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December 13, 2006

It’s Showtime

Apparently, even when the headline is "Reality Television Bites Man," it's still news.

Armed & Famous producers are using T-shirts and money to persuade criminal suspects to sign waivers that allow the show to broadcast their faces.

This tactic has at least some community members concerned that the show's celebrity cops are taking advantage of low-income residents -- and possibly targeting the neighborhoods they live in....

The officers included "celebrity cops" Trish Stratus, Wee Man and Erik Estrada.

Armed & Famous is an upcoming CBS reality show in which Estrada, Wee Man, Stratus, La Toya Jackson and Jack Osbourne become gun-carrying Muncie cops.

I'm somewhat reluctant to admit that I grew up in Muncie, Indiana, the oft-used "Anytown, USA," that was clearly ripe to become a national farce via a reality show starring '80's-era celebrities. More disturbing than the mockery of Muncie, however, is a potentially dangerous concept of bringing "reality TV" off of islands and houses and stages, and into the public where serious consequences could result. While the TV may not be so real, the lives in the middle of it are.

The concern is not just for the perpetrators who are caught by the strong arm of the CHiPs, but also for the other police officers who might have to go on patrol along with cameramen and largely untrained "partners." And even if every precaution is taken, is it really worth treating serious topics like criminal justice with such frivolity when more than simply actors are involved? How real is too real?

Besides, watching vintage celebrities pursue criminals in Muncie does not strike me as gripping entertainment.

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