Celebrity Zoo: Celebrity Fit Club,
Starring: Tempestt Bledsoe, Jeff Conaway, Countess
Vaughn, Bruce Vilanch, Kelly LeBrock, Young M.C., Chastity Bono, and Bizarre
Week One: Off to a Waddling
On cue, Jeff Conaway skips his appointment with the cocker-spaniel known as this show’s self-image counselor, Dr. Papadopoulos. She furrows her brown and cocks her head like any Muffy would. We find that Jeff has been busy over-dosing on prescription drugs. So the show “catches up” with him just as he’s released from the hospital. They take him directly to Dr. Drew, formerly know as a sexpert…now he’s a drugspert. Jeff catalogues his daily drug intake while VH1 flashes little informative educational tidbits about the drugs mentioned (Benzoid, Norco, and Xanax.) on the lower left-hand corner of the screen. Store that information away for your future addiction needs. Thankfully, for Jeff, for us, for humanity, Jeff agrees, after making a very desperate little squeak, to go back into rehab. Compared to the mostly inane comments of Dr. Papadopoulos, Dr. Drew’s comments to Jeff about his addiction are sober, to the point, and very instructive. At the end of the visit, Dr. Drew informs us that Jeff is “profoundly depressed…Jeff shouldn’t be on this show.” Big freakin’ Duh! But thank you Dr. Drew for being the only one to utter the obvious. Remember those punks who paid homeless people to do dangerous stunts? We said that was soul-less and abusive, didn’t we? How is Hollywood’s exploitation of Jeff Conaway any worse, I ask you. There should be a special ring of hell for show producers like this. “But he slurred to us that he was clean and sober!!”
Sadly we come to learn from Bruce Vilanch that Jeff is a chronic relapser. In any case, now Jeff is off the show (and VH1 has also quietly removed his picture from a once prominent spot on the website).
Meanwhile, the rest of the cast are asked to run a US Marine obstacle course called the Volkslauf. Normally, this is a 6-mile course. But these out-of-shape celebs are only asked to run one quarter of one mile of it. Countess has an anxiety attack during warm-up calisthenics; Bizarre has an asthma attack. Bruce is excused from the event because he’s near-death-fat. That leaves only four fat celebs to run the course. Exercise couch Harvey makes the celebs work out before running the course. Tempestt complains about having to work out before having to work out. Meanwhile, Kelly kicks ass, completing the course in 8:16 minutes. Young M.C. and Tempestt tie at 8:56. Tempestt is so angry about having to do the course, she only gives pouty one-word answers to the cameramen; but she should have been proud to have matched M.C.'s time, not to mention having finished at all. Chastity struggles throughout the course and finished at 17:56. This slow time makes her very upset. As the heaviest participant in the course, her completion was remarkable. In any case, team Greased Lightning wins the challenge. By the way, the weekly challenge prizes are lame: a personal visit from Big City Chef one week, a personal martial arts training session from Krav Maga the next.
Team Ebony Flame
At the weigh-in we see Countess has gained two pounds. She blames PMS and personal problems. She cries when the cocker-spaniel suggests she might not feel lovable because she’s fat.
Chastity only loses one pound. She speaks about her disappointment with her Volkslauf performance and her candid comments made me vaclempt. She thanks Harvey for helping her through it (which he did). She expresses that it was hard to have successful parents ‘cos it gave her pressure to succeed as well; plus she has worked hard during her lifetime to carve out her own identity. I suppose this can’t be overstated considering her famous-couple parents; but I don’t see the logical relation of her point to her disappointment with herself in the Volkslauf. By being a loser, this sets her apart by definition from successful parents. They never ran the Volkslauf. Not even in a variety show sketch. The irony is, Chastity is a unique person, quite unlike her parents in gazillions of ways that are obvious to even the untrained eye. Working hard to create your already-existing identity is a waste of time. Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she has always been home. Why struggle to be what you already are? I loved it when Harvey said, “give yourself some credit, man!” The truth is Chas has “got it going” but the worried looks on her face indicate she can’t always see it. But why change even that, I say. Her self-doubt is also part of her identity. It makes her seem like a real chap, and is, quite frankly, part of her charm.
Bruce didn’t lose any weight this week. He indicated this might be because the diets went into “phase two” and contained real food. This is illuminating considering we are never given any idea about the particulars of their diets or exercise plans. We are left with throw-off comments like these. Thanks, Bruce, we had no idea there were phases to your diet suffering. We also find out that Bruce has been doing water aerobics.
Young M.C. wowed everyone again this week by losing 8 more pounds. He is again told to lose just 4 pounds for next week and that he should slow down. We learn that it’s only safe to lose 2-3 pounds per week. Now that's good to know.
Team Greased Lightning
Kelly complained that she did not cheat on her food or exercise regimen and yet still only managed to lose 3 of the 5 pounds assigned to her. She was made team captain yet said she was tired of being the mommy all the time. But, really, she is the only possible leader for this team. Tempestt has a bad attitude, and Bizarre is too shy.
Tempestt also lost three pounds and maintains that she too didn’t cheat. Ant really gives her hell for her bad attitude on the Volkslauf. They finally had to agree to disagree.
Bizarre lost the second most amount of weight this week: five pounds. We see a nice segment showing how his mother is actively helping him lose weight and thus is losing weight herself (11 pounds). Bizarre humorously tells about his Harvey nightmares.
With the exit of Jeff Conaway, the Greased Lightning team has need of another member. Gunnar Nelson walks in: 5’10” and 175 pounds. He hardly seems to qualify for the show at all. In fact, he only wants to lose about 10-15 pounds! The diet guru tells Gunnar he is barely out of healthy range; but Gunnar insists he feels chubby. Although they have a strong male in M.C., I feel sorry for the other team, particularly Chastity. Not only does Gunnar barely count as a celebrity fatty, he looks like Elijah Blue Allman.
So far, my big beef with this show is that it has no educational value. We get hardly any diet, exercise, or mental health tips from the panel or the video editors. In fact, I’m learning more about drug and alcohol addiction watching this show than I am about weight loss. Rarely, we get tidbits like what a healthy weight range is for a 5’10” male (129-173 pounds); but why don’t they post this kind of information for all peeps. Help America stop being so fat, why don’t you? They don’t even post much to speak of on the web site. The most you get is more menus for Phase II:
Also, they never explain their psychology when assigning new weight goals to the celebs. After missing their targets, some are given higher goals than others and it doesn’t always seem to match their starting weights. Are the gurus trying to adjust their motivation levels? Do they assign goals higher than what they really expect?
In frustration, I’ve ordered Dr. Smith’s old book used from Amazon. His new book, The Fat Smash Diet, wont be out until January 20. According to the Fat Smash Diet website, “Diet’s don’t fail people, rather people fail diets.” His 90-day program helps reinforce commitment with the use of the aforementioned “phases.” When you slip off the diet, you can re-enter again at phase one. Dr. Smith also reaffirms the importance of physical activity in any diet regimen and stresses the importance of dieting in a buddy system for support. Isn’t this all helpful information? So, why isn’t it on the show?
Nerdia’s Rankings for 1/15/06:
I really empathized a lot with Chastity on this episode and gained a lot of respect for her. Her determination to complete the volkslauf even though it was a real bruising struggle for her was truly inspiring. I've had moments when my body gave out on me, and it's a really scary, powerless feeling, so I was amazed that she was able to pick herself up, work through the anxiety and finish the course.
As for Jeff, I'm glad he's checked into rehab, though it doesn't sound like there's much hope for true recovery. I agree with Nerdia - it was exploitive and manipulative of VH1 to cast him, and they knew what they were doing would get them ratings. I don't think people really enjoy seeing celebrities self-destruct, nor do they learn anything from it. It takes the audience back to being spectators at the coliseum, watching the lions take chunks out of the gladiators.
The only interesting thing about the addition of Gunnar is that he seems to have body dysmorphic syndrome. It's a nice gender reversal for VH1 to showcase a male with that problem. Still, I felt like there must be fatter celebrities out there who could use the help and who the fat audience would find easier to stomach.
Coolia's rankings for 1/15/06:
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