in the spotlight: The call of fate
Published: September 19, 2012 (Issue # 1727)
This month, NTV launched aánew reality show, ôThe Call ofáFate,ö where sleazy ômodel producerö Pyotr Listerman helps aámillionaire choose fromáa harem ofáyoung women.
Theáidea ofáthe show is close toáthat ofáthe U.S show ôThe Bachelor,ö where women compete foráthe affections ofáa man who has been deemed highly eligible. But NTV takes away any semblance ofáromance or gloss byápicking Listerman as aájudge.
Itĺs hard toásay exactly what Listerman does. He calls himself aámodel producer but says openly that he runs anáescort agency where beautiful women meet rich men foráa night or even foráarranged marriage. Naturally we only hear his side andáhe is aácanny self-publicist. So it is not clear whether he really moves ináthe high places that he claims.
Listerman last did aátelevision show like this iná2007, but he hasnĺt changed aábit: He still has theásame little round glasses, black leather jacket andáshaved head.
Theáshow is called ôThe Call ofáFateö because, theáchannel claimed, Listerman needs toámake just one phone call toáfix up theáwinner with theámillionaire. ôAll theábest marriages ináthe world, I make them,ö he said ináthe trailer. Andápresumably theáChurch ofáScientology has him onáspeed-dial.
ôListerman appearing onáNTV is aásymptomatic situation. Although you would have thought, how much further could they go?ö said television critic Arina Borodina onáKommersant FM radio.
Ksenia Larina ofáEcho Moskvy called theálate-night show ôpornography ofáthe soul.ö
NTV has resolutely turned its back onáany liberal opposition-minded viewers andáis even having fun with its pariah status. It invited aáverbally challenged Kremlin youth group member, ôSveta fromáIvanovo,ö toápresent aáshow after aáYouTube video ofáher spouting nonsense about United Russia became aáhit. Last week its cameramen accompanied Orthodox activists who interrupted aádiscussion about Pussy Riot atáTeatr.doc byáshouting about blasphemy.
Ináa recent show, theátoothy millionaire Vladimir Bulankov romanced some ofáthe women over dinner before taking them all toáa gym andáwatching them fight each other ináa boxing ring.
Looking up Bulankov, I found that he is known as aáôsocial lionö ináKiev, where he is aábusinessman. Bizarrely, theáshow features Russian women but probably toásave money is actually filmed ináKiev, as could be seen fromáthe name ofáthe gym.
Bulankov wore pink suede moccasins andácomplained toáListerman about theácheap plastic-packed lunches theáwomen were being served inátheir house. Not because they looked disgusting, though. ôI think ináthree days theyĺve already put onáweight,ö he fretted.
Ináa later episode, apparently, he watched theáwomen parade inátheir swimsuits before weighing each one.
Theáwomen, who are nearly all slim with long hair andáin their late teens or early 20s, spent most ofáthe episode I watched complaining. With some justification: They even had toáshare beds ináthe low-budget house. Listerman popped inánow andáthen toáswear atáthe women (bleeped out) andátell them: ôI am always right, I am God.ö
Yana fromáSimferopol was sent packing after Bulankov did not like her attempt toáwow him with erotic dancing, which he called ôvulgar.ö
But theámain event was theáboxing ring, where theáwomen had toáfight each other. Listerman described it as aákind ofátherapy where they could vent their ôinternal wars with each other.ö
ôOnly until theáfirst blood,ö he reassured theáwomen.
Theáwinner was theáscariest woman, Yulia, 22, fromáNadym ináthe remote far north. She got aálittle too enthusiastic with her fists andáthe other woman, aáblonde, burst intoátears andágot aácomforting hug fromáBulankov, so it was not clear who had actually won.