- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 28, 2003

More Madman on VH1

VH1 “survived” one reality special with rocker Ted Nugent. Now, the network is hooked. VH1 has ordered a full season of “Surviving Nugent,” a reality series that drops contestants into the Motor City Madman’s world, according to the Reuters News Agency.

Encouraged by strong ratings for a recent two-hour special featuring Mr. Nugent, who also has been featured on other VH1 programs such as “Behind the Music,” the cable channel ordered additional episodes to air next year.

Details on the series are not yet available, but “Surviving Nugent” is expected to be a hybrid of MTV’s “The Osbournes,” focusing on the unconventional lifestyle of a bad-boy rocker and his equally odd family, and “Survivor,” which emphasizes outdoor competitions not for the faint at heart.

One stark contrast between the two is that Mr. Nugent professes not to drink or do drugs. Mr. Osbourne, on the other hand, can’t exactly say the same over his rambunctious life.

A select number of contestants would be invited to brave the elements at Mr. Nugent’s ranch in central Texas — as well as withstand the singer’s gleeful taunts. His wife and son also will star in the series.

Garner hangs on

James Garner will be calling ABC’s sitcom “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” home for the foreseeable future.

The show’s producer, Touchstone TV, has closed a deal with the “Rockford Files” star to continue on the sophomore comedy as a regular, appearing in all remaining episodes of the season, the Reuters News Agency reports.

The veteran actor was first tapped to guest star in four episodes this fall to help take the sitcom through the tricky transition from a show that revolved around a harried dad played by John Ritter, who died of a heart ailment in September, to a new focus on a family coping with his character’s loss.

Mr. Garner plays the father of Katey Sagal’s character, the widowed Cate Hennessy, who came to support his daughter and three teenage grandchildren as they grapple with grief and the harsh realities of becoming a single-parent family.

He has guest-starred in all episodes of the show to date, beginning with the emotional Nov. 4 one-hour segment, the first episode without Mr. Ritter.

Rocket finds ‘Faith’

Regis Philbin isn’t the only New York fixture to appear on ABC’s “Hope & Faith.”

The parade of well-known New Yorkers continues later this season as retired New York Yankees pitcher Roger “The Rocket” Clemens and Yankees coach Willie Randolph pay the freshman show a visit, according to Associated Press.

The episode, titled “Charley’s Baseball,” is scheduled to air early next year. The plot: Charley (Ted McGinley) has a baseball autographed by Mr. Clemens, the future Hall of Fame hurler. When it’s destroyed by Justin (Pauline Litt), Hope (Faith Ford) and Faith (Kelly Ripa) pose as reporters who sneak into the locker room to try to find the pitcher. Cue the wacky high jinks.

Matrix’s‘ new Hu

Action star Kelly Hu (“X2: X-Men United”) is stepping into “Threat Matrix,” ABC’s freshman drama set in the world of homeland security, Reuters News Agency reports.

Miss Hu has been tapped to co-star in at least five episodes of the show, playing a new member of the elite task force created to respond to daily threats to U.S. security. She begins work early next month.

The actress’s credits include the features “The Scorpion King” and “Cradle 2 the Grave” and the CBS series “Nash Bridges” and “Martial Law.” She recently wrapped the Miramax action-comedy feature “The Underclassman,” starring Nick Cannon.

Simple’ countdown

America’s favorite farm girls, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie of “The Simple Life” will help count down the final moments of 2003 on “America’s Party,” airing live on New Year’s Eve from Las Vegas, the Associated Press reports.

Ashanti, Metallica, Puddle of Mudd, Hootie and the Blowfish and Keith Urban are among those scheduled to perform, Fox announced last week. The show will be broadcast from the Venetian Resort Hotel & Casino beginning at 11 p.m. Wednesday.

This year’s special guest for the Times Square countdown in New York City did a bit more than spill cow’s milk to gain nationwide fame. Shoshana Johnson, who spent 22 days as a prisoner of war in Iraq after being shot during an ambush, will push the globe triggering the drop of a 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball and lead a 60-second countdown to 2004.

Miss Johnson, who was discharged from the Army last week, told New Yorkers: “Thank you for your support of my Army, my armed forces, my fellow soldiers, who were willing to do what is necessary for our freedom, for us to sit back and enjoy such a wonderful New Year’s Eve.”

Miss Johnson, 30, was a cook for the 507th Maintenance Company when it was ambushed in March. She was shot in both ankles and captured with five other soldiers, including Jessica Lynch. Nine soldiers died in the attack.

Miss Johnson was awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and the Prisoner of War Medal for her service in Iraq.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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