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Lip sync blunder

Is bigger really better?  In Hollywood, when it comes to breasts, real estate, and entertainment, the answer is a resounding, “Yes!”

This year, Spike TV’s little karaoke-show-that-could, Lip Sync Battle, had a major makeover.  Originally, it began as a segment on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  John Krasinski was scheduled to appear and Fallon asked him what he’s like to do.  He suggested an 8-Mile style rap battle but do it lip-syncing to other people’s songs.

The segment was so popular that Fallon continued it with other guests.  He then pitched the concept as its own show but NBC passed.  So John, Stephen Merchant, Casey Patterson, and Jay Peterson took it to Spike TV.  And a phenomenon was born.

In 2015, LSB was the highest-rated premiere in Spike's history.  L.L. Cool J hosted with swagger and model Chrissy Teigen added some oddball commentary.

The staging included a small bar for refreshments and space for the guests to get their groove on.  There, viewers saw their favourite stars being goofy and down-to-earth.  There was an inherent magic in watching a muscle-bound Dwayne Johnson rock out to Taylor Swift or Jenna Dewan-Tatum go all Magic Mike on her husband.

But better yet, the live audience could get “this close” and even touch these stars.  It was intimate, yet big enough for costumed production numbers.  And those numbers continued to grow, with more elaborate sets and even the occasional “guest” to help their friends.

Those “guests” included Beyoncé, Run DMC, Backstreet Boys, Pitbull, and even Jennifer Lopez – who turned Krasinski, himself, into a drooling fan-boy after she stepped out on stage with Anna Kendrick.

They had a super-sized Christmas special and the occasional four-way competition.  But at the heart of Lip Sync Battle was an atmosphere of a Friday night party in a friend’s basement.

Then Spike TV underwent a “rebranding.”  It entered 2018 as “Paramount TV,” with a powerhouse image and a new focus.  LSB’s season four was moved to a huge new studio and now the guests invited are stars of Paramount TV’s new scripted shows – turning every episode into a half-hour commercial.

The production numbers have tripled in size, as have the number of cameras to catch it all.  With wider camera angles and a carnival atmosphere, it’s become more about the costumes and sets than the performers.  And instead of being in their living rooms, the stars are set back on a stage, firmly out of touch of the audience.

To deal with this, most of the close-up shots have focused more on the audience reactions and the hosts than the performers themselves – as though the director is desperately trying to prove that, “See? Everyone’s having fun!”

But not everyone is.

Ratings have dropped.  After four years, that’s not unexpected.  But given the money invested for this year’s re-vamp, a nearly 50% drop in one season does not bode well for the once Emmy-nominated series.

And when it comes to ratings, size definitely does matter.

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