- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 22, 2007

Passing the crown

Newly sober after completing treatment for alcohol abuse, the reigning Miss USA, Tara Conner, will be on hand to crown her successor during tonight’s live telecast (9 p.m. on ABC) of the 56th annual beauty pageant from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood.

The festivities and two-hour prime-time telecast are returning to Tinseltown after two years in Baltimore.

Contestants from 50 states and the District will be judged in three categories — swimsuit, evening gown and an interview.

Among the celebrity judges: Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young; supermodel and clothing line entrepreneur Kimora Lee Simmons (Baby Phat); real estate tycoon and Los Angeles Lakers owner Jerry Buss; “Entertainment Tonight” correspondent Vanessa Minnillo; Jonathan Antin (star of Bravo’s “Blowout”); “E! News” co-host Giuliana DePandi; and talk show host Jerry Springer.

Nancy O’Dell and Tim Vincent of the syndicated entertainment show “Access Hollywood” will host the event.

No extra ‘Extras’

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who write, direct and star in “Extras,” have decided not to make a third season of their comedy, reports Zap2it.com.

The BBC/HBO series, which chronicled the ups and mostly downs of struggling actor-writer Andy Millman (Mr. Gervais), aired its second season in the U.S. earlier this year. It concluded with a (faint) ray of hope, though, as Andy was on his way to a meeting with Robert De Niro.

According to numerous news reports, Mr. Gervais and Mr. Merchant, who plays Andy’s incompetent agent, Darren, had considered filming a third season. Ultimately, though, the duo decided to stick to their original plan of only two seasons.

There is, however, the possibility of one final episode to wrap up the show, as was the case with “The Office.” According to Zap2it.com, Mr. Gervais’ spokeswoman told the BBC that the idea is in its “very, very early” stages, with no premiere date in mind.

“Extras” has earned a number of awards and nominations on both sides of the Atlantic, including four Emmy nominations last year — for writing and for guest actors Kate Winslet, Ben Stiller and Patrick Stewart. Last week, Mr. Merchant won the award for comedy performance at the Royal Television Society awards in London.

A big ‘Planet’

“Planet Earth,” premiering Sunday night at 8 with three back-to-back episodes, is one of the Discovery Channel’s most ambitious series ever. It’s also the target of the Silver Spring-based network’s most ambitious marketing campaign ever.

The 11-part series, narrated by actress Sigourney Weaver, runs through Earth Day (April 22). It took more than five years to make and was filmed entirely in high definition. (Tune in to the Discovery HD Theater channel to see the full effect.)

Produced by the same BBC team behind “Blue Planet,” more than 70 camera operators spent over 2,000 days in over 200 locations, including some never before filmed. New technology allowed filmmakers to capture animal behavior from long distances, unaffected by human observation. The crew descended 1,300 feet on a rope no thicker than a finger to reach Mexico’s Cave of Swallows. The team logged more than 300 hours of film to capture the never-before-filmed Blue Bird of Paradise mating ritual — which takes 90 seconds.

The marketing campaign has a long reach, including retail, print, online, theater and other television channels. Clips of “Planet Earth” arrived on DVD to 1.2 million readers of Time, People and Entertainment Weekly magazines.

A game on www.planet-earth.com allows players to become show producers, shooting scenes using a budget from their virtual account with show sponsor Bank of America. The bank is featuring the show on its Times Square Jumbotron and on ATM receipts.

Discovery also installed HD TV screens in 10 bus shelters across Manhattan with Bluetooth technology to allow commuters to hear the sound accompanying the video clips.

Shoppng around

Given his ongoing legal troubles, which is worse — being Bobby Brown, or dating Bobby Brown?

Some willing (and brave) women may soon find out.

According to EurWeb.com, Mr. Brown is reportedly shopping around “Dating Bobby Brown,” a new reality show patterned after the VH1 hit, “Flavor of Love.”

Like “Flavor” — which casts Public Enemy rapper Flavor Flav as an unlikely Lothario — Mr. Brown’s show also would feature the bad boy singer frolicking with a bevy of beautiful women who would compete for his affections through a variety of challenges.

“Bobby believes the best way to win a man’s heart is through his stomach, so he’s planning to have the women cook for him while they parade around in thong bikinis,” an unnamed source was quoted as saying.

Mr. Brown, the former lead singer of New Edition, is in the midst of a divorce from pop star Whitney Houston, his wife of 14 years. Two years ago, the couple’s chaotic lifestyle was chronicled in the Bravo reality hit, “Being Bobby Brown.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and Web reports.

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