- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Md. native on ‘Survivor’

Reality show veteran “Survivor” returns this month with an Annapolis resident among those fighting for the $1 million prize.

The 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Pearl Islands” on Sept. 18 will feature 16 castaways hoping to outwit and outwork the others to earn the CBS bounty.

Trish Dunn, 42, a sales executive from Annapolis, will be among those vying for the cash — and reality show celebrity — on the islands off the coast of Panama.

Miss Dunn, born and raised in Lanham, is a married mother of 9-year-old twins, according to CBS.com. The former University of Maryland cheerleader and gymnast enjoys marathon running, bungee jumping, rock climbing and hiking in her spare time, all skills that could come into play during the arduous game show.

As usual, the contestants are split into two tribes searching for food, water and shelter throughout their island visit. This time around, the contestants won’t even be able to bring their customary one luxury item, ratcheting up the hardship factor.

In its sixth edition, “Survivor: The Amazon” ranked No. 8 among all network programs with an average of 19.97 million viewers, according to the Tiffany network.

The show, entering its seventh season, will air at 8 p.m. on CBS.

More ‘70s for Topher

Topher Grace of “That ‘70s Show” might not grab the headlines that fellow cast member Ashton Kutcher does, but Mr. Grace is joining Demi Moore’s beau for another two seasons of their durable Fox comedy.

Mr. Grace is finalizing a new deal with “‘70s” producer Carsey-Werner-Mandabach that will keep him on the series set in the Me Decade through the 2004-05 season, Reuters News Agency reports.

Mr. Grace already was under contract for the upcoming 2003-04 season. The new pact for the 2004-05 season is said to bump his per-episode salary to the same range of $250,000 to $300,000 that Mr. Kutcher recently secured. That puts the total value of Mr. Grace’s one-season, 25-episode deal in the $6 million to $8 million bracket — and that’s 2003 dollars, not ‘70s -era green.

The actor has played level-headed teen Eric Forman, who has been at the center of the retro Fox series, since it bowed in 1998.

With the extension, all the show’s cast members are now onboard through May 2005.

Mr. Grace’s feature credits include Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic” and the upcoming “Mona Lisa Smile” starring Julia Roberts.

More to ‘Fear’

Thrill seekers, “Fear” not. Your favorite bug-eating contestants will be back for more gag-inducing snacks.

NBC has re-upped “Fear Factor” for another three years, ensuring the hit series will remain on the air through at least May 2007, the network told E! Online. The deal, struck between the network and show producers Endemol USA, also includes exclusive syndication rights, meaning NBC will be able to sell reruns off network as soon as next year.

“Fear Factor” has been NBC’s most solid reality show since its debut three years ago, E! reports, consistently drawing the advertising-friendly young demo to the network.

That’s because the episodes, in which host Joe Rogan cajoles contestants into taking part in death-defying stunts and stomach-churning eating contests, are relatively cheap to produce and have legs in terms of re-airings.

Many of “Fear’s” Monday night reruns have bested the competition on rival networks in the 8 p.m. time slot.

Any syndication run would likely reap major bucks for NBC, which could rake in up to $400,000 an episode by selling the series’ repeat rights. Next year, the network will begin pitching the show to cable networks such as Spike TV, TBS, TLC and ABC Family, as well as local TV stations.

NBC, considered the weakest of the Big Four in terms of unscripted offerings, has been beefing up its reality slate of late. The network is also close to finalizing a deal to bring back “The Restaurant” for a second helping.

More reality nuptials?

MTV watchers can catch newlywed singers Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey flaunt their beauty, fame and just-married glow. Now, ex-“Baywatch” beauty Carmen Electra might want to get in on the nuptial fireworks.

Miss Electra’s groom-to-be, guitarist Dave Navarro, told the Associated Press that the happy couple is considering filming their November wedding for an eventual TV show.

Mr. Navarro, a guitar slinger with Jane’s Addiction, is a reality show junkie himself. He told AP radio he hired a wedding planner for their blessed event, in part, so he could have more time to watch reality shows.

The couple have been approached about filming their wedding for their own reality show, and the thought of not having to hire a videographer intrigues him.

“We don’t want to miss the moment of the wedding so we’re on the fence about it,” Mr. Navarro told AP Radio.

Paparazzi also don’t bother him either, he claims, because they are just part of this profession.

“Just deal with it,” he said. “We’re blessed. We’re doing what we want to do and to cop an attitude over something that is a by-product of what we do is kind of ridiculous.”

Mr. Navarro said he knew from the first moment he met Miss Electra that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her.

“No lie,” he said.

Didn’t Dennis Rodman say the same thing?

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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