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Cheers & Jeers: Tony Robbins? Gimme a Break!

Jeers to NBC for turning over an hour of primetime to a glorified infomercial. The Peacock has flirted with the equivalent of self-help ads (The Biggest Loser, Losing It With Jillian), but the net has truly crossed the line with Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, an hourlong series debuting July 27 at 8/7c. That's right, "author, strategist and coach" Robbins—who was mocked as a charlatan nearly 20 years ago on The Ben Stiller Show ("I hypnotize you with my teeth, and you pay me money!")—is now a network-TV star...

Bruce Fretts

Jeers to NBC for turning over an hour of primetime to a glorified infomercial.

The Peacock has flirted with the equivalent of self-help ads (The Biggest Loser, Losing It With Jillian), but the net has truly crossed the line with Breakthrough with Tony Robbins, an hourlong series debuting July 27 at 8/7c. That's right, "author, strategist and coach" Robbins—who was mocked as a charlatan nearly 20 years ago on The Ben Stiller Show ("I hypnotize you with my teeth, and you pay me money!")—is now a network-TV star.

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In the series' premiere, Robbins helps Ron and Marie Stegner back from the brink of bankruptcy and divorce by presenting them with "challenges" like flying a Russian MIG fighter ("I don't know any other housewife doing a flip in a jet," says Marie) and living on L.A.'s skid row for a week. Of course, viewers can't perform these kinds of stunts, but they might buy Robbins' books, DVDs or CDs to gobble up more of his banalities ("Own Your Breakthrough!"). As Marie puts it when she's sleeping on the street (with a camera crew in tow, natch), "This is reality." No, this is reality TV—there's a big difference.

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