By Rita Ballou
(May/June 2012/vol. 5 – Issue 3)
We all complain about them and we swear up and down that we don’t watch them, but deep down, we can’t help but love them. They’re a guilty pleasure that we can all agree on. Just admit it. It’s fine, you’re safe here.
Naturally I am talking about reality television shows … and for those of you who claim that you don’t watch them, I am going to go ahead and call B.S. on you right now because those ratings don’t lie, people. I can’t be the only one that watches them because for the past decade just about every channel is stacked with reality programing, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t all put on the air just for me.
One of the newest trends in the “scripted docu-drama” genre is anything and everything TEXAS. From Texas Women, Texas Multi Mamas, and Most Eligible Dallas to Big Rich Texas and Top Chef Texas, the Lone Star State is what is hot and happening on the tube. So why haven’t we seen a decent Texas reality show about Texas music yet?
Yeah, yeah, I know we’ve had Troubadour, TX. But let’s be honest: that one really only skimmed the surface of our music scene. And when I say “skimmed,” I mean it followed around a bunch of artists no one had ever heard of before. That’s nice and all, and I know every artist has to start from the bottom and work their way up by playing for tips at happy hours and coffee shops, but if you’ve seen one of those stories you’ve seen ’em all and as far as compelling television goes, it’s kind of like watching paint dry. And I’m pretty sure that show is already on HGTV.
I think all of the fancy pants television executives are missing out on some GREAT entertainment by not focusing a little more attention on some of our more popular Texas/Red Dirt characters. There is a huge treasure trove of really great, bad television shows that are just screaming to be filmed, edited unfairly and ultimately watched by the masses.
If I had at least 15 minutes to sit down with a network, agent or reality TV production company for a “pitch meeting,” here are just a few of the ideas I would go with:
Doug Moreland’s Chainsaw Surprise
Format: Home makeover
Synopsis: Family in desperate need of a total home décor makeover is sent off for a day of oblivious fun at Schlitterbahn, the Stockyards, or similar Texas tourist attraction. While they’re away, everybody’s favorite Texas fiddler/chainsaw artist carves the holy hell out of all their ugly old furniture and anything else he can saw into, redecorating their entire home without spending a dime.
Radney Foster’s Midas “Touch”
Format: Iron Chef-style showdown
Synopsis: Each week, two different Texas country up-and-comers are flown to Nashville by sponsor Southwest Airlines for their very own one-on-one songwriting session with Radney “Can’t Miss” Foster. The catch? They have to write a song using that week’s Super-Secret Texas Cliché. Both songs will be simultaneously released to Texas radio, and the first one to top the Texas Music Chart wins its co-writer an opening-act spot on the Josh Abbott or Randy Rogers concert of their choice.
Texas Tour Off
Format: Amazing Race-style marathon
Synopsis: “Regional success is waiting … go!” Five competing Texas country or Red Dirt acts race to complete a grueling circuit of landmark “Hot Spots” like Gruene Hall, the Blue Light, and Billy Bob’s Texas, plus “Pit Stops” like Riley’s Tavern, the Saxon Pub and “some stupid little bar in gawddamn San Angelo,” stopping to play a 45-minute set in each venue. Along the way, they’ll collect points and valuable clues to hidden “Tour Boosters” like gas money, motel shower passes and Buckee’s shopping sprees, and dodge “Roadblocks” like bogus bus searches, parking lot thefts, unwanted backstage “VIPs” and “now-is-really-not-a-goodtime-babe” phone ambushes by angry wives and girlfriends. The first band to complete the circuit gets to come back and do it all over again next week.
Shootin’ Shit with Kevin Fowler
Format: Talk show
Synopsis: Each week, Kevin Fowler and his special guest kick back and shoot the shit over a couple a cold ones. Then, they go outside and shoot some shit.
There’s Your Trouble with Natalie Maines
Format: Celebrity challenge
Synopsis: How much damage can one little Dixie Chick do to your career in an hour? Think you’ve got what it takes to weather any unexpected shit-storm or landslide this feisty Lubbock Tornado can stir up? Well, best get ready to run, ’cause here she comes and she’s not ready to make nice!
What WON’T Willie Sing?
Format: Game show
Synopsis: Pick a song, any song. And a duet partner — from Julio Iglesias to Snoop Dogg to that guy from the Spin Doctors. Can you convince Willie “I’ll Sing Anything” Nelson NOT to record it? If so, you win!
Hangin’ With the Hubbards
Format: The Osbournes — Hubbard style!
Synopsis: Ever want to be a fly on the wall in that magical cabin on the hill in Wimberley where Ray Wylie Hubbard holds court with hopeful young Texas cheeseballs delusional enough to think he really does think they’re “cool,” and where Mother Hubbard dishes out her own special brand of sage advice to DIY newbies? Then grab your chickens and tune on in to the Snake Farm! (It just sounds nasty … oooooh!)
Hick My Bar
Format: Business makeover
Synopsis: Pardon, bartender, but do you serve anything in here besides Appletinis? Do you attract any customers that couldn’t be arm-wrestled under the table by Dr. Fraiser Crane? If not, then you need to let honkytonker Lucky Tubb help you tear your little tearoom a new one and hick it the hell up!
Welcome to the Big Machine with Jack Ingram
Format: Biggest Loser-style endurance challenge
Synopsis: Hey you! Do you have “big dreams and high hopes” of finally hitting the big time? Are you tired of being stuck “wherever you are” in your dignity and credibility encumbered career rut? Well, just how far will you go in order to crash into that mainstream and land a No. 1 hit on the Billboard Country Chart? Jack Ingram LOVES you, and he wants to help you find and fix that “one thing” standing between you and a “Best New Artist” CMA award 15 years into your career. OK, maybe a couple of little things, like a total style makeover and maybe a Hinder song. Are you ready to
sell make out like a champ and go the distance?
Token Chick Singer Hunger Games
Format: Battle royale
Synopsis: You know the rules, pretty lady — there ain’t a single Texas/Red Dirt music festival in the whole Lone Star State big enough for more that just ONE sweet little gal singer and her guitar on the bill. But somebody’s gotta squeeze her tight little package into that abbreviated, 15-minute time slot between the Bobby Jessups Band from Amarillo and the Josh Abbott/Rich O’Toole Unplugged set, and it could be YOU! Or maybe it could be that little hotty toddy in the white cotton sundress … Oh, yee-hah, boys — looks like we’ve got the makin’s of a Texas-sized CAT FIGHT … TO THE DEATH!
Miranda Lambert’s Kill It and Cook It with Kerosene Kitchen
Format: Hunting/cooking competition
Synopsis: Miranda Lambert showcases her hunting skills in her very own outdoor adventure show … with a cooking competition twist. Miranda takes three lucky fans on a variety of wild game hunts, where each contestant must kill, skin, clean and prepare their own hillbilly gourmet meals such as raccoon kabobs, wild hog quiche, and possum pasta. The contestants are judged at a dinner party panel of country music celebrities such as Blake Shelton, Neal McCoy or the Pistol Annies. The winner gets to enjoy their “vittles” with their favorite singers, while the losers have to watch The Voice.
Red Dirt Style Eye for the Man Fan Guy
Format: Style makeover
Synopsis: Each week an unsuspecting super Man Fan will be ambushed at an outdoor festival by the Texas Music Scene’s own “Fab Four” and whisked away for a day of adventure with Wade Bowen, Cody Canada, the Eli Young Band’s Mike Eli and Whiskey Myers’ Cody Cannon. Wade, aka “The Accessorizer,” will deck the Man Fan out with necklaces, wallet chains, bracelets and rings. Cody Canada, “The Ink Expert,” will take him to the tattoo parlor to have his outdated ’90s “barb-wired arm band” or “Cross Canadian Ragweed For Life” tattoo covered up with something much more hip and happening. Then it’s off to the salon with the other Cody, aka “The Hair Guru,” who will demonstrate how to keep one’s man-locks soft and silky, even after 90 minutes of fist pumping. And for the final touch, “Glam Guy” Mike Eli teaches the Man Fan that “a little manscara never hurt anyone.”
Black Ballin’ Rita Ballou
Format: Round table bitch fest
Synopsis: She’s the trash-talking, fan-baiting, bitter-jealous-gherm-hag you all LOVE to hate because she spreads nothing but negativity, gossip, and lies, lies, lies! So go on, hit her with your best shot! Each week will feature a rotating panel of totally thick-skinned, genius-certified artists and their lovely wives/managers/fan-club presidents/moms, deconstructing all the latest R.B. B.S. and setting things right. Also, they totally prank call her.
But wait! There’s more! These ones are still in development …
Rock the Creager of Love
Let’s Take This Outside with Billy Joe Shaver
Same Old, Same Old with Dale Watson
Flirtin’ in Vain with the Trishas
America’s Next Band of Braun Brothers
Wifeagers Gone Wild
Come on Back to the Velvet Lounge with Stoney LaRue
Pat Green’s Antique Roadshow
Shannon Canada’s Big Fat Can of Whoopass
The Deadliest Snatch: Diesel-Sniffing Mystery Diagnosis
Lock Up with Jackson Taylor
Who’s Excited for Ray Benson?
Hold My Baby Bad Girls Club