Archive for October, 2007

Who Ya Gonna Call? “Mythbusters”

They came from all over the country to see their heroes.

And we’re not talking about Peter Petrelli or even Hiro Nakamura. We’re talking about those brave Discovery Channel boys who risk it all each episode to prove that there’s no urban fairy tale too tough to take on.

Check out Tory Bellici and Adam Savage in this week’s SueTube.

Really, does it get any cooler than testing out the classic cartoon joke involving a trail of gunpowder and a big explosion?

Not for “Mythbuster” Adam Savage, who deems this blow-up one of his favorites. You can’t swing a comatose Sylvester without hitting a rerun of “Mythbusters” on Discovery Channel, but finding fresh episodes can be a challenge because the network rolls out a few at a time throughout the year. The good news is that fans can look forward to seven new episodes beginning Wednesday.

“We lit a line of gunpowder to a keg leading to an explosion,” Savage says of the segment airing Wednesday. “It was one of the more minor explosions we’ve done on ‘Mythbusters,’ but more deeply satisfying from a cartoon perspective.”

The series has gone beyond merely being a hit cable series. It’s a cultural icon is based in co-host Jamie Hyneman’s special effects studio in San Francisco, with most of the myths busted or confirmed right here in the East Bay, from Alameda to Dublin.

The No. 1 question the’busters get asked is: Will they ever run out of myths?

“Will people ever stop believing stupid things,” Savage says. “We just finished one that has confounded us our entire careers.”

The episode, which airs in December, finds Savage and

Hyneman tackling a question baffling everyone from bloggers to pilots: If a plane is traveling at takeoff speed on a conveyor belt, and that conveyor belt is matching the speed in

reverse, can the plane take off?

“We put the plane on a quarter-mile conveyor belt and tested it out,” says Savage about the experiment using a pilot and his Ultralight plane. “I won’t tell you what the outcome was, but the pilot and his entire flight club got it wrong.”

Savage often describes “Mythbusters” as “‘Jackass’ meets Mr. Wizard.” And when you think about wacky stunts done on the show, Tory Belleci’s name invariably pops up. On the Nov. 14 “supersized” two-hour episode, Belleci will attempt to wakeboard from the back of a cruise ship.

Not, he says, the craziest thing he’s had to do on the show. In fact, this season also has him testing out whether your pants can catch fire while being dragged behind a horse. Other seasons have seen him sticking his tongue onto a frozen pole and getting in a pen with a bull to see if the animal would indeed charge him because he was wearing a red outfit.

“When I was in the arena with the bull or with the crocodile, everything inside my body was saying don’t do it, but you know you have to do it,” Belleci says. “I feel like I spent my whole life preparing for this job. I loved playing with fire and at 19 I was almost arrested for making a pipe bomb. Everything I used to get in trouble for I’m now doing as my job.”

Both Belleci and Grant Imahara came to “Mythbusters” after working at Industrial Light and Magic.

“People always ask why I would leave ILM, and it’s because ‘Mythbusters’ sounded like fun. Working on movies and TV is a blast, and ILM has the most talented people in the world,” says Imahara, who lives in Oakland. “But on ‘Mythbusters’ I’ve been able to go places I would never have access to otherwise.”

Not only that, but Imahara says he believes “Mythbusters” just may be responsible for making nerds cool.

“Look at ‘Heroes’ and ‘Numb3rs’ and all these new shows coming out now and we were on the forefront,” Imahara says. “The nerd is the protagonist, the hero. I worked at ILM the same time Masi Oka was there. Who would have thought that two Asian-American nerds from ILM would be on hit shows?”

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KPIX-Channel 5 Hires Blogger, Weather Anchor

Now, here’s a job description we never thought would get through H.R.: Local newscast blogger.

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Brittney Gilbert joins the staff of KPIX-Channel 5 on November 19th as a blogger.

“Brittney was the first, as near as we can tell, blogger to be hired by a local television newsroom for the purposes of blogging and we’re happy that she’ll now be joining our innovative team,” says Jim Parker, KPIX’s Director of Internet Operations. “In her role with us, she’ll spearhead a new community interaction feature.”

Gilbert will comb through the daily blogs in the Bay Area, highlighting posts that she finds funny, provocative, insightful or informative on her blog.

“Think of Brittney as the Web equivalent of a newspaper columnist, but with robust community involvement,” Parker says. “We also plan an automated blog aggregator and the opportunity for user comments, all to launch sometime after the first of the year.”

Blogs. Not just a funny word anymore. It’s a way of life.

Like the weather.

Tracy Humphrey joins CBS 5 Early Edition Eyewitness News at 5 a.m. and noon as a weather anchor in December.

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“Tracy combines forecasting expertise with energy, enthusiasm and a wonderful sense of humor. She is a great addition to our successful morning news team.” said Dan Rosenheim, KPIX Vice President and News Director.

Humphrey came to KPIX from WNYW, the Fox affiliate in New York, where she has been the weekend weathercaster for the last four years. Prior to that, she reported weather for WPHL in Philadelphia; WKBW in Buffalo; WTVH in Syracuse and WJCL in Savannah.

She earned a bachelor of science degree at the University of Alabama and holds a master’s degree in journalism from Syracuse University. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society, National Association of Black Journalists and Big Brothers and Sisters of New York City.

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Livermore Elections

Livermore voters already know who’s going to win the Mayor’s race. With only one horse going into the gate, incumbant Marshall Kamena, it’s a no-brainer.

But residents can cast their votes for the city council seats. Helping you with that decision is TV30, the Tri-Valley’s community television station.

The station will air a special Livermore City Council Election Forum starting today and running through Tuesday, November 6.

Hosted by TV30’s veteran political reporter, Carolyn Siegfried, the program will air weekdays at 11:00 a.m., weekends at 3:00 p.m. and Friday through Sunday at 9:00 p.m. on TV30. The election special will also air on Channel 29 every day at 7:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 4:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Each Livermore City Council candidate will have the opportunity to make opening and closing statements as well as answer questions about issues relating to Livermore’s present and future.

The candidates scheduled to appear are Jeff Williams, Marjorie Leider, and Lorraine Dietrich.

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Bay Area Earthquake

Like most people tonight, I was huddled in my most comfy chair watching the tube when the earthquake hit.

It was just a swell coming up through the chair, shimmying the house and getting the dining room light fixture swinging. My husband and I, both California natives, looked at each other without even a flinch.

“Earthquake,” he says.

Maybe I should check the news.

All but KRON-Channel 4 made do with a quick on-air recognition that, indeed, an earthquake had just happened. KRON stayed on the air, although you might wonder why when all the station did was repeat the information we had already: 5.6, centered in Alum Rock.

Seriously, how many people do you want to hear telling about how they were sitting there and then…well, you read the top of this so you know what everyone said.

If you popped over to the Web sites, you got more information. Well, not from KRON-Channel 4, but I’ve got to applaud both KPIX-Channel 5 and KGO-Channel 7 for their preparedness. They had maps, reports, guides to weathering an earthquake and then they even had a video you could watch of the station breaking the story on air.

Sure, Ken Bastida thought Tony Russomano was Len Ramirez at first, but it was a minor bobble. And I could never get the live Web cam to work. But I scored this Web site as the easiest to use.

Over at KGO, we clicked on Dan Ashley breaking the news. While Ken stayed on for almost eight minutes, Dan made do with about 2.35.

KTVU-Channel 2, which has a really cluttered Web page that isn’t easily navigated under the best of circumstances, had an AP story but no video posted at first. Later, there was a video with Julie Haener. But you had to sit through a stupid car commerical with some guy getting a tattoo removed before you could watch it.

San Jose-based KNTV-Channel 11, where the quake was centered, lacked the breaking news video on the page. Even worse, they had a video from an earlier quake that confused me until I realized they were talking about ANOTHER earthquake.

Sure, this was just a moderate earthquake, but in the case of a real earthquake, we’d like to know the best place to go on the Web for info.

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“The Bachelor” No Roses in Walnut Creek

Brad traveled to Walnut Creek and, in tonight’s episode, met with Sheena Stewart’s parents, Greg and Beverly.

We think Beverly was set up a bit by the producers, especially when it looked like Brad was rolling his eyes at her while she talked about him being a perfect fit for Sheena and something about the Big Dipper and the hot tub.

Beverly told bachelor Brad that “I see the chemistry” between them, but I’ve been thinking all along that Brad was just trying for twin brother Chad’s sake.

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CHAD WOMACK posed as brother BRAD WOMACK, but Sheena wasn’t fooled

When Chad met Sheena, he felt she was someone his brother should pay attention to. And Brad tried, even saying that when he met the Stewarts he hoped they could “develop a nice connection.”

Not exactly the statement you make when you are about to meet the parents of a woman you are madly in love with.

Beverly and Greg were charming people, with Beverly remarking the two had been married for 24 years and were “lifers.” We’ve all seen the promos with Beverly telling Brad that “I know she’s THE ONE.”

We think it might have been better if Sheena and Chad had started dating. At this point, I’m more than a little worried about Brad’s continued infatuation with Bettina, who doesn’t seem like she’s all that into Brad.

And after the bout with the judgemental dad, mom and stepmom? Bettina’s dad Robert pronouncing that Brad was a “disappointment.” and Anne saying that she couldn’t believe her stepdaughter had “hooked up with a guy who owns a bunch of bars.”

“I feel like I’m being judged..I can only hear so much about how I don’t look good on paper,” Brad says.

Oh, really Brad? Then why did you give B a rose? Not your best move, my man.

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DeANNA, SHEENA, BETTINA, JENNI

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Where in the World is Dennis Richmond?

Last week, KTVU-Channel 2 anchor Dennis Richmond was expected to take up his post again last Wednesday.

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For those of you tuning in, you probably noticed that didn’t happen. General Manager Tim McVay says they hope he can return this week depending on how his recovery continues to progress.

“He was hoping to return last week but was still feeling some pain and needs a little more time to recover from the surgery. He is looking forward to returning to work,” McVay says. “We obviously are looking forward to Dennis returning also but we don’t want to rush his recovery.”

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Jerry Seinfeld on “Bee Movie” & Other Stuff

Check out my video interview with Jerry Seinfeld on SueTube.

And if that’s not enough for you, here’s ANOTHER Jerry interview:

Jerry Seinfeld says he’s happy I have a digital recorder.

“I just had a lovely chat with (another reporter) and she kept her head down the whole time writing,” Jerry says right after I walk into the interview room at the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco. “I told her, while you were writing we could have been chatting. Instead, I’m trying to talk to the top of your head.”

My interview comes after Jerry has dropped into San Francisco by way of a trolley car festooned with fake bees. He walked down the yellow carpet, chatting it up with radio and TV news folks before going into a screening at the Metreon for a few lucky people _ journalists mostly.

Here’s Jerry and the trolley and, of course, the yellow carpet:

Here’s Seinfeld taking a few questions from the audience:

You can go here to check out the trailers and other cool stuff about “Bee Movie.”

Anyway, then Seinfeld headed a few blocks uptown to the Ritz, were he spent hours doing rounds of interviews, both for print and TV and Web casts. We’d already had our video interview, which you can see on SueTube. Then it was time for round two for the print stories.

Me: So, how is it going so far?

Jerry: After a while, my head starts to swell. It’s like going to an amusement park with too much noise and too many people and you start to feel a little dull. If one more guy asks me `How did you come up with the idea for the Bee Movie. Did you make it for your kids?’ I’m going to just lose it and say, You’re a journalist. A 10-year-old could could come up with a better question.

Me: Wow. That just took care of my first two questions.

Jerry, looking a little sheepish: Oh. Really?

Me: No. I was yanking your chain. I wouldn’t ask those questions. I’d rather ask what YOU would ask if you were a journalist interviewing Jerry Seinfeld about “Bee Movie.”

Jerry. Oh, you’re good. OK, I would ask what got you really frustrated making this? Animation is a very technical, very sophisticated, very detailed puppet show. Now I don’t get to work the puppet, I get to talk to the puppeteer, so my ability to communicate to the puppeteer what I wanted the puppet to do determined what that puppet did.

Instead of being funny, which is what my whole career has been, I’m now describing funny to, in most cases, a not funny person. It’s like describing a bris. I’m comfortable with challenges of vocabulary, but even for me it got hard. It’s that telephone game; I’m going to tell you to tell him. There’s too many steps. With a live actor, you tell him to do that thing where you whip your head around and we’re done. One step. He says, yeah, I know that thing.

Now I’m working with 60 different animators, with video conference not even in same state. For four years I’m doing this. Frustrating.

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Barry Benson

Me: But you love perfecting your comedy routines and on “Seinfeld” you were known to spend a lot of time polishing your comedy to perfection.

Jerry: The was the good thing about spending four years on ‘Bee Movie.’ I got to really work it over and over, which I love to do. I’m a good noodler. I’d be a good whittler or model maker, sitting in a woodshop all day. Like that.

Me: So you’re a whittler of comedy?

Jerry: Let’s say sculptor. It sounds a little more artistic.

Me: So, did you say you got your start in comedy in San Francisco?

Jerry: I didn’t start here, but it was one of the first places I got work. Oh baby, it was romantic, new things in comedy were happenign all the time. It was the mid-’70s and we were going to clubs and young people were getting on stage, and doing acts we hadn’t seen before. Not hacky joke-jokes. It was a sexy thing.

Me: What was the sexiest thing about it?

Jerry: I went from being just a guy to a GUY. Actually, I didn’t get lucky in San Francisco, but it didn’t matter. Suddenly girls were interested in me. I found out after I was in (comedy) that it would help you (get lucky).

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Barry tries to get lucky too.

Me: What comedian knocks your socks off?

Jerry: Bill Cosby and still does. Impresses me more now, and I can’t say that about any other comedian I’ve seen. He has gotten better and better and better. Chris Rock and I went a couple of years ago to the Apollo in Harlem. You never saw two such sad faces, so depressed. Guys like Chris and I, everybody we see, we say we could do that..and think we could do better. Not him. It takes observational humor and no one makes it more funny.

Me: Some people might say the same about you. Are you working on any new stand-up material?

Jerry: I have a new routine about the OnStar system. They have those commercials where they play the tape of person calling in for help. Saddest development in human culture. The key goes with you when you leave the car, people. Then, they not only do something that stupid, but then they let themselves be used in a commercial. Not sure I have my dog and kids…oops, maybe I should have checked inside the car before I locked the door.

Me: Did doing those ‘Bee Movie’ ads on NBC make you nostalgic for your old stomping grounds?

Jerry: They are, what?, in fourth place now. And I still love them. There was time when they had David Letterman and Johnny Carson and they were just the coolest network ever. I think some of it is systemic and cultural. Look at how media is expanding laterally and at lightening speed. It’s hard for a network to survive as a central place. We’re not going back to Life magazine where everyone read it every week. And people aren’t going to just watch one network.

Me: What do you think of TV shows like “Heroes” or “Lost” who have all these components like online, comic books, and all that. Could you have done that on “Seinfeld’?

Jerry: No, I couldn’t do all those platforms. People are sometimes little overconfident in what it takes to make a good show. I remember when Larry and I were doing the show, we’d hear about these successful producers who grabbed these deals to put two more on the air. We’d scratch our heads. Two? It’s impossible to do one right. People don’t quite take it seriously. When I am working on anything in comedy, it’s serious. And it’s all I do.
The standup is like taking your dreams and turning it into funny stories.
Doing a movie is a tightly structured, arcs of movement, extremely discipline, like a TV show. You have to do comedy but with storytelling. Trying to wed these two crafts is like animal husbandry and sometimes they want to do it and sometimes they don’t.

Me: You took the movie to test audiences to see what they thought of the rough cut of “Bee Movie.” How hard on your ego was it to hear them hand out negative comments?

Jerry: Oh, honey. This is not new to me. Listening to negative feedback is hard. I know the poison of success and that’s one of them. People who don’t want to know nobody liked it. Well, that’s not the business. Some times when it was hard, when I thought I really had it and audiences didn’t respond well. I have such respect for people who make movies now. I will never trash a movie, because now I have respect for what you are tackling. It’s like doing the pilot episode and the series finale all in one shot and tell a great story in between.

We made changes based on what the test audiences said. They filled out cards and we tried to establish general trends. If tell a joke in front of 50 people, 10 laugh that’s good. Two laugh, probably not.

Me: So what did the audiences tell you?

Jerry: We don’t want this guy to be too arrogant, which I have been in the TV series, playing myself. I would say things that were mean sometimes, but it was fun. But this character, it goes back to animation and creating just the right physical movements. We couldn’t get what we wanted from the animated characters, because you can’t get to the live action, nuanced subtle performance. You can’t get the audience to see the twinkle in the eye. Take the medicine, that’s what I learned.

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Seinfeld also knows how to get some buzz, like dressing up like a bee and scooting down a high wire at the Cannes Film Festival

Me: What do you like to do when you travel to new cities?

Seinfeld: I like to see where I would live, where intellectual, not-so-good-looking people live. That’s where I would feel comfortable.

Me: So in real life, are you more like “Seinfeld” or more like your “Bee Movie” character Barry Benson?

Seinfeld: I’m more like Seinfeld, more like mean person.

I saw no evidence of that.

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“Grey’s Anatomy: Haunt You Every Day”

What’s been haunting me about “Grey’s Anatomy” is how great it used to be and how, well, disappointed I’ve been in the series thus far.

I’m watching. There are things I’ve liked. But somehow the magic seemed to be slipping away.

Not happy with Gizzie. Not happy with Mer. Not even really happy with Cristina.

But in this latest episode, I’ve fallen in love all over again. Thank you Krista Vernoff, who penned this episode. You absolutely rock.

First, thank God Karev and Ava finally sealed the deal. She coos to Karev that when she thought about what she wanted to be for Halloween, all she could think of was Ava.

Now, that’s the kind of holiday special we can get behind.

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JUSTIN CHAMBERS, ELIZABETH REASER (ABC/SCOTT GARFIELD)

What a fantastic kiss. Finally, a little sizzle in the set. Of course, we know nothing’s going to run smoothly for these two, but I’m waiting to see what’s going to happen.

I’ve also been a fan of Callie. Sara Ramirez’ range is amazing, yet we had to watch her be downright pathetic the last few weeks. Way to go Callie when you b-slapped Gizzie with the sleeping with my husband reveal. And moving in with Cristina? Priceless. Finally we get two women worthy of repartee.

So where does that leave Mer? When McDreamy says he’s ready to date, all I could think of was “Game On.”‘ I liked the way Mer and her sis Lexie interacted this week, and the way she flushed her mom’s ashes down the hospital sink. It was so touching to see her and Richard together, putting Ellis to rest in the one place she felt at home.

Time to move on Mer. I actually liked Mer a lot this week.

Mer had me with the story about her mom never getting it together for Halloween and disapproving of “begging door-to-door,” which reminds us again about what an emotional cripple Ellis made her daughter.

But Mer rises above it, and goes trick-or-treating for ears. That’s right, she decides to help a young boy who needs ears, and while Dr. Mark rightfully tells Mer that no one will help him out in doing a pro bono surgery, he’s willing to do it if she can get others to chip in.

And she does. Mer’s chipper and cool as she goes around the hospital to round up the surgical team. She’s pleased when she gets it all together, but nothing is sweeter than when Dr. Mark says that she certainly fell far from the Ellis tree. Amen, buddy.

So Gizzie is together for now, but hopefully we’ve got other, more interesting, fish to fry. Like Burke’s replacement, the prickly Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith), who looks like she’s ready to bring tensions to a boil, especially when it comes to Cristina.

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BROOKE SMITH, SANDRA OH (ABC/SCOTT GARFIELD)

Then there’s my favorite character Bailey, who missed her young son’s first Halloween to help the young boy get ears. Her husband may never forgive her. I can hardly wait to peek into that pot.

So hold on folks. Looks like “Grey’s Anatomy” just took it up several notches.

Next week, – “Kung Fu Fighting” – With his marriage in turmoil, the Chief turns to his fellow male surgeons for a “gentleman’s evening,” Cristina and Izzie heatedly compete for the same surgeries and the favor of the doctor performing them, Meredith treats the survivor of a skydiving accident, and the doctors treat two injured finalists who are competing in a promotional competition.

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KATHERINE HEIGL, STEVE SANDVOSS, T.R. KNIGHT (ABC/RON TOM)

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“Aliens” in San Jose

“Aliens in America” may be one of the funniest shows on television right now, except precious few people are tuning in.

But if you’re one of the proud and the few, you can get some one-on-one time with the stars during this weekend’s San Jose soccer tournament.

Adhir Kalyan “Raja” and Dan Byrd “Justin” will be signing autographs from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28 at the CW Cup Soccer Tournament at the Morgan Hill Soccer Complex. Take the Dunne Avenue exit of 101 South of San Jose to get there.

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Adhir Kalyan as Raja and Dan Byrd as Justin in ALIENS IN AMERICA on The CW. Photo: Sergei Bachlakov

In addition to soccer, the general public is invited to enjoy the “Kick It! Zone” just outside the soccer complex. This festival area will feature inflatable games, prizes, information and product samples from a variety of sponsors.

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America’s Next Top (Quitter) Model

My pal, and fashion guru, Dino-Ray Ramos really got behind Ebony and thought she had a shot at winning it all.

Instead, she stood before Tyra and the world (well, anyone who was watching this week) and quit “America’s Next Top Model” after it was revealed that she made the final cut.

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Ebony had better things to do than model. She totally check out on this week’s photo shoot. Photo: Freddie Reshew

Ebony, a nursing student from Chicago, blew off moving forward during the ninth cycle of “America’s Next Top Model.” And Miss Tyra couldn’t conceal the disgust she felt when looking at the petulant model coulda-been.

This entire season, Ebony has shown nothing but nasty attitude. She snarls whenever someone gives her constructive criticism and just can’t help but been that person you’d like to avoid in any social situation. Dinner party? Please put her at the OTHER end of the table.

Yet her audition tape showed a bubbly, lively person who looked like she could go the distance. Oh, well. Looks can be deceiving.

The one I’m getting interested in is Asperger girl. Asperger’s disorder is a mild form of autism. At first, it looked like stunt casting and Heather was only there to provide a little dramatic tension. But Heather’s proven to be one of the most interesting girls in the competition.

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Heather in her “green” photo shoot representing recyclable materials. Photo: Freddie Reshew

And while Ebony’s departure allowed Ambreal to stay another week. Ambreal may be a nicer person, but she’s not model material. So next week Ambreal seems like a slam-dunk to go home.

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Ambreal, nice girl. No model. Photo: Freddie Reshew

Eight girls remain.

In addition to a $100,000 contract with cosmetics giant CoverGirl, this year’s prize package for the winner of The CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” will include a contract with Elite Model Management and a cover and six-page fashion spread in Seventeen magazine.

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