"Secret Talents of the Stars" was borne of the need to get something on prime time television in the wake of the WGA strike that happened in the late fall of 2007 and early winter of 2008. And the show seemed like a train wreck, just from the premise. Gather a group of celebrities, get them to train briefly doing something they really weren't proficient in, like singing (Star Trek and Heroes star George Takei who performed the Willie Nelson classic "On The Road Again"), telling jokes (Country music superstar Clint Black who took lessons in timing from Garry Shandling), tap dancing (with RNB singer, Mya) or contortion (yes! contortion by famed figure skater Sasha Cohen) and have them present their acts LIVE in front of a studio audience and a group of 3 judges that included such names as Brian McKnight (in the "Randy Jackson" role) and Debbie Reynolds (in the gushing "Paula Abdul" role) plus some other guy who was all about being the nasty Simon Cowell role. The show was hosted by former "Seinfeld" J. Peterman and "Dancing with the Stars" champ: the personable John O'Hurley.
The viewing audience voted for the acts they liked best instantly via the web on CBS.com and the results were tabulated and offered up DURING the program, so at the end of the show, you knew exactly which two acts of the four would continue to the next round. But, let's face it... instant internet voting (you only had roughly two minutes to cast your ballot during the commercial breaks) probably wasn't the best choice for getting a fair assessment of what viewers really thought.
You have to give the stars a lot of credit for going along with this, since they were really putting themselves out there... most especially George Takei, who willingly went ahead and gave it his best (even though that only reached William Hung proportions), Sasha Cohen, who did take some physical chances in balancing and twisting and Mya, who performed an absolutely brilliant tap routine with her team of dancers. In fact, I'm certain that her loss to Clint Black's unfunny stand-up routine was the true death knell for the show. Granted, Mya did have some dance experience, so she was probably closer to being an expert in her field than the others were, but she certainly should have been in the winning category. To her credit, she was very gracious in losing, along with Takei, who really provided more comic relief than Black.
I was going to give the program a 1, but I have to give some kudos to the stars for taking those chances at what could have been career suicide (had anyone actually been watching). And, well, Debbie Reynolds was just a hoot, and completely off her rocker with her comments here.
The show was canceled almost as soon as the first episode went off the air, presumably leaving all of the other scheduled celebrities' talents, secret. The two word term for this is: mercy killing.
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