FX Network's real-life 'Ed TV'-like 'Todd TV' reality show premiering January 21
By Reality TV World staff, 01/20/2004
What do you get when you mix CBS' Cupid reality dating series with Ron Howard's 1999 Ed TV fictional film? The FX Networks' first stab at a reality television show of its own -- Todd TV, premiering Wednesday, January 21 at 10 PM ET.
Todd TV stars Todd Santos, a 30-year-old Hermosa Beach, California waiter and Massachusetts native who's "in a rut," "has no direction in life," but according to FX, still "has potential" (for what, we're not sure.) The series will borrow liberally from Ed TV's premise of a real-life person who agrees to have his life broadcast 24 hours a day and blend it with the core concept of CBS's Cupid reality series, in which the viewing audience (via telephone, the Internet, or text messaging) decided whom bachelorette Lisa Shannon would marry (or at least that was the original premise... until Shannon and selected partner Hank Stepleton -- whom still remain dating -- refused to marry during the program's live finale.)
During the seven episode series, Santos will allow viewers to direct all aspects of his life -- professional, family, and social. Should he apply for a certain job? Should he dump a girlfriend? Viewers will decide, and cameras will follow Santos as he seeks to comply with the audience's wishes.
In an interview with USA Today, David Goldberg, president of Endemol USA (the producers of Big Brother and Fear Factor among numerous other reality series), explained why they felt Santos was the most appropriate selection from among the program's 1,500+ applicants. "We picked somebody we think is an entertaining person," Goldberg said. "Over a seven-week arc, we hope to take him from where he is now to where his family life is improved, his professional life is improved, his social life is improved, and his sex life is improved. We're trying to make upgrades in all aspects of his life."
"We hope to accelerate the evolution of reality TV with this experiment," FX President and CEO Peter Ligouri told Zap2It.com. "We all joke that at some point TV will just run someone's life 24/7. That point is now."
For his part, Santos seems to be getting a bit nervous regarding his upcoming starring role on a national television show. During the recent television critics winter tour in California, the presentation session for Todd TV turned a bit nasty when the normally mild-mannered television reporters discovered that Santos would not be made available to them during the presentation. "Todd is nervous about the fact that he has signed a contract to give up his free will, and we want to keep him as calm as possible until this whole process begins," Matt Cherniss, FX vice president of development told the Orlando Sentinel.
Despite the network's concerns, they insist Santos is "psychologically fit" for the role. "He's going into this hoping that America votes to better his life, but fully aware that may not be a pleasant process," co-executive producer Tom Forman said. "Some of this will be taking his medicine on the road to becoming a better human being than he is right now."
For their part, the program's producers also seem a bit anxious. "It scares the hell out of us because we have no control," Goldberg told The Sentinel. "America is directing the story lines. They're deciding where things go. We're just basically along there to chronicle what happens."
Santos' mother, Linda Patterson is also fearful of how the series will turn out. "It's very scary," she told her local Massachusetts Metro West Daily News newspaper. "The truth is no one knows, and least of all him, the questions that people ask and where the show will take him." "I think he is incredibly brave." Both Patterson and her daughter, Whitney, recently flew to California and are expected to appear in the show's debut.
Similar to the ubiquitous marketing pact between FOX's American Idol and AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile will serve as the lead sponsor for the interactive reality series, receiving extensive product placement and the ability for its 12 million subscribers the ability to text message their votes. Additionally, T-Mobile subscribers will have exclusive access to other information about Todd, including Todd's picture mail diary, daily alerts about what's happening to Todd and instant polls that give T-Mobile subscribers the ability to vote on Todd's actions in real time, including what he might eat for lunch or what movie he sees on any given day.