Next, On <i>Convention</i>

Everybody complains about made-for-TV political conventions, but nobody does anything about them. Eric Engberg listens in on two visionaries who want to turn bad TV into good TV.

Stop the presses! Back-room machinations at political conventions are alive and well and we can prove it. Reality Check has obtained secretly recorded snippets of a conversation between a mega-top Hollywood-New York mogul and the slickest behind-the-scenes operative in Republican politics today. The location of the conversation cannot be revealed.

GOP: Agreed. The conventions are a serious problem. They're bad business, bad politics, bad TV. But here's the thing - this is a fixable problem.

MOGUL: Bingo! Exactly! We're talking about turning a cash cow into a god damned dairy. These conventions can be a serious, serious moneymaker for all involved and we're blowing it, completely blowing it….

GOP: Okay, talk to me.

MOGUL: Fine. We got three concepts, all very do-able. But you got to tell me this, are you guys willing to scrap the whole primary deal or just the conventions?

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GOP: Do you have any idea what losing primaries would do to cash flow? Not on the table.

MOGUL: Fine. Okay, three Concepts, one Big Picture. The Big Picture is this: You turn the vice president picking over to the conventions and their TV and Internet audiences. You can do it three ways. Number One: Survivor style. Your nominee picks 10 potential VP's. We isolate for them four days, with camera crews, in a Green Room at the actual convention. Every eight hours, they have an election and boot one guy out, tribal council-style.

The only time they leave the room is for contests where they can win immunity from being kicked out on the next vote. Like the guy who gets the most applause for a foreign policy speech wins. Or the guy who pulls off the best head-on, straight to the camera 30-second commercial in one take. You get the idea. Last one wins.

GOP: Yeah, I got it.

MOGUL: If you're smart, you get three good-looking 18-35 white girls, one female of color, one male of color - both in their forties - one guy over 68, three class VP types, and a gay guy. I got the demographics if you want to see...

GOP: No, no, I get the idea. Gimme the next one.

MOGUL: Alright, fine. Concept two - Big Brother. Need I say more? Very clean, very straightforward. The nominee picks 10 guys and we put tem in a mock White House with cameras everywhere for the whole convention. Big screens of all the angles, wall-to-wall at the convention, 24/7. Every 10 hours, one guy gets voted out. Your convention delegates get two votes, audience people get a vote and they can do it by phone, Internet, PDA, whatever the hell gizmo is cool in four years.

GOP: I like that.

MOGUL: It's beautiful, right?

GOP: It's an idea. Listen, 30 years ago you guys were pitching Laugh-In and Hollywood Squares as the gimmicks.

MOGUL: Hey, I don't like that word, back off.

GOP: Sorry. Next concept.

MOGUL: Very basic, it's the Millionaire thing. Same ten guys, answer questions, funny emcee, help line. I'm not pushing it, but one of the families, er, companies is very high on it.

GOP: I hate it. Here's what I like: Big Brother with contests. See what I mean?

MOGUL: We can make that work….