Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Reality Series Offers the "Real" Christmas

Samantha Tillich, Staff Writer

The ION television network has finally decided to jump into the reality series ring. Network executives, frustrated with the commercialization of Christmas, will be striking a blow for the true meaning of Christmas with a new reality mini-series called No Room.

The four-part show will record the adventures of eight unwed pregnant teens and their boyfriends as they seek to rent a room from private homeowners in a number of locations throughout Los Angeles County. Camera crews will follow each couple from house to house, recording triumphs and failures.

At the end of each of the first three shows--to run December 21 through 23--two couples will be eliminated from competition. The last episode will air at 7:00pm on Christmas Eve, and the top two couples will battle for victory. The winning pair will receive $500 in food stamps and a free night’s stay at one of the Wyndham family of hotels, the series’ primary sponsor.

Contestants will be given points based upon how well they complete certain tasks, and a panel of three celebrity judges--Cardinal Roger Mahony, Crystal Cathedral Pastor Robert Schuller, and J. Edwin Bacon, Rector at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Pasadena--will give each couple style points, depending upon how well the participants quote scripture and use the other tools of emotional blackmail at their disposal. The couples with the lowest scores will be eliminated, and uniformed Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies will escort the losers to jail for trespassing.

ION, formerly known as the faith-based PAX network, believes it has hit upon the right formula both to boost sagging ratings and to remind the viewing public that Christmas is about “what happens in the heart,” according to a press release. Program Director Kris Kringofferson says the timing of the final episode could not be more appropriate. “Christmas Eve is the best time for people to watch television,” he said. “All the stores are closed by then anyway, and there’s nothing else to do. Americans naturally turn to their TVs for comfort.”

Not everyone is happy with No Room. The advocacy group Americans for Atheism and Killing Baby Seals (AAKBS) plans to picket ION headquarters until the network agrees to cancel the show. “Religion should keep its hands off Christmas,” said Joseph Shepherd, AAKBS President. “ION is sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. Christmas has always been about racking up unsecured debt, and it always will be.”

ION’s Executive Vice President Stan Klaus insists the show will go on. “Protests are nothing new to us. We have never caved in to pressure before, and we won’t give in now. You can count on the fact that at 8:00pm on Christmas Eve, one couple will be going to a hotel, and one couple will be going to jail, just like that first Christmas.”

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