- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 16, 2006

VH1’s guilty pleasures

What are we to do with our Sunday evenings now that VH1’s “Flavor of Love” has ended its run?

Well, there are the countless re-airings — not to mention the “Flavor of Love Reunion Special,” which will reunite the 20 women who competed to become 46-year-old rap star Flavor Flav’s object of desire.

Nearly 6 million viewers tuned in for Sunday’s 90-minute finale, making it the top-rated program in VH1’s history and the week’s second-most-watched show on basic cable, according to MediaWeek.com.

In the end, Detroit-based model Nicole Alexander (aka Hoopz) beat out the crazed contestant New York (real name Tiffany Pollard) to win Flav’s heart. As a token of his affection, Flav gave his new love a 14-carat gold grill for her front teeth to match his own chopper adornments.

Miss Alexander, 23, who already has notched an appearance in the Will Smith video “Party Starter,” has landed a role in the film “Easier, Softer Way” (starring “ER’s” Mekhi Phifer), due in theaters this summer.

“Love” reached a reality-show low — and drew some of its highest numbers — two weeks ago when eliminated contestant Brooke Thompson (nicknamed Pumpkin by the Flavmeister) spit on Miss Pollard. Miss Thompson, in an interview with the Bakersfield Californian, said producers told her in advance that she was being booted and urged her to “give them a big ending.”

Though we’re not likely to see that level of nastiness again anytime soon, there’s certain to be some sort of drama when the network rolls out “Surreal Life 6” Sunday at 9 p.m.

The latest cast of C-list celebs co-existing within the same mansion includes Smash Mouth frontman Steve Harwell, video vixen Tawny Kitaen, Poison guitarist C.C. Deville, Playboy TV cover girl Andrea Lowell, gender-bending performer Alexis Arquette (whose sex-change operation reportedly will be filmed for a television documentary) and two ‘70s sitcom stars — Florence Henderson of “The Brady Bunch” and Sherman Helmsley of “The Jeffersons.”

In Sunday’s episode, Miss Henderson offers her impression of Mr. Helmsley, ETOnline.com notes. “I wasn’t aware how shy and willing to stay in the background Sherman was,” she says. She also asks Playboy’s Miss Lowell why she feels it is necessary to take off her clothes for the camera.

Wait, there’s more.

The group’s first order of business, ETOnline.com reports, is selecting an extra cast member from a pool of cast-off reality show hunks. The choices include cast members from the shows “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “Real World” and “American Idol” bad boy Corey Clark.

Back to basics

Here’s a novel approach from Bravo: After interviews with Madonna and funnyman Dave Chappelle, the network’s “Inside the Actors Studio” is getting back to the business of interviewing real actors.

Scheduled to share the stage with host James Lipton this spring when the show kicks off its 12th season are Actors Studio Co-President Al Pacino, Don Cheadle, Tim Allen, Robert Downey Jr., Dustin Hoffman as a milestone 200th guest — and Tom Hanks as the first-ever encore guest — Bravo says.

Sundance studies war

Cable’s Sundance Channel, marking the third anniversary of the Iraq War, will premiere a marathon of films relating to the conflict on Sunday, Associated Press reports.

The lineup begins at 9 p.m. with the TV premiere of “Big Storm: The Lynndie England Story,” a portrait of the young woman seen smiling broadly in the infamous photographs of abused Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib prison. An impoverished young woman from West Virginia who joined the Army Reserves to get an education, she ultimately became the public face of an international scandal.

“Occupation: Dreamland,” following at 10 p.m., illustrates the daily reality for soldiers on the ground in Fallujah, a stronghold of the insurgency. At 11:30 p.m., “Torture: The Guantanamo Guidebook” records the experiences of seven British men who volunteer to be detained for 48 hours in conditions that simulate those in the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay. At 12:30 a.m., Tim Robbins and his cohorts in the Actors Gang theater troupe serve up pointed satire of the war in “Embedded/Live,” a film version of Mr. Robbins’ play.

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

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