Monday, May 16, 2011

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Marlee Matlin and John Rich Head for Finale

After weeks of battle, it’s thankfully down to the final two. Shame this second-to-last episode coincided with the Survivor live finale. In switching back and forth during commercials, I almost didn’t switch back. The highlights of last night’s show are barely worth recapping. In other words, a real dud. Feel free to stop reading at any time.

Let’s see…

"The Jonz" were amazed and delighted to greet Meat Loaf after his face-off with Star in the boardroom. Meat proudly patted himself on the back for out-arguing a lawyer. The waiting room celebration ended abruptly as The Donald made a surprise appearance to announce immediate commencement of interviews with previous Celebrity Apprentice winners Piers Morgan, Joan Rivers, and Bret Michaels.

Piers dominated the selection process with Bret and Joan barely getting words in edgewise. The contestants weathered the selection process by donning fighting gloves.

John Rich: "They will experience John Rich in a way they haven’t experienced John Rich yet. I’m going after that quarter of a million dollars for St. Jude."

Lil Jon: "I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t a great guy under pressure. I want to win, but this is the real world. My persona is one thing and my mind is another."

Meat Loaf: "I come locked, loaded, and ready to go. I have more energy than any of those other players."

Marlee: "People who know me know that I can do anything. People who don’t know me are amazed."

Marlee also said that people label her as "that deaf actress." Piers said her deafness was an advantage in the game. "If I couldn’t have heard Omarosa speak, it would have been one of life’s great blessings," he quipped.

Lil Jon made a tactical error in his interview, saying he believed John and Marlee should be the final two. Bingo – you’re fired. Everyone thought Meat was too emotional to compete successfully in the finale. Bah-de-boom – you’re fired. That left John, aka J.R., and Marlee as the final two.

I was sad to see Lil Jon go. He was smart, creative, cool under pressure, and would have made a formidable competitor. I don’t think he should have been fired for one bad answer. Meat blubbered one more time, not for being fired, but to thank The Donald for a moving experience. He went out in a very classy way, shaking The Donald’s hand and telling John and Marlee to go out there and "rock ‘em."

For their final task, Marlee and J.R., had to prepare a 3-point launch strategy for 7UP Retro. Basically, this is the same old un-cola trotted out for new marketing. The task included designing a new package, creating and shooting a commercial, and throwing a launch party, one with a 1970s theme using The Harlem Globe Trotters, the other with a 1980s theme using Def Leppard. 7UP gave both finalists $50,000 for incidentals. Marlee chose to host the 1970s Harlem Globe Trotters party, leaving J.R. with 1980s Def Leppard.

For support, The Donald brought back Star, Lil Jon, Meat, Mark, Richard, and LaToya. These former contestants came back under the auspices of support, but I say they are there to keep the finale lively. J.R. chose Jon, Mark, and Star for his team. Marlee chose Meat, Richard, and LaToya. Marlee may have shed tears over Star’s departure, but when push came to shove, she didn’t want the woman responsible for a branding SNAFU to work with her again.

J.R. penned his own campaign slogan: 7UP - Keeping it real. He’s positive the slogan is a winner, but I’m telling you now, it’s his biggest liability going into the final. Loved the wild zebra stripe print for the can. Loved the 80s icons audition idea for the commercial. Hated the slogan. Best part of their commercial: talking Dee Snyder from Twisted Sister into shaving off his fu manchu mustache to star in it.

Marlee’s campaign slogan was more collaborative: 7UP Retro – Feel the love. Very 70s, but exceedingly cheesy. In fact, Marlee’s campaign is cheese on steroids. Cheese-laden Richard modeled the soda can and had to be graphically thinned. Meat’s dialogue for the commercial practically oozed cheese. And Meat had two cheesy hissy fits; the first over a change in packaging. Marlee changed his boom box graphic into silhouettes dancing against a backdrop of crystal balls and you'd think she had fired him again. Meat was so bothered by the dumping of his idea he said Marlee could lose the game on that alone. Get real. His second hissy fit focused on Geoffrey Holder, a former 7UP spokesman, who was hired for their commercial. After Geoffrey agreed to the shoot, his lawyer wouldn't let him sign the release. This left Marlee scrambling for a possible substitute and Meat having a mental breakdown. He cussed and flung his cell phone in disgust while everyone smirked in acknowledgement.

On the other side, J.R. was overly concerned with time and argued with the tour manager for Def Leppard, but that’s about it. I hope the finale is more interesting than this episode. No wonder The Donald is using it as a backdrop to announce his White House intentions.

I’ll be live blogging the finale, so look for a new article next week. My prediction: Team J.R. for the win and The Donald runs for the presidency. Which means this could be the last Celebrity Apprentice ever. For that reason alone, I’m all ears.

Read My Other Season 4 Reviews

Nene Quits, LaToya Splits, and Star Loses Meat Loaf Showdown

President Obama Interrupts Ending With Osama bin Laden Announcement

Meat Loaf Meltdown Targets Gary Busey