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Alonzo Bodden wins 'Last Comic Standing 3,' as NBC spoils Comedy Central finale


By Wade Paulsen, 10/13/2004 

In a final, bizarre jab at one of its Emmy-nominated series, NBC revealed the winner of Last Comic Standing 3 last night, even though the network had previously canceled the show and relegated broadcast of the finale to Comedy Central this Saturday, October 16, at 8 PM.

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The winner of the $250,000 grand prize in the face-off between comics from the first two seasons of Last Comic Standing is season 2 runner-up Alonzo Bodden. He defeated season 2 winner John Heffron, season 1 third-place finisher Rich Vos and season 1 also-ran Dave Mordal in votes tabulated from across America after the final performance episode on October 5. In addition to the cash prize, Alonzo will be featured in his own one-hour stand-up comedy special on Comedy Central, a prize also awarded to season 1 winner Dat Phan and season 2 winner Heffron.

On his website, Alonzo acknowledged his victory. He thanked his fans for "supporting, voting, writing NBC and mostly laughing" but noted that "his thing hasn't sunk in yet; it's sort of surreal to hear you just won 250 grand but it's true."

Alonzo's win was certain to be popular with at least one former Last Comic Standing 3 contestant: season 1 runner-up Ralphie May, who told the Associated Press that Alonzo was "the only one that's doing real comedy."

The 30-minute series finale, which was taped yesterday, apparently will feature two-minute routines from each of the four finalists before the announcement of Alonzo as the winner. As discussed yesterday, under the "second window" contract between NBC (part of the NBC Universal TV group owned by GE) and Comedy Central (part of MTV Networks owned by Viacom), Comedy Central appears to be limited to broadcasting the finale in the reality-TV "ghetto" of Saturday night, despite the fact that even at its minimum, Last Comic Standing 3 drew over 5 million viewers, while Comedy Central averages only about 600,000 primetime viewers.

The confused messages and outright disdain with which NBC handled the Last Comic Standing 3 finale, culminating in NBC actually "spoiling" the results before the finale airs, have led to speculation that the only reason NBC produced a finale at all was that it would have been a breach of its "second window" contract to not provide one. Even in network television, money talks ... and the amount of money paid by Comedy Central for the rebroadcast rights was apparently more than the cost of the 30-minute finale.

Comedy Central plans to follow the Saturday night finale with a 30-minute rebroadcast of a comedy routine from one of the losing Last Comic Standing 3 finalists, Rich Vos.

The Hollywood and comedy rumor mill continues to speculate about the future of Last Comic Standing after its abrupt cancellation. An NBC spokesperson refused to comment to E! Online regarding a possible summer return of LCS on NBC. Meanwhile, sources in the so-called "comedy community" indicate that Comedy Central has expressed an interest in producing a new edition of the show even if NBC opts out, but that the cable network and the LCS producers have many details (primarily related to money) that would have to be resolved before such a show could become a reality.

Meanwhile, NBC's plan to air a "Father of the Pride marathon" at 8 PM instead of the Last Comic Standing 3 finale failed to help its anemic fall ratings. According to Mediaweek.com, the marathon finished a poor fifth in the ratings -- the same as Last Comic Standing 3 last week, and behind Fox, CBS, ABC and The WB -- and the regular 9 PM broadcast of Pride continued to limp along with its usual 8 million viewers.

One person publicly speculating about NBC's motives in cancelling the Last Comic Standing 3 finale was Alonzo, in a post on his website. "As for NBC," he wrote, "no one knows why they jerked around the show at the final episode. Some say it's ratings, others say it's Dreamworks, the producers of the animal puppets have lots of clout. Animal puppets, all I can say is somewhere out there is a great salesman. I mean, how do you pitch that show and when did they think it might be funny?" Considering that Father of the Pride has been met with extreme skepticism ever since its poorly-regarded premiere during the summer Television Critics Association tour, Alonzo isn't the only one asking that question today.

As Mediaweek.com pointed out, NBC failed to improved its 8 PM performance by axing the LCS3 finale, but "pulling a stunt like this (which is certainly not a first) shows a lack of respect for the audience." We agree.


(Photo credit NBC)


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