- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2006

Livin’ large

Large and in charge, Baltimore-born comic Mo’Nique kicks off the second edition of “Mo’Nique’s F.A.T. Chance,” a beauty pageant for plus-size women, tomorrow evening at 8 on cable’s Oxygen channel.

“I’ve always accepted my fat,” Mo’Nique — who created and hosts the show — told the Boston Globe. “I’ve always been very proud about it and thought it was very sexy and beautiful.”

While “F.A.T. Chance” will offer the usual array of pageant fare, including a gown and swimsuit competition, Mo’Nique and her producers were careful to avoid the kind of humiliating stunts that have become reality TV staples. The show is meant to help the 10 contestants as much as the audience.

“Those women, they walk away feeling better about themselves,” Mo’Nique says. “That’s what makes all the difference to us. That’s why we were very proud when we created that show.”

After a starring role on “The Parkers” (on UPN from 1999-2004), her successful “Queens of Comedy” tour and a best-selling book, 2003’s “Skinny Women Are Evil: Notes of a Big Girl in a Small-Minded World,” “F.A.T. Chance” (short for “fabulous and thick”) is Mo’Nique’s highest-profile effort to date. Other projects are on the horizon. A new cookbook, “Never Trust a Skinny Chef,” is due out in November. A workout video, “Mo’Nique’s Voluptuous Workout,” and her new plus-size clothing line will bow next year. She’s also adapting “Skinny Women” into a one-woman show.

Now 38, the married mother of 9-month-old twins is clearly cornering the plus-size market.

“There’s never been anything out there that represents us in a beauty-queen light,” Mo’Nique says. “So we created our own.”

More ‘Simple’ in store

Just when you were praying for its end, E! decides to renew “The Simple Life” — the reality show starring former best buds for life Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie — for a fifth season.

The cable network announced its plans on Tuesday, Associated Press reports.

The show, which places the tabloid-ready celebutantes in everyday situations with real people, was formerly seen on Fox but moved to E! when Fox declined to sign off on a fourth season.

The new E! format enables the feuding friends to avoid each other.

“The Simple Life — ‘til Death Do Us Part,” airing Sundays at 10 p.m., features Miss Hilton and Miss Richie in separate scenes, with each playing a “wife” and running a household.

In one episode, Miss Hilton said she and Miss Richie are “complete opposites.”

“I’m the nice one; she’s the evil one,” Miss Hilton said.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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