Celebrity Apprentice Season 5, Season Premiere Recap (on Wall Street Journal Online)
Celebrity Apprentice Season 5, Episode Two Recap (on Wall Street Journal Online)
[Due to illness, this week's didn't make it in time for the Wall Street Journal's window of freshness. But here it is in full anyway! The Internetz is awesome!]
Your humble recapper was struck down with a bout of the flu this weekend — no, not Linfluenza, although the horror that was the Knicks' ugly OT loss to the hated Men in Green on Sunday did make me sick to my stomach — and so apologies, your weekly dose of Celebprenticillin is a day late.
For the men's team, it's also $20,000 short, since, spoiler alert! Team Unanimous actually tanks a task this time out, giving the women of Team Forte a much-needed win after a pair of crushing defeats. The previous losses have pared Forte down to a svelte six, versus the Team Uni's excessively confident eight; however, it's clear that this has been a case of addition by subtraction, as the termination of low-energy Cheryl Tiegs and glowering gargoyle Victoria Gotti seems to have put a new spring in the ladies' step. Lisa Lampanelli seems particularly buoyant after heaving nemesis Gotti back into the fires of Tartarus from whence she came. "That was fun," she croons. "That was a good time."
Who's on the bubble for a Trump kick in the rump this week? Ironically, the two contestants who step in as project managers for this week's action. For Unanimous, it's George Takei, who's looked distracted and vaguely out of place so far this season, as if he'd accidentally wandered into a weird parallel dimension. OMG, in this universe, Spock has a moustache! And Lisa Lampanelli doesn't! That's a joke, Lisa!
For Forte, it's Dayana Mendoza, who narrowly escaped being eliminated last time out after complaining about having nothing to do except be incredibly hot, with a sexy little Venezuelan accent, and oh, those lips, those teeth, that smile! Stop complaining, Day-Day!
When this week's mission is announced, it's clearly been hand-crafted to give the girls a chance to get some mojo back: The two teams each have to design, build and populate a pair of "living window displays" to show off Trumpspawn Ivanka's spring 2012 fashion line at the flagship New York branch of department store Lord & Taylor. The girls have an obvious edge, since most of the men's team does not wear women's clothing! But wait, the men's team isn't going into this duel unarmed: They have the gays. And Arsenio Hall, also. Who, as Hall has pointed out himself dozens of times in just the first two episodes, is super-duper-UN-gay, but — as Takei points out — is a "man of elegance and style, but also panache. He's amaaaazing." Don't read between the lines, people. Hall: Panache, yes. Gay? Not even a cinnamon-latte sprinkle!
But hey, Clay A. and Takei? Gay as a day in May! And so, the men have a fighting chance! Aiken declines the offer to project manage, but Takei, vociferously presenting his credentials ("I'm gay! I'm gay! I'd like to think I have good visual sense!") takes up the challenge. Which prompts the Moustache King to breathe a sigh of relief. "Me, I'm definitely in the dark," says American Chopper's Teutel. "I'm not a clothes kind of guy. Pair of boots, underwear and socks, I'm good to go." Arrrgh, the mental image, it burns!
Over on the double-X side of the dime, Dayana Mendoza snags the P.M. tiara from the clutches of Real Housewife Teresa Giudice, who's loudly proclaiming her fitness for the gig. "Fashion is my background," she says. "I went to school for fashion!" The other ladies pretend not to hear! Fortunately for Team Forte, there's no flippable furniture within reach.
The mission itself presents complications for both celebrisquads. First of all, even gayed-up Team Unanimous seems at a loss for ideas. "Our gay teammates weren't much help," grouses Arsenio Hall. "It seems they weren't the right kind of gay."
So leave it to the least gay guy on the show to step up to the fashion plate! "Let me be in the process of choosing clothes — I'm really good at dressing women," Hall says. Bring the panache, dawg! He's joined by Aiken and Takei himself, who look on with awe at the refined taste and kicky aesthetic of their so-straight-you-could-use-him-as-a-ruler colleague.
Adam Carolla, Paul Teutel, Lou Ferrigno and Michael Andretti — whose ninjitsu reality-show strategy seems to involve wearing dark colors and standing very, very still — are assigned the high-testosterone "build" portion of the mission: They'll construct the set on which the living window display will take place.
Dee Snider, meanwhile, is sent to the doctor’s office for a checkup on the finger he ganked in last week’s Dork Ages-themed episode. As he frets about being booted because of his gimpiness (rightly so: Arsenio Hall calls Snider the “one-armed guy from The Fugitive” and wonders multiple times whether the heavy metal madman can keep up with his arm in a sling, or if he should just be taken out and shot).
Anyway, the guys’ take on the assignment is pretty much the reflexive response of any (straight) guy to a situation involving wimmenstuff: Sexy twins! Can’t go wrong with Doublemint, amirite? (Maybe if we pretend we’re not looking, they’ll, like, start making out!) The guys decide that the two windows will show the versatility of the Ivanka Trump line, leveraging their cloned assets by creating identical tableaux, one by day and one by night.
The girls, led by an energized Aubrey O’Day, imagine an elaborate setup in which an army of models will represent every hour of the day (O’the Day?) to form a “clock of empowered womanhood.” O’Day’s bogarting of the mission leads a snappish Debbie Gibson to say the exercise, and maybe the whole series, is becoming “The Aubrey Show.” However, she also acknowledges that O’Day has been kicking serious butt – and proves herself the contestant to beat once again this episode, when multiple crises strike in sequence. The original idea (also engineered by O’Day) collapses due to the realization that a 13 by 10 retail window can’t possibly hold the fashion equivalent of the Tournament of Roses Parade. Their backup plan, suggested by O’Day, is to use Ivanka’s original sketches in one window and photographs of finished designs in the other. But after a day of painstaking shooting of product, with minutes to go before the grand unveiling, the photos (which O’Day was responsible for bringing down from the studio) are nowhere to be found! Totes not her fault – the box was mysteriously empty! So O’Day springs into action again, proposing a backup backup plan involving something something something smoke and mirrors. Hey, at this point they have five minutes left!
Fortunately, the lollapalooza of unforced errors on the part of the ladies is nothing compared to the leaden, lackadaisical work of the dudes. Our Man George wanders through scenes, letting his deputies – Carolla and Hall – pretty much do as they like. It’s clear from jump street that, as Trumpspawn Eric notes, this project will be a “referendum on George.” So when the curtains pull back on Team Unanimous’s windows, and the clothes on the twinsie models look like they were randomly selected from a hobo’s ragbag, it’s not Arsenio Hall’s fault, it’s George’s. And when the background color of one of the scenes is so dark that the setting looks like London during the Blitz, it’s not Adam Carolla’s fault, it’s George’s.
And when everybody ends up in the boardroom and the ladies are finally announced as the winners, George decides to take one for the team, with the dignity and grace of a samurai falling on his sword. “Ultimately, the leader has to take the responsibility,” he says, his voice even.
“You know who has the most respect for you, George?” says Donald Trump. “Donald Trump. But George, you’re fired. And you’re a terrific man.”
George is gone! “I only regret I couldn't do more for the Japanese American National Museum,” he says as he heads to the Loser’s Limo. Hey, but the show’s two mentions of the Japanese American National Museum are approximately two mentions more than JANM has ever had on primetime TV! So even if he’s lost the game, he’s won a moral victory?
And with that, Takei is loaded into a photon torpedo bay and shot into the icy vacuum of reality show also-ran-hood. Do “Dancing With the Stars” next, George!
That’s it for this week. Tune in next Monday for another madcap recap of Celebrity Apprentice – now with 100% less Sulu!
Takei wasn’t available for comment – he was appearing in a nonprofit fundraiser called Broadway Backwards last night – but his husband, Brad Takei, was quick to note that his firing didn’t represent the end of the story: “George and Donald are scheduled to get together to discuss marriage equality!” says Brad. (“Think of it this way: More Victoria’s Secret models for the straight guys, Don….”)
Takei also appeared on yesterday’s Today show and on Ellen DeGeneres, who hired George to hawk show merchandise to the studio audience. Takei raised a hot $335 for an animal rescue charity. But that’s hardly where Takei’s fundraising chops have shown up most: He put a project he’s been developing for years, a musical about the Japanese American internment called “Allegiance,” on IndieGoGo looking for $50,000 in production funds, which will go toward the show’s world premiere at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, Ca. With 17 hours left, “Allegiance” has raised over $150,000! Eat your heart out, Celebrity Apprentice. Check it out (and donate what you can, if you can).
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