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BSTV on VH1


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BSTV. Sunday night at 10, VH1.

The practical jokes and embarrassments presented in "BSTV," which premieres Sunday night at 10 on VH1 and presents additional episodes nightly through Friday in the same time slot, aren't playful or genial enough to be described or excused as high jinks.

They're so cruel they're more like low jinks.

The premise of "BSTV" is that most people will do just about anything to appear on TV.

That goes for everyday "real" people and for low-level "celebrities" - which means, with the right approach, you can make fools not only out of everyday citizens, but of limelight-seeking moths like Cindy Margolis, Evan Marriott and Traci Lords.

Entire TV series have been based on extended practical jokes and faked television programs and films, and they've ranged from the tastelessness of "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" to the relative gentleness of "Invasion Iowa." TV has found plenty of ways to poke fun at the reality genre while cashing in on it.

"BSTV" wants to have its cake and have Cindy Margolis jump out of it, too. And when she does, at an office party for someone she's told is a huge fan, the Internet sex symbol indeed is the center of attention - but only for a second, at which point a female stripper dressed as a cop shows up on the other side of the room. Margolis is left virtually abandoned, except for the camera that captures her silent embarrassment and anger at being upstaged and ignored.

Everyone but Margolis is a "BSTV" co-conspirator in the joke - except that it's not much of a joke.

And if that's the top of the "BSTV" barrel, imagine the bottom. But you don't have to - here are some examples:

Heidi Bressler, one of the brashest contestants from "The Apprentice," being pitched outrageous TV concepts in which she would star - shows like "Dump on Trump" and a show in which her head is replaced surgically with the head of a monkey.

Subway spokesman Jared Fogle donning courtroom robes for "Star Justice," then losing control of his "People's Court"-style TV show when the plaintiff and defendant attack each other.

Young women being asked to act and sound like tramps to pass the audition for a seafaring show called "Booty Boat," where the competition is to bed more male passengers than the other women.

The executive producers of "BSTV" - Paul Garner, Rob Moore and Jim Biederman - expose the depth of their mean streak by auditioning women who are, for the most part, not only eager to debase themselves but not even attractive.

Will everyday people agree to pull the switch on a televised execution show called "Come Fry With Me?" Sure they will, because it gets them on TV. That's not shocking.

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