A five-episode reality show contest that has already been filmed and is slated to debut on CBS next month is now in the trash, as CBS admitted the show’s format was a terrible idea. The decision to cancel it came less than a week after the announcement of its famous hosts and just over a month before its premiere.
Activist, hosted by Usher, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Julianne Hough, was filmed as a competition between six activists. CBS’s description read:
“Activists will participate in missions, media stunts, digital campaigns and community events aimed at attracting the attention of the world’s most powerful decision-makers, demanding action, now. The success of competing activists is measured by online engagement, social metrics, and contribution from hosts. The animators will guide the activists throughout their journey, with many surprises from prominent public figures. “
CBS executive Jack Sussman said in a press release that the show would “[c]blending philanthropy and entertainment “- a phrase everyone at CBS apparently found perfectly logical – while Global Citizen co-producer CEO Hugh Evans said the show would”inspire real change, as the series progresses from the US to Rome for the activists’ final challenge at the G20, “and show the activists”call on world leaders to take urgent action.
Ironically, this format inspired immediate action – or at least a lot of condemnation. Here are some reviews:
Onion posted an article, with fake quotes from fake people reacting to this very real show, such as “Well I can’t wait to see a little drama about saving the earth or whatever.”
Even one of the show’s own judges (finally) criticized it: Julianne Hough posted a lengthy statement on Instagram that included this line:, that I am not qualified to act as a judge.
Brittany Packnett Cunningham told MSNBC that CBS was spending millions on celebrity hosts and producing a show instead of just contributing directly to charitable causes, and noted that the concept “undermines real activism and organization. », In particular by transforming collective action and community organization into competition, and because it had a limited impact on what constitutes valid causes. (CBS said activists on the show focused only on “health, education and the environment.”)
“I hope CBS executives are paying attention,” she said. “I really hope they will unplug this.” In fact, they did, and I’m shocked, not by the content of the show, but by the fact that CBS executives actually acted.
CBS actually responded to the critics
This is CBS, the network that essentially rejected and dismissed criticism of racism on Big Brother for years.
Years ago aired Kid Nation despite outrage over reports that a child accidentally drank bleach on the set. (Vulture memorably described Kid Nation like this: “the most anticipated reality show of the fall TV season, despite protests from critics who wouldn’t know the comedy if it made them drink bleach and threw boiling grease in their faces . “)
Most recently, after airing a horrific season of Survivor which involved unwanted touching and the producers doing next to nothing about it, CBS ultimately made rules like banning sexual harassment, which apparently wasn’t banned before.
In a press release, CBS, Global Citizen and Live Nation admitted to screwing up, but not directly, and said they would air a one-time special instead:
“The Activist was designed to show a wide audience the passion, long hours and ingenuity activists put into changing the world, hopefully inspiring others to do the same. However, it has become evident that the format of the advertised show distracts attention from the vital work these incredible activists do every day in their communities. The push for global change is not a competition and requires a global effort.
As a result, we’re changing the format to remove the competitive element and reimagining the concept into a special prime-time documentary (release date to be announced). It will present the tireless work of six activists and the impact they have in defending causes in which they deeply believe. Each activist will receive a cash grant to the organization of their choice, as planned for the original show.
Activists and community leaders around the world work every day, often without fanfare, to advance the protection of individuals, communities and our planet. We hope that by showcasing their work, we will inspire more people to become more involved in solving the world’s most pressing problems. We look forward to shining a light on the mission and life of each of these amazing people. “
In a separate statement posted to social media, Global Citizen apologized more directly and forcefully: “Global activism focuses on collaboration and cooperation, not competition. We apologize to the activists, hosts and the activist community at large – we were wrong. It is our responsibility to use this platform in the most effective way to effect change and uplift the incredible activists who dedicate their lives to progress all over the world.
“We got it wrong” is a phrase you rarely hear from Hollywood – and I guess we still don’t hear it from Hollywood, since Global Citizen had to issue its own statement instead of just saying it in the frame. of the joint declaration. Change, especially in the entertainment industry, takes time.