COLUMN:Save Regis – send him to Mazar-e-sharif

Tim Paluch

The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks deeply affected nearly all facets of American life. Not only did it have an adverse affect on the economy, it all but bankrupted airlines and the travel industry, who were spared by massive governmental stimulus packages. Also hurt was television, specifically one genre – reality TV.

Americans just don’t appear too interested in faux reality when some pretty hardcore real stuff’s going on in the Middle East. The third “Survivor” is getting outwatched by “Friends,” and “Mole II: The Next Betrayal,” “Love Course: The Maiden Voyage” and “The Amazing Race” have all suffered disappointing ratings.

It’s gotten so bad that even WB’s “Elimidate Deluxe” didn’t get anywhere with fans. I know. I’m just as shocked as you are. I mean, it’s widely believed that “Elimidate” is possibly the best show on television. Think about it. It’s “eliminate” with a “d” where the “n” should be, thus conveying the fact that “dates” are being “eliminated.” Sheer genius.

And yet, no one tuned in to see lonely yet attractive twenty-somethings make a love connection with one of four ready and willing singles.

At the same time, in what can only be a perfectly-timed miraculous coincidence, Taliban rule in Afghanistan seems to be failing. Which means, of course, that Afghans can again enjoy the thrills of American television.

Sounds like a perfect market for reality TV to me. Hell, TV’s been banned since 1996. They still think “Caroline in the City” is an Emmy contender.

And if the networks decide to move in, maybe they can shed some light on the “reality” of life in this world of extreme poverty, widespread famine and rule by one brutal unstable regime after another.

Survivor: The Afghan Winter

CBS had plenty of success in the Australian outback and in the deserts of Africa, why not the war-torn and bomb-ridden ghetto that is Afghanistan? Here, cameras track 3.4 million “contestants” who face constant peril. Even if contestants make it through the show’s missions – dodging the warring gunfire, avoid the ten million or so land mines, escape the falling American bombs – they’re not out of the woods yet. Winter’s a comin’ and the Northern Alliance is looting the humanitarian aid supplies. Who can outwit, outplay and outlast the competition before starvation sets in?

Who Wants to Not Be Hungry?

President Bush’s plan to have children send over $1 to Afghan children isn’t working enough. This could be a result of any number of things. Maybe not enough children responded. Or there could be trouble getting that money into the country. Or maybe it has something to do with Afghanistan children not having any buildings, let alone grocery stores, after the U.S. airstrikes. And I’m pretty sure they don’t even use American currency in Afghanistan. Children are hungry, not looking for money to buy a scooter.

So it would appear that the Afghan people are in dire need of some food. The world’s humanitarian organization have stopped bringing food in because of the bombing. The folks at ABC created a blockbuster with “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” where average everyday people are grilled with questions that average everyday people shouldn’t know the answers to.

Why wouldn’t this work in Afghanistan? Start off with some wheat, maybe a couple of potatoes.

As the questions get harder, though, the stakes increase. Should you risk losing the bread to go for the grand-prize goat? I don’t know, better ask the audience. Then again, no one wants to return home empty-handed.

Tim Paluch is a junior in journalism and mass communication from Orland Park, Ill. He is opinion editor of the Daily.