When actors turn reality TV stars

If you have half followed the many reality shows on TV, it is easy to think that reality really can be relative. Cameras follow the subject of a reality show around and at some point, someone or a group of people meet to pick and choose what they think the viewer would find interesting based on set objectives of how they wish to project or sell the star of the show. In other words, someone must decide what part of that ‘reality’ viewers get to see. So at best, what we end up with is selective, guided or doctored reality. Since most people want to put their best side forward consciously or otherwise, knowing that there are cameras helps them present the best ‘reality’ to the viewer. This is one of the reasons reality TV stars are often accused of acting for the cameras. Anyway, isn’t reality over rated?

Now what happens when real actors who earn their living in front of the camera take to reality TV? Are we to believe that they can somehow ignore the cameras by carrying on normally? Think about that because Nollywood appears to be discovering reality TV. There are reports about one or two shows in the works with the most imminent being that of Jim Iyke. On paper, I will like to see what the real Jim Iyke gets up to in real life. But then again that depends on what the producers of the show want us to see.

  • Presenting ‘Omotola-The Real Me’

This brings us to the reality show currently making waves-Omotola-The Real Me (Omotola-TRM) on the Africa Magic Entertainment-DStv channel 151 (Thursdays, 6.30 pm). Not surprisingly, Omotola-TRM began with great fanfare. From the promo ad: ‘The award-winning actress, the entrepreneur, the songstress, the humanitarian, the mother…she’s about to cause an earthquake’. And by the time the question is asked “who is she?” I’m almost gasping: ‘The messiah?’ The promo nearly oversells as it promises a lot which is understandable. Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is an award-winning actress, yes. Plus, she is one of Nigeria’s big stars well-known outside of Nigeria. But has ‘Omotola-The Real Me’, the TV show delivered on its promise?

So far, there have been six episodes of the show (as at the time of writing).  In Episode One we see Omotola in Ghana with her husband Matthew and second son. For a first episode, I don’t think there’s enough background for the viewer. Why Ghana? How important is that visit to open the show? And I also wondered how it was that each time the family alighted from a car everyone basically went their own way. To quote ‘Clara’ (‘The Meeting’): ‘OYO was their case’. The mother doesn’t reach out to hold her son’s hand, the husband looks like an uncomfortable tag along while the star of the show surges on. Seeing that this is not a regular family I had to compare Omotola with another star like Angelina Jolie, the world’s mother-in-chief. Would she come out from a car without seeking the hand of her youngest child in a strange country?

Suffice it to say, things pick up after the first two episodes in terms of becoming more interesting.  We see Omotola in the UK and Jamaica, meeting different important people and in different fun situations. Although we don’t always see all her key activities. A big deal is made of her attending a party but we don’t get to see her in the party or dancing except to do ‘star’ things like posing with fans. She’s definitely not unaware of the camera. Then there’s the big ruckus (over the editing of her movie ‘Amina’) with the director who I can only thank God is behind the camera. Why didn’t anyone think to show even a nano-second clip of the film?

However, we do see Omotola’s mischievous, playful side. I like her interjections, used at intervals which manage to inject some fun into the show and the only explanation for some of what’s going on. But there’s still the need for a narrator (invisible), perhaps at the beginning of every episode, to set out the plan for that day’s episode and it wouldn’t also hurt for viewers to know reasons behind certain actions. For instance, in Episode Two or Three, we see Omotola suddenly talking to two Asian men in a warehouse, one of whom could be called ‘Anything You Want’. What’s the deal? How did the Jamaica trip come about? And why is she back to the UK?

As far as ideas go, Omotola-TRM is not a bad one-especially as a tool to reinvent herself, refresh the minds of her fans and possibly win new fans…not to mention the money making opportunities and as we’ve been told, Omotola is ‘the entrepreneur’. But how does jet setting from one location to another fulfil what the promo has promised? When do we get to see the songstress? Where are the examples to show her as an entrepreneur? Humanitarian, philanthropist? She may be all that and more but we’re yet to see in six episodes. For example, does the real Omotola have/live in a house in Nigeria or can she be found only at airports pushing a trolley?

‘Omotola-TRM’ is trying to sell Omotola’s as a glamorous super star who’s always on the move, flying from one exotic location to another. Which is basically like ‘Omotola On Tour’ or ‘Omotola-My Life As A Nigerian Superstar’ which are not bad as far as concepts go. But that’s a little less than the promise of an earthquake. In any case, if you want to come across as a super star you’ll then have to live up to super star standards. Super stars dine in recognizable restaurants, stay in super-sized famous hotels… think presidential suites. They do not stay in single hotel rooms. And since we’re reminded at every turn by Omotola that she works only with the best, etc, er… it has to show. And no, super stars do not squeal with delight because of in-shop sales. Even if a super star were ‘keeping it real’, that would be woven into the entire story.

I don’t doubt that many would find Omotola-TRM interesting to watch. As far as light hearted entertainment goes, it has its moments. The subject of the show (Omotola) is a beautiful woman and her fashion sense has improved greatly-especially her hair. But there should be more to a TV show than slap dash glamour if for nothing for the very fact that Omotola is ‘the award-winning actress, the entrepreneur, the songstress, the humanitarian, the mother’ who is ‘about to cause an earthquake’.

Nigerian Idol

Naeto C’s a sour judge

Last Sunday, the first batch of 10 of top30 contestants out of three batches performed before two regular judges: Yinka Davies and Jeffrey Daniels. New judge Femi Kuti was not around and in his place guest judge, Naeto C held the fort. Of the ten contestants, only three will make it to the last ten. I didn’t join the action on STV early last Sunday but my initial happiness as a Naeto C fan on seeing him on the judging table soon disappeared. He was dour and sour, in countenance and commentary. He appeared bored, listless and disinterested like someone dragged him out of his siesta. Do we now call him Naeto Sour?

I can understand he might have wanted to wear the Simon Cowell hat a la American Idol, X-Factor, etc. But he didn’t consider that as a TV show, the viewer needs some kind of excitement. Repeating the same comments after almost every performance wasn’t exciting. He basically said every contestant needed to try harder and being able to sing was not enough but not as well put. Not bad advice. But as to what he thought of the specific performance, he didn’t really offer much. It even seemed as if he was searching for the right things to say perhaps in order to keep up with the hard judge image.

The most ridiculous was when he told Debbie Rise last contestant of the night, that she shouldn’t have done the splits at the end of her performance saying: It was not necessary. This from the man who spent a good part of the show telling contestants that singing wasn’t enough. What’s wrong with an entertainer, a fit one at that, expressing herself by doing something extra? By the way, I always say established musicians ought to be a little humble at judging the talent (or the lack thereof) of upcoming musicians. How many of them do you think would have made it past tough judges?

Meanwhile, Yinka Davies was on the other (extreme) side of Naeto C’s dourness. She was as usual hyper happy. And too many times too ready to follow ‘the last speaker’.

 

AFCON 2013 cometh…

  • Time for Goodluck to work

As you read this, the 2013 edition of the African Cup of Nations taking place in South Africa would have started yesterday. And the next time you read me (next Sunday), our Super Eagles would have played two matches. Depending on the results some may be dreaming we’ve won the cup already. Or calling for Stephen Keshi’s head.  He’s head coach, isn’t he? Well, I can only wish the Super Eagles goodluck.

 

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