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SOLE ``Survivor'' Richard Hatch explained it succinctly in pleading for votes of the castaways he outmaneuvered: ``It's not about who the best person is but who played the game better.''

That sums up not only the key to winning ``Survivor,'' but the driving force behind the massive success of reality TV.

It's not about doing the right thing, it's about playing the game - pulling in viewers, with little regard to standards or decency.

If ``Survivor'' pushed the limits, the next installment in the reality TV craze promises to step right over them.

``Confessions,'' set to run on cable's Court TV next month, will air the actual testimony of murderers, rapists and other thugs, excluding only the most sordid details, if we can trust the taste and judgment of people who would exploit such material.

The first episode is scheduled to include a stroll down memory lane with a rapist, a murderous male prostitute and a killer who admits to dismembering and cooking his victim.

The entertainment, of course, comes at the expense of others' misery, including the victims and their families, who get to watch their tormentors become celebrities - an issue Los Angeles City Councilman Nate Holden has rightfully seized in condemning this demented effort to profit from other people's suffering.

Want to become famous? Just go commit some ghoulish crime, then blab about it on national TV.

Hollywood is home to many brilliant and creative minds. It can and should be able to do better than this.

Instead of reaching for better, programs like ``Confessions'' descend to a yet lower common denominator, inviting the rightful disgust of Joe Lieberman and other cultural critics.

Ultimately, Hollywood takes its cues from its audiences. ``Confessions'' won't survive one season if viewers tune it out.

Let's hope they vote the show off the broadcasting island.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Aug 25, 2000
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