- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Next for Rourke: WWE

Actor Mickey Rourke, who played a down-on-his-luck grappler in his Oscar-nominated turn in “The Wrestler,” will appear at “Wrestlemania 25,” Multichannel.com reports.

Sal Cataldi, principal of Cataldi Public Relations, the longtime outside shop for World Wrestling Entertainment, said Monday that he has confirmation from WWE’s internal communications head, Robert Zimmerman, that Mr. Rourke will be at the April 5 event in Houston. Reliant Stadium is the site for what should be a top pay-per-view event for television this year.

It was not clear whether Mr. Rourke - whose work as Randy the Ram, a broken-down wrestler, fell to Sean Penn’s portrayal of Harvey Milk for the best-actor Oscar - would attend the event, make an appearance or wrestle in the spectacle.

The timing of the confirmation comes as no coincidence. Industry insiders figured Mr. Rourke would not confirm his WWE ties until after the Oscars for fear that his association would hurt his chances to win a statuette.

Tax man forces move

After spending weeks on tenterhooks over the status of New York’s endangered production tax credit, Fox has decided to pull up stakes and relocate production of its hit frosh series “Fringe” to Vancouver, British Columbia.

The show, which reportedly spent $4 million an episode in recession-pummeled New York, originally relocated from Toronto to Long Island’s Silvercup Studios specifically to take advantage of the Empire State’s much-publicized incentives, Variety says.

It applied too late. The $515 million set aside to expand the popular tax program and extend it into 2013 had dried up by the beginning of this year.

J.J. Abrams’ latest science-fiction action show overcame an underperforming first episode to become a breakout hit, earning a full season of episodes in October, when it ranked No. 1 among new shows among viewers 18 to 49. The series has continued to pull in viewers, and a second season is highly likely, Variety notes.

“Fringe” stars Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson; the latter hails from Vancouver.

‘ER’ ads a cash cow

NBC’s “ER” is tripling its price for 30-second advertising spots for the April finale of the 15-year-old medical drama, which will feature returning stars George Clooney, Anthony Edwards and Noah Wylie, TVWeek.com says, citing a story from Broadcasting & Cable.

The show, which has been selling ads for $135,000, is asking between $425,000 and $500,000 per 30-second spot, B&C; says.

Short takes

Fox Reality Channel has ordered a third season of “The Academy,” but this time it’s switching from police cadets to firefighter recruits, the Hollywood Reporter says. According to THR, “The Academy: Orange County Fire” will go behind the scenes of an 18-week firefighter training program.

“This gives viewers an unprecedented inside look at how firefighters train, including the extreme personal highs and lows of recruits as they aspire to take on one of the world’s most dangerous jobs,” said Noel Siegel, vice president for production at Fox Reality.

• Dana Delany may follow Nicollette Sheridan’s exit from ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” says TVWeek.com, citing a story from Entertainment Weekly. Miss Delany’s character will be part of a plot twist involving a camping trip and a shooting, the magazine says.

• According to Broadcastingcable.com, VH1 is working on a reality concept featuring the moneyed ski bunnies of Aspen, Colo. A crew was in the wealthy ski hamlet last month shooting a casting reel at the trendy Sky Bar. A VH1 spokesman described the show’s potential characters as “some of the town’s most compelling female residents grappling with big life decisions.”

• Get your “fierce” factor in order. Scouts from the CW’s “America’s Next Top Model” will be in the District March 7 seeking local talent for its 13th cycle. Please note: Aspiring catwalk queens should be no taller than 5 feet 7 and be between ages 18 and 27. Applications are available at www.dc50tv.com/pages/dctopmodel, and the audition location will be posted on the Web site at a later date. Cycle 12 of “ANTM” begins March 4.

On tap tonight:

America’s Ballroom Challenge (9 p.m., WETA-Channel 26) - Twenty-four couples compete in the annual competition from Columbus, Ohio. Singer-actress Jean Louisa Kelly and choreographer Ron Montez (of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance?”) host.

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

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