- - Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Wisconsin couple who appeared on the CBS reality-TV show “The Amazing Race” outlasted 10 other couples to claim top honors and a $1 million grand prize.

On their way to victory, Madison’s Dave and Rachel Brown raced across five continents, nine countries and 22 cities. They won in December, but their win was only revealed during Sunday’s season finale.

The show pits 11 two-person teams against each other in a trek around the world in which they must overcome a series of physical and mental obstacles.

Some of this season’s challenges required strategic thinking and the ability to read terrain, which proved to be an advantage to Mr. Brown, an Army veteran. The former Blackhawk helicopter pilot has a background in military intelligence and also was an officer in the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

“This is definitely my element,” he remarked when he and his wife boarded a helicopter during the race.

The win was in doubt when the Browns, who are both in their 30s, arrived at the final destination only to be told they had missed an obstacle.

“We thought [host Phil Keoghan] was kidding,” Mr. Brown said. “We were under the impression that there was just one roadblock.”

In a bit of good fortune for the two Wisconsin natives, the contest came down to a test of bowling skills. Mrs. Brown had to roll a stone down a dirt field into a makeshift goal. After just a few tries she nailed a strike.

Dave and I were actually in a bowling league at Schwoegler’s one year and we were terrible,” she said. “We were one of the worst teams in the league.”

Other challenges included scaling a 45-story building and rappelling back down, and paddling across a pond while standing on a surf board.

The couple agreed that after being kept apart by Mr. Brown’s Army deployment and Mrs. Brown’s frequent travel for her software company job, being able to spend time together was one of the best parts of competing.

“Just being with each other 24-7 was awesome,” Mr. Brown said.

Discovery CEO: OWN to break even in 2013

OWN, the joint venture of Discovery Communications and Oprah Winfrey, will reach cash-flow break-even during the second half of 2013, Discovery CEO David Zaslav said Tuesday.

On his company’s first-quarter earnings conference call Tuesday, he said Discovery expects funding to OWN in 2012 to come in below that of 2011.

OWN’s recent steps - such as layoffs and the cancellation of several shows, including one featuring Rosie O’Donnell - will improve the network’s financial performance, Mr. Zaslav said.

Discovery reported lower earnings for its first quarter as it said it began recording 100 percent of losses from OWN, which exceeded the equity that Discovery had contributed to the network. New Discovery CFO Andrew Warren said on Tuesday’s conference call that the result was a $10 million hit to earnings, or 3 cents per share. The company started including the OWN losses earlier than previously expected.

With 80 million subscribers and growing, OWN also will see “most” pay TV operators beginning to pay affiliate fees for the channel in 2013, Mr. Zaslav said. “We remain confident in the growth potential” of OWN, he said.

Overall, Mr. Zaslav said, “We have a long way to go.” But he noted he feels better now than he has ever felt about OWN. The channel has the opportunity for “significant” appreciation over time, he said.

Using Beatles song cost ‘Mad Men’ $250K

AMC’s “Mad Men” has a hard-earned reputation for historical accuracy, and it turns out that production studio Lionsgate is more than willing to finance that. In Sunday’s episode, titled “Lady Lazarus,” star ad man Don Draper takes to his chair to listen to the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” from their album “Revolver,” a rare case in which a television show has used a master recording of the Beatles within an episode.

Why so rare? It reportedly cost $250,000 to license the track.

The fee was split between Sony/ATV, which owns the publishing rights to the track, and EMI, which owns the master copy. The majority of the time that a Beatles track is incorporated into an ad campaign, it’s as a cover by another band, as the publishing rights are much cheaper to acquire than EMI’s master recording rights. The $250,000 figure was approximately five times more expensive than the normal music license.

The reason the show shelled out the high fee was apparently due to the diligence of show creator Matthew Weiner, who pushed for the track for more than a year. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono, and Olivia Harrison all signed off on the license, apparently because the surviving Beatles are huge fans of the show, according to the Canadian Press.

‘Lost’s‘ Matthew Fox charged with drunken driving

Actor Matthew Fox, star of the television series “Lost,” has been charged with drunken driving in Oregon.

Police in Bend said the 45-year-old, who lives in the city, was stopped early Friday after an officer noticed a motorist failing to signal properly or stay within a lane of traffic.

During the stop, the officer decided Mr. Fox was driving under the influence and took him to the Deschutes County Jail.

Mr. Fox was released Friday after he was booked into custody. He has a court appearance scheduled for June 17. The authorities would not release the police report or any additional information.

Mr. Fox’s lawyer did not return a call seeking comment.

Compiled from Web and wire reports