ABC’s The Benefactor debuts tonight.

ABC’s The Benefactor debuts tonight.
ABC’s The Benefactor debuts tonight at 8 p.m. ET, as 16 people try to impress Mark Cuban so he’ll give them $1 million (of ABC’s money). Let’s get the obligatory Apprentice clone comment out of the way first: Mark Cuban tells the Star-Telegram that he’s not offended by the comparison/accusation, saying, “but I will respond with a question: Have they seen the show? Of course, they haven’t. And I couldn’t care less what Burnett or Trump say. I like the show. It’s entertaining, and I had a great time doing it.” On his blog, he also discusses the comparison, addressing Donald Trump directly: “At least you admitted that you hadn’t seen The Benefactor. But saying that it will fail. That’s a little much Donald, even from you.” He also says he “did it for the experience. I had a blast. I got to meet great people. I got to develop the tests for the game. And picking the winner to each test and the eventual overall winner was exciting and a challenge.” Reviews of the show are mixed but lean negative: The AP says the fun comes from “stepping inside the head of a quirky billionaire as he rolls out each high-stakes challenge and sizes up each contestant’s performance.” The New York Daily News calls the series an “obvious, inferior ‘Apprentice’ ripoff.” The Miami Herald’s review is pretty harsh, throwing in a Holocaust reference: Glenn Garvin writes that the series “rewards the willingness of people to submit to the totalitarian whims of an all-powerful control freak. It’s like a game-show version of a Nazi concentration camp.” The show repeats both Tuesday at 10 and Thursday at 9.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.