Monday, April 4, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Meat Loaf Meltdown Targets Gary Busey

Article first published as Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Meat Loaf Meltdown Targets Gary Busey on Blogcritics.

This episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" saw the most money ever raised in a single task, or for that matter, an entire season, including past seasons of "The Apprentice." A testament to the current cast’s star wattage, the episode will also be remembered for its "Meat Loaf Meltdown," a bizarre tirade directed at Gary and periodically hawked in the promos.

The crazy castigation was well worth the wait. Without skipping too far ahead, I think every other word out of Meat’s mouth was either the f-word or the s-word, although with all the incessant bleeping, it was hard to tell. It played more like an episode of "Late Night with Craig Ferguson" than a Trump production. All the while, I couldn’t help thinking what on earth is wrong with Busey? How can he absorb such abuse without reacting, nay, while simultaneously trying to pacify an imploding cruise missile ready to tear his fool head off?

As it turns out, Gary was smart to choose the high road, but more about that in a moment.

In the opening sequence, Team A.S.A.P. appeared to be falling apart. Sensitive Nene, still reeling from Dionne’s parting shot ("You’re a coward," Dionne nearly spat as she headed to the elevator), argued with Star while Richard stood eavesdropping nearby. John called the women "palpably sad." Three-weeks-in-a-row losses must be bad for morale, he surmised.

Before we could linger on the women, Trump ordered everyone back to the boardroom. The teams would create original works of art and seven New Era baseball caps to sell in their own art galleries. Whoever raised the most money would win. Contestants were encouraged to solicit from friends and family. Marlee, with connections to philanthropists, volunteered as PM for the women. John, the ostensible King of Nashville with country music connections out the wazoo, volunteered as PM for the men.

When the teams went shopping for art supplies, Meat confessed a dislike for Gary relating to his "attitude of entitlement." Huh? I must have missed something in the editing. Gary thought he could count on Meat to help buy art supplies, but that’s it. Otherwise, he pretty much kept to his own little world spouting off stupid acronyms:

ART: arrive at truth. FUN: finally understanding nothing. FORGIVE: Finding ourselves really giving individuals valuable energy. Who, except Gary, could engage in such nonsense and think himself pithy?

Back in the studio, Meat misplaced his bag of supplies. That’s when all hell broke loose. He accused Gary of stealing his paint, lashing out in a tone akin to Shrek’s roar. Gary insisted the paint on his desk belonged to him, but sponges in his space triggered a cuckoo reaction in Meat.

"I am the last person you ever want to @#!@ with," Meat screamed at the top of his lungs, eyes squinting into tiny slits. He also threatened to put Gary in the hospital. I love how Meat’s shirt label hung off his neck the whole time, like some kind of wild homeless guy. I wonder if he reacts as badly when his socks come out one short from the dryer. Uh, anger management classes, anyone? Been there, done that, according to Meat. Yikes.

Making the tirade even more bizarre, John found Meat’s supplies in a corner. I’ll bet that’s when 'ol Meat wanted to crawl into a hole and die of embarrassment. He later admitted he was mortified by his crazy outburst and apologized profusely to Gary. By then, things had calmed down and Gary readily accepted with no hard feelings. Gary thought the nasty incident made their friendship stronger. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade. Gary feeds off of double rainbows.

The pressure was on to get money from friends and family. Jose and Richard privately admitted they had no one to solicit. Around that same time, Jose received bad news about his father’s health and decided to leave the competition. The Donald pledged $25K to Jose’s charity, The Baseball Assistance Team, and wished him well. Not one to shy away from negativity, Richard said Jose may have dropped out because he had no one to solicit. Sadly, Jose’s father reportedly passed away this past March.

In contrast, the women rallied around Marlee, who hit the ground running by soliciting big contributions. Marlee clarified at the outset she expected everyone to bring in large donations. LaToya made up some lame excuse about her family living too far away to contribute in time. Puh-leeze. With modern technology, the money could have been wired any number of ways. However, LaToya made up for her lack of soliciting by donating a one-of-a-kind designer shirt signed by brother Michael. The shirt later sold for $99K, and would have brought in more had the women’s credit card machine accepted amounts over $100K.

The women didn’t leave their studio on time and got stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Meanwhile, the men quickly set up their gallery with time to spare. They went to spy on the women less than an hour before opening and found their gallery empty. That’s when Lil Jon and Mark decided to shoot a video. Scrambling to get their artwork up, the women did a pretty nice job of making their space presentable. Upon opening, they received a slow trickle of patrons, but eventually, the flow of potential customers increased.

The Donald sent a judge to pick the best baseball cap design. LaToya won, receiving $25k for her charity, AIDs Project Los Angeles. John called in all kinds of favors from country music friends, receiving $470K for a bedazzled autographed guitar. For her part, Marlee made three sales of $99K each.

In the boardroom, The Donald was so impressed with the total haul, he allowed both teams to decide whether the losing team could keep their money. Surprisingly, Marlee and John both agreed. The men raised $626,908 for John’s charity, St. Jude’s Research Hospital, and the women raised $986K for Marlee’s charity, The Starkey Hearing Foundation. Marlee did not seem upset about her decision. The Donald also kicked in $14K of his own money, bringing Marlee’s total to a cool million.

Then, The Donald did something unprecedented. He let the women decided whether someone from the men’s team should be fired, as they had already lost Jose. The women went for the jugular, agreeing somebody had to go. "It’s just business," said Marlee, echoing the show's central theme.

The Donald let the women stay in the boardroom to voice opinions about who should be fired. When his teammates said Gary was the most unfocused, Marlee intervened on Gary’s behalf. Luckily for Gary, and probably because he did not react to Meat’s meltdown, The Donald decided to fire Richard. Richard raised the least money of anyone on his team and was definitely the weakest link in that area. One would think he would fight to stay, but dumbfounded Richard sat there patiently waiting for a turn to speak. It never came. The Donald talked throughout his decision-making process. If Richard wanted to defend himself, he should have piped up and interrupted.

Lesson learned: Sitting patiently and quietly in the boardroom when it’s your head on the chopping block is not a wise course of action.

Read My Other Season 4 Recaps:

Dionne Warwick Makes A Cowardly Exit From Boardroom

Niki Taylor Loses Battle of Airheads

Lisa Rinna Thrown Under Bus