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Mr. Popularity

How would you like your entire life to be dissected and judged by a motley crew of 100 hard to impress, outspoken women? This summer, WE TV launches its all new competition show, Most Popular, which pits seven female contestants against just that. Six contestants are rudely ousted from the show at the audiences behest, and one triumphantly wins ten thousand dollars. Needless to say, things get gritty. We chatted with the games host, whacked-out British personality Graham Norton, about snap judgments, first impressions and being bitchy. Out: Being on this show would be a waking nightmare for most people: standing there, being judged by 100 stony-faced women. How would you do? Graham Norton: Well, its one of those weird things. Im a stand-up, so being judged is sort of my job. Whats interesting is that women are much more used to being judged, either by themselves or by others, than men are. When they leave the house, theyre so much more aware of the effect theyre having, with how they look and what theyre wearing. So in a way, it seems like they have an easier time being openly judged by an audience. Are the women in the audience chosen at random, or are they pre-screened to ensure they have the requisite amount of bitchiness? Hmm I dont think theyre screened, per se. I think producers look for a range of ages and backgrounds that will reflect on the people who ultimately watch the show. I can tell you that once the women are all seated and the show begins, they take it very, very seriously. Scary. Will there be a very special episode where the contestants get to rip the audience apart? Well, one of the things thats so great about this game is that its a straightforward popularity contest. However, I do think that every once in awhile well twist the format ever so slightly for one-offs. Who knows what will happen? In the two episodes Ive seen, the contestants seem to take their final judgments in stride. They each walk off the show gracefully, heads held high. But do they smash up the green room off-camera? Thankfully, after the interview, I never see them again! I dont want to pick up the pieces! But I mean, what happens when theyre off the air? Does an intern push them out the back door and into an alleyway? I dont enquire. Im sure that contestants occasionally feel hard-done by because occasionally, they are hard-done by. What is it you say to each contestant on her way out? Thanks for leaving. Right? Yes. Way bitchy. Were there other options? Be seeing ya? Actually, it was always, Thanks for leaving. Sadly, some of the women just up and go before I have the chance to say it. Have any of the contestants ever freaked out on the audience? No. Some of them will answer a question and you can just tell from the audience reaction that things arent going to end well for them but thats the extent of it, so far. Im sure afterwards they have some very strong opinions about the audience. And in your opinion, whats been the most brutal moment on the show so far? In one episode, theres a really interesting moment when a contestants daughter is brought out, and the daughter says, Mom -- you always put the men in your life before me. And it was a very powerful moment, because the mother was like, That is true! Thats what I love about the show: one moment youre laughing about how many shoes a contestant owns, and then suddenly, theres a genuinely cathartic moment. Yeah, the show will suddenly hit a prolonged B-flat when its time for contestants to reveal their lifes worst moments. We get drug addiction, rape, and deathbeds. Does it ever get too heavy? In a way, I dont think it actually can get too heavy. If thats the direction the show goes in, so be it. Usually nobody cries and the whole show is a laugh but sometimes, it ends up in a very dark place. Lets face it: when examining our lives, well see that weve all made mistakes and done things were not proud of. The audience ends up respecting a contestants honesty and vulnerability. So what would you say hosting the show has taught you about snap judgments and first impressions? The problem is, you simply cant learn anything by making snap judgments about people, but its just human nature to make them. Its like dogs licking each other. When you first meet someone, you cant help notice what theyre wearing, whether theyre looking you in the eye, how they smell its inevitable. That said, please make a snap judgment about me based on the interview Ive just conducted. I love you! Liar. Thanks for leaving. No! I really, really love you! Most Popular airs on Thursdays at 10:00 PM ET/PT on WE TV.Send a letter to the editor about this article.
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