Archive for September, 2008

Ricky Gervais Saves the Emmy Awards

OK, so really nothing could save the Emmy Awards telecast, which was the most ghastly thing we’ve seen since…well, we’ve never seen anything worse than this on TV.

Honestly, what were these people thinking? The San Diego Zoo produces less dung that this smelly beast. Right from the beginning, we knew it couldn’t be saved. When you have reality show hosts Jeff Probst, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum, Ryan Seacrest and Tom Bergeron just standing around looking at each other saying “We’ve go nothing,” you know it’s going to be a bad night all the way around.

Although Ricky was the one bright spot:

And then there was the bit by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, which at least grabbed a couple of laughs.

But the only guy to rival Gervais was Don Rickles, who zapped the show like a pro. Too bad I can’t find a video of it.
Don Rickles and Kathy Griffith at the 2008 Emmys

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Simon Baker – Love “The Mentalist”

Oh, Simon Baker. You’re back exactly where I want you.

“Red Hair and Silver Tape” — California Bureau of Investigation consultant Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) on THE MENTALIST, Tuesday, September 30 (9:00-10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS. ©2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

I’ll admit it. The last time I saw you, I was a little freaked out. You were playing the creepy Jeff in Smith, which was some kind of ode to bad guys that intrigued critics but never had a shot on broadcast TV. And talking about a shot, it was hard to look at you on the screen after you decided to gun down those surfers who tried to bully you for poaching on their beach turf.

They deserved a nasty smack down, not a sandy grave.

Sure, you played the slightly damaged attorney Nick in The Guardian, but underneath it all you were a good guy who made some mistakes – drug conviction – but you were doing community service helping kids. I could overlook the way you sort of ran roughshod over your young charges. Somewhere, there was a caring guy.

But now, Aussie surfer boy, you’ve landed smack in the middle of my comfort zone as the witty, slightly twisted crime solver Patrick Jane in The Mentalist at 9 p.m. Tuesday on CBS.
As Patrick Jane, you bring that sassy bravado to the forefront. Patrick admits that he was a charlatan in his former life as a celebrity psychic, hoodwinking the unsuspecting with his ultra powers of observation. Again, what woman could resist a man who actually remembers every minute detail from the shoes you were wearing last week to what she ordered on your first date?

Some might say you are playing a more sophisticated version of USA’s Psych, about a slacker who uses his powers of observation to convince cops that he really is a psychic who can help solve crimes. But that’s like comparing sirloin to filet mignon. Both are fine, but one is just a few notches up on the quality scale.
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CBS’ Worst Week proves to be the Best

Things can’t get any worse than showing up at your girlfriend’s parent’s house in the middle of the night wearing a diaper made of trash bags and needing money to pay your cab fare.
Sam (Kyle Bornheimer) in his trash bag diaper with girlfriend, Melanie Clayton (Erinn Hayes, left) and Mel’s conservative mother, Angela (Nancy Lenehan) on “Worst Week” airing at 9:30 p.m. Mondays on CBS. Photo: Chris Haston/NBC Universal. ©2008 CBS BROADCASTING INC,

Scratch that. It does get worse for Sam and only funnier for those watching his crazy antics in this almost flawless pilot. The only problem with this first episode is the fear that the producers can never quite come up with other episodes to compare with this first one out of the gate.

CBS has given this nimble comedy series a perfect spot on the schedule at 9:30 p.m. Monday right after the hilarious testosterone filled “Two and a Half Men.” The humor sensibilities of these two series should mesh perfectly for viewers.

From the time we first meet Sam (Kyle Bornheimer), the laughs come fast and furious. Don’t look for the typical sitcom style of joke after joke. The slapstick humor can melt anyone into a laughing puddle if you’re the kind of person who loves the kind of humor that makes you almost want to cover your eyes while the situation unfolds or thinks someone taking a tumble is the highest form of comedy.

And tumble he does. Sam takes more falls than a stuntman as he bumbles along in his quest.
Sam’s a magazine editor who has a pathological urge to please his beautiful girlfriend Melanie’s upper class parents. They, in turn, can barely acknowledge him as being any more than just a friend to their beloved Mel (Erinn Hayes). Kyle Bornheimer plays Sam with a sweetness that makes his horrific blunders just that much harder to watch.
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90210 Gets a Full Season Order

The CW believed so strongly that 90210 would be a hit, they didn’t bother sending out review copies to critics.

What was the point? The network already knew they had a built-in audience ready to go back to the zip code that built the House of Fox. And they were right. Audiences turned out for 90210 in record numbers.

And the CW gained a lot of ground with young women viewers. Even if US Weekly says the girls on the show are too skinny.

And critics probably would be less than kind about the acting range of most of the cast – with the exception of Tristan Wilds who came from the critically acclaimed but low rated HBO series The Wire.

“Model Behavior”– Dustin Milligan as Ethan and AnnaLynne McCord as Naomi on 90210 on The CW. Photo: Michael Desmond/The CW ©2008

Barely a few weeks after the premiere, the CW has announced it has picked the series up for a full season run.

“The successful addition of ‘90210’ has taken The CW another step forward in building a cohesive schedule that defines this network as a destination for young women with shows that get our audience talking — and watching,” said CW Entertainment president Dawn Ostroff. “We’re very excited about the chance to watch this ensemble of newcomers and familiar faces coalesce and grow together as we move forward.”

The two-hour debut of “90210” shattered ratings records for The CW Network, becoming the highest-rated series premiere in the network’s history with women 18-34 (4.5/12), adults 18-34 (3.1/9) and adults 18-49 (2.6/7).

The most recent telecast of 90210 scored week-to-week gains in target demos, including 6% in women 18-34 (3.3/10), 14% in adults 18-34 (2.4/7) and 3% in total viewers (3.3mil).

As for the critics, 90210 don’t need no stinkin’ critics to be a success. All they needed was the was the powerhouse producers Gabe Sachs & Jeff Judah (“Freaks & Geeks”). With those two on board, the critics probably would have given the show a thumbs-up. If anyone cared.

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Will “Amazing Race” pick up yet another Emmy?

There’s not a lot of suspense when it comes time to rip open the envelope announcing the Emmy winner for best reality program.

“Jeff (Probst) and I have sat together and lost together. We’re used to staying in our seats (after the winner is announced). There’s not a lot of cardio after our category” says American Idol host Ryan Seacrest. “Your heart beats for about a minute and then they say Amazing Race and about 100 people jump up on stage.”

The Amazing Race has become the perennial Emmy winner, and with good cause.
Let’s face it. The awe factor’s amped up considerably when people are zip lining off Victoria Falls rather than scooting across a dance floor or warbling to cranky judges. There’s an obvious big budget production scale working here with fabulous locales coupled with the element of strangers trying to navigate in a new environment.

And that doesn’t even take in the soap opera that takes place between the contestants – or between team members. As race fans know, every competition teams two people with an existing relationship (newly dating, father and daughter, married, separated, siblings) – and those relationships are seldom trouble-free.

Here are a few teams you might remember from past TAR seasons:

10. The Cho Brothers – These two sibs spent so much time helping others that they ended up getting cut out of the race early because they keep falling behind in a an effort to boost other teams. The couple they really gave a leg up to was David and Mary.

9. David and Mary – The Kentucky coal miner and his wife didn’t seem like the kind of people who would be able to compete against world travelers, but they hung in for quite a while especially when they got so much help in the beginning from other racers including the Cho Brothers. D and M didn’t win the million bucks, but The View” showered them with presents including a new house and car just for being so gosh-darned nice.

8. Dustin and Kadice – They looked like a couple of ditzy blonds who couldn’t find their way out of a mini-mall, much less exotic locations. But they became fierce competitors. Beware the blond.

7. Chip and Reichen – They insisted on being called married on the show, and then promptly split right after they won the race. The couple claimed the relationship couldn’t withstand the post-race pressure and the glare of the cameras. But soon after Reichen was N’ Synch with Lance Bass. Ah, fame.

6. Charla and Mirna – Please stop the words “Run, Charla run. Run, Charla, run” from looping around my brain. Charla was the little person with massive determination who kept up with her leggier cousin. They ended up cashing in after outperforming the competition.

5. Kynt and Vyxsin – Just how cute is it to have Goths with Kentucky accents and southern manners? Turns out Vyxsin’s dad was some sort of military guy who taught the duo the ropes when it came to those crazy challenges. Kynt insisted on Vyxsin remaining civil at all times and only seemed to slightly lose his cool when she was snappish.

4. B.J and Tyler – Turns out you can be Bay Area slackers and still win a million bucks in a race. In a complete fluke, the team came in last in two legs of the race, but both were non-elimination pit stops. Host Phil Keoghan says they boys enjoyed every moment in the race whether they were first or last. But first was obviously better: At the finish line where the two came in first, Tyler quipped that “If it’s this successful to be hippies, we might as well stay hippies.’’ Woodstock forever, man.

3. Uchenna and Joyce – Viewers loved them, but fellow racer Rob (formerly of Survivor) cried foul when the couple won the race after they were allowed on a flight that had previously been closed to them.

2. Jonathan and Victoria – Has anyone been more universally hated in TAR history than Jonathan? He claimed he was “butchered” by bad editing, but the man called the vilest contestant in TAR history was caught on tape far too often. He actually pushed his wife Victoria while the cameras were rolling. But as contemptible as he was, Victoria’s constant whining could bring out the worst in anyone.

1. Rob and Amber – Cheaters. OK, too hard? Rob and Amber took their Survivor”fame and cashed in on people around the world willing to help the two connivers out as they took unfair advantage. Turned out cheaters never prosper. Or at least they don’t win The Amazing Race.

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“Supernatural” Dean’s back from hell

For someone who has been to hell and back, Dean Winchester is looking mighty fine.

When last we saw the self-proclaimed smart brother, he was being dragged down into the devil’s lair after selling his soul to save his brother Sam. Chest ripped open by the hounds of hell, things weren’t looking good for our boy. Jump forward four months, and he’s clawing through a pine box before digging his way out of a grave. He emerges with a big red handprint on his shoulder marking his savage rescue from Hades’ halls – and more than a few questions about how he escaped and why he can’t remember much about his days down under.

Supernatural pops back on the schedule at 9 p.m. Thursday on the CW, right after the series premiere of Smallville. Brothers Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) team up to fight the forces of evil, with their trusty hunter pal and closest-thing-to-a-father-since-dad-was-offed-by-a-demon Bobby (Jim Beaver).

Who snatched Dean from his living nightmare and why makes for one of the best episodes ever from this always entertainment series embarking on its fourth season. There’s no doubt that while the writer’s strike hurt a lot of people, it seems to have rejuvenated series that could have been heading for a major slump. After last season, fans might have been wondering if Dean’s tumble down to the dark side could signal the beginning of the end of this series.

Instead, it sets up what may be one of the greatest season ever for Supernatural.. First out of the box is a terrific episode written by creator Eric Kripke and directed by Kim Manners (The X-Files).

There are three key plot points the CW has begged reviewers not to reveal, and those points are addressed quite nicely in the not-to-be-missed season opener. But we can tell you that there’s a new man in the boys’ life who will change the course of their adventures in a major way. Castiel (Mischa Collins) is a hottie, and by that I mean he’ll burn the eyes right out of your head.

Sometimes there’s a fine line between good and evil, and that’s the territory Dean and Sam explore this season. Can a demon be saved? Can an atheist believe in God? Can a supernatural being be good and yet allow evil to run amuck?

And there’s a reason why the second, nail-biting episode is titled “Are You There God? It’s Me, Dean Winchester.” Strap on those seatbelts. It’s going to be thrill ride.

While Supernatural has some cool special effects, Sci Fi’s new series Sanctuary, which airs at 9 p.m. Oct. 3 on the Sci Fi Channel, takes it to a whole new level with green screen sets and a production that comes out of Sin City and 300.

The technology allows the sets to take on a hyper-reality feel, but there’s also a slight disconnect with the actors. Some reactions seem more stilted than with the more easy-going vibe out of Supernatural. The two-hour premiere looks promising, yet doesn’t have that instant connect that Supernatural had from day one with relatable characters and snappy dialogue.

Sanctuary has a concept and a style that takes front-and-center priority. We would have liked a little more personality to the characters, which may evolve later after the shiny wears off of the new tech toys.

This series started out more than a year ago as Internet webisodes, where we were introduced to Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Topping), a scientist after Jack the Ripper. These days, the 157-year-old doctor operates Sanctuary with the help of her new recruit Dr. Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne), her tough beautiful daughter Ashley (Emilie Ullerup) and tech whiz Henry (Ryan Robbins) dedicate their lives to studying and protecting odd and terrifying creatures that lurk in the shadows.

Some monsters are hideous, others look like every day people but may be the most dangerous of all: Case in point is Magnus’ nemesis John Druitt played by Christopher Heyerdahl (“Stargate Atlantis”).

The script was a pilot written by Damian Kindler(Stargate eight years ago before he and writing partner Martin Wood decided to take it to the Internet.

“(We wanted) to explore ways to shoot it,” Kindler said. “It was decided that we would start with just some R&D on the Web, build an audience, build a technical shooting style.”

Topping says the challenge for the actors was working on this new kind of set.

“It’s just getting your head around the idea of being inside a totally virtual set,” Topping says. “We
talked to our director and our vis effects team, and we often have renderings that we can look at before we actually step onto the stage, so you get an idea of the scope.”

Kindler says the close to four million people who saw it on the Web won’t be getting a rehash.

“(The webisodes) really kind of cut our teeth on how we’d like to try to shoot it,” Kindler says. “The series on television is a complete overhaul, like a re-boot of the concept. Even though it has
the same cast and the same concept, it’s much broader in scope and deeper and the characters are more dimensional. I think it’s far more accessible to a wider audience.”

But Kindler must mean the episodes following the premiere, which is a trimmed down version of the webisodes already online. A few of the minor characters have been recast for the series and a few tweaks have been made. And the premiere actually offers less especially in the back story between Magnus and Druitt.

The webisodes were much more impressive than this two-hour premiere, which doesn’t bode well for the remainder of the 13-episode season.

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Amazing Race kicks off 13th season

Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan likes to tell the story about the kid who came up to him one day and perfectly recited the rules regarding detours.

Mini-Phil quickly rattled off “A Detour is a choice between two tasks, each with its own pros and cons. Teams must successfully complete one of the tasks in order to receive their next clue…” Well, you get the picture. Race fans are rabid.

TAR starts up again at 8 p.m. Aug. 28 on CBS for a 13th go-round with another diverse group of racers, including an aging hippie couple and the requisite nerd team, bimbo team, sibling team and strained relationship team(s). There’s a contestant named Starr Spangler, a former NFL cheerleader. The NFL’s getting a two-fer this time around with former NFL player Ken Greene, who played with the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers.

He also played a lot off the field too. He’s trying to mend his relationship with wife Tina after cheating on her.

The premiere episode took it a little too easy on the teams for my taste, with the most challenging obstacle requiring teams to climb down rope netting from a building Superman could take in a single bound. Let’s hope things pick up in later episodes.

No one team really stood out from the crowd, unless you count the tie-dyed, shaggy gray-haired beekeeper hippies who appeared to sweat a little too much for the amount of exercise they were getting.

While we love the gorgeous locations, the challenges and, of course, and even Phil’s predictable speeches, the heart of this show lies in the teams. We need heroes and villains, the good and the bad, the likable and the detestable. So in that sprit, we look back at our top-10 moments in TAR history.

10. Maybe it’s just because I found Jen and Nate in TAR 12 to be the two most annoying contestants in recent years, but wasn’t it sweet when they got bounced on Jen’s birthday? Perfect gift for a spoiled, whiney witch.

9. In TAR 10, first place team James and Tyler reached what they thought was the pit stop only to discover after James, who has an extreme fear of heights, reluctantly did a 232 foot, face-forward repel or “Angel Dive” down the side of Helsinki Olympic Stadium that they had only reached the midway point in the leg.

8. Poor sweet hippie B.J. almost passed out digging through no less than 117 dirt mounds trying to find some food under the sand during TAR 9. Although he and teammate Tyler arrived first at the challenge, they were the last to leave and would have been eliminated from the race except it proved to be a non-elimination round. The two went on to win the million.

7. No matter how nimble you might be, something can always take you down in a heartbeat. Like a sour little donkey. In a sweet example of karma during TAR 12, nasty Ari early on stole another teams’ cab, boasting “Karma’s a bitch, but I’m a bigger bitch.” Later, karma clamped down on his backside when he and teammate Staella got their come-uppance from a stubborn donkey who refused to cooperate no matter how many times Ari threatened its little bony body.

6. Can a reality competition show really bring out the selfless nature in others? Not usually, but in the case of the Cho brothers in TAR 10, they wrangled a way for last-place team Dave and Mary to get the fast-forward. Not only did team Kentucky coal miner win that leg, but they also won a luxury trip to Tahiti. While the Cho brothers remained in the game that time, the fact that they spent more time saving D&M’s bacon than playing their own game resulted in them being prematurely eliminated from the race.

5. Things got pretty scary when, in TAR 7, when brothers Ron and Kelly flipped their vehicle over, injuring a cameraman. Concerned racers stopped to make sure everything was OK, with Lynn and Alex refusing to leave the team until they knew medical help was on the way. All that concern allowed the unconcerned former Survivor contestants Rob and Amber to gain an advantage as they rolled on past the accident without even asking if everyone was OK.

4. There are always a few teams who take the unethical route, but none did it as blatantly as frat boys Eric and Jeremy in TAR 9. The boys actually canceled the other teams’ cabs so they could get a jump start. If that wasn’t bad enough, they let the other teams think it was MoJo – Monica and Joseph – do did the dirty deed.

3. That cheer from audience all over America came when insufferable dad Ronald got a painful hernia in TAR 12. Ronald rode his sweet daughter Christine like a pack mule, never giving her a minute’s peace. She bore it all with grace and dignity and eventually, it seemed that Ron came around a little in the end.

2. Rascally grandpa Don and his grandson Nick struggled through many trials, but when the two allowed themselves to get matching tattoos in TAR 12, they went above and beyond to get a jump on the competition. And it was a ghastly tat at that.

1. No one will ever forget the day Joyce shaved her head just so her team could get the fast-forward in TAR 7. After hearing those weepy little America’s Next Top Model girls cry over a few snipped locks, it was amazing indeed to see what lengths Joyce would go to get a shot at winning the grand prize.

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Fashion on TV: Coco Chanel to Sex and the City

New York fashion week brings out the kitty claws in some people.

Susan Sarandon’s daughter sniffs that mommy actually wears her gym clothes into the night. Oh, the horror. Just where did Eva Amurri, 23, learn her fashion sense then? She says through her pals in the industry, but we suspect that Eva, like so many of us, learned everything we know about fashion through television.

This week, it’s not just a coincidence that Lifetime is trotting out a miniseries based on the life of fashion icon Coco Chanel. Coco Chanel premieres at 8 p.m. Saturday on Lifetime spinning the tale of the little French orphan girl who becomes a dressmaker apprentice in 1912 Paris before being whisked away by a nobleman who takes her to live at his country estate. Don’t you hate that when that happens?

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Shirley MacLaine as Coco Chanel in the Lifetime miniseries “”Coco Chanel” premiereing at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 on Lifetime.

She struggles. She wins in love, she loses in love. She wins in fashion, she loses in fashion, she makes a dramatic comeback. It’s all there, with Barbora Bobulova playing the young Coco and Shirley MacLaine playing the designer in her later years.

MacLaine says she talked to Audrey Hepburn when the two were making Children’s Hour about playing Chanel.

“(We) were talking about the contradictions, the ambition, the need for love, the search for beauty, et cetera, that fashion designers had because I didn’t know much about fashion, and she told me that I should play Coco Chanel,” MacLaine says. “And I said, “Well Coco Chanel was little and scrunched over and very short.” And she said, “No, but the spirit of the woman is what matches your spirit.” Now, I found Coco to be everything between generous and rude. So I don’t know what Audrey really meant.”

MacLaine says she loved Chanel’s contradiction, her colorful rudeness and her ability to improvise a new outfit in 10 seconds.

“I loved her conflict between love and ambition and her conflict between how to get stuff done and not be hurtful,” MacLaine says. “I think we’re both colorful. I think we’re both rude. I think we’re both spontaneous. We both can’t hold what we feel to be the honest opinion in. “

So once you pass the fashion history class provided by this miniseries, you can move on with your education by watching these top ten TV fashion shows:

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Rich on TV

There’s nothing like a good wallow in big fat vat of rich to make you forget that you can’t pay the rent.

At least, that’s the thinking behind the most recent batch of rich folk shows tumbling out of Hollywood. Actually, it was last year when we all noticed there were a whole lot of shows about the wealthy making the fall line-up. But while some last-season series such as Big Shots and Cashmere Mafia won’t be returning, most have found a spot on the new fall line-up. Dirty, Sexy Money, Lipstick Jungle and Gossip Girl are coming back for a second run after being waylaid by the writer’s strike and even more new shows about rotten rich have rushed in.

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“Gossip Girl” on the CW is just packed with the way-too-rich. Pictured: (l-r) Yin Chang as Nelly Yuki, Amanda Setton as Penelope PHOTO CREDIT: GIOVANNI RUFINO/THE CW

The CW’s Privileged has a hard-working would-be journalist playing sista-momma to two spoiled, manipulative Florida teens. The network also has the remake of Beverly Hills 90210 titled simply 90210 for those with short attention spans.

The CW seems to think that the way to a viewer’s heart is through watching people richer than you who just can’t buy happiness. Both freshman series 90210 and the addictive sophomore series Gossip Girl brought in impressive numbers.

When the financial going get tough, there’s nothing better than feeling superior to those with the green – and we’re not talking ecology.

Here’s look at some rich people we love, or at least love to hate.

10. Simple Life – Ah, the series that brought Paris Hilton into our living rooms. Well, maybe it was the sex tape for some of you, but for most of us it was seeing Paris and former best pal Nicole Richie going from the lap of luxury to the pits of small town America.

9. The Hills – Can you do any top-10 list these days without mentioning the Hills? Think lifestyles of the rich and vapid. Spencer alone could rate a rung on this ratings ladder.

8. Super Sweet 16 – My god, what was that mother thinking when she gave her princess a Lexus convertible the day BEFORE her 15th birthday party, which, you know, totally ruined her birthday. Or how about the rich witch who didn’t want her sister in a cute dress because it would upstage the birthday girl? Watching this show makes every wage earner happy that they don’t have to deal with these people.

7. The Real Housewives of Orange County – Here’s a quote I’ve never quite forgotten, no matter how much alcohol I’ve had. When Kara, the daughter of former Playboy Playmate and OC housewife Jeana Keogh says, “We show our love by buying each other things.” Actually, I think that says, I didn’t care enough to spend any time with you, so I bought you off.

6. Dallas – Nothing said excess like those oil-rich Ewings. J.R. wheeled and dealed his way through life. Sure, he got shot for being such a bastard, but he popped right up again and kept on spreading misery to anyone in his path.

5. Dynasty – Here’s what we loved about this series: You could always count on a good old fashioned cat fight that had these perfectly coiffed ladies splashing around in the water like a spring break wet T-shirt contest. But we really loved the mud wrestling.

4. Beverly Hills 90210 – Sweet Brenda and Brandon Walsh got quite a culture shock when they moved with their family from the Midwest to the 90210. We all jumped into the crazy world of spoiled but neglected Hollywood high schoolers. Poor tortured Dylan, come let us make you feel better.

3. Entourage – Vincent Chase might have a healthy dose of self love, but at least he brings his buddies along to share the indulgent, perk-filled lifestyle being an up-and-coming movie star affords him.

2. Arrested Development – Love the Bluths, especially boozy mom Lucille (“Your father says he wants me to go all the way to Fallujah. I thought he meant that sex act that’s so popular with your generation.”). Although Michael’s trying to be better than this bananas bunch, the rest feed just play out the worst in the stereotype of the wealthy as stupid and self-obsessed.

1. Brothers & Sisters – Don’t we all wish we could have lively political discussions around the pool while sipping grand California wines? This little slice of rich life lets us all wallow in the excesses of the Walker family filled with beautiful smart people who always seems to come up with some vast amount of money out of thin air whenever those financial storm clouds gather.

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Survivor: Gabon – Jeff Probst talks, and we list

Back when Survivor spent its third season in Africa, host Jeff Probst said it was more like spending time in a zoo than being out in the wilderness.

“It’s a preserve and the animals are used to having people around all the time, so it wasn’t that big of a deal to them,” Probst says after his recent return from filming the latest version of Survivor in Gabon. “In Gabon, they told us in advance that this would be completely different. These animals were not used to seeing any body around and if you see an elephant, it’s a big deal because you just don’t know how they are going to react.”

Probst says that during one Survivor:Gabon interview, a giant elephant came within 50 yards of the film crew.

“It was thrilling and scary at the same time,” Probst says. “This elephant will stomp on you. There were moments in the filming when survivors interacted with the animals and it felt like being in a Spielberg movie.”

At one point, a 12-foot python slithered into the camp, and someone had the bright idea of using it as a prop for a promo shot with Probst. The crew tried to reassure Probst they could stop the snake from squeezing him to death if it tried. Heck, the worst thing would be Probst might get a nasty, but not fatal, bite.

“They put the snake around my neck and I was holding the head while it was moving and I kept reminding myself that this was not a quote trained L.A. snake, unquote, but one that just crawled out of the jungle,” Probst says. “I held him for about five minutes while I had flashbacks to another promo about three years ago doing the snake thing with (so-called) trained snake. It bit the trainer, a full on clamp on the wrist. (On our shoot) we got some great still shots of me with the snake, but I wasn’t going to tempt things for too long.”

CBS website has this snake, but not the picture with snake and Jeff Probst for “SURVIVOR: GABON – EARTH’S LAST EDEN,” which begins its 17th installment at 8 p.m. Sept. 25 on CBS. Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2008 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Last time Survivor” went to Africa, they called it the most boring cycle every.
OK, maybe that was just me. But with the dry plains instead of those subtropical and beach shots, the series had all the tension of watching paint dry. What more can you say about a series that includes rolling boulders as a challenge? And the contestants? Sleeping pills on steroids.

When the high points include some Virginia farmer named Big Tom Buchanan dong the chicken dance to “chicken in a bread basket picking out dough” or some blah, blah, blah, blah do-si-do stuff, you know you’re in trouble.

Did you miss those golden moments? We’re here to share a few more with you:
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