- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

VH1’s lucky ‘Charm’

TV viewers, who are abandoning broadcast networks in droves, are apparently making time for the guilty pleasures on VH1’s Sunday-night Celebreality lineup, a three-hour block that includes “Celebrity Fit Club,” “The Springer Hustle” and “Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School” — which premiered in April and is now one of the network’s most popular shows.

The reality series, a spinoff of VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” stars Baltimore-born comic Mo’Nique as she attempts to tidy up the sordid demeanor of the women rejected by rapper Flavor Flav on his show.

In “Charm School,” though, the stakes are much higher — and much better, too. Instead of winning Flavor Flav’s love, the contestants are vying for a top prize of $50,000, which will be awarded to the woman deemed most improved by Mo’Nique.

Weekly eliminations began the first week, and now only five of the original 13 contenders stand a chance at winning the jackpot. VH1 is promising fireworks for Sunday night’s episode ( “Tore Up From the Floor Up” at 10 p.m.) in which advice will be offered to the remaining challengers on the four types of men to avoid in relationships.

Before the night ends, though, a friendship is betrayed — and the contestant who is sent home does not go quietly, VH1 says.

The unlucky lass will have at least one former contestant who can relate. Schatar Taylor, introduced to the world as “Hottie” during the first season of VH1’s “Flavor of Love,” is still fuming over her May 27 removal from “Charm School,” and she sets out to right the wrong, EurWeb.com reports.

Sporting a wretched blond hair weave, Miss Taylor, a University of Pennsylvania graduate who was born in the District and completed graduate studies at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, wrote VH1 about her distress and demanded the letter be placed on its Celebreality blog. (Miss Taylor was ousted when she was falsely accused of stealing family photographs belonging to fellow contestant Leilene Ondrade.)

“Let’s keep it real. The judges should have kept it tight and reviewed the film the same way they did for the etiquette segment. My character was defamed. This was obvious and clear bias. I was crucified — hung on an emotional cross,” Miss Taylor whines in her missive.

She doesn’t stop there.

“I demand a PUBLIC APOLOGY from the girls and the judges, televised on VH1 and I demand my own Shopping Couture with Schatar from the VH1 network immediately,” Miss Taylor continued.

The shopping network is unlikely to grant the “request.” However, Miss Taylor may take solace in knowing that the truth finally prevailed. One of the two theft culprits, Larissa Aurora, 22, was expelled from “Charm School” on last Sunday’s edition.

Weighty matter

Moving from one controversy to another, obesity expert MeMe Roth ignited the wrath of many Jordin Sparks fans when she described the reigning 17-year-old “American Idol” champ as “the vision of unhealth,” RealityTVworld.com reports.

“[There have been] hate posts calling for my death,” Miss Roth, a member of the National Action Against Obesity, told MSNBC.

According to RealityTVworld.com, Miss Roth was a guest on Fox News’ “Your World With Neil Cavuto” just hours before Miss Sparks’ sixth-season “Idol” win on May 23. During her appearance, she argued that the full-figured Miss Sparks wouldn’t make the best choice despite her vocal ability because America is “in the [throes] of a child health crisis with childhood obesity.”

“When I look at Jordin I see diabetes, I see heart disease, I see high cholesterol,” Miss Roth said during the Fox News broadcast. “That’s what’s so sad about this — she is not the vision of health — she is the vision of unhealth.”

Despite the backlash from Miss Sparks’ fans, Miss Roth said she stands by her comments. She also discredited those blog posters who had her describing the “Idol” winner as “obese,” adding her words have been misconstrued due to Fox News’ “sensational setup,” according to MSNBC.

“Her extra weight is a reflection of today’s society and a culture where many of our children have compromised health due to unhealthful food choices and inactivity,” Miss Roth told MSNBC. “We have to stop with the ‘baby fat,’ ‘curvy,’ ‘goddess’ euphemisms and own this child health crisis.”

Miss Roth went on to say she admires Miss Sparks’ “effervescent personality,” but the weight guru couldn’t resist one last dig, calling Miss Sparks’ comments in a recent interview about her body “quite contradictory.”

“In the June 1 issue of People, Miss Sparks [is] both declaring to ‘love her body’ just as it is, while at the same time, in the sidebar, advising other ‘plus-size’ females on how to dress slim,” Miss Roth told MSNBC.

Auf Wiedersehen

Die-hard “Sopranos” fans, and the rest of the world, know that HBO’s acclaimed mob drama is signing off on Sunday after an eight-year run.

The series’ swan song, titled “Made in America” (9 p.m.), was written and directed by show creator David Chase, who reportedly filmed three different endings to the finale to help keep the conclusion secret, Associated Press reports.

Yet, critics are weighing in, polls have been cast: Will Tony live or die? Other theories revolve around the Feds: Will he turn rat to save himself, or could Tony still be arrested? And what role will his son, A.J., play in the conclusion?

Back in 2001, Mr. Chase was illuminating about his approach to the ending while speaking to Rolling Stone magazine: “The paradigm of the traditional gangster film is the rise and fall. You have to ask yourself: Do I want to bother with that paradigm?”

The bloodletting of the second-to-last episode has some— including unlikely “Sopranos” blogger Brian Williams (whose day job is anchoring NBC’s nightly news) — predicting a finale low on action.

“We need to be as prepared for ambiguity as we are prepared for certainty,” says Mr. Williams, a New Jersey native who has blogged about “The Sopranos” on Slate.com. In his posting Tuesday, he called these days leading up to Sunday’s show “the longest week of our lives.”

“I have learned in searing fashion never to try to predict what goes on in David Chase’s mind,” Mr. Williams adds.

Big Apple bound

Executives at Telepictures Productions have confirmed week-old rumors that the syndicated “Tyra Banks Show” is moving its production base to New York City from Los Angeles for its upcoming third season, TVWeek.com reports.

“We’re thrilled about producing the show in New York, as the city opens up endless creative possibilities and will become a character in the program,” said Hilary Estey McLoughlin, president of Telepictures. “The outspoken nature and energy of New York audiences and guests makes this move a natural for Tyra and will greatly enhance the show.”

The hourlong Emmy-nominated show (seen locally weekdays at 11 a.m. on Fox5-WTTG) will now originate from the Chelsea Television Studios in New York and continue to be run by executive producers Alex Duda, John Redmann, Rachel Miskowiec, Benny Medina and Miss Banks. Many key production staff members will also switch coasts with the show to New York as it sets up shop this summer in advance of its Sept. 10 season opener, says TVWeek.com.

“I knew the energy and rhythm of the city would be great for the show,” Miss Banks said. “I feel connected and completely at home. New York is where I had my first apartment as a model and found my independence. It continues to be a constant source of inspiration. Moving the talk show to New York provides a great opportunity to meet all kinds of people and keep sharing the message of empowerment with everyone everywhere. ”

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

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