Reality ‘Boss’ breaks record

Posted Feb. 11, 2010, at 4:52 p.m.

A record-breaking premiere, “American Idol” excitement with Ellen DeGeneres, the latest rendition of “Survivor” and a former reality contestant charged with murder all in one week make for some crazy reality TV.

As forecast, “Undercover Boss” turned out to be a huge hit. Airing just after the Super Bowl certainly didn’t hurt ratings, which soared to 36 million viewers — more than any other reality TV show premiere.

But not everyone was happy. In reaction to the new CBS show, labor policy and advocacy group American Rights at Work launched a grass-roots campaign and Web site called FixOurJobs.org. Its news release appeared in my inbox a few days ago, with American Rights at Work Executive Director Kimberly Freeman Brown saying: “It’s a fantasy that our problems can be fixed through TV shows. The reality is millions of America’s workers who are unemployed or mistreated need real change now.”

While she may be right, and perhaps some of the companies participating in “Undercover Boss” think it is just a good advertising opportunity, there’s no need to stand on a soapbox over this one. If even one boss or manager gains some insight and begins treating employees better or improves a policy within the company it’s a good thing and should be left alone and accepted for what it is — a television show.

If you were in too much of a post-game food coma to catch last week’s episode, you can catch the premiere at www.cbs.com, and be sure to tune in at 9 p.m. Sunday as the president of Hooters takes his turn going incognito.

And a quick recap of other important reality events from the week:

— I have to admit I’m finding Ellen DeGeneres to be more entertaining that I thought she would be, and not nearly as annoying as I remembered. Perhaps the key is small doses.

— I’m disappointed that Maine’s favorite “Survivor,” Bob, isn’t on team heroes, but for those of you die-hards, it looks like it’s going to be another good season with some surprising twists.

— The San Francisco Chronicle reported earlier this week that wannabe rapper and former “I Love New York 2” contestant Jamal Rashead Trulove was found guilty of murder. He was kicked off the show before the season ended, and now is facing life in prison.

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