I got an e-mail from Mark Cuban awhile back. You know, Mark Cuban, the billionaire who owns the Dallas Mavericks and stars in ABC's new reality series, "The Benefactor."
It was a nice e-mail, actually. Much nicer than the really, really mean column I wrote that prompted it.
Titled "Good column," which was extremely generous given the extremely snotty tone of the column, Cuban wrote, "All fair shots."
Of course, he also asked, "Is this a Jazz-Mavs thing?" Which it most definitely is not. Although I haven't been much of a fan of Cuban's behavior as an NBA owner.
But, in the interest of fairness, I sat down to watch the premiere of "The Benefactor" with two unbiased fans of reality TV — my teenage daughters. They had never heard of Mark Cuban. (He shouldn't feel bad; they'd never heard of Donald Trump before "The Apprentice.") And I said nothing to prejudice them one way or the other.
But they drew their own conclusions. And they seemed surprised when I asked them if they liked Cuban.
"He's so cocky," said one.
"He thinks he's soooo cool," said the other.
Yeah, well, I agree.
As for "The Benefactor," it's not bad. It's not real good, either, and it's certainly not original. It's your basic, run-of-the-mill reality show hosted by a billionaire.
Sixteen contestants arrive at a fabulous mansion where they'll compete for a $1 million prize. They don't quite understand what the competition entails, which is basically that Cuban eliminates them one-by-one based on criteria of his own (or, maybe the producers') choosing.
The 16 are unaware they're on camera from the moment they arrive, and one offhand comment gets one of them sent home almost immediately. Based on interviews with Cuban, two more are eliminated in the first hour.
One thing you can say for "The Benefactor" — it moves quickly.
Almost too quickly. The show is edited so that we see just a few of the remaining 15 contestants talking to Cuban, so we know that it's going to be two of those few who get sent home.
But, again, it doesn't move in any new directions. It looks like a lot of shows that have gone before, not just "The Apprentice." And it depends largely on the personality of its host.
You know, the "cocky" guy who "thinks he's soooo cool."
Of course, in order to see "The Benefactor" here in Utah you're going to have to stay up really late or remember to set the VCR or Tivo. And it's not Ch. 4's fault, so don't blame anybody there.
ABC stations in the Eastern and Central Time Zones will air "The Benefactor" before "Monday Night Football." ABC stations in the Pacific Time Zone will air it after the game.
In the Mountain Time Zone, where "MNF" fills up all of prime-time, stations have to stick "The Benefactor" in someplace. And Ch. 4 will air it Monday night/early Tuesday at 2 a.m.
It's really not worth staying up that late to see.