When a program that normally features ordinary people as its central figures — usually (but not limited to) Dating Sims
, Game Shows
, Reality TV
and Home And Garden
programs — is suddenly taken over by celebrities. Reasons could be any of the following:
- It may be a Ratings Stunt, typically done during the months of November, February, and May when commercial rates are determined (and, in May, the television season generally ends).
- It may be a "special edition" or occasional treat for the viewer (e.g., Richard Dawson's Family Feud primetime specials).
- It may be to get one more season out of the dying Cash Cow Franchise, or a last-ditch effort to save the show when the real fault is likely to be the timeslot or format (e.g., Celebrity Bullseye and Celebrity Hot Potato).
When it's a game show, usually the winnings are donated to charity rather than kept by the contestants, as it's hard for the audience to get worked up over celebrities winning even more
money than they already have...unless they're has-beens who really don't have any money anymore.
The longer the format change goes on, the more stretched the definition of "celebrity" will inevitably become. Once the show reaches an installment where the "celebrities" are all comprised of A. People from other shows on the same network or B. People whose main claim to fame was appearing in another reality show, then any Ratings Stunt
factor is gone.
Speaking of which, this is separate from the numerous game shows popular in the 1970s in which contestants had a celebrity teammate...and, of course, the Panel Game
. It also doesn't count if a celeb appears on a game show before becoming famous; that's a case of Retroactive Recognition
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- The Celebrity Apprentice is an egregious case, as one of the first edition's "celebrities" was Omarosa What's-Her-Name, whose main claim to fame was...competing on The Apprentice. In the second edition, one celebrity was a briefcase model from Deal or No Deal.
- Celebrity Big Brother
- "Casa dos Artistas" (House of the Artists) was a Big Brother featuring artists as contestants. It was so much like Big Brother it was Screwed by the Lawyers of the network holding Big Brother's broadcasting rights in Brazil.
- The original Fear Factor did it to the point where every episode was a Celebrity Edition to keep the show going amidst sagging ratings. As you'd expect, it only made the ratings fall faster and the show quickly canned.
- Trading Spaces had several episodes where neighboring celebrities swapped homes, donned smocks, and got spattered with paint under the guidance of a pair of interior designers. Mind you, this doesn't count the episode where Slash of Guns 'n' Roses just wandered in (because he was a friend of one of the couples) and got put to work sewing curtains.
- Wife Swap is being revamped with a "Celebrity" edition, with "celebrities" such as Flava Flav, Meatloaf, and Ted Haggard, the evangelical pastor who in 2006 admitted to being with a gay prostitute and using meth. That last bit is probably the only thing anybody knows about him.