- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 4, 2009

New ‘Idol’ auditions

It’s been just two weeks since Kris Allen’s “American Idol” crowning, but Fox already has announced audition dates and locations for Season 9 of the hit show, Entertainment Weekly reports.

According to the magazine’s Web site, “Idol” auditions will begin June 14 in Boston’s Gillette Stadium.

The other locations and dates:

June 18: Atlanta, the Georgia Dome

June 30: Los Angeles, the Rose Bowl

July 9: Orlando, Fla., Amway Arena

July 14: Denver: Invesco Field at Mile High

Dates and locations for the two remaining audition cities, Chicago and Dallas, have not been determined, EW says.

A date for Leno

“The Jay Leno Show” will premiere Sept. 14 at 10 p.m., NBC announced Tuesday.

That’s one week before the 2009-10 television season officially begins. There had been some buzz that NBC might try to get Mr. Leno on the air even earlier, perhaps the last week of August, TVWeek.com reports.

The question now is whether rivals ABC and CBS will begin rolling out their 10 p.m. dramas the week of Sept. 14 to blunt Mr. Leno’s premiere week. Such a move might have short-term benefits, but it would mean increasing the number of in-season repeats later in the year, TVWeek notes.

NBC executives privately have said they wouldn’t be surprised if Mr. Leno often finishes in third place at 10 p.m. when facing original scripted competition. However, with Mr. Leno in originals at least 46 weeks a year, the network is counting on making up the ratings gap during the weeks other networks are in repeat mode.

While NBC is using “The Jay Leno Show” as the title for its prime-time comedy hour, there’s always a chance the network could decide to go with a different name before the launch, TVWeek says.

MTV stunt staged

Sacha Baron Cohen’s outrageous bare-buttocks landing in Eminem’s face at the MTV Movie Awards was a rehearsed stunt, one of the show’s writers tells the Hollywood Reporter.

Moreover, another report on Tuesday suggested that the Detroit rapper wasn’t the first-choice target of the British provocateur to promote his upcoming film, “Bruno.”

The intended victim was to have been Paris Hilton, but she declined, Life & Style magazine said on its Web site.

The Eminem incident quickly became the most-talked-about highlight of a live two-hour television show that pushed the boundaries of taste and language.

Clad in white feather wings and a jockstrap, Mr. Baron Cohen swept from the air on a harness and landed face-down in the lap of Eminem, who was wearing a microphone and sitting in the audience. On TV, the rapper was shown leaving the building in what MTV said was “a heated rage.”

However, writer Scott Aukerman, who worked with the show’s presenter, Andy Samberg (of “Saturday Night Live”), wrote in a blog posting on Monday that “the Bruno/Eminem incident was staged.”

“That’s all anyone wants to talk about, so let’s get it out of the way. They rehearsed it at dress [rehearsal] and yes, it went as far as it did on the live show then,” Mr. Aukerman wrote. The posting has since been removed, THR says.

MTV has declined comment, and both Mr. Baron Cohen - who plays a gay Austrian fashionista in “Bruno,” and Eminem, who released an album last month - have remained silent.

Sunday’s MTV Movie Awards show drew 5.3 million viewers - the largest audience for the annual event since 2004, THR notes. MTV said the Bruno-Eminem clip was streamed more than 800,000 times on MTV.com in the 24 hours after Sunday’s show.

Paris to Dubai

Speaking of Paris Hilton, the celebutante is taking her search for a best friend to the Middle East, where Lionsgate and Ish Entertainment have struck a deal with a Dubai-based firm to produce a new version of “Paris Hilton’s My New BFF.”

Dubai-based Uniqon is funding most of the project, which will follow the celebrity heiress as she puts a group of young women - half from the Middle East, half from elsewhere but currently living in Dubai - through a series of tests to see who would best complement her lifestyle.

“I love it for the sheer wild-card aspect of it,” Ish Entertainment co-founder Michael Hirschhorn tells Daily Variety. “It’s so out of the ordinary.”

“Paris Hilton’s My New BFF-Dubai” will adhere to the same format found in the United States, where the original “My New BFF” airs on MTV, as well as in Britain, where a version of the format was shot recently for ITV2.

Yet, given Middle East sensibilities, Mr. Hirschhorn said the Dubai production won’t be quite as racy as the U.S. or British editions.

That means, for example, that alcohol - normally a reality-TV staple - won’t play a role in this version. The production also has promised to adhere to local cultural sensitivities. Swearing, sexually explicit conversation and risque clothing will be kept to a minimum.

The production had to receive several layers of approval before moving forward; even Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, had to give his blessing, Variety reports.

According to Stella Stolper, Mr. Hirschhorn’s partner, Miss Hilton has never been to Dubai - so part of the show will include her initial reactions to her first trip to the United Arab Emirates.

Miss Hilton will be accompanied by her boyfriend, Doug Reinhardt, who likely will appear on camera as well. Production will start later this month and shoot for 17 days. The show will conclude with a shoot in Los Angeles.

‘Chef’ cooks in Vegas

The sixth season of Bravo’s “Top Chef” will be set in Las Vegas, the network has announced.

Host Padma Lakshmi and the head judge, chef Tom Colicchio, will return for the new season, as will judges Gail Simmons and Toby Young, TVWeek.com reports.

Season 5’s “Top Chef: New York” was the show’s highest-rated season. The finale was the series’ highest-rated telecast ever among adults 18 to 49 as well as with total viewers.

New date for Emmys

CBS will broadcast the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards live Sept. 13 from 8 to 11 p.m., a week earlier than previously announced, because of an NFL double-header, which could have delayed the start of prime time.

Jack Sussman, executive vice president of specials, music and live events for CBS, said the new date is better “for the live event, the broadcast and our audience at home,” Broadcastingcable.com reports.

The original date of the awards telecast was scheduled before the NFL released its 2009 TV schedule.

Nominees will be announced the morning of July 16.

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

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