Pepperoni Profit

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DeAnn Welker: A | Grade It Now!
Crazy Train

Trump, aka The Donald, aka The Billion Dollar (Bad) Hair-Do introduces us by telling us how big the stars are this season. Instead of the truth -- "Eh? Not so much" -- he lies that they're all big stars. And he would know, y'all, because he brought us Piers! Joan! Bret! Who were nothing before him. He tries to make a joke about this, but some of us (me) actually didn't know who Piers Morgan was, and had forgotten about Bret Michaels. So... not such a great joke.

But now here we are, with our new "celebrities." First, the men's team: "the original teen heartthrob" David Cassidy, "country superstar" John Rich (whose "hits" include the "brilliant" "Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)"), "rocker and TV host" (and The Soup coke head) Mark McGrath, "the first Sole Survivor" Richard Hatch (not the other Richard Hatch), "baseball star and controversial author" Jose Canseco, "rap star, DJ, and entrepreneur" Lil Jon (his Wikipedia page says "crunkster" but fails to mention "entrepreneur"; huh), "rock 'n' roll legend" Meat Loaf, and "Academy Award nominated actor" (and crazy person) Gary Busey.

The women: "Oscar-winning actress" Marlee Matlin, "Playboy Playmate of the Year" (only on this show does that qualify one as a "celebrity") Hope Dworaczyk, "music legend" Dionne Warwick, "author and TV host" Star Jones, "actress" (that's all she gets?) Lisa Rinna, "reality star" Nene Leakes, "supermodel" Niki Taylor, and (sister of an) "entertainment icon" Latoya Jackson. Announcer guy says they'll bring the crazy, and we get a bunch of clips of it: from Lil Jon, Gary Busey, John Rich, Nene Leakes, and MEAT LOAF (bringing so much crazy it has to be in all caps). They'll also bring cash for their charities. Really, though, aren't most of these people charity cases themselves? Lisa Rinna is carrying a sharpened knife in her pocket, ready to stab these bitches. Star thinks no one can argue against her. Busey thinks he'll win. Marlee Matlin's deaf. Trump says the circus is back (tell us about it), and he's the ringmaster. And we go. Finally. I think?

Contestants are gathered and greeting each other at Radio City Music Hall, when Trump walks in with some Rockettes. He just says, "I loooove the Rockettes," then dismisses them. Great use of Rockettes on television. I hope they get their SAG cards for this. Trump tells the contestants how great Radio City Music Hall is. It's the greatest music hall in the world, of course. Trump: King of Superlatives. He asks if any of them have performed here, and a bunch have, including Gary Busey, who claims he once sang here with Sting for a rain forest special. WTF that means. Nene Leakes looks around and then interviews to the camera later that she's surrounded by Grammy winners and other successful people, but she doesn't give a shit about that. She is who she is: Nene Leakes! "I will take them down, one by one, and become the next Celebrity Apprentice."

Trump asks Star who she's playing for, and why she's putting herself through this. She's playing for the American Heart Association, because she had open-heart surgery seven months ago. She figures that, after what they did for her, she can put up with this for a while. Latoya's playing for AIDS Project Los Angeles, which her brother was very close to. Trump says that her brother was a good friend of his, who lived in Trump Tower for some time. John Rich is playing for St. Jude Children's Hospital, because they've never turned a child away and never will. Trump makes the bold move of agreeing that St. Jude is great. Rich says he didn't come on this show to get famous; he did it to raise money for St. Jude's. Period! He loves when people look at his cowboy hat and underestimate him. Marlee's translator Jack tells Trump that she's here to raise money for the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which provides hearing aids for people and children in Third World countries. She wants everyone to have the gift of hearing. Inspirational music plays while Marlee signs. I hope that doesn't always happen. Trump announces he's dividing them men versus women, and they all get excited. He sends them away to choose their team names, then they'll meet back at the boardroom to get a task.

The men find their nice suite and start discussing names. Richard Hatch has brought some ideas with him that we don't get to hear. We just know that Lil Jon doesn't like them. He can't be associated with anything lame! Instead, he suggests "Winners." Someone suggests "Magnitude." Someone else says "Pinnacle," and Gary Busey agrees. "Penultimate." (They want to be second to last?) "Integris." Busey starts cracking jokes, suggesting "Sperm Farmers." Richard Hatch is not amused.

The women like their pretty suite, too. Star lets out her tiny Maltese, Pinky, because she'd rather get a hug from her than take a Xanax. Latoya likes the name ASAP, which means "Artists Singers Authors and Professionals" for a purpose. Star loves it, too. Lisa doesn't really like it, but decides to fight bigger battles because "the sisters were strong on this name." I'm not sure she should be calling Latoya and Star "the sisters." Marlee teaches them how to do ASAP in sign language. Now they have to pick a project manager, but no one wants to do it, so they all beg Star to do it. She relents, because she prosecuted murders and then sat next to Barbara Walters for nine years. But, still, this makes her nervous. Back with the guys, they've moved on to "Backbone," and everyone likes it. David Cassidy tells us it means "strength, courage, honor, integrity... I think it really suits this bunch." How did the editors not make a crazy gong sound or something when he said that? Now they have to pick a project manager. Richard Hatch says he's always, always willing. John Rich tells us that Richard Hatch is crazy, always watching everyone. He guarantees Hatch has a chart with notes about everyone back in his hotel room. They all agree Richard can be the man, and they think that means they've just won. David Cassidy says he was the right choice because only a serious player could win the first Survivor.

Trump calls them back to the boardroom. Lil Jon thinks it feels like walking into a haunted house, with all the souls of the people who've been fired. They sit down, then Trump comes in wearing a shiny purple tie, which I love. Trump tells them they'll sometimes have fun, but mostly be miserable. He says Don and Ivanka will be his boardroom advisers. The men tell him they've chosen Hatch as PM, and Busey tries to incomprehensibly explain why. They tell him it was a unanimous choice, and that their team is called Backbone. Trump asks Marlee who their PM is, so Jack tells us that it's Star Jones. Trump's happy wit

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