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Future, Unscripted

More than a year ago, the overheated art world got even more frenzied for a few days as the Jeffrey Deitch Gallery held cattle-call auditions for Artstar, an art world counterpart to American Idol. No one was quite sure if it was a reality show or some kind of performance-art prank. Nevertheless, it sucked hundreds of freaks and artistes out of their garrets (some precincts of Williamsburg were completely emptied that winter day) and back to Soho, where critics like David Rimanelli and Carlo McCormick helped Deitch pick a slate of eight hopefuls to collaborate on a project for the cameras. As it turns out, this wasn't just a giant conceptual performance piece on the nature of reality TV; Artstar actually is a reality TV series, though many New Yorkers won't see it when it launches on June 1, since it airs on Gallery HD, a high-definition channel on the Dish satellite network.

Now that artists have joined models, musicians, designers, chefs, filmmakers, and would-be apprentices as fodder for reality TV, why not broaden the concept further? Some pilot ideas for the fall season:

America's Next Literary Novelist: Judges are currently scouring the country's MFA programs looking for the next Jonathan Safran Foer, Jonathan Lethem, and any other applicable Jonathans. Unfortunately, several semifinalists have already been disqualified for plagiarizing their entries.

Top Lobbyist: Some of the nation's most gifted schmoozehounds vie for this prestigious title and a chance to spend a weekend with Karl Rove and Dick Cheney. Weekly challenges will root out the most honest contenders.

Ultimate Realtor: Contestants compete to rebrand derelict, impoverished urban zones as the next hot neighborhood. The first to lure a Starbucks branch to their hipster 'hood wins.

American Butcher: Currently two productions are in litigation over the use of this name: One is a competition to find the nation's finest cleaver wielder, while the other features plastic surgeons in a battle for silicone supremacy.


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