Monthly Archives: January 2008

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.

Ox Notes: January 18, 2008

PBS.org has updated its America’s Ballroom Challenge page to feature information about the upcoming third season. The site has pictures of the couples competing in the first episode, as well as pics of the exhibition dancers. I’m a little creeped out by the kids in pirate costumes.

Pictures from the set of Survivor: Micronesia have also hit the Internet, and they are mercifully free of spoilers.

Along with America’s Ballroom Challenge and Survivor, there are a number of new shows debuting in the next few weeks. MSN has a rundown of scripted shows ready to air.

With the studios settling on new contract terms with the Directors Guild of America, could a new contract for writers be coming soon?

In case the writers strike persists, NBC has decided to borrow Nashville Star from the USA Network for a summer run. Last season’s hosts and judges won’t be making the journey, however.

Also in the works for the summer are several circus-themed celebrity competitions. This may not be such a good idea given that, in a recent survey in England, 100% of the kids interviewed said that they hate clowns.

When Knight Rider returns to the airwaves, K.I.T.T. won’t be a Trans Am. I just can’t get as excited about K.I.T.T. as a 2008 Mustang.

Sunday night is the finale of The Amazing Race 12, so here’s one last interview with 4th place finishers Nate & Jen. TV Guide called in TAR 5 star Mirna to assess each team’s chances, and she’s picking the hippie couple to win. I’m hoping Ron & Christina keep playing smart and pull off a upset victory.

Ox Notes: January 17, 2008

For a limited time, fans of The Colbert Report can see a portrait of Colbert hanging in the Smithsonian — right between the entrances to the bathrooms.

It’s all but certain that, unless the strike ends, writers will picket the Oscars.

As a way of punishing members of the strike-supporting Screen Actors Guild, NBC won’t provide publicists to help guide its stars through the media members positioned along the red carpet at the SAG Awards.

The WGA has given the Image Awards a pass, and they’ve no plans to picket the Costume Designers Guild Awards, who nominated Dancing with the Stars for best costumes in a contemporary TV series.

Speaking of DwtS, Derek Hough tells TV Guide that dancing with his best friend’s girlfriend, Sabrina Bryan, on the tour makes him feel like a "gigolo."

So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Dan Karaty shared with People his tips for dancers who plan to audition for SYTYCD.

Survivor villain Jonny Fairplay became a father to a little girl, Piper Addison, yesterday.

When the finalists of Project Runway hit the catwalk at Fashion Week, they’ll be showing alongside Lauren Conrad of The Hills. I’d love to hear Tim Gunn’s thoughts on her collection.

In the meantime, you can get Tim’s thoughts on last night’s episode of Project Runway at Bravo’s website, along with comments from several of the competing designers. I’m at a loss as to how Ricky is still on the show.

The TRESemme ad featuring the winning designs can be seen here. And you can support the losing designer by purchasing hair accessories and tees from her online store.

Ox Notes: January 16, 2008

A new season of American Idol premiered last night, and Reality Blurred discovered that the producers don’t care if the contestants already have tons of professional singing experience, as many of this season’s top 50 contestants do. So much for AI being a competition for amateurs.

It was only a matter of time, but Oprah Winfrey is getting her own cable network.

After the final four episodes of Supernatural air, fans can keep up with the series through a six-issue comic mini-series, Supernatural: Rising Son.

Ahead of tonight’s new episode of Project Runway, TV Guide posted an interview with auf’d designer, Kevin Christiana. Kevin’s on-show mentor, Tim Gunn, told People that there’s "no amount of money" that could entice him to makeover Britney Spears, describing the pop princess’s fashion choices as "a repugnant horror show."

Other recent reality show castoffs, Nate & Jen, told Reality TV World that their relationship survived their incessant bickering on The Amazing Race 12. Jen explained to MSN that part of what makes TAR difficult on dating couples is a show rule that teammates must stay within 20 feet of one another at all times.

Variety’s Brian Lowry warns networks that, if they think reality shows are serving them well enough that they don’t need to end the strike and get scripted shows back on the air, they could wind up the TV equivalents of the New York Knicks. Ouch.

Ox Notes: January 15, 2008

Studios continued cutting producers and writers on Monday. And they threatened that more folks could lose their jobs if the strike doesn’t end soon.

To fill their empty primetime schedules, CBS filmed a Celine Dion concert special, and NBC is importing a British reality show about cars.

Indy car racer Danica Patrick says there’s no way she’d follow in Helio Castroneves’ footsteps and join the cast of Dancing with the Stars, mostly because she’d be "too serious" and wouldn’t be fun to watch.

Former Borg drone Jeri Ryan and her French chef hubby spoke with TV Guide about how happy they are to be expecting their first child.

Presidential candidate Barack Obama and I share the same favorite character on The Wire.

Yesterday, a court ordered MSNBC to include Dennis Kucinich in tonight’s Democratic presidential debate. Now let’s see if the moderators actually ask him any questions, or if they spend the whole time encouraging Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to argue about race.

When Hillary Clinton stopped by the Tyra Banks Show recently, Tyra used the occasion to ask Clinton hard-hitting policy questions. Just kidding! Tyra asked Hillary about Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.

And Good Morning America is facing criticism for an interview Diane Sawyer conducted with Katie Holmes in which Sawyer failed to ask Holmes a single question about a recently-released, controversial biography of Tom Cruise.

I would’ve preferred it if Sawyer had asked Holmes how she can stand being married to someone as obviously insane as Tom Cruise is. People posted a story about a Scientology recruitment video that showed up on YouTube the same week that the Cruise biography was released. If, after watching the video, you still believe that Tom Cruise has all of his marbles, you might be an honorary Scientologist.

It looks like YouTube has pulled the video, due to a copyright claim from the Church of Scientology. But, as of this afternoon, it’s still available at this site.