The Watchman: 'Paid Off' Pays Off More, Bad Boys Spinoff Lands Big Names

New episodes of Paid Off with Michael Torpey premiere on truTV May 13. Contestants compete in the game show to win money to pay off their student debt. Host Torpey said Paid Off has gotten more people to talk about student loans, which he believes are a crippling issue in the U.S.

“I think it helped push this conversation,” he said. “The show is all about bringing these stories into people’s living rooms.”

Those include one contestant who was able to scale back his brutal workload thanks to his winnings, and free up weekend time with his daughters.

The show previously saw close to a half-million dollars given out. The episodes now will give out $1 million. The show is also introducing the Live Lightning Round, where viewers can call in and answer trivia questions. “You can win $3,000 by watching a TV show at home,” Torpey said.

There will also be five themed episodes highlighting how student debt impacts people’s lives.

Torpey’s influences among game show hosts include the late Ken Ober, who hosted Remote Control on MTV. “You could tell he was kind of enjoying himself.”

Also enjoying themselves are Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba, stars of buddy cop series LA’s Finest on Spectrum. The series is a relative of the Bad Boys film franchise, though it features a pair of female LAPD detectives. Union plays Syd and Alba portrays Nancy. (The series is not a relative of 1986 punk film Sid and Nancy.)

One imagines the producers were tempted to call the show Bad Girls. Exec producers Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier said they both printed out photos of their young daughters, and held those up as a model. “This is the reason we want to make this,” Margolis said. “We want them to see empowered females.”

Both Brandons are giant fans of the Bad Boys movies, Sonnier noting their “over the top action, really hilarious comedy” and surprisingly personal moments. They wanted to pay homage to the franchise, but also let LA’s Finest stand on its own. “It’s of that universe but will find its own voice,” Margolis said.

LA’s Finest was developed as a pilot for NBC before landing at Spectrum, where it will air exclusively, on demand, for subscribers. Three episodes premiere May 13. It might air elsewhere once Spectrum’s exclusivity window shuts.

Union reprises her role from Bad Boys II, and Alba is new to the project. “I’ve seen all the cuts,” said Margolis, “but still can’t believe Jessica Alba did it.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.