Graham Hays
Special to Page 3

Reality is the fad that just won't die. All right, so there is less and less about television's favorite programming that is actually real, but that's how we like our reality these days. Take the Super Bowl. At its core, it's the ultimate reality show: two teams on a football field and one title up for grabs.

But where is the fun in that?

The Super Bowl is more than a football game. From the commercials, halftime show and celebrity sightings to the parties and festivities at homes across the country, it's an expression of popular culture. The same culture that embraces "reality" culture. So why not accept the inevitable and mix the two?

Simon Cowell
What would Simon Cowell and his two "American Idol" sidekicks have said about Beyonce's National Anthem?
American Idol - National Anthem Simon Cowell: "I've got to admit that was a good effort, Beyonce. After listening the genuine drivel you put out with Destiny's Child, I thought these folks would have Maurice Cheeks walk you out there, instead of the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But you actually managed to hit the high notes without bring down those helicopters in the fly-over. To be perfectly honest, that was the best version of your folks' anthem - or as I like to call it, "God Save the Big Mac" - I've heard since Whitney Houston. Now all you need is Bobby Brown or Ike Turner."

Survivor - Coin Flip Playing the role of Jeff Probst, Ed Hochuli explains the challenge to the two tribes. After fighting Houston traffic to find tile pieces and assembling them in the correct manner so as to form the Super Bowl XXXVIII logo at midfield, the winning team will get a chance at calling the coin flip. The Panthers pull it out when Tom Brady forgets where the "V" goes. Rodney Peete appears concerned as Brentson Buckner calls tails, having thought the alliance he formed with Buckner, Mike Minter and Karl Hankston had agreed to call heads. Peete realizes it was probably a mistake to try and double-cross Buckner by forming an alliance with weak links John Kasay and Todd Sauerbrun. Luckily, the Panthers win the toss and are spared a trip to tribal council.

The Patriots promptly vote off Bill Simmons.

Punk'd - Vinatieri's first half Bill Belichick never saw it coming. After stuffing the Panthers' opening drive and getting a great punt return from Troy Brown, the Patriots have a chance to put three points on the board with a 36-yard chip shot from playoff legend Adam Vinatieri. Sitting in the control truck outside the stadium, Ashton Kutcher signals Hochuli to call delay of game on the defense, sniggering at the unlikely penalty. Unaware that Dax Shepard has replaced Vinatieri in the huddle, Belichick watches in disbelief as his kicker shanks the now 31-yard attempt. Still unsuspecting, Belichick watches as Vinatieri's second field goal in blocked by Shane Burton - despite the lineman displaying a vertical not seen in Houston since Chuck Nevitt's final game with the Rockets. Cameras fail to catch Belichick's amusement when Kutcher strolls up to the coach on the sideline and points out the hidden cameras. Thankfully, the prank ends in time to get Vinatieri on the field in the fourth quarter.

Real World: Houston In their plush sideline digs at Reliant Stadium, the eight strangers picked to play together on Carolina's defense come together for a house meeting. Resentment has been building towards Kris, the defensive lineman from Maryland who hasn't seemed to grasp snap counts at the group's new job. Kris snaps back at the clique forming among the defensive backs, claiming it would be much easier if he didn't have to worry about getting to Tom Brady in the two seconds it was taking Deion Branch and Troy Brown to get open. After calling each other lazy, racists, sluts and drunks, the group agrees to try and understand their diverse heritages and perspectives by going out for tequila shots after the game.

American Idol - Singing NFL players Simon Cowell: Look, I know you only wanted me for the anthem, but I can't sit idly by while NFL players butcher musicals. Take your space aliens, your gaseous equines and your dueling septuagenarians, but leave quality music out of the onslaught of advertising excess. The dogs from the Budweiser commercials are calling, and they'd like you to keep the noise down. As for Warren Sapp, I haven't seen someone miss that many notes since Mrs. Fletcher, my third-grade teacher who had a glass eye. And Terrell? Someone stick a Sharpie in my ear, please. Where is George Teague when you really need him? That was awful, absolutely awful. I'd tell you all to keep your day jobs, but judging from how Al Harris and Mike McKenzie played against Seattle, that wouldn't mean much.

Vinatieri celebration
Adam Vinatieri... is that really you? Did we just get "Punk'd"?
And don't even get me started on Kid Rock at halftime.

Fear Factor - Ken Walters Hoping to get some publicity and lure viewers away for their halftime 'Fear Factor: Models,' NBC sends host Joe Rogan into the stands in Houston for a special first half show. Three Patriots fans compete for big money in a challenge designed to prey on their worst nightmares. The three must watch every second of every Ken Walters punt, without looking away, yelling obscenities or in any way seeking to physically harm the New England punter. But after Walters booms another 25-yard punt with the kind of backspin that would make Tiger drool, the contestants beg for a reprieve and gratefully consume the contents of Bill Romanowski's mystery jar. Luckily, all three signed waivers, making them the only people in New England whose names appear on waivers before Walters.

The Apprentice: John Fox Project leaders John Fox and Bill Belichick square off in an effort to wheel and deal their way to the top of the Super Bowl heap. Carolina's early efforts are stymied by a lack of productivity from Jake Delhomme, who was assigned to lead the offense despite barely surviving the boardroom after a rough performance in the earlier NFC Championship challenge. But just as momentum is building in the second half, Fox makes a decision to go for a two-point conversion with time left on the clock. The move backfires and Belichick's team takes victory for yet another week, gallivanting off to one of Donald Trump's estates. Disconsolate, Fox chooses to bring John Kasay and Stephen Davis with him to the boardroom, where Trump will decide who gets fired. Kasay turns on Fox in the meeting, telling Trump even the kickers knew it was a dumb call to go for two and that Fox failed to show proper leadership.

After discussing the decision with his minions, Trump berates Fox for reckless decision-making but praises him for showing gutsy initiative. And as Kasay fumes, Trump fires the kicker for shanking his late kick-off out of bounds.