'The Celebrity Apprentice,' Episode Three: Blagojevich Said What?
Blagojevich (left) gets acquainted with this thing called the computer, next to advertorial spokeschef Curtis Stone
The ex-Gov tells his team it is 'prematurely ejaculating.'
Donald Trump started last night's episode by asking Rod Blagojevich (the ex-governor of the fifth-largest state in the nation, let's not forget), if the right person had been fired last week. It shouldn't have been a difficult question to answer. Anyone with the slightest passing knowledge of Trump's reality show knows you are supposed to tell him he has made the correct decision, especially when your head was on the chopping block, as Blago's was last week.
But like a kid who hasn't read the history lesson, the ex-Gov struggled to come up with an answer. "I think, uh, I think, uh . . . " Finally, Trump cut off the stammering. "It was the right decision," he said crisply.
This week's challenge: Each team had to create a four-page magazine advertorial promoting Norton and LifeLock, products that protect consumers against identity theft. The men's team picked the Olympic sprinter Michael Johnson to be its project manager and he, in turn, picked chef Curtis Stone to be the campaign's celebrity spokesperson. Rocker Bret Michaels made an over-caffeinated but fundamentally reasonable riff that the wrestler Goldberg better personified "security," and Blago argued that Johnson himself was the most recognizable champion on the team. But Johnson would not be swayed.
Unhappy that the decision-making was over so quickly, Blago gave his team a pep talk straight out of left field. "I think we're making some of the same mistakes as we did last time," he said passionately, rising from his chair. "We're prematurely ejaculating. We need more foreplay."
The comment was met with stony silence. In a camera aside, Blago explained. "You have to deliberate. I would have preferred more discussion." Why he didn't simply say that is a mystery.
Blago's first task: a little online research. But first he needed help turning on the computer. Then, he struggled with typing, resorting to the tried-but-slow method of using two fingers. "It's difficult to try to find a task for him to do," Johnson said to the camera. "Because there's not much he can do. And there's got to be something in him because he was the governor of Illinois. And you don't just fall up there." Obviously, Johnson is not familiar with the history of this state.
Eventually, Blago was sent to run errands with Darryl Strawberry. On the street, he glad-handed everyone within reach, uttering his emerging tagline, "I did nothing wrong."
After that, Blago fell off the screen for awhile. We only saw him periodically adjusting the waist on his jeans or rummaging through a messenger bag. Maybe he was looking for the cell phone he had last week? In a whispered aside to Michaels, he pointed out that some of the text in the advertorial was incorrect. "That's not bank fraud," he said as they read the ad together. "Bank fraud is fraud against a bank."
In the board room, Johnson dismissed the whispered conversation between Michaels and Blago as "Bret and Rod buzzing around." But maybe he should have paid more attention. The men's team lost. When asked who his weakest player was, Johnson named Blagojevich. Blago looked crestfallen. Just when he thought he was playing so well with others.
"They're killing you, Gov," said Trump.
"I don't know why," he said. "I did everything I was told to do."
For some reason, Trump then started oozing sympathy for Blago, saying what a tough position he was in. "[Basically] he's really got to be nice. He can't come out like a ranting, raving lunatic because, some day in the not-so-distant future, maybe one of his fans will be sitting on a jury. I think if I was him, I'd be kissing ass, too."
"We feel for him," said Strawberry in a show of team solidarity.
That emboldened Blago to launch into his own defense, saying he was underutilized. "When the decisions were made early on, I was assigned to run errands. I think I should have been more on the creative side." No mention of his inability to turn on a computer or of his bizarre sexual metaphor.
Then he suggested—even though it killed him to say it—that the project manager was the one who should be fired. Hmm, didn't he play that card last week? Then, in a surprise move, Strawberry said he should be fired. He had too much respect for his teammates, he said. Trump got Strawberry to admit that he felt tired and basically wanted to go home.
Trump tried to back Strawberry off the ledge with a be-a-big-boy talk. "The Governor wants to go home. He has a lot of important business to take care of."
"I want to stay," Blago piped up, not wasting an opportunity to kiss ass. "I want to raise money to help pediatric cancer patients."
So, Trump fired Strawberry and sent the remainder of the men back to the hotel suite. "You got lucky," he told them. Blago lives to play another week. But can he produce something more than the ability to shake hands?
WHAT OTHER BLAGO WATCHERS THOUGHT AND OTHER FUN LINKS
- The ew.com recap by Dalton Ross, who, with this episode, crowns Blago a "reality TV superstar":
"Say what you will about him allegedly trying to sell Obama's senatorial seat. Say what you will about his seeming inability to accept one single ounce of blame for his actions. . . . But say this also: The guy is a reality TV goldmine. Because reality TV is all about buffoonery, and Rod Blagojevich may just be the biggest buffoon in reality TV history."
- The Chicago Tribune's recap by Lauren R. Harrison:
"Best Blago-ism: Blago says he wished Rocksolid would have spent more time deliberating about the product spokesperson choice, comparing it (albeit nonsensically) to his past leadership. 'When I was governor—and I believe I was a great governor, giving every child healthcare in my state, pre-school for all 3 and 4-year-olds, didn't raise taxes on people, senior citizens got free public transportation—and I had to work around gridlocks to get it, but that's not what's happening here.'"
- The Chicago Sun-Times' take by Steve Contorno:
". . . among a group of celebrities that are often crass and foul-mouthed, Blagojevich was at least able to outpace his competitors in shocking statements."
- The NBC website for The Celebrity Apprentice.
- Hulu's streaming-video channel for the show, with episode trailers, clips, and full episodes.
Photograph: Ali Goldstein/NBC