Extreme TV: How Far Will The Giveaways Go?

The show that essentially gives away houses, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," will now start giving away cars.

Of course, you need to be deserving.

On other shows, like "Oprah Winfrey," you needed to be lucky -- sitting in the studio audience on a particular day. It was on a Winfrey show in September 2004 that she gave all 274 members of her audience new 2005 Pontiac G-6s.

At the time, and probably still today, Winfrey's move was the most bombastic, headline-grabbing promotion for branded entertainment deal anyone has thought up in a long time -- a big, dramatic, TV talk show moment.

Now Ford, in a somewhat more measured move, is giving away 50 new Ford Edges to deserving people on "Makeover," the king of the so-called wish-fulfillment shows.

Why stop there? Why not give away even bigger lifelong items -- businesses, vacation homes, girlfriends, boyfriends, husbands or wives?

There isn't much TV-watching Americans don't need. But long-lasting "wish-fulfillment" might be four years of college, a new job, schooling for their children, or better health. This list may not seem so practical, however, nor so glamorous.



The Ford deal with "Makeover," of course, won't have the surprise element that Oprah's deal did -- one that made newspaper headlines and lead stories on evening newscasts. Ford will dole out each set of wheels one at a time. Oprah surprised her studio audience with new vehicle, running around pointing and saying, "You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!"

If that wasn't enough, ABC is also giving away a fancy new home to store those Ford Edges, in something called "Extreme Garage Makeover."

One thing that'll continue: the teary-eyed endings of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

It isn't a normal life. Contestants compete with the saddest of stories to get this stuff, all while they sit at the bottom of the life pile. Then, in a video whisker, they skyrocket to the top. It's part of the American Dream to have a house and car -- and, oh yeah, all those surprising taxes that go with gifts.

It all makes for an extreme kind of life.

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