- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Kicking up her heels

Here’s a bet there won’t be any Beatles songs on the next “Dancing With the Stars.” ABC yesterday announced that Paul McCartney’s estranged wife, Heather Mills, will be among the competitors.

Miss Mills will be the first contestant with an artificial limb to compete on the series, which returns for its fourth season March 19, Associated Press reports. She lost a leg in a motorcycle accident in 1993.

Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno, boxer Laila Ali, former basketball star Clyde Drexler and actor Vincent Pastore, who played gangster Salvatore Bonpensiero on “The Sopranos,” also are in the lineup. Actor and former country music star Billy Ray Cyrus, former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone, Miss USA 2004 Shandi Finnessey, former “Entertainment Tonight” host Leeza Gibbons, model Paulina Porizkova and former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Ian Ziering round out the competitors.

Jerry Springer, one of last season’s contestants, teased ABC’s “Good Morning America” audience before tossing out Miss Mills’ name.

“She may be a sentimental favorite,” Mr. Springer said, even though Miss Mills has Yoko Ono-like favorability ratings among many Beatles fans. Her selection delivers a message that whatever challenges people face in life, they can dance, he said.

Miss Mills is an activist for animal rights and eliminating the use of land mines.

‘Idol’ slays all

Scalpels and damaged doctors at 10 paces: an interesting duel of medical shows is emerging for the second half of the television season.

ABC’s steamy “Grey’s Anatomy” attracted 25.8 million viewers last week, its already large audience having swelled in recent weeks since Nielsen Media Research began counting the viewing habits of college students away from home.

However, it wasn’t the top-rated doctor drama of the week. That distinction went to Fox’s “House,” seen by 26 million people thanks to its “American Idol” lead-in, AP reports.

Given its one-time dominance of television, it seems hard to believe that NBC’s medical drama “ER” was seen by fewer than half the people of the other two shows. The “ER” audience last Thursday was 11.6 million people.

Despite having none of TV’s top four shows, CBS still earned the distinction of being the most popular network last week, averaging 12.3 million viewers.

For the week of Feb. 12 through 18, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1.”American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 31.2 million; 2. “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 28.8 million; 3. “House,” Fox, 25.9 million; 4. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 25.7 million; and 5. “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 22.7 million.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff reports.

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