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Where Were They Ever?!?

Show about everyday people who are not famous and why they're not famous
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Shows about famous celebrities inevitably seem to do very well. VH1's "Behind the Music" and "Where Are They Now," are testaments to this. But I think people would be just as interested in seeing people who are not famous at all, who are just like them. I propose a show called "Where Were They Ever?!?" that could run on either VH1 or MTV. The show would be about taking ordinary people off the streets, making sure they are not famous in any way and never have been, and telling their story. It would be a 30-minute show, but each segment about different people would be very short. It would focus on how plain they are and why they'll never be famous. There could even be little quiz questions before the commercial breaks that take people off the streets and make us guess what mindless, thankless labor they are employed in now. Some segments could even focus on what people wish they were famous for or tried to be famous for and how they failed so miserably at it.
smizzou, Jun 19 2001

baked http://www.salon.co...v/1997/11/19tv.html
see the first paragraph. [mihali, Jun 19 2001, last modified Oct 05 2004]

Queen Mum 'dead' due to computer error http://www.vnunet.com/News/1124473
Off-topic I know... [-alx, Jan 16 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

peoplecards http://www.peoplecards.net/
Non-famous people trading cards. Collect all six billion! [hippo, Jan 24 2002, last modified Oct 05 2004]

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       This quite a morbid idea but I like it. I don't think everyone is trying to be famous but maybe you are writing from Hollywood where that might actually be the case.
Aristotle, Jun 19 2001
  

       "Working" by Studs Terkel is a similar celebration of ordinary people. It's interesting (imho) because it accords even the most menial laborer due respect and makes no judgements. (Terkel laughed about writing that book. "I didn't write anything, I just copied what the people told me." Or words to that effect.)
Dog Ed, Jun 19 2001
  

       Overall, I think of this less as a celebration of "ordinary people," although that's part of it, as an exploration into what separates "famous" people from the rest of us. It would explore what "ordinary" people have done that may not really be all that ordinary but still didn't set them off enough to make them important enough for their story to get out. It would also be a bit of satire on the beautiful, oh-so-inspiring lives that famous people supposedly live.
smizzou, Jun 19 2001
  

       Mephista: I totally agree that there is no correlation between being important or interesting and being famous. That's what I meant by satire. I realize I wasn't able to get my point across in the most eloquent fashion, but I think one point of the show would be to unmask our obsession with people who are famous just because they're famous.   

       [By "important enough for their story out," I meant to be refering to what the media and general population consider "important," which is often quite inconsequential.]
smizzou, Jun 20 2001
  

       Mephista: I don't remember that particular quote, but I can believe it. I do remember some of the assembly-line workers describing their work as almost intolerable. What was great about the book, and might provide some thought for you, smizzou, is that Terkel never implied that a janitor was less 'successful' than a lawyer or a prostitute, he just listened to everyone and gave each a few pages in his book.   

       Unfortunately, television (in my limited experience) is not so generous. Aren't there a lot of mean-spirited shows (Jerry Springer and Geraldo Riviera?) that tend toward disparagement and rancor? If you had the option of presenting X as a miserable little nosepicking failure working as a clod-sorter by day and writing limp poetry at night, or presenting him as a blue-collar laborer with a surprisingly literate hobby, which tilt would your show choose, smizzou?
Dog Ed, Jun 20 2001
  

       I agree, Mephista. In his introduction, Terkel mentions that there are the few that enjoy what they do, many others with “hardly concealed discontent”, but that all search for meaning in whatever it is they do. For the former, there’s a sense of pride, for the latter, there’s an ache for something better.   

       Everybody has a story…it’s asking the right questions which makes that person interesting.   

       Good interviewers such as Elvis Mitchell (film), Michael Silverblatt (books) and Terry Gross (everything) have the amazing ability to gain the trust of their subjects by asking them intelligent questions so that, for a few moments, we the audience, are given a glimpse into the soul of the interviewed. I think this show would find an audience if it concentrated not, on why the subjects weren't famous, but rather, on what they do, why they do it, and whether they're content...basically,"Working" filmed.
iuvare, Jun 20 2001
  

       Do you sometimes think The Biography Channel's bios are a bit TOO timely? Do you ever get the feeling that they produce a bio, and just as production wraps, they contract a hit on the subject so they can run their story? If I were famous, I'd find out what the producers were working on over there. If it was a bio of me, I do whatever I could to delay the production...
LeBain, Jan 16 2002
  

       I agree, LeBain. I also think that the producers work well ahead, looking for resources, fitting pieces together, building timelines of prominent people's lives, just so they are always ready.
bristolz, Jan 16 2002
  

       Like those obituaries of the Queen Mother that accidentally get published from time to time?
-alx, Jan 16 2002
  
      
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