- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 14, 2005

New ‘Survivor’ on CBS

The 11th season of CBS’ “Survivor” kicks off tonight with a motley crew of contestants fending for themselves in a Guatemalan rain forest.

As usual, the 16 contenders will attempt to outwit, outplay and outlast one another through triple-digit heat, crocodile-infested waters, howler monkeys, swarms of mosquitoes — and the tasks and challenges presented by show host Jeff Probst.

Among this year’s hopefuls in the quest for $1 million: former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Gary Hogeboom, sports-radio-show host (and 1996 Miss USA first runner-up) Danni Boatwright, magician’s assistant Morgan McDevitt and retired fire captain Jim Lynch — who, at 63, is the oldest of the bunch.

Tonight’s action starts early, with the contestants trekking 11 miles into the jungle just to find their campground.

“Survivor: Guatemala” airs at 8 p.m.

Enough, already

Sick of reality TV?

You’re not alone. A new Associated Press-TV Guide poll reveals four out of five Americans say too many reality shows are cluttering the airwaves.

Worse for TV executives, viewers aren’t buying the “real” part of the reality equation. A total of 82 percent said the shows are either “totally made up” or “mostly distorted.”

That’s a healthy sign for the viewing public and an indication that cable and network stations aren’t fooling their audiences when reality shows follow tried-and-true story lines filled with cookie-cutter contestants. There’s always the curmudgeon (as in Rudy Boesch from the original “Survivor”); the all-American girl, such as Colleen Haskell (also from the first “Survivor”); or the cutthroat manipulator, as in Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth from the first season of “The Apprentice.”

Yet let’s not kid ourselves. Reality television isn’t going anywhere. The next trashy hit, such as Bravo’s “Being Bobby Brown” or MTV’s “The Osbournes” could be just around the corner.

Reality TV gets a bad rap for its seedier fare, which includes such shows as the aforementioned “Osbournes” and “Bobby Brown.” To be fair, other programs, such as “Survivor,” “The Amazing Race” and “The Apprentice,” are spiced by interpersonal fireworks, but they also offer intriguing competitions. We’ll take that any day over another bland sitcom. Here’s betting the public feels the same way.

Beltway saga planned

CBS is developing a drama following the private lives of those in the Washington area who work in classified and covert operations, according to Reuters news agency.

The project is described as an ensemble drama centering on life in and around the Beltway — where many people work for the government but aren’t quite sure what their neighbor really does for a living.

Elwood Reid will pen the script and executive produce the project with Larry Sanitsky. having developed the project on spec. The two previously worked together on the 2002 ABC TV movie “The Pennsylvania Miners Story,” for which Mr. Reid wrote and Mr. Sanitsky produced. The duo also are teamed on a four-hour miniseries based on Robert Ludlum’s novel “The Hades Factor.”

No production or air dates for the Beltway drama have been announced.

More Maury

District native Maury Povich has inked a new multiyear contract to continue hosting his syndicated talk show, “Maury,” Reuters news agency reports.

The details of Mr. Povich’s new deal, including the financial terms and the length of the contract, are being kept under wraps. NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution (which syndicates Mr. Povich’s show along with “The Jerry Springer Show,” “Access Hollywood” and the Emmy-nominated “Starting Over”) would say only that the new agreement “will keep [Mr. Povich] hosting the hit talk show for years to come.” The deal is believed to cover a three-year term.

Mr. Povich, 66, has been hosting “Maury” since 1998. He previously hosted “The Maury Povich Show” for distributor Paramount Domestic Television from 1991-98 but moved his talker to Universal after signing a three-year deal that reportedly offered him $9 million annually.

“Maury” and “The Jerry Springer Show” remain salacious holdouts in the talk-show cultural wars. While Geraldo Rivera now struts on Fox News and Ricki Lake’s talker is no more, Mr. Povich continues to mine the less fortunate for ratings — and likely will for as long as unwed mothers are willing to submit to DNA testing to see who their child’s father really is.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from staff and wire reports.

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