- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Blago can’t go

Former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich’s reality-TV aspirations have been put on hold.

A U.S. District Court judge has denied Mr. Blagojevich’s request to modify the conditions of his bail so he can travel to Costa Rica and appear as a contestant this summer on NBC’s “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” Variety reported Tuesday.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Judge James Zagel called Mr. Blagojevich’s attempt to join the show “a bad idea.”

Mr. Blagojevich’s lawyer had told the court that NBC and “I’m a Celebrity” producer Granada America would pay for a personal monitor, but Judge Zagel said the ex-governor - who faces several political-corruption charges - needed to stick around and pay attention to the government’s case against him.

Before entering the hearing on Tuesday, Mr. Blagojevich told reporters that appearing on the reality show was “a way to earn a living and support my children,” the Tribune reported.

“It’s not my first choice, but it’s a living,” he said.

‘Runway’ date set

Lifetime announced start dates for its new shows during an upfront press luncheon Tuesday in New York, TVWeek.com reports.

The network also talked about some of its shows in development for 2009, including comedy pilots with Sherri Shepherd, Valerie Bertinelli and Cybill Shepherd.

“Project Runway,” which has been kept off the air for a year by legal disputes, will make its Lifetime debut Aug. 20. Also launching that evening will be the spinoff show “Models of the Runway” - also part of the dispute between the producer, the Weinstein Co. and NBC Universal that held up “Runway.” The “Models” contestants will compete for cash prizes and a magazine shoot.

Lifetime’s hit “Army Wives” will launch its third season on June 7. And the new series “Drop Dead Diva” is schedule to premiere July. 12.

Lifetime also said it would launch the unscripted series “Cook Yourself Thin” on May 4.

The network’s comedy pilots include:

• Sherri, based on the family experiences of “The View’s” Miss Shepherd.

• The Valerie Bertinelli Project (working title), about a newly divorced mother who must maintain a balance between her family and running her ex-husband’s struggling hardware business.

• Alligator Point, starring Cybil Shepherd, which follows an eccentric group of Floridians whose lives change when a “Yankee” joins their extended family. Kelsey Grammer directed the pilot and served as a producer.

For dramas, Lifetime’s pipeline includes:

• Mona Lisa Smile, based on the Julia Roberts movie about life at Wellesley College in the 1950s.

• Mystic Pizza: Another Slice, based on another Roberts-starring film.

• Marry Me, a limited-run anthology series about a couple who meet in the pilot and get married in Episode 13.

• Queens of the Rodeo, a comedic drama about the rodeo circuit.

• The Fallen, based on T. Jefferson Parker’s novel.

• Murder in Suburbia, based on the British series.

Lifetime also said it has 12 original movies in the works, plus another 16 for Lifetime Movie Network.

‘Natalee’s a winner

Here’s more good news for Lifetime: Sunday’s premiere of “Natalee Holloway” on the Lifetime Movie Network became the highest-rated movie in the network’s 11-year history, with 3.2 million viewers, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The movie, starring Tracy Pollan, posted big increases vs. the network’s previous ratings record holder, Part 2 of the miniseries “Capture of the Green River Killer,” including 33 percent in total viewers.

Based on Beth Holloway’s book, “Loving Natalee: A Mother’s Testament of Hope and Faith,” “Natalee Holloway” chronicles the mother’s search for the truth surrounding Natalee’s disappearance.

‘Price’ going green

Green prizes are coming on down at “The Price Is Right.”

In observance of Earth Day, today’s episode of the CBS game show (11 a.m. WUSA9) will feature environmentally friendly products, including cell phones made of recycled materials, solar charging equipment and a recycling cabinet.

According to Associated Press, environmentalist and actor Ed Begley Jr. will introduce a showcase that includes an electric bike, golf cart and Toyota Prius hybrid car. Trips offered during the show will be paired with donations to offset carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, CBS soap operas “As the World Turns,” “The Young and the Restless” and “Guiding Light” will recognize Earth Day within their sudsy plots, and Lesley-Anne Down of “The Bold and the Beautiful” will appear in a public service announcement.

‘Idol’ doc on GMC

The Gospel Music Channel will shine the spotlight on “American Idol.”

Filmmaker David Lewis’ “From Idol to Inspiration” will premiere Thursday ahead of the Gospel Music Association’s 40th annual Dove Awards telecast. The one-hour documentary explores the effect of the Fox network singing competition on Christian music, AP reports.

The documentary features interviews with several former “Idol” finalists - Mandisa Hundley, Chris Sligh, Phil Stacey and Melinda Doolittle - and with Maria Santiago, sister-in-law of current finalist Danny Gokey. Mr. Gokey has worked at Faith Builders International Ministries in Milwaukee and at its sister congregation in Beloit, Wis., for eight years.

On tap Wednesday

American Idol ( 9, Fox5-WTTG) - Two finalists will be sent packing based on viewer votes during Wednesday’s elimination. Sounds serious.

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

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