Guest starlets Britney and Paris vie for ratings


Ratings are God. OK, let me

rephrase that before someone chucks a Bible/Koran/Torah/Vedas/dog-eared

copy of Atlas Shrugged at my head (what, no radical individualists

here?). In the world of television, ratings are God. Sure, good writing

and strong acting are minor gods. But the Big Kahuna is, and always

will be, ratings. In the quest for more and bigger ones, television

has a long and sordid history of sacrificial offerings

stunt casting. Though, sometimes when you consider who they’re offering

up, you wonder if we the audience aren’t the ones being sacrificed

instead. Case in point:

Oy. Two well-regarded (if

not on my must-see list) shows, How I Met Your Mother

and My Name Is Earl, are bringing on guest starlets Britney

and Paris Hilton, respectively. Both shows are no

doubt relying on the high-profile cameos to help them build buzz for

their new episodes as they return post–writers’ strike. And, dagnabbit,

if it hasn’t worked. Still, as the doomed character in any sci-fi

film would say, “Dear God, what have we done?!”

Brit-Brit, who will appear

on How I Met Your Mother March 24, is no doubt using her one-episode

appearance as yet another comeback launching pad. She will play “Abby,”

a receptionist for Ted’s dermatologist who becomes smitten with him.

star Sarah Chalke

will play the dermatologist. Not like anyone noticed with all the “Oh,

my God, that Britney’s shameless” hoopla going around. In fact,

Alicia Silverstone
dropped out from the dermatologist role precisely

for that reason.

Paris will pop up on My

Name Is Earl
in a dream sequence (or should we say nightmare?) on

April 3. I used to watch Earl, that first season before the

Ugly Betty/30 Rock
battle royale for my heart took over. Paris apparently

appears to Earl while he is in a coma. That do-not-resuscitate consent

form is looking better and better.

Now, I’m sure neither starlet

will be horrible in her role. Alyson Hannigan even dubbed

Britney “lovely” and said, “I have been quite impressed by Britney’s

performance. The character she is playing is very sweet and endearing,

which seems to come naturally to her.” Plus, this kind of guest-star-itis,

while acute, is usually blessedly brief.

So here is my question: Does

any of this actually make you want to watch? And, if you do watch, are

you watching for the train wreck (for reference, please see the MTV Video Music

Awards), or are

you watching for the sheer celebrity of it all? And, finally, if Paris

makes good on her threat to guest

star on The L Word

will you boycott or, better yet, girlcott? Discuss.

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