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'Biggest Loser' provides viewers with nothing but winners

Producers for the NBC reality show "The Biggest Loser" were in town this past weekend, interviewing prospective candidates for season six of the show. About 500 showed up in Duluth, hoping for a chance to be on the program, basically a televised weight loss competition.

With the show's crew interviewing folks at 12 more cities, it will be tough for any of the Gwinnett hopefuls to earn a spot. But here's wishing that some lucky local gets the chance.

"The Biggest Loser" is one of those rarities at this time - a reality/game show with a positive message. Maybe it's not a game show in the vein of "Deal or No Deal," but with $250,000 at stake to the winning team, it might as well be.

At worst, the nonwinners on this show can point to their weight loss and lessons learned pursuing it as so-called victories, which is better than the sad sack who risks it all on "Deal or No Deal" only to go from $1 million to $100.

"Deal or No Deal" host Howie Mandel hates that as well. In several things I've read about the show, Mandel says it frustrates him that the contestants don't seem to appreciate the amount of money they are risking. That the go-for-broke mentality they exhibit may be why they are, well, broke.

Thankfully, the Hollywood writers' strike is over and we'll soon (well, fairly soon) be back to our favorite scripted prime-time shows. I'll be glad for that regular programming, but the reality genre isn't going anywhere. And neither is the negative aspect of most of those shows.

One of the newest is "Moment of Truth," a show hosted by Mark Walberg - not to be confused with Mark Wahlberg - that features contestants answering true or false questions that are recorded by a lie detector test. The capper is key family members or significant others are seated nearby to witness the embarrassing questions that are asked.

So when the contestant is asked if he's ever stolen anything from work, his boss is there to hear the answer. When a person is asked if she is prettier than her sister, sis is sitting there waiting to hear. And when a man is asked if he has delayed getting married because he's not sure he wants to have children with his fiancee ... well, you get the picture.

It's no surprise that the show airs on Fox. And it's no surprise it has done fairly well in the ratings. It's like passing a fender bender on Interstate 85 - you can't stop watching, but you don't know why.

Thanks to reality TV, we can see Bret Michaels try to find the love of his life, Scott Baio try to have a baby and multiple folks try to be anything from a supermodel to a Donald Trump employee to a chef to a millionaire.

The payoff of a show like "Deal or No Deal" should be just that - the payoff. But it and other shows like it are set up to where the fall is so great - from riches back to darn near rags - that the appeal sometimes seems to be more of, "Look at that idiot. Can you believe he just blew $500,000?"

I'd prefer to see something more positive - like a person losing weight and gaining self esteem.

Believe me, I understand the phrase "if you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose." It's just that I'd like to watch "losers" go home with something a little more than a fist bump from Howie.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Tuesdays.