- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Brown’ a letdown

Turns out there’s not much to “Being Bobby Brown” — in real life or in the eight-part Bravo reality series debuting tonight — beyond fawning over his superstar wife, Whitney Houston, rehashing his own brief time in the spotlight or running afoul of the law.

In recent years, the Grammy-winning father of four,36, has spent most of his time doing the latter, zipping in and out of the slammer for a host of offenses — from reported nonpayment of child support to onstage lewdness, drug possession and accusations that he assaulted Miss Houston in 2003.

Mr. Brown’s series opener (airing at 10 p.m.) begins as he emerges from his most recent jail stint to arrange a clandestine rendezvous with his wife — complete with cameras and Miss Houston’s entourage in tow — at a posh Atlanta hotel. The couple soon vanishes behind closed doors, and Mr. Brown’s lascivious comments leave little to the imagination about the pair’s intent.

That’s about it. “Being Bobby Brown” offers little else and never rises above the tawdriness. Oh, we get an occasional glimpse of the ‘80s R&B; star as a doting dad. He ushers his brood off to school and even appears remorseful when portly Bobbi Kristina, now 12 (his only child with Miss Houston, 41), announces that she plans to stay home on the days daddy goes to court.

His life otherwise seems rather sedentary. Mr. Brown chain-smokes, guzzles brewskis (evidenced by a bulging gut) and peppers nearly every frame with four-letter words. He relishes the limelight, while Miss Houston (sometimes) avoids it.

On tonight’s premiere, the diva adamantly refuses to sign an autograph for a fan who dares to approach her while she’s having lunch with her family.

Celebrity, however, does have its perks. After winning a court victory, of sorts, when Miss Houston refuses to pursue battery charges against her husband of 13 years, the couple manage to persuade the owner of their favorite Chinese restaurant to open up especially for them on a day when it’s normally closed.

Sadder still, the Browns also succeed in reaching a new low — even for reality TV — when Mr. Brown explicitly describes how he once provided hands-on assistance to Miss Houston during an apparent bout of constipation. Don’t even ask.

“That’s real love when someone does that,” Miss Houston says.

Maybe. But, please, spare us the details.

By Robyn-Denise Yourse

Lance’s experiment

The Discovery Channel and various sister channels are gearing up for Lance Armstrong’s attempt at a historic seventh Tour de France victory.

All this week, Discovery has aired specials tracking Mr. Armstrong’s celebrated career and comeback from cancer. Saturday, the Science Channel will air “The Science of Lance Armstrong” at 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., examining the bicyclist’s high-altitude training methods and high-tech equipment.

Viewers will learn that when Mr. Armstrong raises his thumb while riding at top speed, he adds 20 grams of drag and that his lungs have more than double the oxygen capacity of the average man. (His heart is one-third larger, too.) His Trek Madone bicycle saves him a full 1 minutes over a 200-kilometer stage of the race, thanks to its sleek aerodynamics.

Little’ reunion

The cast of the beloved “Little House on the Prairie” series is heading west.

This weekend, the show’s surviving cast members will gather in Tombstone, Ariz., a town known for its Old West roots, Associated Press reports.

Melissa Gilbert, who played Laura Ingalls Wilder, is scheduled to reunite with Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder) and Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson) during the Tombstone Western Film Festival, which runs tomorrow through July 4.

The 1970s television hit was almost a guilty pleasure for viewers, Mr. Butler told the East Valley Tribune.

“People watched it, but they didn’t want to talk about it,” he said. “It was almost an embarrassed pleasure. People would ask, ‘How can you watch “Little House on the Prairie”? It’s so sweet.’”

The show, based on books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, showed the struggles of the Ingalls family and other pioneers in the town of Walnut Grove. It ran nine seasons.

Mr. Butler said the show’s longevity was a credit to the late Michael Landon, who played family patriarch Charles Ingalls.

“Michael Landon understood something about the simple aspirations of everyday people to live a happy life,” Mr. Butler said. “It was so simple, it was genius.”

The Tombstone festival will feature screenings of the cast members’ favorite episodes and question-and-answer sessions.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff, Web and wire reports.

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