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CBS shows are perfectly awful

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CBS is on top of the television world these days, leading the prime-time ratings in households, total viewers and all the demographics that really matter.

The network has the most successful reality/competition show on the air in "Survivor" and the most highly praised in "The Amazing Race." And "Race" is finally turning into a hit in the ratings as well.

Which leaves me wondering why CBS would want to get in business with the sleaziest of reality-show producers and put two perfectly awful shows on the air this week — "Wickedly Perfect" and a show that makes even that disaster look classy, "The Will."

Wickedly Perfect (tonight at 7 on Ch. 2) was originally titled "Finding The Next Designing Diva" — and the truth is, it's designed to find someone to replace the imprisoned Martha Stewart. (Not that Martha needs replacing. Almost the moment she's released she'll go into production on her new daytime show, slated to premiere in September.)

"Perfect" features 12 Martha-wannabes (nine women, three men) who compete as teams and individually. Transported to a fabulous Connecticut (yes, that's where Martha lives) estate, by the end of tonight's premiere several of them clearly demonstrate that they're just awful people.

They're catty. They're rude. They're overly competitive. They're not overly bright.

They say lovely things to each other like, "You're a snake and the gloves are off." And "I'm quite over your self-appointed dictatorship. And it's going to end right now."

How you could take any one of them seriously as a domestic diva after seeing them on this show is beyond me.

If there's anything worse than the contestants, it's the judges. Chef Bobby Flay, stylist David Evangelista and "Sex and the City" inspiration Candace Bushnell are simply unbearable when they're onscreen judging the efforts of the Martha wannabes.

The ringmaster of this sad circus is ex-"Good Morning America" host Joan Lunden, who ought to be embarrassed but doesn't appear to be. (Gee, how's the career going, Joan?)

"Wickedly Perfect," from the producers of the appalling "Littlest Groom," is slated to keep "Survivor's" time slot warm for 10 weeks.

The Will (Saturday, 7 p.m., Ch. 2) makes "The Littlest Groom" look like Shakespeare. This utterly atrocious show demonstrates how low networks, producers and people will sink.

We're assured that 74-year-old millionaire Bill Long, who must have a screw loose, can't decide to whom he'll leave his Kansas ranch. So 10 members of his family and close family friends compete to be named heir to the real estate after dear old Bill croaks. How charming.

The main antagonists are Billy, 18, Bill's spoiled son from his third marriage; and Penny, 45, Bill's much-plasticized, gold-digging fourth wife. Penny would be my nominee for the most disgusting person ever to appear on a reality show — her behavior is so atrocious it's hard to believe.

She doesn't lack for horrible things to say about Billy. And when she, without provocation, throws a drink on him, it seems so rehearsed it's unreal.

If she's really as bad as she seems, neither the network nor the show's producer, Mike Fleiss, had any business putting her on the air. If she's as phony as she seems, then they had no business calling this a "reality" show.

Fleiss, by the way, counts such TV travesties as "The Bachelor," "High School Reunion," "Are You Hot?" and "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?" among his, um, "credits."

Everyone involved should be ashamed.

E-mail: pierce@desnews.com