BC Beat

With Ben Grossman, John Eggerton and Marisa Guthrie

Is Jamie Kennedy the Father of 'Kid Nation’?

As far as we know, no one’s ever called comedian-cum-rapper Jamie Kennedy a visionary. But with the imminent premiere of CBS’ controversial reality series Kid Nation, he’s looking downright prophetic.

Long before CBS decided to leave 40 kids, aged 8 to 15, to their own devices in a New Mexico ghost-town set, Kennedy gave the world “Child Island,” a parody of CBS’ own Survivor from his prank show, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, which ran on The WB from 2002-04.

In a clip that has been circulating online, Kennedy impersonates “a typical Hollywood producer” who tries to convince a group of parents to sign their kids up for “the most horrible reality show imaginable.”

Teasing the show with the tagline, “Six kids, 13 days, no adults, no food, no fun: no kidding,” he cues up a trailer for the parents, who are soon agape over scenes of kids eating insects, hunting wild boar and degenerating into a full-on face-painted Lord-of-the-Flies orgy. When they object to a scene of a kid falling off a cliff, Kennedy assures them, “Great shows are not born every day. But kids are.”

Child- and labor-rights groups have denounced Kid Nation. But, while minor accidents have been reported, no kids have killed a wild boar and no children have been thrown from cliffs.

Kennedy, CBS and KidExecutive Producer Tom Forman did not respond to requests for comment.

Devil Digits

The CW has been enjoying the pre-launch buzz surrounding its new show Reaper, about a slacker who serves as Satan’s bounty hunter. But the network learned that the devil was in the details when it came to a viral-video campaign it cooked up.

In the first of a trio of spots produced with viral-marketing specialists New Media Services, Reaper’s Ray Wise, who plays the Devil himself, appears in a faux-campaign ad encouraging viewers to dial a call-in number. Sure enough, the number leads to a recording of Wise’s voice with tune-in information for the new show.

As it happens, first choice for the number, 1-800-HELL-YES, was already taken by a company called Multi-Link Communications. When we called to investigate why Multi-Link had chosen such a satanic sequence, a mortified employee explained that the number was meant to spell HELLYER, the firm’s former name.

The CW simply switched the number to 877-IN-4-HELL and expects to push the clip to bloggers and key Internet portals in the next couple weeks. Network marketing chief Rick Haskins hopes the spots will continue to (sorry) fan the flames.

She’s Smokin’

Although you wouldn’t know it from watching AMC’s Mad Men, Hollywood has been under pressure from Washington to kick—or at least cut down on—scenes of smoking in entertainment programming. But if NBC’s upcoming remake of The Bionic Woman is any indication, cigarettes are still cool.

In the show’s pilot, as the heroine Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan) prepares to do battle with her murderous and embittered bionic forerunner (played by Katee Sackhoff), the nefarious fembot calls a time out for a smoke. Taking a long, seductive drag, she explains that the “microbots” implanted in her blood stream clean out her system, thereby allowing her to puff with impunity.

However suggestible the show’s youthful target audience may be, they probably know that we do not, in fact, have the technology to make smoking harmless.

But House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey may take a dim view of the scene. In June, he held a hearing on the impact of media images, including smoking, on kids. Since then, some programmers, Disney and Hallmark Channel among them, have agreed to limit smoking in films and some TV programming.

Actually, some scenes from the Bionic pilot were re-shot after the character of Sommers’ sister was rewritten and recast. But the smoking scene remains. Said an NBC spokesperson: “We feel viewers will understand that the character is a villain.”

Trouble is, everybody loves villains.