film. He chooses to rely on tracking shots and actor improvisation. Star remarks that Marlee has transformed the task from a collaborative effort into a “Meat special.” All three team members appear in the video, including Star who has trouble memorizing lines and requires cue cards for just a few lines. There goes that “SNL” hosting opportunity…
Team adviser Donald Trump Jr. detects a friction sparked by the varied creative styles. In the video, Meat Loaf plays a bumbling cop who uses OnStar to find a doughnut shop. When the team presents it, the executives appear outright displeased with the goofy cop shtick.
WHAT WENT WRONG – ONSTAR TASK
The execs meet with Trump to discuss the presentations. ASAP had a great theme and was more ambitious but softer on the message. OnStar aims to depict police officers as the post-9/11 hero archetype and less like Chief Wiggum. Therefore, Meat Loaf’s segment of the video was inconsistent with the brand, they say. Backbone’s Lil Jon had a lead on energy, though his acting was a little over the top. In their video, the driver is not wearing a seatbelt, which the execs consider a serious flaw.
In the boardroom, both videos are screened. ASAP is enthusiastic about the Backbone clip, while John feels Marlee, Meat Loaf and Star failed to emphasize critical points regarding the launch in retail markets.
The judges agree, and Lil Jon and John are victors in the task. Another $40,000 goes to John’s very fortunate charity, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital ($700,000 wealthier, thanks to “Apprentice”).
Trump wants to know who on ASAP was to blame for the brand failing to translate in the video. Well, Meat Loaf developed the video’s content and oversaw the editing process. But Star was in charge of the brand.
Star claims the video contained a shot of the OnStar box, but Meat Loaf opted not to use it. Meat Loaf says she should be fired for never mentioning it. During a brief deliberation between Trump and his counsel, Star and Meat Loaf duke out in the waiting area: She is outraged when he calls her “sweetie.”
“How dare you cut me off, young woman!” Meat Loaf shouts. Star considers herself too dignified to ever admit she’s officially in a debate. Yet she argues to Trump that Meat Loaf’s language is demeaning when contextualized in an argument in which she is not arguing. Meat Loaf says he didn’t mean it that way, and Trump contends she has likely been called much worse over the years.
Marlee said since Star was in charge of branding, she should be fired because that’s why they lost, even though Star said she felt she was not in charge of placing it in the video.
Trump has seen enough to conclude that Star, after 10 weeks of hard-edged gameplay, does not work well with others. She is fired.
WHO WILL WIN
My picks hold strong with Marlee, the season’s patron saint, and John, a country singer who boasts a strong track record alongside “Apprentice” alumni Trace Adkins and Clint Black.
In the penultimate episode of the season, former “Apprentice” winners Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers and Bret Michaels return to interview the four players still in the game. Another two contestants get the boot. Each finalist must produce a launch campaign for 7UP Retro, design a new can, produce a commercial and present the entire campaign at a gala event. Meat Loaf looks to have a temper tantrum (“I’m gonna throw this phone across the room!”), and this time it’s not over misplaced paints.