- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Trump toots his horn

Donald Trump knows a thing or two about diversifying.

So, after shifting the sixth edition of “The Apprentice” from his home base in New York City to Los Angeles, the Donald is scouting locales for the next installment, E! Online reports.

Mr. Trump tells Daily Variety that despite flagging ratings, the seventh go-round of his reality series has been greenlighted.

“NBC called me and said they are picking up number seven,” Mr. Trump told the trade publication. “We may do it in Las Vegas or Miami. We’ll make that decision in the next two months.”

NBC declined comment on the report. Mr. Trump is in Los Angeles working on the sixth cycle of the show, which is slated to run in January.

The network’s decision to move forward with production on a seventh season would be a vote of confidence for the “Apprentice” franchise, considering the sharp ratings slide the once mighty show has suffered — losing about 5 million viewers over the past four cycles — and the fact that NBC hasn’t yet aired the sixth season. The future of the show also appeared to be tainted when its touted spinoff, “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” didn’t fly.

“It wasn’t very good, and she wasn’t very good,” Mr. Trump, 59, told Variety. “This is a very important franchise. [NBC] learned their lesson. They’ll never use anyone but Trump.”

He also says the brand has been tainted by NBC airing multiple cycles during the TV season, which, he says, “is too much to do and it’s too much to watch.”

“Just keep it special,” Mr. Trump says.

If NBC follows through with the once-per-season broadcast, “The Apprentice 7” might not air until 2008.

In any case, the ever humble Mr. Trump is optimistic about the show’s future, noting that the fifth season’s June 5 finale — in which he hired Britain’s Sean Yazbeck — ranked No. 2 in the weekly Nielsens.

‘Sopranos’ star spared

A plea-bargain deal helped the actor who plays temperamental chef Artie Bucco on “The Sopranos” avoid jail time for driving while impaired, Associated Press reports.

John Ventimiglia, 42, who portrays Tony Soprano’s high school buddy on the HBO show, will visit 30 schools to caution students against drinking and driving. Under the agreement, announced Monday in a Brooklyn courtroom, Mr. Ventimiglia also will lose his license for 90 days and pay a $500 fine, among other conditions.

He was arraigned May 1 on drunken driving, drug possession and other charges after officers saw him weaving in and out of traffic. The plea to driving while impaired settled all the charges against him.

A criminal complaint claimed that when police pulled him over, the actor had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and reeked of alcohol. According to the complaint, Mr. Ventimiglia’s blood alcohol content was 0.12. The legal limit is 0.08. He was also carrying a resealable bag with cocaine residue.

Final bow wow

The scrappy dog known as Eddie on TV’s “Frasier” has died.

The 16-year-old Jack Russell terrier, whose real name was Moose, passed away of old age Thursday at the Los Angeles home of trainer Mathilde Halberg, according to People magazine.

The canine character Eddie drove Kelsey Grammar’s lead character crazy for 10 years on the show.

It wasn’t all acting on Moose’s part, though. He was naturally “extremely mischievous,” Miss Halberg says.

His contribution to the show’s and Mr. Grammar’s success was publicly noted by the actor when he accepted a 1994 Emmy for best actor in a comedy.

“Most important, Moose, this is for you,” Mr. Grammar said good-naturedly.

Moose, who also played the older dog Skip in the 2000 film “My Dog Skip,” had retired in recent years.

GSN gets Bonaduce

Production has begun on “Starface,” a new pop-culture game show on cable’s Game Show Network hosted by troubled former child star Danny Bonaduce, MediaWeek.com reports.

“Starface,” which premieres Aug. 1 at 9:30 p.m., will poke fun at the tabloid world by pitting three contestants against one another to demonstrate their knowledge of the famous by donning a mask of that day’s chosen celebrity and answering questions as if they were that person.

No, we’re not kidding.

A different view

While the war of words rages on over Star Jones Reynolds’ untimely departure from “The View,” the New York Daily News reports that TV viewers haven’t seen the last of the former chat-fest co-host. Beginning July 10, she’ll host the already-taped weeklong HGTV series “House Hunters NYC,” in which regular folks are helped in their search for a place to live.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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