- The Washington Times - Monday, September 6, 2004

Fox fights first

The saga of the dueling reality boxing shows will see its first punch tonight as Fox debuts “The Next Great Champ.”

The reality pugilist pageant, airing at 9 p.m., finds boxer Oscar De La Hoya scoping out one potential prizefighter from 12 unpolished toughs.

The fighters will train with Mr. De La Hoya and live in one big room where, the network hopes, some verbal sparring will commence.

NBC’s “The Contender” is set to debut in November, but that hasn’t stopped the Peacock network from suing Fox for stealing its idea and rushing it to market. Last week, a California Superior Court Judge denied NBC’s request to stop “The Next Great Champ” from airing.

DreamWorks SKG and reality mogul Mark Burnett, makers of “The Contender,” were trying to force Fox to edit allegedly unlawful bouts out of “Champ” before tonight’s premiere, Associated Press reports.

The judge ruled that the effort would violate Fox’s First Amendment rights.

DreamWorks and Mr. Burnett still can pursue the case against Fox. They allege “Champ” was produced on a “rushed and frenzied basis” to beat NBC’s series to the air.

Liotta, ‘ER’ get real

“Goodfellas” star Ray Liotta will drop by “ER” this November in a new episode to be shot in real time.

The gimmick, used regularly by Fox’s “24,” will try to keep the long-running NBC show’s pulse beating strongly in its 10th season.

Mr. Liotta will play an alcoholic ex-con who finds himself surrounded by the “ER” staff after suffering from withdrawal and hallucinations.

‘Dreams’ on DVD

NBC’s “American Dreams” hasn’t made a ratings splash during its short run.

Still, the show’s musical segments have continually drawn some of the industry’s biggest names.

Now viewers can check out expanded musical nuggets from the original broadcasts as “American Dreams: Season One” arrives this week on DVD.

The 25-episode DVD box set, priced at $89.98, includes artists such as Usher, Kelly Rowland, LeAnn Rimes, Michelle Branch, B2K, Stacie Orrico, Third Eye Blind and Duncan Sheik all playing dress-up as performers from the 1960s.

Bonus features include rare “American Bandstand” footage and “AB” clips featuring the Beach Boys, Lesley Gore and Marvin Gaye.

Also on DVD this week are the first seasons of two current shows — the WB’s “Everwood” and CBS’ “Without a Trace,” plus three pop-culture staples — “Mork & Mindy,” “Columbo” and “Magnum, P.I.”

Extra’ credit

Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath has signed on to co-host the syndicated entertainment magazine “Extra,” according to the group’s Web site.

Mr. McGrath, who already has a handful of TV and movie credits, begins his new duties Monday during the show’s 11th season premiere.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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