- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2005

Political ‘House’

“House,” Fox’s challenging freshman medical drama, dips into modern politics with tonight’s new episode.

Dr. House (Hugh Laurie) is asked to care for a rising U.S. senator (Joe Morton) whose illness may have been brought on by AIDS — a diagnosis that could end his presidential hopes.

The good doctor, meanwhile, agrees to give a speech on behalf of a pharmaceutical company, but his text isn’t exactly what the firm had in mind.

“House” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m.

‘Survivor’ flourishes

The reality-television genre, it seems, is becoming the proving ground for those who hope for a future in broadcasting.

Jeff Varner, who didn’t make the final cut for CBS’ “Survivor: Australian Outback” in 2001, is working as a weekend anchor at WGHP-TV, the Fox affiliate in High Point, N.C., Associated Press reports.

Before his “Survivor” stint, Mr. Varner worked as an Internet project manager in New York City and earned a journalism degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His reality-show ties have created some career challenges, he says.

“I have the label of reality-show contestant tattooed across my face,” Mr. Varner told North Carolina’s Greensboro News & Record in an earlier interview. “I have a journalism degree, the experience, and I can write better than most producers. But I know I have to work three times as hard because credibility is a big issue.”

After he got the boot from “Survivor,” Mr. Varner’s charm earned him a series of television appearances and jobs, including one as an interviewer and correspondent for the TV Guide channel.

He isn’t the only reality-show veteran who has spun his 15 minutes of fame into something bigger.

“Survivor” alum Elisabeth Filarski Hasselbeck (from the show’s first season in 2000) is a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” and “The Apprentice’s” Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth will be seen on VH1’s “The Surreal Life” in the fall.

Perhaps the biggest post-reality-show coup, though, came when Colleen Haskell, also from the 2000 “Survivor” cast, landed the female lead opposite Rob Schneider in the feature film “The Animal” in 2001.

Grateful for ‘Fortune’

Both Pat Sajak and Vanna White say they have accepted the fact that their long-running gigs on “The Wheel of Fortune” represent the last big turn of their careers.

“I’m at peace with what my obituary’s going to say,” Mr. Sajak, 58, told Associated Press during a taping break from the show in Kansas City.

Both Mr. Sajak and Miss White, 48, joined “Wheel” two decades ago. Both once had other aspirations, until the show became a hit.

But they’re OK with their legacy. They’re well paid, work just a few days a month and reign over television’s top-rated syndicated show.

“I don’t have much patience for quasi-celebrities that complain about their success,” Mr. Sajak said.

Neither has set a retirement date, and producers say the show will live on — even after they have stepped away from the cameras.

Will it really?

“I can’t imagine someone else turning my letters,” Miss White says.

‘Mars’ returns

The mystery of whether UPN’s critically acclaimed “Veronica Mars” will see a second season has been solved.

UPN has given a vote of confidence to its buzz-worthy but ratings-challenged freshman drama by granting it an early renewal for a second season, according to Reuters News Agency.

“This is the type of smart, compelling show we want viewers to expect from UPN,” network president Dawn Ostroff told Reuters.

“Mars,” seen Tuesdays at 9 p.m., stars Kristen Bell as a young sleuth who attempts to keep her small town’s wealthy elite on the straight and narrow.

‘Idol’ extended

Fox is expanding tomorrow’s “American Idol” results show to one hour (beginning at 9 p.m.), pre-empting “Life on a Stick” after just two airings, TV Guide.com reports.

Rumor has it the move was designed to blunt NBC’s premiere of “Revelations,” a six-episode miniseries debuting tomorrow at 9 p.m.

Compiled by Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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