Monthly Archives: January 2008

Ox Notes: January 31, 2008

Jeff Probst has been spreading gossip from the set of Survivor: Micronesia. The host told Entertainment Tonight that it’s a good thing that the show provides prophylactics to the contestants, as cameras caught a couple of Survivors gettin’ it on.

Probst also told Reality Blurred that, after this season, James’s decision not to use his two Immunity Idols during Survivor: China will no longer be the biggest blunder in Survivor history.

Former Survivor Rupert Boneham has started a record label that specializes in promoting the musical talents of former reality show contestants. Just what the world freaking needs. I can’t wait to hear Rupert’s own first album, GRRRRRR, and its title track, "RRRRRAWRRRR."

ABC’s next Bachelorette is none other than DeAnna Pappas, one of the girls Brad Womack didn’t propose to on the last season of The Bachelor.

The Futon Critic has a list of original programs NBC has scheduled for February, complete with episode descriptions.

The Parents Television Council is protesting CBS’s decision to air the first season of Showtime’s Dexter, although not letting your kids watch television at 10 p.m. on a school night seems like a better solution to me.

Smallville and Supernatural return to the CW with new episodes tonight, and I’m a spoilerphobe. So, I won’t be reading this TV Guide preview until after I’ve seen the shows.

Jermaine Clement of HBO’s Flight of the Conchords has signed on to the film Gentlemen Broncos, which I only mention as an excuse to include a video of my favorite FotC song, "Business Time."

America’s Ballroom Challenge 3: American Smooth

The third season of America’s Ballroom Challenge got off to a strong start with the American Smooth Round.

Pictures of the seven American Smooth finalist couples can be found here.

This year’s technical commentary was much improved by the addition of Ron Montez, who offered insightful observations without any of Tony Meredith’s awkward pausing. And I laughed out loud as Ron politely, but definitively, dismissed each of the gimmicky showdances.

Ron was right about the gimmicky showdances, of which there were four. Most of them seemed kitschy and not particularly creative. Mazen Hamza & Irena Sarukhanyan (last year’s winners) seem to be the only American Smooth couple who can create themed routines that feel representative of the American Smooth style.

My favorite dance of the night was probably Steven Dougherty & Eulia Baranovsky’s showdance, but I’m a sucker for that Fred & Ginger stuff. The judges agreed, as Steven & Eulia won that round.

The real revelation for me tonight was how glamourous J.T. Thomas is. J.T.’s pewter metallic group dance dress made her look something straight out of a comic book artist’s fantasies — only in a classy way. Her tailor is a magician.

J.T.’s lavender showdance dress was understated, but so flattering. Instead of the dress drawing attention to itself, the dress showcased the woman wearing it. With all of her competitors covering sequins and feathers, J.T.’s dress stood out for its simple elegance.

I don’t know if her outfits helped her with the judges, but J.T. and her partner, Tomas Mielnicki, won both the group dance and the overall competition.

Next week, America’s Ballroom Challenge returns with the American Rhythm competition.

What did you think of the season’s first episode? Was Jasmine Guy a fitting replacement for Marilu Henner?

Ox Notes: January 30, 2008

The third season of America’s Ballroom Challenge premieres tonight. Check PBS’s website for your local listings.

Dancing with the Stars 6 premieres in less than two months, so the latest cast rumors are right on schedule. Buddy TV mentions some magazine articles that list Cheryl Ladd, Monica Seles, and Kristy McNichol as possible contestants. And E!’s Planet Gossip reports that Elvis’s widow, Priscilla Presley, is close to signing on for the show.

DwtS 5 contender Marie Osmond will debut a daily talk show, appropriately titled Marie, in fall 2009.

Variety has some of the first statistical evidence of the negative effect the writers strike is having on TV viewership.

The renewal of The Celebrity Apprentice for a second season might also be a result of the strike, or possibly a sign of the apocalypse.

Ratings for the Miss America pageant jumped 52% after the contest jumped from CMT to TLC this year.

I missed CW’s Gossip Girl Revealed special on Monday, but People recapped the bonus footage added to the series pilot. Serena’s wardrobe is based on Kate Moss, but, no, Blake Lively doesn’t get to keep the clothes.

On the topic of fashion, tonight’s episode of Project Runway is a rerun. People interviewed Victorya, who confessed that she wasn’t thrilled by the blue jean challenge that led to her ouster.

The producers of Project Runway have teamed with Sarah Jessica Parker to create a PR-style show for aspiring artists.

MSN has an interview with the winners of The Amazing Race, TK & Rachel.

With a TV series based on the movie Crash headed to the Starz cable channel, Variety’s Brian Lowry offered his own sardonic suggestions for series based on this year’s Oscar nominees. Here’s Lowry’s vision of Juno, the TV show: "Seventeen-year-old Juno is still getting back to normal after giving her unplanned baby up for adoption when — yikes — she gets pregnant again."

Ox Notes: January 29, 2008

Mark Burnett is having a good week. Not only has Survivor been picked up for two more seasons, but NBC moved up the premiere date of another Burnett-produced show, My Dad Is Better Than Your Dad, to February 18. Dad is hosted by Dan Cortese, who looks like he’s had some work done, based on his picture in Variety’s article about the show.

Trying to milk the success of the new American Gladiators, NBC is offering all 39 episodes of Gladiators 2000 for syndication. G2K was a teen competition series based on American Gladiators that taped in the mid-’90s, hosted by a then 19-year-old Ryan Seacrest.

The producers of Deal or No Deal have developed a game show called Buzzed to run exclusively online. Each episode of Buzzed features bar patrons answering questions for money, and contestants are able to "drunk dial" friends to ask for help with answers. Charming.

With Hollywood writers still on strike, CBS has teamed with a Canadian production house to write a cop show called Flashpoint. CBS plans to run the show in the U.S. and Canada concurrently, possibly this summer.

The WGA, meanwhile, has given its members the okay to write for the Grammy Awards on February 10.

John Cleese talked with TV Guide about why The Life of Brian is his favorite Monty Python movie. One of Cleese’s fellow Pythons, Michael Palin, had a new show debut on the Travel Channel last night. Michael Palin’s New Europe doesn’t have an official show page at the Travel Channel’s website, but the schedule includes brief descriptions of each episode.

Director Sam Raimi has plans to return to syndicated TV by adapting Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. The show will be called Wizard’s First Rule, the title of the first book in the series.

I get excited for all of Sam Raimi’s projects because he always finds a way to work his good buddy, Bruce Campbell, into everything he does. And I’m pretty sure that Sam’s brother, Ted, will show up in a few episodes, as well.

Ox Notes: January 28, 2008

On and off stage, actors in attendance at last night’s Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony made it clear that they won’t cross picket lines if the Writers Guild decides to picket the Oscars. People has a complete list of SAG Award winners, and Yahoo! has a slideshow of the stars’ red carpet outfits.

The night before the SAG Awards ceremony, the Directors Guild of America handed out their annual awards for best direction.

With Super Tuesday fast approaching, Salon wonders why TV interviewers aren’t asking presidential candidates about how they plan to deal with global warming.

Another date fast approaching is the DVD release of Battlestar: Galactica Season 3, which has been moved up to March 18.

On the topic of remakes, New York Magazine has a list of 10 eighties TV shows they’d like to see remade. Somehow, Small Wonder made the list.

Lifetime is putting the finishing touches on Your Mama Don’t Dance, a competition that pairs professional dancers with their non-dancing parents. Dancing with the Stars alum Ian Ziering is set to host.

TV Guide followed DwtS 5 champs Helio Castroneves & Julianne Hough as they prepared for a special appearance on the Dancing with the Stars Tour.

In an interview for a Variety article about critical darling HBO’s sister station, Cinemax, and that network’s slate of nudity-filled, late night original series, Cinemax’s VP of program planning said, "Believe it or not, over the last couple of years, we really have tried to develop the storylines and spend time on the characters."

Ox Notes: January 25, 2008

This is perhaps the best news ever: DVD distributor Shout! Factory has acquired the rights to Mystery Science Theater 3000, and plans to release all 198 episodes on DVD or in downloadable format. Finally, I’ll be able to revisit the post-apocalyptic despair of Warrior of the Lost World and Adam West’s villainy in Zombie Nightmare.

The cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will reunite in March for a panel discussion of the show at PaleyFest08.

In an interview with The TV Addict, Mira Sorvino explained why many agents won’t let the actors they represent appear on Dancing with the Stars: "Something about doing it as an actor right now seems to send out a message that there are problems in your career, which shouldn’t be the case, but that’s just the way people regard it." Sorvino added, "As soon as that goes away, I’m there."

DwtS champ Julianne Hough isn’t the only one in her family with musical aspirations. Julianne’s brother, Derek, and Mark Ballas are working with Melanie Brown’s manager, who’s agreed to represent their band, Almost Amy.

Even as they negotiate a contract with the AMPTP, the WGA came to an interim agreement with Lionsgate, which will allow work to resume on Showtime’s Weeds and AMC’s Mad Men.

Amazing Race winners TK & Rachel told People that Rachel was able to solve the final Roadblock puzzle first because she’d written about all of the challenges on each leg of the race in a journal, which they studied on the plane ride to Alaska. Although I wasn’t the biggest fan of TK the quietly intense character on TAR, I was glad that interview confirmed that there’s more to TK the real person.

TV Guide interviewed chef Jamie Oliver about his new cooking show, Jamie at Home, which debuts on Saturday. Too bad I won’t be awake when it airs in the Central time zone at 8:30 a.m.

Another show debuting Saturday is Trading Spaces, which returns in a new, old format. Former host Paige Davis is back, despite having been hurt by her firing from the show three years ago.

Be prepared for a potential calendar change in 2009. As stated in Barack Obama’s Top 10 List of Campaign Promises on last night’s episode of The Late Show with David Letterman, Obama said that, if elected, we’ll all be celebrating Halloween in "Barack-tober."

Ox Notes: January 24, 2008

When it came time to watch The Moment of Truth last night, I balked and couldn’t bring myself to tune in for even a minute. Matt Roush’s review of the show, which he described as "blood-curdling and soul-numbing," confirmed that I made the right choice. Did any of you watch the show, and do you agree with Roush?

TV Guide has an interview with Sabrina Bryan, who just finished her stint on the Dancing with the Stars Tour and is preparing for a 10-week trip to India to film a Cheetah Girls movie. I was glad to learn that she follows the most important MOIB Travel Rule: always bring peanut butter.

The results of a study leaked to Variety estimate that, if the writers strike lasts for another 2-3 months, the direct monetary losses to the entertainment industry could top $3 billion. In production centers like L.A., New York, and Vancouver, the losses would feel more like $8.4 billion when the losses of associated companies (caterers, drivers) are factored in.

NBC says that, while it won’t cancel any of its current pilot orders, this is the last year that they will produce more than one or two pilots. In the future, the network plans on only picking scripts that they are sure can go straight to series.

Fringe, the pilot J.J. Abrams is developing for Fox, has added The Wire’s Lance Reddick to its cast, which already includes John Noble, also known as Denethor from The Lord of the Rings.

My dad will be happy to learn that CBS is adding six special episodes of The Price Is Right to its primetime schedule, starting February 22. The guy is nuts for Plinko.

Bravo released the list of contestants for Top Chef 4, which includes another Dale from Chicago. The new season premieres on March 12.

This week, Jillian, Sweet P, and Ricky answered questions for Bravo’s Project Runway Burning Questions blog.

I agree with Tim Gunn’s opinion that the judges made a bad decision last night in awarding the win to Ricky. Christian’s jeans were pretty fierce. But, as Greg said while we were watching it, they picked the outfit that would be easiest to sell through the Levi’s website. What did you think?

Ox Notes: January 23, 2008

With negotiations resuming this week, the Writers Guild of America has made some concessions that could help bring the strike to an end (or not). WGA members won’t picket the Grammys, and they’ve decided not to insist on unionizing animation and reality show writers as part of the new contract.

Perhaps a quick resolution to the strike can prevent Celebracadabra, in which celebrities compete as magicians, from ever making it to air.

And more scripted shows means less time networks have to fill with inane blabber. Too bad it won’t affect the amount of meaningless election coverage that has taken over the cable news networks.

Several TV writers have written short plays that will be performed in L.A. by various TV actors to raise funds for non-writers affected by the strike.

Those of you saddened by the news of Heath Ledger’s death might be interested in the DVD of Roar, the TV show that introduced him to American audiences. I watched an episode of the show last year, and while it wasn’t as mesmerizing as I found it to be in 1997, it was still entertaining. Plus, many of the supporting cast members are recognizable character actors, and Billy Zane’s sister, Lisa, plays one of the leads.

On the topic of sci-fi series from a few years ago, Witchblade may finally come out on DVD, although that’s another series that I’m scared might not be as amusing as when I originally watched it.

Tonight marks the debut of The Moment of Truth, Fox’s new game show in which contestants have to answer questions while hooked up to a lie detector. I’m thinking about watching just to see how much of it I can take before I have to shut off the TV and go take a shower.

After I’ve washed away my guilt from watching such ethically-questionable entertainment, there’s a new episode of Project Runway to cheer me up. People has an interview with the latest auf’d designer, Kit Pistol.

Finally, I am about to write a sentence I never thought I’d type: I have tremendous respect for Jerry O’Connell. You will, too, after you watch the video below. It’s a response to the Tom Cruise Scientology video that made the rounds last week, and O’Connell’s imitation of Cruise is hilarious and totally spot on.

Ox Notes: January 22, 2008

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, former WWE wrestler and current VH-1 celeb-reality denizen Chyna says she’s hoping to land a spot on Dancing with the Stars 6.

As the DwtS Tour rolls on, Kym Johnson and Monique Coleman gave interviews from the road.

I watched the first few minutes of Dance War last night, and it was a little too reminiscent of a stage show at an amusement park for my taste. Is anyone still watching the show, and if so, what’s got you hooked?

Discussions between the WGA and the studios resumed today. Let’s hope the two groups can come to an agreement and end the strike before The World’s Strongest Celebrity becomes a reality.

There are already enough tough guys and gals on TV, now that American Gladiators has expanded its season finale to two hours. A brave TV Guide reporter attempted the Pyramid and the Joust, and wound up battered and bruised in the name of journalism.

NBC VP Craig Plestis talked with Zap2It about the challenges of adapting British reality show Top Gear for American audiences.

Another import that’s being reworked for America, Australia’s Kath and Kim, has cast Molly Shannon and Selma Blair as its leads.

I can’t help but wonder if networks underestimate the intelligence of their viewers when they insist on making American versions of shows from other English-speaking countries. Why not just air the original shows? Are British and Aussie accents really that hard to understand?

And so what if a few every pop culture or political references don’t translate? Funny is funny.

American shows have been exported for decades, and foreign audiences have enjoyed them in their original formats. It’s about time American audiences got the opportunity to watch something more current than reruns of Are You Being Served? on PBS.

TAR 12: Finale

Invest your money in hacky sacks and bongs, because the winners of The Amazing Race are about to go on a million dollar shopping spree.

For most of the leg, the race was Ron & Christina’s to lose. They reached the airport in Taiwan in first place, and they wisely used the time before their flight to research their next destination: Anchorage, Alaska.

TK, on the other hand, used that same time to freak out about where Ron & Christina were and whether they’d gotten a better flight. Nick & Don got sucked in by TK’s freakout, but Rachel remained calm and played solitaire.

All of the teams made it to Alaska on the same flight, and Ron & Christina were first out of the airport. They took a cab to a sporting goods store where they picked up a bag of gear and a clue which directed them to a boat launch. TK & Rachel weren’t far behind, and neither were Nick & Don.

But Nick & Don forgot to grab their bag of gear when they left the sporting goods store, effectively dooming them to a third place finish.

The boat launch was the site of this leg’s Detour, and teams had the choice of gutting dozens of cod to find a small clue hidden inside one, or standing in a tank filled with 500 crabs and finding the one with a red & gold band on its arm.

Ron & Christina opted to get covered in fish guts, and they finished the task before the other teams reached the boat launch. TK & Rachel wasted time in the crab tank getting pinched; by the time they found the right crab, Nick & Don had returned from the store with their bag of supplies and were already starting to fillet a cod.

At the site of the next clue, the gap between the teams began to close. Both team members had to climb up the side of the glacier using picks, and because the task required upper body strength, it was difficult for the women — and Nick.

At the top of the glacier, each team flew by helicopter to the site of the final task: a Roadblock that tested one team member’s memory of tasks from each leg of the race. Ron & Christina were the first to arrive, and Christina took on the memory challenge.

The task involved an array of objects associated with tasks done during the race, including a donkey, a bowl of camel milk, and a tandem bicycle. While following rules included with the clue (for example, "Choose 3 animals or animal byproducts ), the team member doing the Roadblock could pick only one item from each of the ten countries visited on the race. There was only one successful solution to the puzzle that would get them their next clue.

Even under normal circumstances, the task would’ve been challenging. But, with the racers exhausted and under the pressure of being so close to the finish line, the puzzle was designed to drive racers to tears.

Christina wasn’t able to solve the puzzle before the other teams arrived, and she crumbled under the added pressure. She was one item away from solving the puzzle, but she couldn’t convince herself that a human being (one of the "items" available) was an animal. As a result, she wound up undoing all her correct answers and bleeding time.

A confused Christina finally resorted to praying for help, while an equally confused Rachel kept her wits and worked methodically to solve the problem. (Nick was, of course, a non-factor in this challenge.)

Rachel’s methodical approach proved more effective than Christina’s prayers, and the hippie couple was the first team to leave the Roadblock. There were a few other lame clues to pick up on the way to the finish line, just to give teams additional chances to get lost, but the race was effectively over as soon as Rachel finished the puzzle, with Christina several minutes behind.

As their cab drove to them to their final destination, Rachel smiled brightly and looked at the scenery outside her window. TK, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck, eyes darting about, shaking his head, and bouncing his knee ceaselessly.

TK came off as the worst type of hippie. He’s the guy who’s always telling you to stay calm and relax, even though he, himself, is really an intense guy who’s always quietly on the verge of freaking out. Not until he could see Phil Keoghan standing on the finish mat did TK crack a smile.

As much as I hoped for Ron & Christina to win, finishing in second place may have been better for their relationship. Christina’s voice cracked as she apologized to her dad for not finishing the Roadblock first, and he told her, "Don’t worry. You did a good job." It gave Ron the chance to show Christina that he loves her, even when she’s not perfect.

Nick & Don finished in third, and Don officially became the oldest contestant to compete in the finale. Phil asked Don, "Did you think you’d get this far in the race?" Don replied, "Yeah, but not in third."

Overall, I enjoyed this season of The Amazing Race. It would’ve been nice to see a team that was not a young, physically fit dating couple win the million dollars, but this was a fun final three to watch. Rachel definitely earned her half of the million by playing smart and having a good time. And at least I got to see TK get pinched by hundreds of crabs.