Is there a link between reality shows and suicide?
An investigation by TheWrap, an entertainment website, found that 11 people have killed themselves "in tragedies that appear to be linked to their experience on television shows."
ESPN on Sept. 4 will reenter the ring with a third round of The Contender, the first to feature full and uncut fights on ESPN2. Sugar Ray Leonard will again host, says the Reporter.... CBS has given a greenlight to the pilots Worst Week (a half-hour comedy based on the U.K.'s The Worst Week of My Life, and to be penned/exec-produced by Scrubs' Matt Tarses), as well as a medical drama from Kasi Lemmons (Talk to Me) and Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy).... Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) and scribe Sheldon Turner are developing for FX a dark drama about two cops undercover with the Russian Mafia, says Variety. The series is being eyed as a successor to The Shield.
Question: I've seen some beloved shows of mine — Angel (still sobbing and boycotting WB) and Dead Like Me (still P.O.'d, considering Showtime's recent clichéd and unoriginal attempts at drama) — canceled over the last few years. That's why I was so pleasantly surprised to see The Contender resurrected to air on ESPN next year. Do you think The Contender will be more successful next year considering it will be on a sports network with lower ratings expectations and with much better opportunities to promote the show (e.g., SportsCenter coverage)? Also, isn't it redeeming that in this money-obsessed, ratings-grabbing age of TV a show's producers believed in the show's concept? Sylvester Stallone vowed to fight for the show. I think it's great that he succeeded.
Answer: I'm not sure I'd classify the resurrection of a reality dud on cable as a triumph, especially since it wasn't so much the quality of the show as the size of the producers' egos (Stallone, Mark Burnett, et al.) that accounts
With less than championship ratings, NBC's The Contender is definitely on the ropes. Unwilling to admit defeat, cohosts Sylvester Stallone and Sugar Ray Leonard rushed this week to create a one-hour special that will air just before Sunday night's regularly scheduled episode. On Thursday afternoon, these two tough superstars, both significantly dressed in black, met TVGuide.com for an exclusive interview at a Los Angeles boxing club.
TVGuide.com: Despite your star power and a tremendous amount of on-air promotion, The Contender has not lived up to expectations in the ratings. Why?Sylvester Stallone: Other networks were dropping nuclear weapons on us. They were trying to see if we had the legs to survive.Sugar Ray Leonard: Based upon what we have been up against, with the other networks doing everything they can to break us down, we stayed strong.Stallone: [Fox's] The Next Great Champ put a negative spin on boxin
The men behind The Contender are speaking out about Najai "Nitro" Turpin, the 23-year-old Philadelphian contestant who committed suicide on Feb. 14. Although NBC's boxing reality series will premiere March 7 as scheduled, the show goes on with a heavy heart.
"It's obviously been an awful week that went from disbelief to numbness, and now to the realization that Najai is actually gone," says executive producer Mark Burnett
. "I totally enjoyed my time with him. It's cast a huge cloud over our company. All the girls referred to him as a teddy bear.
"I'm not sleeping that much thinking about it because I'm sad for him and his family," Burnett goes on to add. "I've been through this because of my background in Special Forces, seeing close friends killed. Najai wouldn't sleep in the bed on The Contender because he was so used to sleeping under the bed or in the closet for fear of various things [lik