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HEADLINE: Annie Duke Versus Joan Rivers in Final Two of Celebrity Apprentice
Next Sunday is shaping up to be a showdown of biblical proportions, as World Series of Poker bracelet winner Annie Duke squares off against archrival Joan Rivers in the finale of NBC’s second season of Celebrity Apprentice. The three hour live final episode airs at 8:00pm ET. Note that this article contains language that is not appropriate for all audiences.
Last week, producer Melissa Rivers and her mother, Joan Rivers, lambasted Duke and the poker community. Adjectives used by the former two contestants to describe the Ultimate Bet pro included “piece of shit,” “lying whore,” and “pit viper.” The younger Rivers was ousted at the end of last week’s episode with her mother in tow, leaving the viewing audience to wonder whether the 75 year-old former talk show host would return to the NBC reality series. However, Joan Rivers arrived shortly after the presentation of this week’s task began. Duke commented, “I wasn’t surprised Joan came back. Joan is completely full of shit in everything she does. There’s a reason she got fired by the TV Guide Channel: She’s a bitch.”
This week’s task challenged the teams to create a jingle and 30 second commercial for Chicken of the Sea, one of the world’s leading brands of tuna. Team Athena, which consisted of Duke and Playboy Playmate of the Year Brande Roderick, found itself up against Grammy Award winning musician Clint Black. Teams had to create their own lyrics and devise a new tune, but were also instructed to incorporate phrases from the original jingle. Roderick was Project Manager of last week’s task, forcing Duke to assume the leadership position this week despite the circumstances. Appropriately, Black, the winning Project Manager last week, was chosen to reprise his role once again.
Duke and Roderick immediately began researching the brand and crafting lyrics, although the two were undermanned in terms of musical talent and number of team members. Duke commented, “Neither Brande nor I is musically-inclined in any way, shape, or form.” She continued, “If my musical ability were described as ‘slim,’ Brande’s would be described as ‘none.’” Black brought his guitar into the team’s recording studio and compiled the jingle, while Rivers and West Coast Choppers CEO Jesse James created the 30 second ad spot. Black elected to start several lines of the jingle with the word “naturally” to match what he thought Chicken of the Sea executives wanted.
Rivers questioned whether her team’s tune should be peppier and wanted to add a “cluck, cluck, cluck, cluck, splash” punch line at the end. However, Black felt the addition would take away from the jingle, noting, “It was a risk we didn’t need to take.” Show host Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, summed up the end result of the task: “This is going to come down to whether Clint listened to the executives.” Meanwhile, Duke and Roderick created the 30 second ad spot before moving onto the jingle. The radio spot surrounded two mothers at a playground talking about the convenience of Chicken of the Sea.
Despite overwhelming odds against them, Duke and Roderick produced a catchy, modern jingle. The Ultimate Bet pro commented, “As I started listening to it, I was like, ‘This is catchy,’ but then I saw the [reactions of] other people in the room.” She later told NBC cameras, “If we win, that will be one of the high points of my life.” Rivers, meanwhile, was adamant about adding her punch line, but Black preferred her to walk across the stage holding a sign identifying the song during the team’s presentation. Rivers candidly explained, “You’re just allowed to walk across, but you’re not allowed to say anything. I am now doing it the way Helen Keller would have done it.” Keller, the subject of the popular play and movie “The Miracle Worker,” was both deaf and blind.
Duke gave the presentation on behalf of her team and noted that a female voiced the song because 80% of Chicken of the Sea’s customers are of that gender. Whatever the outcome, the popular poker player was content. She explained, “If we lose and we have to go into the boardroom, it takes the edge off because I can walk away from this competition knowing that I did something incredible.” In the end, Black’s country background proved to be his downfall, as Chicken of the Sea executives felt that the delivery was “limited” in its nationwide reach. Duke exclaimed, “I just beat Clint Black in a songwriting contest!” Duke elevated her record to 2-0 as Project Manager (she also resoundingly defeated Rivers on a fundraising task two weeks ago), has never been brought into the boardroom as part of a losing effort, and was responsible for 30% of the money raised over the course of the show. Black took the fall for his team and was fired.
The four remaining contestants were immediately called back into the boardroom and it was revealed that Celebrity Apprentice Season 1 winner Piers Morgan would interview them. In the end, two would be fired, setting up next week’s finale. Roderick was the first to be interviewed. Morgan questioned her intelligence and told Trump, “I don’t think she’s smart enough. I think it would demean your show because I don’t think she’s up to that.”
Rivers quelled Morgan’s doubts about her stamina, pointing out that she has two published books and a Broadway play. Rivers then added that she defended her daughter because “We’re a very small family. We were all killed by the Nazis, which tells you what I think about Annie.” Morgan then asked what her central issue with Duke is. Rivers responded, “My main problem with Annie is that she’s very manipulative. She is a poker player. That’s all she is. She is a mean, vicious, divide-and-conquer person.” Morgan told Trump that he questioned Rivers’ relationship with her daughter, but liked her energy of the 75 year-old.
Morgan labeled Duke “the smartest contestant by quite a long way.” He added, “You can say anything you’d like. She’s got the money at the end of the rainbow and doesn’t care what you say about her.” Morgan questioned James’ lack of fundraising prowess as well as being withdrawn throughout the show. Married to actress Sandra Bullock, James has kept his personal life separate from the Celebrity Apprentice in stark contrast to other contestants. In the boardroom, Duke explained to Trump why she deserved to be in the final two: “I never lost as Project Manager. I think my last win was against what looked like insurmountable odds. I raised 30% of the money on a 16 man show. When my team lost, no one had a whisper of thought about bringing me into the boardroom.”
Trump questioned whether Roderick had reached the final four by virtue of riding Duke’s coattails. Duke gave her two cents: “She’s perfectly capable on her own. I was instrumental in the wins of my team.” However, Roderick was the first contestant fired from the boardroom, leaving Duke, James, and Rivers. Trump then turned his attention to James, questioning why he would save significant donors for the later stages of the show with no guarantee that they would ever be used. The lack of an effusive personality and being a poor fundraiser resulted in James being fired, setting up a showdown next Sunday in the Celebrity Apprentice Season 2 finale pitting Annie Duke against Joan Rivers.
The three hour live event kicks off at 8:00pm ET on NBC. Rivers admitted, “I am very unhappy at who I’m playing against because Annie is such a player. Her life is about playing. I will do what I have always done in the past: Put on blinders and do everything I can to win.” Duke countered, “I don’t think Joan Rivers is a nice person. I don’t think you can be a nice person and say the things she has about me and my friends. I’m now taking this personally.”
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