Monthly Archives: August 2007

Ox Notes: August 22, 2007

Donald Trump isn’t the most reliable source for information, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise: Jeff Gordon’s spokesperson said that the race car driver hasn’t committed to being on Trump’s celebrity edition of The Apprentice. Now let’s see how many more people from the list I posted yesterday make similar announcements.

Cheryl Burke is looking forward to getting an "open-minded" partner for this season of Dancing with the Stars. And DwtS alum Willa Ford is looking forward to marrying Dallas Stars center Mike Modano on Saturday.

Two other DwtS alums, Joey Fatone and Lisa Rinna, are the TV Guide Channel’s official hosts for all red carpet events, including the September 16 Emmy telecast.

Before the new season begins, the cast of Heroes is going on a world tour, with stops at fan events in Munich, Paris, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, New York, and Toronto.

Finally, Reality Blurred has been following accusations that the upcoming CBS show Kid Nation violated a number of child labor laws and put the kids in danger during filming. At least one girl suffered burns from a grease fire, while several other children mistakenly drank bleach.

What could be more damaging for the show are the child labor allegations. CBS reportedly chose to film in New Mexico, where laws governing child actors aren’t as specific as they are in California or New York. And when labor officials showed up on set to investigate, the investigators were turned away.

I’m curious as to whether someone could get a judge to block the show from going to air until it’s determined whether CBS violated child labor laws. But if child labor concerns aren’t enough to change Americans’ shopping habits (who do you think makes all that imported Chinese stuff sold at Wal-Mart?), I doubt the accusations against CBS will keep viewers from tuning in.

Update: CBS issued a statement today, blaming the mother of the girl who was burned for stirring up controversy and disputing the claims of the New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions and the Attorney General’s office about the network’s contact with those offices. Even if the claims against CBS are unfounded, it’s crummy when a multimillion dollar corporation acts as if it’s being victimized by the mother of a young girl whose face was burned while she was in the care of CBS.

Pirate Master: Episode 13

With a sudden upsurge in the amount of airtime given to Louie, it wasn’t hard to guess who would be eliminated from the latest episode of Pirate Master.

Captain Christa and Jay made up this week’s Black Crew, vying for treasure against Ben and Louie. To make sure that Christa stayed in power, Ben was told to throw the challenge — which he did, without Louie ever suspecting a thing.

The captain claimed another $40,000 in treasure. Christa and Jay split $23,000, giving Ben $12,000 for his troubles and Louie $5,000 for being such a good dupe. Louie was so effusive in his thanks for the gold that Jay and Christa almost felt guilty.

Christa was left with probably the most difficult decision any captain has had to make. As in past weeks, she still had to assign two Black Spots. That meant leaving one pirate with the power to eliminate one of the Black Spotted pirates or mutiny against her.

She didn’t trust Ben, so it was all but assured that he’d get a Black Spot. Louie, while being completely trustworthy, wasn’t part of her original alliance.

That left Jay. On some level, Christa knew that Jay would just as soon mutiny against her if he thought it would put him in a better position to win. But she chose to rely on her friendship with him and the bond they shared as the only parents on the ship, and she gave Jay the power to determine everyone’s fates.

At Pirates Court, in a fit of guilt, Ben told Louie that he’d thrown the challenge the day before. Louie was so stunned that he couldn’t even speak.

Even if Ben made his declaration just to make himself feel better, it was a superb way to make sure he didn’t get voted off. How could Jay and Christa bear to look Louie in the eye knowing they’d convinced Ben to throw the challenge, and then sat there as Louie nearly wept with joy over being given a measly $5,000?

Jay gave a speech about how nobody — not even the captain — should trust him, but then he voted to give Louie the boot anyway. Thanks to footage of Louie standing in front of a rainbow and waxing nostalgic about his pirate life earlier in the show, I had a feeling that he was the one going home.

Next week on the Pirate Master finale, Jay, Ben, and Christa compete for the remaining $500,000 prize, and it looks like the ghosts of pirates past return to pass judgment. Of the final three, Ben’s been the best in challenges, and he probably has the fewest enemies of the eliminated pirates. If he doesn’t win, he’s an idiot.

Ox Notes: August 21, 2007

Every day, it becomes more apparent that Donald Trump’s celebrity edition of The Apprentice is really happening. He announced yesterday some of the celebrities who’ve already signed on to the show: Jim Cramer, Carmen Electra, Joan Rivers, Naomi Judd, George Foreman, Kimora Lee Simmons, Pete Rose, Dana Patrick, Tony Hawk, Jeff Gordon, and Trump’s own creation, Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth. I’m not sure if "Dana Patrick" was a misprint of Dan Patrick or Danica Patrick, though.

In more reality show casting news, three more names have surfaced as possible candidates for Dancing with the Stars 5: Richard Quest, Nia Peeples, and Patrick Swayze. ABC hasn’t announced when it will reveal the final cast, but TV spots the network is running for the show are available at ABC’s website.

TV Guide has an interview with Kristen Bell following the announcement that she’ll be joining the cast of Heroes — a gig which may have come about as she was riding the train with Hiro and Syler.

The TV mag also has an interview with Kenneth Branagh ahead of tonight’s HBO premiere of his updated version of Shakespeare’s As You Like It.

And if you’re a dominatrix or a rapper, Trading Spaces wants you. TLC is trying to branch out beyond neighbors in an effort to revive its flagging decorating staple. The casting notice also called for vegetarians, and I think I can speak on behalf of my people when I say that we don’t really have a uniform design aesthetic to which we subscribe. Just don’t decorate our homes with a meat motif, and we’ll be okay.

Ox Notes: August 20, 2007

High School Musical 2 premiered to the largest basic cable audience ever on Friday night — 17.2 million viewers. While Monique Coleman wasn’t able to win Dancing with the Stars 3, I’d bet that any of her HSM castmates could walk away with DwtS 5 — unless another rumored contestant, Lou Ferrigno, turns out to be much more nimble than he appears.

DwtS Musical Director Harold Wheeler calculated that, in four seasons, the house band has played 411 songs. I’m going to have no sympathy for the Season 5 celebrities when they start complaining about having to learn two routines each week.

Hooray! Veronica Mars’ Kristen Bell has been given a multiepisode story arc on Heroes.

Casting for Rob Mariano’s show Tontine isn’t going well. He got caught on tape punching a heckler in the head at the show’s San Diego casting call.

Finally, the cast for Survivor: China has been announced, and Jeff Probst gave his take on each of the contestants to TV Guide. The Fei Long (Flying Dragon) Tribe includes James the grave digger, while the Zhan Hu (Fighting Tiger) Tribe has its very own diva — WWE Smackdown Diva, Ashley Massaro.

Ox Notes: August 17, 2007

Dancing with the Stars scoop: the professional dancers will meet their Season 5 celebrity partners on August 25. As for which pros will be returning, manly chested Nick Kosovich is out, and Cheryl Burke and Maksim Chmerkovskiy are in.

TV Guide has a backstage report from the So You Think You Can Dance finale. Nigel Lythgoe says Sabra winning was important because "it shows that you don’t have to begin dancing at 3 or 4 years of age. She’s got to be an inspiration for anyone who’s even contemplating dancing."

That crabby diner at The Garage on Wednesday’s Top Chef was Madonna’s brother, Christopher Ciccone.

Jerry Springer will host the U.K. version of Fox’s icky lie detector reality show Nothing but the Truth.

Uhura and Sulu are back together again on Heroes. Nichelle Nichols plays a part in the new season’s fourth episode, and says that when she announced the news at a recent Star Trek convention, "the entire room went insane. I felt like I was Oprah giving out cars!"

In related Heroes news, Ali Larter talked with TV Guide about her new movie, Marigold, which opens this weekend. Larter plays a B-movie actress who’s forced to take a role in a Bollywood movie to make ends meet. TV Guide’s Matt Webb Mitovich describes the film as "a primer for Bollywood movies," and Larter stars opposite the bad boy of Indian cinema, Salman Khan.

I’m excited to see Marigold just because I appreciate any movie that can introduce more people to the Bollywood genre. This weekend, I’m planning to see Chak de India, which stars my favorite actor, Shah Rukh Khan (if you live in the Chicago area, it’s showing at the AMC Cantera 30 in Warrenville).

If you’re interested in a couple of Bollywood started films, head to your local Indian grocer and rent the ridiculously fun Jhoom Barabar Jhoom or the slightly more dramatic Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. Both take place in London, and both feature incredible dance sequences.

SYTYCD 3 Finale Results

If you saw only one episode of So You Think You Can Dance all season, this was the one to watch. The dancers reprised over a dozen of the season’s best performances. And, on top of that, we got to see who was crowned America’s Favorite Dancer. And the winner is…

Sabra!

The show started with a group performance by the Top 20 dancers: a reprise of Tyce DiOrio’s Lion King routine, originally performed on the Top 16 results show.

Then, all of the judges and choreographers were asked to pick one couple’s routine that they’d like to see again. Mary Murphy went first and nominated Lauren & Pasha’s Hip-Hop from Top 10 Week. After the pair performed, Cat had the audience give Lauren & Pasha the ovation they didn’t get when they were kicked off in an empty studio on the previous results show.

Two dancers who stood out at the auditions, but who didn’t make it into the Top 20, were brought back for special performances. Brandon Norris from the Atlanta audition was up first, clogging to "The Way I Are" by Timbaland. The second dancer would perform later in the show.

Nigel Lythgoe’s Nomination: Wade Robson’s hummingbird routine by Jamie & Hok from Top 16 Week.

Jean-Marc Genereux’s Nomination: Sabra & Dominic’s slow Hip-Hop routine from Top 14 Week.

Adam Shankman’s Nomination: Sara & Neil’s Disco from Top 10 Week.

After a clip package of breakdancers’ auditions, Brian Gaynor (like Norris, a non-finalist from the Atlanta audition) danced to Christina Aguilera’s "Ain’t No Other Man." His brilliant robot got a standing ovation from the judges, and Shane promised to try getting Gaynor a part as a dancer in the movie Back Down.

That special performance was followed by a reprise of Shane Sparks’ Top 8 Matrix-inspired group routine, which will be a part of the SYTYCD tour. Nigel announced that the tour alternates are Jesus, Anya, Shauna, and Hok — which means that the hummingbird routine will probably be a part of the tour.

Wade Robson’s Nomination: Lacey & Danny’s Samba from Top 10 Week.

As soon as they finished, Cat Deeley joined them onstage and said that one of them was about to be eliminated. Lacey was out, and she said she wasn’t surprised. Ever the professional, Lacey cried but managed to keep a smile on her face.

Musical guest Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls) followed the evening’s first cut with a solo performance.

Shane Sparks’s Nomination: Sara & Pasha’s West Coast Swing from Top 14 Week.

Tyce DiOrio’s Nomination: Anya & Danny’s Fox Trot from Top 12 Week.

Tony Meredith’s Nomination: Sara & Jesus’s Pop Jazz vagabond routine from Top 20 Week.

Mia Michaels’ Nomination: Sabra & Neil’s "eighties jazz power lunch" from Top 6 Week.

Once again, Cat came onstage wielding a card with the name of next dancer to get cut. Neil was told he was not America’s favorite dancer, and from the grin on his face as he waited for Cat to read the card, it looked like he’d been expecting to go.

That left Danny and Sabra to vie for the big prize.

But first, it was time for Mia Michaels’ Top 10 contemporary group dance.

Mary Murphy introduced a special performance by Cat & Nigel that Cat had been hyping all night. It was just a dumb animation with pictures of Cat & Nigel’s heads on bodies dancing the Paso Doble — not them actually dancing. For all of the hype, the actual event was very disappointing.

Then Ryan Cabrera performed the song all of the dancers have been kicked off to this season: "I Will Remember You." You may remember me, Ryan, but I’m hoping to forget that ugly-ass hat you wore.

Dan Karaty’s had the final judge’s nomination of the evening: the contemporary "flower" routine Mia Michaels choreographed for her dad, danced by Lacey & Neil during Top 8 Week.

Finally, it was time for the big announcement…

Cat told Sabra she’d won, and confetti fell, obscuring the dancers onstage. As the credits rolled, Sabra could be heard chanting, "Oh my god, oh my god."

It was a fitting end to an entertaining season that was all about growth. Though I couldn’t help but notice that Sara was nominated for more judges’ choice performances than any other dancer. I wonder if those judges would’ve picked her to win, had the audience not intervened.

Ox Notes: August 16, 2007

Big shocker: Bachelor Andy and his chosen girl Tessa called off their engagement.

Jerry Bruckheimer, producer of The Amazing Race and National Treasure, is creating a drama about — what else? — treasure hunters.

Dateline: To Catch a Predator, which is being sued by the family of an alleged predator who killed himself when NBC’s camera crew showed up at his house, is going to be the focus of a special investigation by ABC’s 20/20.

Finally, I confess to being a Real World junkie. And so far The Real World: Sydney is great, thanks largely to Fresno, CA, native Trisha. MTV cast Trisha to be the loathsome mean girl who stirs up trouble in the house, and she’s living up to the role in spectacular fashion.

Trisha’s unable to concern herself with anything but herself and the grand drama that is her life. Last night, Trisha sent an email to her American boyfriend (in which she told him how he was forcing her to date Aussie men, because he hadn’t contacted her every single day). She then decided to park herself in front of the house computer until he responded. When a roommate asked to use the computer to look up an address, Trisha immediately snapped, "Get a personality!"

What makes this season special is that all of the roommates are calling Trisha on it when she acts terribly. In last night’s episode, southern boy Cohutta told her that he didn’t understand how she could hold hands with some Aussie guy when she’s got a boyfriend back home.

And then there was this great exchange between Trisha and roomie Isaac:

Trisha: "Do you hate me?"

Isaac: "I don’t hate you."

Trisha: "Do you like me as a person?"

Isaac: "Uh…I don’t know yet."

Trisha: [Bug-eyed reaction shot]

For Trisha in a nutshell, watch the third segment of episode 3.

But Trisha doesn’t limit herself to picking on her roommates; she’s managed to offend the entire Asian Australian community. In the show’s second episode, she described to her roommates her futile attempt to get a sample of a McFlurry at McDonald’s from an employee who she said didn’t understand English. She recreated their dialog using a mocking Asian accent for the employee.

Perhaps it was Trisha who didn’t understand that, in order to sample a McFlurry (a shake-like dessert), you’d have to make the whole damned McFlurry in the first place.

Now MTV is under fire for airing Trisha’s racist rant, and Trisha has to defend herself from accusations that she’s a bigot. Ahh, sweet consequences.

SYTYCD 3, Top 4: Performance Show

On a night when performances ranged from comical to wonderful, one thing was clear: So You Think You Can Dance 3 is still up for grabs.

Dan Karaty joined Mary Judo and Nigel Tae Kwon Do at the judges’ table. Mary got the evening off to a good start by telling Nigel, "Quiet down, English Muffin," before Cat Deeley introduced a clip package of the Top 4’s greatest hits.

The first performance of the night had the group dancing a Tyce DiOrio Broadway routine to Liza Minnelli’s "Mein Herr," from Cabaret. There was plenty of sex appeal, and the routine ended with the dancers running up to the judges’ table. Danny’s and Neil’s athleticism really showed through.

Lacey’s SoloDaft Punk, "Technologic"
An awkward outfit (her dress was so big, it looked like she’d borrowed it from Cat) distracted from Lacey’s dancing — at least until she fell into the audience (deliberately) in a cool ending maneuver. Nigel told her to stop the ballroom "ooh, ahh, finger pointing" gestures and facial expressions.

Sabra & Neil — Hip-Hop
Choreographer: Shane Sparks
Song: Kat DeLuna, "Whine Up"

During footage of their rehearsal, Neil said in response to a request from Shane, "Asking me to be sexy is like asking Nigel to be British." But this routine wound up more playful than sexy. Nigel called it a "bright summertime" dance that could’ve been more "funky" and "loose." Mary said, "I was expecting a little bit more at this point," and Dan agreed that the pair had given better hip-hop performances earlier in the season.

Lacey & Danny — Viennese Waltz
Choreographer: Jean-Marc Genereux
Song: Avril Lavigne, "Keep Holding On"

With so many lifts, there was little time for closed hold dancing — but the routine was lovely. Nigel said, "It was like you were dancing on ice at one point." Mary was impressed with their technical execution, and Dan said, "The two of you together aren’t even fair.

One of the best moments of the night was when Lacey and Danny started arguing on stage during the judges’ comments — "having a domestic," in Cat’s words. Lacey told Nigel she’d practiced with a Popsicle stick in her glove to help her keep her hand straight, and Danny said incredulously, "She totally made that up." Lacey gave Danny the evil eye, which got even more evil when Nigel said to her, "It’s really good to know you take notes, even if you lie about them." Lacey mouthed, "I’m not lying!" as she play-punched Danny.

Neil’s Solo Shawn McDonald, "Gravity"
The moves were good, but there wasn’t much interpretation of the music. My hubby said that Neil, with all his jumps and twists, dances "like a fighter from Tekken." Mary said he danced with "maturity," and Dan called him "dynamic."

Lacey & Sabra — Jazz
Choreographer: Wade Robson
Song: Nitin Sawhney, "Koyal (Songbird)"

This routine was about a mother fox and a baby fox, and Lacey and Sabra pranced about with scarves in their mouths. It was ridiculous. Nigel said, "I didn’t get that at all, I’m afraid. You didn’t really do anything apart from stay in character." But he said the fault was the choreographer’s, not the dancers’. Mary agreed that the routine was impossible to critique. Dan noted that people will love or hate the routine, but he appreciated the dancers’ attention to detail.

Danny’s SoloGavin DeGraw, "We Are the Champions"
Danny interpreted the music well; he’s willing not to be moving all the time if it suits the song. Mary cooed, "You’re just crazy, aren’t you," and then screamed. Dan wanted to know what was in the water at Danny’s mom’s studio to produce such a wonderful dancer.

Danny & Neil — Contemporary
Choreographer: Mia Michaels
Song: The Presets, "Are You the One?"

Mia’s concept was two princes battling for the throne, and the routine was chock full of daring tricks. Mia said, "They’re just throwing each other around and being dudes." It was cool, and elevated dance-fighting beyond cheesy West Side Story (or Zoolander) stuff. Nigel said, "It was great." Mary screamed, "Okay, I loved it! Mia, I just loved this piece!"

Sabra’s SoloJames Morrison, "Wonderful World"
This solo really highlighted Sabra’s strength and athleticism. Mary said, "You have everything that it takes to be the champion of this show." Dan confessed that, early in the season, he thought Dominic was carrying Sabra, but his opinion changed: "You deserve to be there."

Lacey & Neil — Lindy Hop
Choreographer: Nick Williams
Song: The Big Elliot Swing Orchestra, "Bill’s Bounce"

Neil said, "The basic steps aren’t very basic when they’re that fast." It may not have been perfect, but it was tremendously fun to watch. Nigel said Lacey & Neil were "both excellent." Mary appreciated the difficulty of the partnering skills and lifts, saving her loudest scream of the night for them. Dan grinned and said the performance was "entertainment at its best."

Sabra & Danny — Cha Cha
Choreographer: Melanie LaPatin
Song: Celia Cruz, "Gotta Get Down"

This dance was pretty cool, and it would’ve been nice if these two had gotten a chance to partner together earlier in the season. Nigel overlooked any technical slip-ups and just enjoyed the performance. Mary noted that once they reached the middle of the routine, Sabra & Danny relaxed enough to give a great performance. Dan agreed.

As the show ended, Nigel advised fans to take into consideration the dancers’ body of work from the whole season. And he mentioned that, from a producer’s perspective, it would probably be good if a girl won.

Tomorrow night, along with performances by the top twenty dancers and special guests, Cat will be dancing with Nigel.

If I were voting based solely on tonight’s performances, I’d have to vote for Danny. His battling princes routine with Neil was very entertaining, and he continues to be my favorite soloist. Based on the entire season, well, I’d still give my vote to Danny. As much as I like both Sabra and Lacey and would like to see a girl win, Danny’s just better than everybody else.

Ox Notes: August 15, 2007

So You Think You Can Dance’s Lauren and Pasha gave lengthy interviews to TV Guide, and Pasha thinks this season’s winner will be Danny or Sabra. Spoilers for tonight’s final performance show are available here.

In Dancing with the Stars news, boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the latest celebrity rumored to be in the Season 5 cast. And here’s a picture of some bikini-clad guests at Edyta Sliwinska’s bachelorette party.

If you enjoy driving slowly by traffic accidents or pulling the wings off of insects, then Fox has the show for you. The network is importing a reality show from Colombia in which contestants are hooked up to a lie detector and made to answer questions in front of their loved ones. Examples of the types of questions to be asked include asking a mother if she loves one child more than the other, and asking a husband if he’s cheated on his wife. Delightful.

Kristen Bell doubts the chances of a Veronica Mars movie ever being made, but joked that she’d consider it: "Depends on how well I age."

Finally, the Bricks Explode blog has a list of Top 10 Supporting Characters on TV, and I have a lot of respect for the author for giving a nod to the woman who plays the Indestructible Cheerleader on The Soup. If only he’d also included the woman who plays my two favorite recurring characters on the show: the Dancing Maxi Pad and Brooke from The Real World: Denver.

While we’re at it, enjoy The Soup’s Mary Murphy Wake Up Call:

Pirate Master: Episode 12

On this week’s Pirate Master, Ben learned that it’s better to work with Jay than against him.

As soon as the crew had fallen asleep on the night of Kendra’s ouster, Ben pulled Christa into the galley for a chat. He told her that Jay was planning to get rid of her — failing to mention that he, too, had talked about getting rid of Christa.

The two agreed to do whatever it took to keep Christa in control of the game, and their task was made easier the next day when Jay joined their Black Crew, leaving Laurel and Louie as the lone members of the Red Crew.

The challenge was of the typical Pirate Master swim/run-uphill/dig-up-treasure format, with the obligatory directional blunder by the lead team — which was again the Black Crew. Christa, Jay, and Ben found the treasure first and split $30,000, leaving Louie penniless for the fourth week in a row.

Back aboard the ship, Christa confronted Jay about Ben’s accusations, and Jay did what any sensible pirate would do: he blamed everything on Ben. Christa brought both of them in to her quarters for a chat, and instead of clearing things up, Ben and Jay’s bickering reduced Christa to tears.

Christa was troubled as she sat deciding on which pirates to assign the Black Spot. She liked Ben, but, as much as she didn’t trust Jay, she felt guilty about the prospect of taking money away from his kids. Giving Jay the Black Spot would undoubtedly put him out of the game.

Christa’s decision became a little easier when Laurel spoke with her. Laurel said that she’d been approached by Ben about finding a way to get rid of Christa.

Suddenly, Ben found himself branded with a Black Spot, despite all of his efforts to make Jay the target. He’d have to face off against Laurel at Pirates Court, and Louie had already made it known that he would never cast a vote against Laurel.

So Ben sucked up his pride and went to plead his case with Jay. He promised to do anything Jay told him — even give up his share of the food — if Jay would agree not to vote against him.

When it came time for Pirates Court, Jay went out of his way to make Ben, Laurel, and Christa as nervous as possible, giving them all meaningful glances while casting his vote. Ultimately, he voted against Laurel, forcing a tie and putting the decision in Captain Christa’s hands.

Christa reasoned that, while she was unsure of her relationship with Ben, she’d rather lose to a good competitor than keep someone around for an easy victory. Laurel was cut adrift, and she was happy to leave the cutthroat game and return to living in her van.

Next time, Ben and Jay go back to what they’d been doing before this week: plotting Christa’s demise.