Feathered Bastard

Joe Arpaio's New Reality Show: Smile, We're Flushing Your Tax Dollars Down the Toilet

Just a few of the undercover deputies used on "Smile...You're Under Arrest!"

L.A. publicists are wonderful folks. As I blogged a while back, a PR flack for the firm 5W PR contacted me in November and hooked me up with an interview with The Dirty's Nik Richie, a.k.a., Hooman Karamian, a.k.a., Corbin Grimes. In it, I got to ask Richie/Karamian/Grimes some questions he doesn't commonly get asked, at least till the PR chick pulled the plug on me.

More recently, one Lisa Bustamante, a publicist for La-la Land's mPRm, hit me up, asking if I was interested in writing something about Sheriff Joe's lame-ass new show for the Fox Reality Channel, Smile...You're Under Arrest!, wherein penny-ante criminals with outstanding warrants are suckered by elaborate stings.

For example, in the episode they sent me, the producers set up a fake club at Scottsdale's Myst where they invite outstanding warrant-holders to participate in a fashion shoot for "Average Guy Clothing." Then they arrest them, after spending a lot of time punking each one, getting them to dress up in the street fashions and say stupid things to the camera, like, "This year, stripes are in," or "I couldn't get arrested in this town until I wore Average Guy Clothes."

Two more MCSO: These guys look like they stepped right off the set of Reno 911.

According to Bustamante, there have only been three episodes shot so far, each using other scenarios, obviously. The first one's set to premiere in the ass-end of the year, on December 27. Bustamante also told me there were no sponsors signed up yet. In other words, this show sounds like a loser right out of the gate. I asked her to send me a media kit, though I figured I'd just square-file it, until she wondered if I'd be up for interviewing Sheriff Joe.  

Why, I told her, I'd love to interview Sheriff Joe. Bustamante was apparently unaware of the contentious relationship New Times has with the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. Crikey, they don't even allow New Times reporters to attend their press conferences, though we have managed to sneak in occasionally. And I have been able to lob questions at our corrupt top cop by catching him at book signings and such.

To be honest, I'm more than a little tired of the guy, post-election, as I'm sure most of you are. But I thought if by some miracle the PR lady was able to arrange a sit down, I could hit Joe with a few jail-based reality series ideas of my own, like, Smile...You've Just Been Beaten to Death by a Member of the Aryan Brotherhood, as happened to MCSO inmate Robert Cotton recently, or, Smile...You've Just Been Asphyxiated by MCSO Guards (Allegedly), inspired by the jailhouse death of Juan Mendoza Farias.

Other pitches I wanted to make were, Smile...We're Going to Charge You for This Rancid Food We're Going to Make You Eat, or, Smile...You Just Lost Your Unborn Child Because of Crappy Medical Care While in Joe's Jails. Or even, Smile...You Were Just Bitten By a Poisonous Spider in Tent City. The last happened to a friend of mine, who almost ended up losing his arm because of an untreated arachnid bite while he was doing his DUI time.

But, alas, it was not to be. After several e-mails nailing down what day and time would be best for my in-person interview with ol' Joe, Bustamante got back to me with the sad message, "Unfortunately, his office has passed on your interview request." When I asked for a reason, she said his office gave none. B-b-but, I already had the suit I was gonna wear picked out and everything! Bummer, dude...

I did, however, get a preview DVD of the show with the press kit, and I can tell you that it sucks like a toothless $3 hooker on Van Buren. (Um, not that I'd know, of course.) A couple of things struck me about the episode. First, how slow Joe is speaking. Sounds like the guy's one step away from stroke-city. Second, how many undercover deputies they had on this assignment. I've put in a public records request asking for the details. I'd guestimate there were anywhere from a dozen to two dozen officers identified in the episode all told.

Talk about a waste of resources. Did they really need this many deputies? Were they paid overtime? And did they pick up any checks from Fox for being on the show? What was really funny was some of the retarded stuff Dave Sheridan, the lead actor playing the fashion designer/host, says on camera.

"It doesn't matter what the crime is," Sheridan says at one point of the arrestees, most of whom were no-shows to court on DUIs and drug possession counts. "[They] didn't show up to court, and a warrant was issued. They're wasting taxpayer dollars with this cat and mouse game."

Later, Sheridan pops off again with another winner: "The bottom line is Arizonans can sleep better tonight. We just saved them a fortune!"

Sure, Sparky. Next, you'll be telling us MCSO honcho David Hendershott's air biscuits smell like roses. There are 40,000 felony warrants outstanding in the county, crime is up in the unincorporated areas, and the deputies our tax monies pay for are busy playing footsie with Hollywood phonies. All so Sheriff Joe can get his pale, wrinkled mug on cable TV. No wonder Joe didn't want to talk about this clown parade with me. Considering our county-wide budget crunch, this waste of time and resources has zero good excuses.   

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons