Art and Entertainment

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at court in Chicago for his arraignment on
federal racketeering and fraud charges.

Celebrity or Criminal? Blago's Road to Reality TV Fame

April 17, 2009 07:40 AM
by Rachel Balik
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich could make $80,000 a week as a reality TV star—if a federal judge will let him travel to Costa Rica.

Blago Asks Judge’s Permission to Become Reality TV Star

Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has agreed to appear on the NBC reality show “I’m a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here,” in which he would match survival skills with other “Z-list” celebrities (as the Chicago Tribune snips). But the show is being filmed in Costa Rica, so before he can participate, he will need the federal judge in charge of his corruption case to lift the travel restrictions that are part of his bail. His lawyer confirmed that Blagojevich would be making the request soon; the Tribune suggests that his underhanded tactics will serve him better in the jungle than they did in the American political sphere.

Perhaps part of the draw is that NBC will pay him $80,000 a week to appear on the show, a certain boon for the financially troubled and disgraced politician. The winner will also receive a large cash prize allotted to the charity organization of his or her choice.

Comments on a Hollywood Reporter article relaying details of the show revealed an outraged and disgusted American public. Readers reflected that “crime pays” and one angry user suggested, “Put Blago in jail already, that way we can have an NBC show called, ‘I’m a crooked politician that's repeatedly taken advantage of by my cell mate ... now get me outta here!’” Another concluded, “I feel everyone would be better off without this garbage (the person and the show).”

Background: Blagojevich indicted on 19 federal charges

Blagojevich was impeached after he was accused of trying to sell President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Two months later, he and his brother were indicted on 16 federal counts of racketeering, fraud and extortion. The governor was charged with crimes that dated back to 2006 and extended beyond his alleged attempted sale of the Senate seat.

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Reference: “I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here”

The NBC Web site describes the show as “the ultimate Swiss Family Robinson” in which 10 contestants live together in the jungle of Costa Rica and compete for supplies, prizes and the right to stay on the show. The American audience is the judge of each challenge, voting actors off or allotting awards.

Related Topic: British reality star Jade Goody shares her death with TV audience

The world reacted with discomfort and shock when British reality TV star Jade Goody announced that she would profit from the remaining days of her life and die of cancer in the public eye. Although initially Goody was criticized for classless behavior, she was ultimately heralded for bringing increased awareness to the cause of cervical cancer.

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