Ox Notes: February 9, 2010

Two bits of unsettling Dancing with the Stars news. First, DwtS pros Cheryl Burke, Anna Trebunskaya, Chelsie Hightower and Edyta Sliwinska posed in bikinis alongside some of their former celebrity partners for the latest Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. There’s something creepy about these videos from the photo shoot, where the bikini-clad women pose suggestively with their partners — who are clad in regular clothes — while a fan blows on them.

I’m also disturbed by the rumored final two candidates to take over Samantha Harris’ co-hosting duties: Nancy O’Dell and Marie Osmond. Nancy O’Dell is a fine choice, with years of hosting experience and the right amount of empathy for the contestants.

Marie Osmond, however, strikes me as a terrible choice. While she might appeal to the average DwtS audience member — a woman in her mid-fifties — that’s not the demographic advertisers are most interested in. Following DwtS, Marie pursued hosting her own daytime talk show, which makes me wonder if she’d be willing to cede the spotlight to the contestants and to the real star of the show, Tom Bergeron.

Karina Smirnoff’s dream dance partner is John Stamos.

Following the Super Bowl, CBS’s Undercover Boss scored the largest audience ever for a reality show premiere: 38.6 million viewers. If its second episode, which follows the debut of The Amazing Race on Sunday, garners even 30% of that number, I’ll be impressed.

Speaking of TAR, TV Guide interviewed contestants and Big Brother vets Jeff & Jordan.

Survivor fans can breathe a sigh of relief: Jeff Probst has agreed to host Season 21 & 22. People and EW have the scoop.

Ox Notes: February 4, 2010

Pamela Anderson has reportedly signed on for Dancing with the Stars 10. I wonder what kind of dance style best suits the Baywatch theme song?

Melissa Rycroft has joined Entertainment Tonight as a special correspondent, effectively nixing her chances of filling Samantha Harris’ shoes as DwtS co-host.

The retrospective Surviving Survivor airs tonight on CBS at 8 ET. Reality Blurred will live blog during the show. I’ll be watching Vampire Diaries.

Starting February 18, my fellow PS3 owners and I can watch The Tester on the Playstation Network. The Hal Sparks-hosted competitive reality show puts gamers through a series of challenges as they compete for $5000 and a job as a professional game tester (which isn’t as glamorous a gig as it sounds).

I’m getting excited for Sunday’s "big game": Puppy Bowl VI on Animal Planet! Beginning at 3 p.m. ET, the show — which features puppies playing on a miniature football field — repeats every two hours until the wee hours of the morning. The official Puppy Bowl site is borked, but you can view the Starting Lineup here.

Zap2It interviewed the Puppy Bowl referee, Andrew Schechter.

If you don’t intend to watch the actual Super Bowl but are still interested in the commercials, cable network Spike will post all of the commercials online at Spike.com almost immediately after they air on CBS. Thank you, Spike!

Ox Notes: February 2, 2010

If you want to learn who’s on Dancing with the Stars 10, you’re going to have to sit through an episode of The Bachelor to do it. ABC will reveal the identities of the DwtS 10 cast members at intervals during the March 1 Bachelor finale. I think I’ll skip the dating show and wait until the cast list is posted at the ABC’s DwtS website.

The first believable DwtS 10 cast rumor comes courtesy of former MMA fighter and actor Jason Chambers. He’s not a household name, but he’s young and hunky, so I’ll be surprised if he’s not in the cast.

Olympic diving champ Greg Louganis is campaigning for a spot on DwtS 10.

The first half of the Lost final season premiere — which airs tonight on ABC at 9 ET — is available online, but fans aren’t watching it. They don’t want to be spoiled.

Reality Blurred is posting preseason interviews with the Survivor 20 cast members.

In sad news, Phil Harris, captain of the Cornelia Marie on The Deadliest Catch, is in the hospital recovering from a stroke. Discovery promises to update fans on Phil’s condition here.

If you’re not sick of the Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien Tonight Show feud, check out this fascinating dissection of Jay’s interview on Oprah last week. It’s long, but it contains a lot evidence to indicate that Jay was being, um, less than truthful.

Masterpiece Classic aired the final episodes of Jane Austen’s Emma on Sunday night. If you missed it, you can watch the mini-series online here. It’s worth it.

I’m looking forward to Masterpiece Classic‘s March 28 feature, Sharpe’s Challenge, because of its major WTF factor. The co-star playing opposite Sean Bean’s Richard Sharpe is none other than Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi.

Ox Notes: January 28, 2010

Samantha Harris is leaving Dancing with the Stars. This is not a joke.

Citing an increasing workload at The Insider, Harris has opted not to return for DwtS 10. No word on who will replace her, but I’m sure Lisa Canning is available.

Tonight, Jeff Probst’s new reality series, Live for the Moment, debuts on CBS in Survivor‘s 8 ET timeslot. It features real people who faced life-changing events that made them reevaluate their priorities. It sounds a bit like The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan’s Discovery Channel show No Opportunity Wasted.

I’m skeptical that these kinds of TV shows and movies really have the power to change the daily lives of their viewers. While they feel good to watch, I don’t think these programs have a lasting effect. After listening to their positive review of The Bucket List, I asked my in-laws if the movie inspired them to undertake any adventures of their own. They both shrugged and said, "No."

Roger Ebert explains in his terrific review of The Bucket List that, contrary to what we see on TV and in movies, brushes with death don’t usually inspire us to seek adventure. They inspire us to seek comfort in the ones we love.

Turner Classic Movies starts its annual 31 Days of Oscar programming on Monday, February 1. This year’s schedule is organized so that each successive film features one star from the previous movie. Zap2It notes that the TCM event begins and ends with films starring Kevin Bacon.

Maureen Ryan condensed her interviews with Lost creators Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse into a spoiler-free Q&A for fans. Cuse said that they won’t be doing interviews after the season finale in order to avoid interpreting the ending for fans, citing the show’s ambiguity as a strong point.

This worries me. The writers of Battlestar Galactica also refused to explain their ambiguous series finale, saying that fans could interpret the episode the way they wanted to. Bullshit!

The reality is that the various writers started a bunch of new plot threads during the last season of BSG that couldn’t be logically connected in the finale, so they didn’t even try. That is the height of laziness. I don’t recall any of the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm containing any moral ambiguity or lacking a definitive conclusion.

Lost‘s story belongs to Lindelof and Cuse, and they need to own it. They’ve been drawing the threads back together since things went haywire in Season 2, so they’ve set themselves up to give fans a satisfying conclusion. Don’t take the easy way out now, guys!

The CW is rebooting yet another series. This time it’s USA’s La Femme Nikita (1997-2001), which was based on the French movie by the same title, which also inspired the movie Point of No Return.

Given how poorly series about butt-kicking femme fatales have performed recently — like The Bionic Woman and Dollhouse — I’m not sure why The CW thinks a Nikita revival will work. I’ve got my own theory as to why it won’t. Hopefully my brother, Dr. Lunch (not his real name), will let me know if my amateur sociology is on point or not.

I don’t think women want to watch shows about butt-kicking females right now. The current economic climate demands a different kind of feminine toughness. Right now, being a tough woman means telling your kid that you can’t afford the toy she wants, then enduring the ensuing tantrum. It means worrying about losing the job you have, finding the job you don’t have or explaining to your teenager that there’s no money for college. It means spending your vacation sleeping in a tent instead of a hotel bed.

Right now, I want the option to not be tough. I don’t want to have to beat up bad guys and balance my budget. I want my devoted vampire boyfriend to take care of the bad guys for me.

Ox Notes: January 26, 2010

The latest Paula Abdul-Dancing with the Stars rumor is that ABC offered her a development deal at the network contingent upon her participation in DwtS 10. Pure DwtS’s Princess Heidi says of Paula: "She’s tiny and she’s a ringer. Which means, she’ll dance with Mark Ballas."

People posted this news item: "Dancing‘s Cheryl Burke and Model Boyfriend Split." So long, model boyfriend. We hardly knew ye.

TV Guide Network will air a Survivor 20 preview special on February 11, hosted by Survivor Samoa winner Natalie White.

EW’s Dalton Ross is preparing us for the new season with on-site interviews with Survivor 20 contestants, including a priceless interview with Coach. He has no chance to win, but, man, I want Coach to stick around as long as possible.

CBS revealed the cast of The Amazing Race 16 last week. Because young fit couples almost always win, my money’s on either Brent & Caite, Dan & Jordan or Jordan & Jeff.

CBS renewed Survivor for two more seasons and The Amazing Race for one more, all of which will air during the 2010-2011 season. That would reduce the number of TAR seasons per broadcast season from the current two to one.

I’m cool with that. As much fondness as I have for TAR, it’s not as exciting as it used to be. I watch it for the destinations and the challenges, not for the teams. Formulaic casting has lead to predictable results, making it a glorified travel show. I’d much rather have one good season each year than two mediocre seasons.

Ox Notes: January 19, 2010

Here’s a Dancing with the Stars 10 cast rumor that delights me almost as much as the one about Jonathan Frakes. Producers unsuccessfully pursued NFL player Chad Ochocinco for DwtS 9, but now that the Cincinnati Bengals are out of the playoffs, he’s available. You have to love a guy who legally changed his name to the Spanish pronunciation of his jersey’s numerals.

NBC is reportedly ready to pay Conan O’Brien nearly $40 million to leave the network. He wouldn’t be allowed to host another show on a rival network until September, and NBC would retain the rights to many of O’Brien’s signature bits. The fate of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog is still up in the air.

Jay Leno addressed the situation on his show last night, and comedian Louis C.K. added his two cents as well.

Rob Thomas says the long hoped for Veronica Mars movie is dead in the water.

The identities of 21 of American Idol 9‘s Top 24 contestants have leaked online.

This Friday, January 22, eleven cable and broadcast networks will air a celebrity telethon to raise money for Haiti. The telethon, which starts at 8 p.m. ET, will push back the series finale of Fox’s Dollhouse one week to January 29.

Yesterday’s Oprah dealt with the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while driving. Visit Oprah’s website to sign the pledge to end distracted driving and make your car a No Phone Zone.

Ox Notes: January 14, 2010

Finally, we have a premiere date for Dancing with the Stars 10. The show debuts on Monday, March 22. Producers have promised a smaller cast than last season, which unfortunately means that some favorite pro dancers won’t make the cut.

Also coming in March is a new series on TLC about addiction, aptly titled Addicted. This seems like a cynical bid to steal viewers from A&E’s terrific show, Intervention. And I frankly don’t trust the network responsible for I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant to handle the topic of addiction with the sensitivity it deserves.

Project Runway 7 debuts tonight on Lifetime at 10 ET. Last season was such a dud that I’ve given up on the show. Are you going to watch? If so, how high are your expectations for PR7?

Also on TV tonight, Jimmy Kimmel stops by The Jay Leno Show, two nights after impersonating Jay for an entire episode of his own show.

Tech writer Andy Ihnatko wrote a wonderful history of the events that led up to NBC’s current Jay Leno-Conan O’Brien impasse. The Chicago Tribune’s Maureen Ryan has some suggestions for what NBC should do following Conan’s seemingly inevitable departure.