- The Washington Times - Friday, June 5, 2009

Reality’s dark side

Is there a link between reality shows and suicide?

According to TVGuide.com, an investigation by TheWrap, an entertainment Web site, found that 11 people have killed themselves “in tragedies that appear to be linked to their experience on television shows.”

The site’s examples include Paula Goodspeed, a former “American Idol” contestant who died of a prescription-drug overdose in November 2008. Her body was found in her car, which was parked near the home of “Idol” judge Paula Abdul.

Also on the list is Najai Turpin, the 23-year-old fighter on NBC’s “The Contender” who shot himself before his scheduled bout on the show in 2005.

Of course, as TheWrap notes, many of the contestants who killed themselves had serious problems before joining the shows — “which may have been why they were looking for such instant TV fame in the first place.”

Guest appearance

He didn’t want to star in the upcoming “Footloose” feature film, but Zac Efron apparently had no problem accepting an offer to appear on the upcoming season of “Entourage,” Zap2it.com reports.

According to the entertainment Web site, the Disney star will play himself in one episode of the hit HBO comedy.

“Entourage” will return for its sixth season July 12.

All-inclusive Tonys

Sunday night’s Tony Awards telecast will showcase all the Broadway musicals nominated for best musical or best musical revival, along with segments from three shows on tour — “Jersey Boys,” “Legally Blonde” and “Mamma Mia!” Variety reports.

Performance slots are considered valuable opportunities to market legitimate offerings during the theater world’s highest-profile kudofest. Similarly, the inclusion of performances from well-known offerings such as “Mamma Mia!” can help drum up viewer interest in the usually ratings-challenged broadcast, the trade publication notes.

“Billy Elliot,” “Next to Normal,” “Shrek the Musical” and “Rock of Ages” — all in the running for best musical — will be featured, as will musical-revival contenders “West Side Story,” “Hair,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Pal Joey,” which ended its limited run earlier this season.

The news, however, looks like a snub of the musical version of “9 to 5.” Although passed over for a best-new-musical nomination, it seemed a shoo-in for inclusion given the broad fan base of Dolly Parton, the show’s composer-lyricist, Variety says.

Reportedly, though, Miss Parton and the musical’s three lead actress (including Emmy winner and Tony nominee Allison Janney, formerly of NBC’s “The West Wing”) will sing the title tune of “9 to 5” as part of the ceremony’s opening number.

Telecast executive producers Ricky Kirshner and Glenn Weiss have said previously that they will try to include bits from as many Broadway productions as possible in the ceremony.

Neil Patrick Harris hosts the 63rd annual ceremony at Radio City Musical Hall. The live telecast will air on CBS (WUSA-9) at 8 p.m.

This year the kudos, along with the initial hour of creative-arts awards not shown on CBS, will be simulcast on a large screen in the newly pedestrian-friendly Times Square, Variety says.

‘Broadway’ to bow

In other Broadway/TV news, “Broadway Profiles,” a new public-television series from the Broadway Channel and International Media, will hit the airwaves in New York on Monday, Variety says.

Focused on the Great White Way, the series will feature interviews with past Tony winners Sutton Foster (a nominee this year for her role in “Shrek the Musical”), Christine Ebersole (“Grey Gardens”) and Julie Taymor talking about “Spider-Man, Turn Off the Dark.”

Its first episode, titled “Women of Broadway,” also includes segments with actresses Estelle Parsons and Charlotte d’Amboise. Kate Shindle (“Legally Blonde”) hosts.

RSVP for ‘Reception’

Kelly Ripa and her hubby, Mark Consuelos, are among the producers of TLC’s nonscripted new series “Masters of Reception,” Variety says. The show will be offered in a sneak preview on June 12, and five hourlong episodes will air in the fall.

According to Variety, “Reception” will focus on a family-owned New Jersey catering business and the wide range of clientele and events it services, with no small emphasis on the unusual.

Nancy Daniels, TLC’s senior vice president of production and development, tells Variety that Miss Ripa and Mr. Consuelos will be closely involved in the production of the new series.

‘Dirty’ expands

Discovery Channel and “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe have teamed up to create the DirtyJobs/MikeroweWorks brand, which will offer merchandise for everyday working people, the Hollywood Reporter says.

It’s the latest move into the merchandising space by Discovery corporate parent Discovery Communications.

The partners said they initially would focus on product categories, such as work wear, footwear, accessories, tools, safety gear and cleaning products for on-the-job and outdoor use. Interactive games and publishing products based on content and themes from the program also will be available, THR notes.

“I’ve destroyed more work gear in the last five years than most people buy in a lifetime,” the Baltimore-born Mr. Rowe says. “Now, after 220 dirty jobs, I’ve finally decided to stop buying the same old crap and start using better stuff.”

Weekend watch

Inside the Obama White House: Brian Williams Reports (8 p.m., Friday, WRC-NBC4) — The NBC Nightly News anchor takes an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look at President Obama in this two-hour special.

Top 10 Bridezillas Moments (8 p.m. Sunday, WeTV) — A recap of the outlandish series’ most outlandish brides and their wedding stories — from a brawl on the church steps to a woman who was left at the altar — and where they are today. Admit it: You’re dying to know.

Unsung (8 p.m. Sunday, TV One) — The acclaimed series returns with a profile of ‘70s songbird Minnie Ripperton (mother of former “Saturday Night Live” standout Maya Rudolph), whose stellar career ended tragically and way too soon.

Written and compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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