- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Reality, SI in the swim

It was bound to happen: Rubber-necking reality TV is hooking up with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit search.

NBC will pair the two in a nationwide hunt for the next swimsuit supermodel for its new unscripted series, “The Sports Illustrated Fresh Faces Competition.”

The show, set to premiere early next year, will air in conjunction with the magazine’s annual swimsuit issue.

The six-episode series will follow contestants competing for a million-dollar modeling contract and exposure in the widely distributed magazine.

The final two contestants will be flown to an exotic location to shoot a photo spread for the sports magazine. Audiences will pick the winner.

Ante up

The nation’s sudden infatuation with televised poker peaks tonight with the Travel Channel’s coverage of the World Poker Tour.

The cable outlet will air the tour’s finals at 9 p.m. from the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut.

The event at the world’s biggest casino gives the winner a crack at a million-dollar payoff. Those battling for the grand prize include Alabama cowboy Hoyt Corkins; Egyptian expatriate and professional player Mohammed Ibrahim; fast-playing former Nutrisystem executive Brian Haveson; nine-time world champ and poker author Phil Hellmuth; and V. Senthil Kumar, a young software programmer.

Chappelle renewed

Comedy Central didn’t find anything funny about the possibility of losing its rising star, Dave Chappelle.

So the network opened its coffers and inked the District funnyman for two new seasons of “Chappelle’s Show” and gave him a lucrative deal on DVD sales.

The new pact, worth up to $50 million, according to Reuters News Agency, also includes potential film work for Mr. Chappelle.

The network battled with rival network FX for the rights to Mr. Chappelle’s comic services, according to Reuters.

Franken TV bound

Liberal talk show host Al Franken will follow in the footsteps of Howard Stern and Don Imus when his Air America talk show debuts on cable TV.

“The Al Franken Show” will begin airing next month on the Sundance Channel, Associated Press reports. Mr. Stern’s show can be seen on the E! network, while “Imus in the Morning” is simulcast on MSNBC.

Mr. Franken’s radio show, heard live weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. on Air America Radio, will be broadcast in a one-hour edition on Sundance weeknights at 11:30, and again at 2:30 a.m. starting Sept. 7.

“Franken” is currently scheduled through the November election, but all parties voiced hope the show would continue on Sundance indefinitely.

A writer-performer who helped launch NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” in 1975, Mr. Franken in recent years has indulged his progressive politics through such best-selling books as “Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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