As an L.A. transplant who grew up in a part of Florida where the most famous person you can hope to run into is Vanilla Ice (Daytona Beach, hotel elevator, 1999-ish — nothing weird happened) I've appreciated this city's cool-dude attitude about being in frequent close proximity to famous people. At best, an FP sighting is something to post about on social media as you would an especially good sandwich. At worst, it amounts to another asshole clouting his way into being seated before you at a restaurant on a busy Saturday night.
The new TMZ game show South of Wilshire, which premiered Jan. 4, takes a decidedly less cool-dude approach. Which I suppose makes sense considering it's a TMZ product hosted by a paparazzo — sorry … field journalist — named Adam Glyn. The show is set inside Dulan's on Crenshaw, a soul food restaurant in the Hyde Park neighborhood, where a panel of three contestants watches footage of Glyn visiting various local businesses and asking their owners and employees to hint at a famous person or people who've been patrons. Back at Dulan's, contestants venture sometimes hilariously off-base guesses for money.
Besides being an egregious breach of the unspoken nondisclosure agreement between famous people and the regular people they're forced to come into contact with on a daily basis — who cares? Did you know that Kerry Washington has had her car washed at Handy J in Culver City? Or that Barbra Streisand has had her floor-covering needs attended to by the folks at Rug Ideas in Pico-Robertson? Do you feel better now that you know?
The show's conceit is that these are worthwhile bits of information because the run-ins took place “south of Wilshire.” In 2013, the L.A. Times published a really great multimedia piece about Wilshire Boulevard and its position as one of the city's main thoroughfares — its “Main Street,” even. The boulevard stretches from downtown to the Pacific and changes dramatically along the way. Be that as it may, it doesn't really serve as a dividing line between one half of the city and the other. The show seems to be using the phrase as shorthand for everywhere you don't usually see TMZ paparazzi haranguing celebrities. Glyn briefly explains, “It's not Beverly Hills, it's not Hollywood … south of Wilshire is cooler.” Technically, a decent chunk of Beverly Hills is south of Wilshire — maybe it's a less ritzy chunk, but let's not act as if it's a different planet. Watching, I got the feeling they wanted to call the show Below the 10 and focus on South Central but someone copped out and the boundaries were broadened for one reason or another (probably because filling an eight-week season necessitated including places like Koreatown and Pico-Robertson).
But c'mon, boring lady, is the show fun? Sometimes. During the game's final round, a voice-disguised celebrity describes him- or herself in pretty great detail. When Stacey Dash described herself as a mother of two who starred in one of the biggest teen movies ever alongside Ant Man and the chick from the Aerosmith videos, one of the contestants guessed Kobe Bryant and we all had a laugh at her expense.
The celeb voicing in the previous episode's final round actually almost managed to stump me — it was Vanilla Ice.
South of Wilshire, My13 (KCOP-TV); daily at 5:30 p.m.