Is anyone surprised by this? The Sopranos is over. And so the Fox Network has confirmed it plans an early Fall airing for So you wanna be a mobster!, a one-hour prime time reality show.
Drawing upon the best of The Bachelor, Dancing with the Stars and The Apprentice. a dozen potential wise guys (and wise gals) will compete for the opportunity to intern with the Cleveland based Bannanaramo family.
Each week, contestants will face a skills test; and each week, one entrant will be told to "fahgetabahtit" and go home. The remaining contestants will be rewarded with an opportunity to "swim with the fishes" in a specially constructed pool that is a combination of spa and tropical fish tank.
Three distinguished ex-mobsters will make up the expert panel deciding the fate of contestants - Johnny "Sore Feet" Buniono, from Las Vegas; Billy "Big Wind" McBean from Boston; and "Larry the Pucker" Lippson from Miami.
Negotiations with outgoing "The Price is Right" host Bob Barker to join the new show as host are underway. "We'll make him an offer he can't refuse", said one insider.
And the skills to be tested are no doubt real world skills. For example, in Episode 1, contestants will choose a nickname. "This is vital" said Lippson. "I knew a tough guy once, Jimmy Compostino. But someone gave him the name "The Mulcher", and everybody laughed at him from that moment on. He's compost himself now". The message: be creative, and be proactive.
Lippson also had an aside for politicians: get a nickname yourselves. "It works for wrestlers, it works for us mob guys. It ought to work for you. Call me if it doesn't". Among the names he'd like to see: Hillary "The Cookiemaker" Clinton; George "The Genius" Bush and Dick "Deadeye" Cheney.
In Episode 4, participants will learn skills in consolidating group loyalty, encouraging prompt repayment of loans, and engendering respect. Contestants must supply their own baseball bats and pool cues. "The trick is to make like you'll use them, but not actually use them, at least not very often" said McBean. Parents everywhere can relate to this sentiment.
In the final Episode, the two remaining contestants will each out the roles of "whacker" and "whackee". "When someone gets whacked, its tough on both parties" said Lippson; "so it's important that contestants have an insight into how people feel." Network executives are quick to add this will just be a role play. "We want to uphold the standards that television entertainment is known for" they assured reporters.
The producer of the show is Randy Grisebahl, who recently had a hit series on late night TV with "World's Most Amazing Freeway Crashes". Grisebahl defended the show's premise, saying it would teach "valuable life lessons". He likened watching the show to joining a scout troupe. "You learn a code of honour" he noted.
"And besides" he said, "who wouldn't prefer this to working for Martha Stewart when she's not in the slammer?"
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