The TV Column

By Lisa de Moraes
Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fox has fast-tracked a reality series in which real companies that are struggling to stay afloat in this lousy economy agree to let their staffs decide who among them will get pink-slipped to cut costs.

Fox is already in production on "Someone's Gotta Go," having lined up companies -- smaller, Dunder Mifflin-esque outfits with 15 to 20 employees -- Fox's reality-series madman/genius Mike Darnell told the TV Column. We sounded incredulous. Darnell notes that every time he comes up with one of these trashtastic reality series, we ask the same question: What on Earth would motivate anyone to be on this show? And his answer is always the same: "They want to be on TV. Who knows? There's never a shortage."

Each week, a different company will be showcased. Each week, that company's boss or owner will call the employees together and tell them someone has to be laid off. He or she will give the employees all the available information about one another -- salaries, job evaluations, etc. -- and let them decide who gets the pink slip.

Darnell thinks millions of Americans who fear for their jobs or have lost them will flock to a TV series in which someone loses a job every week, because the show is about . . . Wish Fulfillment.

The idea came from watching a segment on a cable news channel in which a small-business owner decided to let all her employees know what each of them was paid.

"We've taken it a step further and opened up the books to everybody's salary, opened up their HR files and let them talk about each other and to each other -- this one's lazy, this one's a hard worker, I hear this one's having an affair. And in the end they will decide who's to go.

"I'm sure you've been through a situation where someone at your company gets fired and you think, 'Why did that guy get fired and that idiot is still here?' " Darnell asked us, rhetorically. We had no comment.

The show will be brought to us by Endemol -- the Dutch-based production company that also gave the world "Big Brother," which used to seem mean-spirited and skanky, but which suddenly looks quaint and charming.

"We're always trying to make shows that are reflective of the times, relevant and topical," David Goldberg, CEO of Endemol, told the TV Column, explaining that he was calling us from "somewhere in Cabo" because "I was fired and am on the beach." Hahahahaha!

"I don't think you can find anything more relevant and topical than people in financial difficulties," Goldberg continued.

"Someone's Gotta Go" will be hosted by a professional "business coach" who will help employees decide who gets sacked.

And of course, the employees may ultimately decide it's the boss who's gotta go, right?

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