Did you ever wonder if Norm from “Cheers” (George
Wendt) can spell? How about Mr. Seaver (Alan Thicke, “Growing
Pains”)? What about the guy on “Designing Women”
(Meshach Taylor)? To discover the spelling skills of these three
and 13 other pseudo-celebrities, FOX has released “The Great
American Celebrity Spelling Bee,” smack dab in the middle of
February sweeps.

“The Great American Spelling Bee” is a three-part
special, complete with a “Weakest Link” style set and
hosted by John O’Hurley, a frequent “Seinfeld”
guest star. Four teams of four C-list celebrities started out and
by the end of the first episode, one team was eliminated. In the
second episode, another team will be cut. For the third episode,
it’s every man for himself as the teams are disbanded and the
eight individual celebrities will face off for spelling bragging
rights while raising money for charity.

As it turns out, celebrities aren’t especially competent
spellers. The first four to spell got their words right, but then a
dry spell set in as nobody got a word correct for at least a
half-hour. Nobody can spell, not Mr. Jefferson (Sherman Hemsley,
“The Jeffersons”), Bud Bundy (David Faustino,
“Married With Children”) or even Alice Cooper. And
that’s funny.

There was a saving grace for the celebs though. Kept backstage
is a little boy named Simir, who won the Scripps-Howard National
Spelling Bee and seems to be smarter than all of the celebrities
combined. When a celebrity is stuck, they can use Simir as a cheat
sheet. For the last 20 minutes of the show, nearly every celebrity
would listen to the word, pause with glassy eyes, then shout,
“Simir! I need you!” Magically, Simir appears on the
screen, spews a one-liner and proceeds to spell the word right.
“Silly celebrities,” the little boy said at one point.
“They should have called on me sooner.”

Watching “The Great American Spelling Bee,” you
can’t help but agree with Simir. Seeing marginally famous
people look terrified at the prospect of spelling
‘cappuccino’ is entertaining, and watching them plead
to an 11-year-old boy for assistance just adds to the fun.

So thank you famous people for being dumb, Simir for being a
smart-ass and FOX for adding yet another show of good, clean,
lowbrow fun to the reality genre.

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