Archive for CBS

“Amazing Race”: Coincidence or Sloppy Casting?

Coincidence or just sloppy casting?

A lot of people have commented on just how many SoCal folks are competing in this season’s “Amazing Race” – but the real news comes from Nikki who says that four of the competitors all went to high school together.

Not only are most of them from socal, I went to high school with Nathan, Staella, TK, and Rachel…we all graduated in 2001 (TK in 2002) all from Fountain Valley High school. They all know and have known each other well for the past ten years…it’s kinda odd that the AR went with that dynamic, maybe it will make for some interesting situations/rivalries/alliances…maybe not.

One thing’s for sure, the former high school classmates never let on that they knew each other.

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Teammates Ari Bonias (front) and Staella Gianakakos (back)

Staella and her partner Ari got the bad sport of the night award after they stole the cab that was called by another team. But the two got their come-uppance when they tried to get their donkey moving.

Turns out that Staella and Ari acted like asses, and a fuzzy brown donkey decided to be the instrument of karma.

Nathan also hit the spotlight as the guy who thinks he has the worst partner ever in this race. Although he tried to make it up later to girlfriend Jennifer, it was obvious he thinks she’s a slacker who can cost him the game.
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Jennifer Parker (back) and Nathan Hagstrom (front)

TK and Rachel have been dubbed “The Hippies” for this round, and they seemed to be nice enough people, although they did little to stand out in the first episode.

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TK Erwin (standing) and Rachel Rosales

We’ll never know if Staella would have revealed her connection to TK, Rachel or Nathan, because she and Ari came in dead last and were elminated from “The Amazing Race.”

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Viva Laughlin Canceled

Viva Laugh-able has been whisked off the CBS schedule after crapping out in the ratings.

The horrible songfest was widely panned by critics (I blame low blood sugar for actually writing that the tunes were catchy). In it’s place will be five-time Emmy winning reality series “The Amazing Race,” which returns Nov. 4 for its fourth edition.

“The Amazing Race 12” spans 50,000 miles including first time visits to Ireland, Lithuania and Croatia. We need a little break away from everything that’s going on these days, and “Amazing Race” always delivers.

And yes, there is a Sunday before the “Amazing Race” begins. Don’t fear. CBS is sticking in a repeat of “CSI” that night.

We don’t think anyone will be shedding any tears for “Viva Laughlin.”

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“CSI:NY” Gets a Second Life

Get ready to either be thrilled, or totally ticked, by this week’s episode of “CSI: NY.”

Detective Mac Taylor (Gary Sinise) enters the computer-based virtual world of “Second Life,” where the team tracks down a killer in both the real and cyber world. For those who haven’t experienced this, Second Life provides a gateway into fantasy lives on the computer where alter-egos known as an avatars interact.

Your virtual counterpart is generally much better looking than your reality.

In the course of the episode, Mac discovers a woman has been murdered and the suspect probably has something to do with her Second Life. So Mac gets schooled before crashing into cyberland to track down the killer. The narrative device gives viewers unfamiliar with this world a primer on how it all works.

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Down the rabbit hole he goes, and drags the viewers with him. But if you are expecting a pay-off at the end of the episode, you’ll be disappointed. The show ends with a cliff-hanger that is supposed to entice you into the Second Life world to try to suss out the answer for yourself.

“CSI” creator Anthony E. Zuiker says “CSI”’s virtual world opens for business that night. Viewers will be instructed to go on the internet, log on to the site and create their own avatar. Zuiker’s avatar, which he says will be “much handsomer, much thinner” than he really is, will be waiting to greet you.

We think people might not want to be forced into taking that journey just to find out whodunit.

“Television, ma’am, is changing,” Zuiker said during a conference call last week. “(We) take chances on other platforms. The quest was to write a great episode in the First Life and then a deeper experience that would have a life span beyond that.”

Zuiker says the victim _ meaning in the show and not the luckless viewer who doesn’t want to become an avatar _ was like Paris Hilton in her virtual life. So the crack CSI team suits up like an avatar to go into their world. Now you can be part of that crack team.

“Once you enter, there are three different levels of game play,” Zuiker says. “This continues through Feb. 6 when the episode concludes (on TV), but we’ll continue (the world after the murder is resolved.)”

Zuiker thinks that people will embrace this new CSI Second Life world. The levels include beginner, intermediate and advanced.

Beginners can be hand-held through the experience with a few games. In intermediate, you can try to solve a “Murder by Zuiker” where you can look at evidence and try to match Zuiker’s interpretation of how the murder went down. If you can find the hidden clue, you can then get a Second Life URL known as a SLURL.

This, of course, is about the time my mind started checking out.

The gist of the top level is that you get to join the Murder of the Month club, go to the lab, talk to suspects and be a virtual CSI, which is a dramatic interpretation of a real CSI. So I guess it’s kind of three-degrees of separation CSI.

”You can be whomever you want, whatever you want in this world,” Zuiker says. “The future of television is community. The days of being entertained by one device has changed.”

This is bad news for people who just like the tube so they can veg at the end of a long day.

Here’s a CBS/ YouTube peek at the episode:

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CBS Gets More Big Bang Theory

Maybe it’s the threat of a writer’s strike, which could be happening as early as Nov. 1, but the networks seem to be giving their stamp of approval early this season.

ABC previously announced a full season pick-up of “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off “Private Practice,” which has consistantly hit the No. 1 ratings spot for new fall shows.

CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” is the first new fall comedy to get a full season pick-up order. The network also gave their solid drama “The Unit” a full season order as well.

And dashing off into a tangent, “Scrubs” creator Bill Lawrence said yesterday that “The Unit” co-star Scott Foley may be back on board for the comedy’s final season if his schedule allows.

“Bang” is kind of growing on me. Johnny Galecki and Jim Parsons as Leonard and Sheldon make the perfect odd and odder couple with their geeky, Cal Tech personalities. Of course, you have to have the dumb blonde, played by Kaley Cuoco. Simon Helberg and Kunal Nayyar round out the cast as Sheldon and Leonard’s two best nerd herd pals.

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Leonard (Johnny Galecki, pictured second from left), Sheldon (Jim Parsons, pictured far right), Wolowitz (Simon Helberg, pictured second from right) and Koothrappali (Kunal Nayyar, pictured far left) undertake a challenging and dangerous experiment, attending the Halloween party being thrown by their hot neighbor, Penny (Kaley Cuoco, not pictured) on The Oct. 29 episode. Photo: Ron Batzdorff/Warner Bros.

As part of the CBS Monday night comedy block, “The Big Bang Theory” from Chuck Lorre, who is also responsible for “Two and a Half Men” that airs afterwards, has been averaging 8.97 million viewers.

“The Unit” is averaging 11.44 million viewers. Tuesday’s episode posted the best ratings – 3.1/08 in adults 18-49 and 4.2/09 in adults 25-54 – since February.

“The Unit” stars Dennis Haysbert, Scott Foley, Robert Patrick, Regina Taylor, Max Martini, Michael Irby, Demore Barnes, Abby Brummell and Audrey Marie Anderson. David Mamet, Shawn Ryan and Vahan Moosekian are executive producers.

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How much did you hate Viva Laughlin?

If Elvis wasn’t dead, this would have killed him.

That was the general sentiment of most critics about CBS’ foray into musical drama. In between the catchy tunes, there’s a family in crisis, a murder to solve and lots of bizarre characters in this brave venture into musical television centering on Ripley Holden (Lloyd Owen), who has made his fortune with convenience stores. Now he’s tossing the dice and putting his bucks on a dream to own the biggest and best casino/hotel in Laughlin, Nev.

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On SueTube this week, theater critic Chad Jones predicted a very short life span for this series.

For me, it was kind of TV to fold laundry by. You know, savor the spunky songs like “Viva Las Vegas,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “One Way or Another” and “Let It Ride.” I can glance up and see the musical numbers, hum along with the tunes and sort of pay attention to a not-too-taxing story line.

That wasn’t good enough for most critics, however. But what did you think?

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Survivor: Anorexia

What’s more painful that watching Jean-Robert tear off his drawers in a challenge?

Seeing emaciated Courtney walking around the jungle like a skeleton. She didn’t have much meat on her to begin with, but she’s gotten even worse as the show has progressed. But she’s getting our vote for the next one booted out of Fei Long.

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Todd Herzog and Courtney Yates, of the Fei Long tribe, during the SURVIVOR: CHINA, Thursday, Oct. 11

Out pick for next out in Zhan Hu is Sherea “I’m saving myself for the challenges” Lloyd. The fourth grade teacher hasn’t exactly been a whiz at the challenges, and unless she picks up the pace, she’s going to get her torch snuffed.

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Miss Attitude herself, Sherea Lloyd

Next week, Jaime and Erik admit to a mutual attraction as a romance blossoms. A tribal switch leads to chaos, tears, fears and cracks in former alliances.

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Erik and Jaime sneak a moment

And if you missed the CBS video of “Survivor:China” base camp:

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Behind the CSI Scenes with Joey

James Logan High School grad Joey Gaytan looked like the kind of guy you might not want to meet in a dark alley.

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But after having a nice conversation with Joey last week, I knew it was all just an act. The Union City native says he’s living the Hollywood dream.

“It’s like winning the lottery, but I encourage anyone who has a dream of coming to Hollywood to do it,” says Joey, who turned 29 on Sunday. “People would say I was too short, or too fat, or just not cool enough. But look at me now.”

Joey, who got his first big break in 2005 when he won the reality series, “Wanted: Ted or Alive” hosted by rock legend Ted Nugent, says being cast on a top-rated show like “CSI: Miami” was exciting.

And he wants you to share in that excitement, so he posted a video on My Space which shows you what it was like, from his trailer to the stage.

I was going to embed the video, but since it contains language my company might not approve of, I decided to just give you the link instead.

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Name Dropping

So my friend Dave Walker at the New Orleans Time Picayune was a little shocked last week to discover that his name was dropped on “Private Practice” – as a man with a drinking problem.

TV writers love using TV critics’ names as characters. My first encounter was a “Law & Order” episode in which Susan Young was riding with her boyfriend when he committed a hit-and-run.


When I was checking out YouTube, there was a clip from “CSI:NY” from last Dec. when my name was used as a murder victim:

It’s all done in fun. But couldn’t I just once be the gorgeous blond that someone like Sawyer has been lusting for?

Well, you’ve seen my picture. I guess not.

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Survivor, Sleaze Edition?

Mud wrestling with half naked men and women, but mostly women, in the reward challenge tonight.

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Ashley Massaro, Erik Huffman, Sherea Lloyd and Dave Cruser, during the reward challenge,”Chinese Checkers.” Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

In fact, make that bare-breasted women. Amanda, who lost her top, got it right when she said, “My mom is going to kill me!.”

Before going on, I’d like to make a shameless plug for my vodcast on the breast issue on SueTube.

Moving on, we had the first alliance formed on the Fei Long clan with Amanda, Aaron and Todd. Todd seems to be getting the vote of confidence in the tribe.

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Amanda Kimmel, Todd Herzog and Aaron Reisberger team up. Monty Brinton/CBS

After Leslie got the clue from “kidnapped” Jamie about where to find the immunity idol, she immediately told Todd so he would help her.

How can these people trust the Todd???

But perhaps the best quote of the night was when lazy snore-boy Jean-Robert explained that he may not do much physical work, but “I contribute with my mind.”

Oh, and I kissed my five bucks good-bye tonight when Ashleygot tossed.

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Ashley Massaro just couldn’t stop feuding with Dave, and it got her booted.

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Hooked on Survivor – Again

Darn you office pool!

This is the first season in a while where there were no locals in the mix, so for a brief moment I thought perhaps I’d simplify the recording process and mark it off an already swamped Thursday.

(“Ugly Betty” back next week, with “My Name is Earl” and “30 Rock”).

Then Ann Tatko Peterson walked by with the office pool and I was hooked again. I remember telling her, “Just don’t let me pick Chicken.”

I didn’t. I got Ashley. Which almost looked like my 5 bucks was going to be sailing right out the door after the WWE wrestler got sick and couldn’t perform. Even Ash thought she was a goner at tribal council. But in the end, Chicken and his passive-aggressive style got him booted out.

My girl Ashley:
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ASHLEY MASSARO, 28 of East Northport, N.Y.
Professional WWE Wrestler

This is the 15th installment of “Survivor.”

“Survivor: China” began not on an island, but in urban Shanghai before moving to HuangPu Mountain’s Mi Tuo Temple for a Buddhist ceremony where they were instructed to leave all of their worldly possessions behind.

The castaways were then be marooned with the clothes on their back at two separate islands on Zhelin Lake (translation: the Land of 1,000 Lakes) located in the Jiangxi Province.

They split into two tribes, Fei Long (translation: Flying Dragon) and Zhan Hu (translation: Fighting Tiger), and given a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for tribe motivation and assistance throughout the game.

This time there will be a not-so-Hidden Immunity Idol which may save someone from elimination at a future Tribal Council. The idols will be in plain sight, although the castaways won’t realize it at first.

Each week, the winning tribe of the Reward Challenge will be allowed to kidnap someone from the losing tribe. The person who is kidnapped will receive a note from host Jeff Probst before departing for the enemy camp and will be instructed to give it to one member of the enemy tribe (the kidnapped victim will decide who receives it) in private.

The clue will inform this person of the Hidden Immunity Idol located somewhere at their camp. This person must then decide if they wish to share the information with their tribe or keep it to themselves. The kidnapped victim will return to their original tribe at the following Immunity Challenge.

Chicken Out:

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CHICKEN MORRIS, 47 Marion, Va.
Chicken farmer

For pictures of all the “Survivor” competitors, search “Survivor” on the blog for the June entry.

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