Open letter to Travel Channel: Green-light Civillico series


Jeff Civillico

Dearest, darling Travel Channel execs: Make a decision—the right one. Grant our own Jeff Civillico, afternoon-show headliner at the Quad, his TV show.

You aired his pilot, Vegas Strip Search, on April 6. You told me you’re still considering whether to send it to series, based on the ratings. Jeff told me: “The ratings were pretty standard for what it was, which was a Saturday afternoon [show] with no promotion. It didn’t move the needle one way or another. There’s talk about re-airing it at a different time. We’re waiting to hear final word.”

C’mon, can you get more made-for-TV than Jeff Civillico, ex-street performer-turned-veritable ninja juggler? You know what he does onstage, you discovered him there when he serendipitously (and unknowingly) selected one of your senior producers in the audience to help him with his unicycle bit.

Dude’s a dynamo with a cap-D. Might be quicker with a quip than he is juggling balls, clubs, marshmallows, knives, plungers, fruit and bowling balls—which is saying a bit. (My jaw still aches from watching him juggle a 10-foot ladder on his chin—youch!). Over 70 minutes, his audience is amazed and amused by his force-of-nature personality and Chiclet smile. So engaged is he with the crowd that it’s like he’s entertaining you in his living room. You saw that likability too, in the Vegas Strip Search pilot, in which he bounces around America (and Canada) searching for fellow specialty performers—who teach him their oddball skills as he attempts them with good humor—then chooses one to open for him, providing their Big Vegas Break. Hanging out with a Canadian fire-eater, a Pennsylvania chainsaw carver, a New Jersey pogo-sticker and a Texas bullwhip-snapper (his eventual choice)? Funny and fun.

Wouldn’t you like more? Course you would.

True, our town provides TV a handful of headliners already—Brad Garrett on ABC’s How to Live With Your Parents, Penn Jillette on NBC’s Celebrity Apprentice, Louie Anderson on ABC’s Splash—but they were already big-timers outside Vegas. Why recycle stars when you can make one of your own? Take a talent now known mostly in our neon ’burb and give him a shove into the national spotlight.

Travel Channel, Star-Maker. Huh, huh—whaddaya think?

We know you’ve got another Vegas-pegged show—All Forked Up, a foodie entry featuring two of our quirky culinary critics, Al Mancini and John Curtas—ready to taxi onto the Travel Channel runway. Not till 2014, though, or so you told me.

Here and now, Jeff Civillico is your breakout guy—assuming you’re smart enough to break him out.

STRIP POSTSCRIPT: Best help-wanted ad of the month comes courtesy of gonzo impresario Sirc Michaels, producer of Planet Hollywood’s Evil Dead the Musical 4D who solicited interns with this missive: “You’ll do awesome things like spray blood, learn the fine art of blood craftsmanship [and] lug demon-possessed animal heads around the venue.” No word on whether interns also must bring Michaels coffee, but FYI, kids: He takes it with cream, two sugars, a pinch of cyanide and a sprig of spider venom.

Don’t forget his strawberry Danish.

What are your favorite afternoon shows to see when you play hooky from work? Tell us in the comments.

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