Rodman Tour Crashes

The exit door is at the end of the hall.

Having lived in Chicago during the initial year of (Dennis) Rod-mania, I feel

secure saying I understand what the hoopla is all about. I understand people's

fascination with this body painted freak, this gender-bending bundle of

neuroses, this monster-rebounding, spiraling mess of insecurities and

attention-sucking polymorphic perversity.

Dennis Rodman is a little boy

who likes to watch, who likes to hear himself say naughty words, not unlike

another pair of MTV personalities (that is, assuming Rodman has only two

competing personalities), whose big-screen debut was #1 at the box office last

weekend. But, no amount of explaining-away or freak-show curiosity could

explain the train-wreck that is MTV's "Dennis Rodman's World Tour" (MTV, Sunday

night, check local listings).

If you caught my piece (in "Music News of the

World") on M2 a few weeks ago, you'll remember I said that the diversity and

willingness to not program the obvious, and, most importantly, its

freedom from non-music programming, is what makes M2 an impossible-to-reach

oasis in a sea of MTV pabulum. Last week's (Dec. 22) episode of the Rodman show

was ample proof that not only has MTV lost any remaining edge it has

occasionally had, but that it has crossed further over into the knee-jerk,

star-fucking attitude it used to try and mock.

Rodman is entertaining in

small doses...



Rodman is entertaining in small doses. But even a half

hour of his bumbling, stuttering, scripted nonsense is about 28 minutes too

much. In last week's unentertaining episode, Rodman staged a "spontaneous"

strip poker game between Frasier's Kelsey Grammer, the Foo Fighter's Pat

Smear and "Melrose Place" star Laura Leighton. Grammer, bless his obviously

confused heart (Regis and Kathie Lee never looked so bearable) seemed game for

anything, Smear was smirkingly up for tricks, and Leighton, well, she just

soldiered on with a befuddled, "what the hell am I doing here?" grimace that

you can be sure resulted in a few irate calls to her manager between shots.

The whole thing was less amusing than dead air or a test pattern, even

when Grammer got his comeuppance at the end, which, thankfully, didn't result

in his getting naked, but rather, receiving a tongue kiss from Smear and pecks

from Rodman and Leighton. Leighton, a good sport considering, was rightly on

the defensive from Rodman's "probing" questions about her sex life throughout

the show, which in his own perverse way, seemed to make Rodman more comfortable

even as it quite obviously made Leighton less so.

Rodman is a basketball

player, in case anybody forgot. And while MTV runs their equally insipid (but

for a good cause) Rock 'n' Jock Jams programming in an effort to connect rock

and sports, there is even less rationale for the Rodman show than something as

brainless as "House of Style," which at least has a tenuous connection to music

given the history of rockers dating models and the importance of fashion in

music.

Rodman's show is part of an alarming trend at MTV, a station

seemingly hell-bent on driving away music fans. Like the Big Four television

networks, who saw fit to flood the airwaves with a dozen silly, bandwagoneering

"X-Files" rip-offs, MTV has bought into the right now cult-of-personality of

folks like Rodman and the shamelessly self-promoting Jenny McCarthy without any

regard to what it does to their already marginalized music programming.

In

an age where talentless phenoms like McCarthy can (literally) get network heads

down on their knees on her red carpet, Rodman doesn't even qualify as filler.

Even McCarthy's vanilla haircut side-kick, uh, whatever his name is, has more

charisma than Rodman, who's only funny in a

"man-this-guy-is-so-bad-it's-surreal" kind of way. Sure, we've been promised

shows like "Indie 500" and a techno show from the MTV brass, both years too

late, and sure, McCarthy is hot right now and anybody'd be a fool not to cash

in on her bright star, but I have one word for the folks at MTV:

"Macarena."