Unearned Parting Gifts

Since when does being a member of a studio audience entitle one to be showered with gifts?

Shows all over the dial, from "The View" to "Dr. Phil" to "Ellen," are treating their audiences like they're all Queens for a Day.

It's gotten out of hand, all the gift-giving. It started several years ago with every member of the audience getting a copy of whatever book or DVD was being hawked that day.

Then it morphed, to where we are now, where audiences leave with so much loot that they'll need to hire another tax guy.

It's not just books and DVDs anymore; audiences are now receiving small appliances, electronic gadgets, and even all-expenses paid trips.

To which, of course, are met with screams and wildness, which I can also do without.

And here's the rub---audiences for talk shows don't pay admission. Not one penny. Yet they leave like thieves.

Tickets are always free, and used to be gobbled up by tourists and vacationers, because the shows are typically taped in glitzy places like New York and Hollywood. Sometimes, those folks were simply happy to be in some air conditioning, away from the summer's heat.

Now, I get the feeling audiences deliberately travel to studios expecting to be lavished with gifts.

Who can blame them?

I find this offensive because: a) I'm never going to be in a studio audience, barring something incredibly unforeseen, so therefore I'm jealous; and b) why does putting your fanny in a seat for free entitle you to spoils?

"What do I get? What do i get?"

Of course, most of these giveaways are simply part of a marketing plan, which places DVDs and books and such in the hands of people who might not have purchased them otherwise.

I get that.

But what's with the trips and the gadgets and the other niceties?

Then I think of the poor souls who appear on game shows like "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" who actually have to DO something to earn their wares, like work their brains off.

Meanwhile, Jane Doe gets a brand new iPhone and a trip to Las Vegas, simply for walking into the studio and sitting down.

Just doesn't seem right.

Yeah, I'm jealous. And also perplexed.


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