Celebrity gam­ble

There is no guar­an­tee celebri­ties will pull in the viewing public, writes Colin Vick­ery

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

ARE celebri­ties worth it? That is the ques­tion TV ex­ec­u­tives have been pon­der­ing since Ex­cess Bag­gage crashed in the rat­ings. Chan­nel 9 was con­fi­dent that its celebrity-filled weight loss show would be a rat­ings win­ner. In­stead, it is 2012’s big­gest flop. Nine spent big money to sign up Brit­ney Spears’ ex Kevin Fed­er­line, for­mer Big­gest Loser host Ajay Rochester, AFL cham­pion Robert Dipier­domenico, singer Chris­tine Anu, ac­tor Gabby Mill­gate and pa­parazzi pho­tog­ra­pher Darryn Lyons. It didn’t work. Ex­cess Bag­gage

pre­miered to 880,000 view­ers na­tion­ally on Jan­uary 30 and quickly slumped in the rat­ings. It was shunted to GO! af­ter a fort­night.

The con­trast with My Kitchen Rules couldn’t be starker.

Seven’s cook­ing show, which is filled with no-name or­di­nary Aus­tralians, is a mon­ster rat­ings suc­cess.

About 2 mil­lion view­ers a night are mad keen to see teams in­clud­ing Peter and Gary, Carly and Emily, Me­gan and Andy, Leigh and Jen­nifer — peo­ple they didn’t know from a bar of soap a month ago.

Me­dia an­a­lyst Mark Mc­craith says the rea­son Ex­cess Bag­gage flopped is easy. Its celebri­ties weren’t fa­mous enough.

Mc­craith has slammed Aussie TV net­works for sign­ing has-been celebri­ties in a des­per­ate bid to boost rat­ings.

Australia’s size means there is a much smaller pool of celebri­ties for TV net­works to draw on com­pared with the US.

‘‘ TV net­works have been scrap­ing the bot­tom of the bar­rel re­cently,’’ Mc­craith says. ‘‘ They have had B and C grade celebri­ties that are not high-pro­file enough, or known or loved.’’

Switched On readers were cer­tainly quick to pounce on the qual­ity of celebri­ties on Ex­cess Bag­gage.

‘‘ What do they (Nine) ex­pect with a bunch of C-grade hack celebri­ties?’’ Gary of Flem­ing­ton posted on­line.

‘‘ A per­son who pho­to­graphs celebri­ties is not a celebrity,’’ an­other said, tak­ing aim at Lyons.

Chan­nel 10’s celebrity-filled Talkin’ ’Bout Your Gen­er­a­tion is in a rat­ings slump, but the ABC’S Spicks and Specks thrived for seven years with an all-star guest line-up in­clud­ing co­me­di­ans Hamish Blake and Andy Lee.

Seven and Nine are bank­ing heav­ily on celebri­ties to turn up­com­ing shows into rat­ings hits.

Seven has just an­nounced the line-up for the next se­ries of Danc­ing with the Stars.

Kerri-anne Ken­ner­ley and Shan­non Noll would def­i­nitely make the A list.

But dis­graced AFL star Bren­dan Fevola, singer Johnny Ruffo, ac­tor Zoe Cra­mond and model Vogue Wil­liams would tum­ble into B, C and even D.

‘‘ Danc­ing with the Stars (is a suc­cess) be­cause peo­ple en­joy see­ing celebri­ties out of their com­fort zones,’’ Mc­craith says.

Last year Nine struck rat­ings gold with Celebrity Ap­pren­tice Australia, fea­tur­ing con­tro­ver­sial for­mer politi­cian Pauline Han­son, singer Deni Hines, and co­me­dian Ju­lia Mor­ris. Nine is hop­ing to re­peat that suc­cess. It has flown Bay­watch star David Has­sel- hoff from the US to ap­pear along­side for­mer Aussie Idol judge Ian ‘ Dicko’ Dickson and glam­our girl Ta­nia Zaetta for the new se­ries.

Fu­sion Strat­egy’s Steve Allen says big names don’t guar­an­tee rat­ings suc­cess.

‘‘ We un­der­stand why celebri­ties are put into pro­grams— to draw view­ers in be­cause they are well known — but they have to be rel­e­vant,’’ Allen says.

‘‘ Re­al­ity shows, es­pe­cially, re­quire au­di­ence en­gage­ment to gen­er­ate water cooler mo­ments.

‘‘ Ex­cess Bag­gage did not gen­er­ate this but Celebrity Ap­pren­tice did.

‘‘ Peo­ple did not want to know about the weight chal­lenges of the rich and fa­mous.’’

Nine has spent mil­lions of dol­lars sign­ing big-name stars as judges and men­tors for its new tal­ent show The Voice.

Singers Delta Goodrem, Seal, Keith Ur­ban and Joel Mad­den don’t come cheap.

But it is the tal­ented or­di­nary Aussies, and not the judges, who will de­ter­mine whether The Voice is a suc­cess.

Seven’s Australia’s Got Tal­ent had a big rat­ings spike last year be­cause of teen dis­cov­ery Jack Vid­gen — not be­cause of star judges Dannii Minogue, Kyle Sandi­lands and Brian Mcfad­den.

Hir­ing Tina Arena as a judge for Young Tal­ent Time hasn’t stopped the kids’ tal­ent show from slid­ing in the rat­ings.

‘‘ It is the real peo­ple in these shows (that de­ter­mine rat­ings suc­cess) be­cause they gen­er­ate real emo­tions,’’ Mc­craith says.

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