- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Viewer’s choice

Millions of men pounce on the annual Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue each winter to keep them warm until spring.

NBC is putting those frustrated fellas to work. However, the task isn’t taxing and, in fact, may be pleasant.

The network’s new reality show, “The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search,” debuting tonight at 8, allows the girl watchers to get in on the selection process for the swimsuit edition.

First, a team of judges (which includes “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent and former SI swimsuit model Roshumba Williams) selects a group of amateur models gunning for a spot in the coveted issue. Then the panel turns the serious voting over to the audience. Its collective decision will be revealed when the show’s finale airs next month.

The lucky model will appear in the SI swimsuit issue and also will earn a $1 million modeling contract from NEXT Model Management. A dozen beauties are vying for the honor.

Griffin’s ‘D’-ecision

Kathy Griffin, who last spring skewered celebrity culture with her “D-List” special, is again bringing her unique brand of comedy to Bravo.

The copper-haired comic, who co-starred with Brooke Shields in NBC’s “Suddenly Susan,” has inked a six-episode deal with the cable channel for an unscripted series based on her life and career. The shows will feature parts of her stand-up routine as well as the preparations behind the jokes.

Miss Griffin’s shtick in recent years has revolved around her twin obsessions: overexposed stars and reality television. She may never run out of material.

The new program will introduce audiences to her personal posse, from husband, Matt Moline, and live-in decorator, Mike, to her parents and in-laws.

Bravo will air “Kathy Griffin: Life on the D-List” during the year, but has not specified a date.

Motley language

NBC should have known inviting the reunited rockers of Motley Crue onto its New Year’s Eve special was a recipe for bad language.

Yet the network claims it hasn’t received any calls about the off-color word that Crue singer Vince Neil used during the live broadcast of “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” on New Year’s Eve, Associated Press reports.

“Happy … New Year, Tommy,” Mr. Neil said to band mate Tommy Lee shortly after midnight Friday.

The remark was carried to viewers on the East Coast but edited out before it was broadcast in the West, according to the entertainment trade paper Variety, which reported the incident on its Web site Monday evening.

Mr. Leno, typically a squeaky clean performer, normally tapes his show for broadcast later in the evening but does a live version for New Year’s Eve. He had never experienced a problem with profanities before, although the word has slipped out from time to time on other programs.

U2 lead singer Bono used the same taboo word at last year’s Golden Globe Awards, which also was broadcast live by NBC. The network has said it will put this year’s Jan. 16 broadcast on a 10-second delay.

The Federal Communications Commission, in a ruling issued last March, said the word should never be used on radio or television programs. FCC officials said at the time they had received hundreds of complaints from Golden Globe viewers.

Trio’s grim future

The tiny but intrepid Trio network suffered a major blow over the weekend, but parent company NBC Universal claims the show will go on.

More than half of Trio’s 20 million subscribers fell away over the weekend when the network’s ties to DirectTV were severed, Reuters News Agency reports. The network failed to renegotiate a carriage deal with DirectTV late last year, a move that signaled the end of Trio broadcasts for some 12 million subscribers as of Jan. 1.

Industry watchers have wondered for months whether NBC would keep Trio — known for its lineup of critically acclaimed shows such as “Brilliant but Cancelled,” quirky films and documentaries about the entertainment and fashion industries.

One industry source told Reuters the “writing was on the wall” for Trio by July, when DirectTV and NBC Universal reached a long-term distribution deal for NBC’s roster of cable networks, which include Bravo, USA and Sci Fi, but not Trio.

However, NBC said in a statement it was “committed to programing the network and Web site for our loyal viewers and cable distribution partners.”

“NBC Universal is continuing to evaluate the future of the network in relation to its overall digital strategy,” the statement read.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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