GE should be embarassed by Blagojevich deal

The short-term publicity General Electric Co. (GE) got from signing a reality show deal with ousted Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich will be eclipsed by the long-term harm it will do to the credibility of its NBC network.

Blagojevich has reportedly been offered a spot on NBC's "classic" summer series "I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here" if -- and that's a big "if'"-- he can get permission to travel to Costa Rica where the program will be shot.

A couple of questions come to mind:

Firstly, is it misleading to use word "celebrity" in a show's title whose past guests included Melissa Rivers? Secondly, don't real celebrities have better things do than perform stunts in the middle of a lush, tropical rain forest? Thirdly, why the hell is NBC giving free publicity to Blagojevich?

The former Illinois governor is not just some colorful politician with Elvis hairstyle, the color of which is not found in nature. He is accused of some pretty serious crimes, not the least of which is selling the senate seat of President Barack Obama. Earlier this week, he plead guilty to 19 corruption charges.

Casting Blagojevich as a "celebrity" will backfire on NBC almost as badly as the network's attempt to broaden the "Apprentice" franchise with Martha Stewart a few years ago. The domestic diva was as stiff as an ironing board on the program and viewers tuned out. The American public will grow tired of the former Illinois governor's antics, particularly as more information leaks out about the charges against him ahead of his trial.

Given the recent drubbing General Electric got from Jon Stewart over the shortcomings of CNBC, I was surprised that NBC would make such a foolish casting decision. But in today's crowded media landscape, buzz is everything regardless of how it's gotten. The ramifications are disturbing.

If Blagojevich can get a TV deal, can the Octomom be far behind? I fear not.

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