Premieres + Finales = Reality Heaven!

Sheesh, with all the reality events this week, I barely had a chance to read my US Weekly! Thankfully, there was plenty of downtime during the endless “I’m a Celebrity" flashback clips. Among the premieres were “The Real World Cancun,” “NYC Prep,” “America’s Got Talent” and something called “The Superstars.” Then we had to bid […]

Sheesh, with all the reality events this week, I barely had a chance to read my US Weekly! Thankfully, there was plenty of downtime during the endless “I’m a Celebrity" flashback clips.

Among the premieres were “The Real World Cancun,” “NYC Prep,” “America’s Got Talent” and something called “The Superstars.” Then we had to bid adieu to our favorite housewives (well, “adieu part one”) and take part in a coronation for the “King of the Jungle.” Oh, and don’t forget “SYTYCD” and “Top Chef Masters"! Television can be exhausting, ya’ll!

“America’s Got Talent” aired two audition rounds and, I’ve gotta say, I don’t really get the appeal of this show. It’s the old apples and oranges quandary. How can you compare magicians to singers and acrobats? Perhaps I’ll tune in later this season, but for now I’d rather focus on shows I “get.” Like …

"I’M A CELEBRITY … GET ME OUT OF HERE!"
Gather all your belongings because after what seemed like months, the jungle cruise has finally come to a full and complete stop. What will we do now with the majority of our week?

These last two shows were mainly retrospectives, as the celebrities (and Patti Blagojevich) looked back on friendships made and lessons learned.

Oh, and, BTW … think there’s no such thing as product placement in the jungle? Think again. Colgate found a way to plug their new Wisp product during the show’s last week of filming. Take that, Crooked Houses!

On Tuesday’s show, Sanjaya was sent packing. I have to say that I was a little shocked at Jungle Boy’s departure. I kind of grew to love him and, as I look back, I’m embarrassed that Simon Cowell’s opinion of him ever had any influence on me at all.

Blagojevich is no longer Queen of Illinois and she won’t be Queen of the Jungle, either. She, too, was exiled on Tuesday … to a hotel. How dreadful.

On last night’s finale, the three finalists — Lou, Torrie and John — took part in the final food trial, a “spa” challenge. Torrie got “shampooed” with various roaches and bugs, while John stuck his face in something referred to as “vomit fruit.” (It’s a great exfoliator.)

Worst of all, Lou got “spray tanned” with mealworms. The result actually looked worse than the real thing, but at least it didn’t leave streaks.

Each of the finalists completed two trials and earned foods that they had been craving — pizza for Torrie, fried chicken for Lou and a veggie burger for John.

The cast — all clean and made up — revealed who they were backing. Daniel voted for John, while Patti and Stephen voted for Torrie. Sanjolly were rooting for Papa Lou and Heidi and Spencer voted for … uh, Spencer.

Lou seemed to be the obvious choice, and not just because he’s a great leader. I mean, how many NBA and wrestling fans actually watch this show? John Salley was eliminated, and it came down to Torrie and Lou.

My instincts proved true! After Lou was announced the winner, he got to sit on a makeshift jungle throne and then it was all over, anticlimactically, as these things often are.

The nonprofit Art Has Heart will receive $100,000 thanks to Lou.

"THE REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY REUNION: PART 1"
No table flipping, regrettably. (Incidentally, the girls are on the cover of this week’s aforementioned US Weekly.)

What the reunion did cover was Teresa’s insistence that her husband’s gay slur during the dance lesson episode was not offensive (it was) and the correct pronunciation of “bubbies” (it’s somewhere between “oo” and “uh”).

Oh, and Teresa and Jacqueline were both pregnant at the time of the interview; Jacqueline has since given birth to baby Nicholas.

I think (hope) that they are saving the real drama for tonight’s “part 2,” although Caroline did address the allegations of Manzo family mob ties and how offensive and hurtful those rumors are.

I was just joking last week, Caroline. Please don’t have me whacked.

"REAL WORLD CANCUN"
This is the true story … of seven famewhores … picked to live in a resort … work together and have their sex lives taped … to find out what happens … when people stop being polite … and start getting edited to look … “real.”

“The Real World” is back and it’s faker than ever! This cycle (number 22) is set in Cancun, every college student’s favorite place for debauchery.

The thing is, though, these kids don’t go to college. They do things like work at Hooters. And by “they,” I mean, like, more than one of them works there.

The “seven strangers” (two of whom already knew each other) are set up in a phat (is that what the kids say?) suite at the ME Resort right on the beach. Let’s hope they got out the Clorox. That’s right, this was the very same hotel featured on “Rock of Love.”

It’s difficult to tell which archetypes each roommate is meant to represent, as the majority seem to fit into either “the slutty” or “the drunk” categories. The exception is 20-year-old Derek from Tempe, who simply fills the “gay” requirement.

The overall theme seems to be countless things they all had in common with each other, a brilliant casting move. Derek and Boston native Emilee (yes, that’s really how you spell it) are both adopted. Emilee and 24-year-old CJ are Facebook friends. Jasmine is black and so is Emilee, by way of adoption. Bronne from Pennsylvania was once a nude model, while Jonna from Tempe likes to sit on the communal desk chair in a thong. Ayiiia (yes, that’s really how you spell it) and Emilee both work at Hooters, as previously mentioned.

Both Jonna and CJ start the episode with a significant other, but CJ and his girl split up after he spoons Emilee. This is after getting kicked out of his room by tattooed punk rocker, Joey, who was having his way with a barfly named Courtnee (again, that’s really how you spell it). Did I mention that Bronne made out with Cournee’s mom at the bar?

Although most of the foreign “Real World” seasons don’t seem to translate well — pardon the pun — this one is promising to be as skankalicious as Las Vegas, with plenty of bottle throwing and fornication. In fact, I’m surprised the cast isn’t working for “Girls Gone Wild” instead of the Student City travel website.

 

"NYC PREP"

I love the drama and the cattiness of “Gossip Girl,” as do all my other 14-year-old friends. But the reason I love it is because it’s not real. “NYC Prep” is real — or at least it’s someone’s idea of reality.

Seriously, when I was growing up, I lived in a dry county and hung out at the hamburger stand. These kids are drinking martinis in New York’s hottest restaurants and bars!

The cast seems to be mainly made up of an indistinguishable army of brunette girls, except for Jessie, who’s blonde and not quite as cute as the others. With her glottal fry voice, she declares her hatred for “Gossip Girl,” which is interesting because that show is the only thing making her a reality star.

Jessie works with Operation Smile, but despite her philanthropic efforts, she is known to be a bitch on “the prep school scene,” according to another character.

She is clearly in love with her “ex,” PC, and will no doubt one day serve as best man in his civil union ceremony, if you catch my drift.

PC is the “Chuck Bass” character of the show, repeatedly making snarky comments and always looking stylish while doing so. He seems to be interested in 16-year-old Kelli, who recently moved to New York after living in The Hamptons for six years.

You may ask why Kelli’s parents would let her go out with a cad like PC. Did I mention that her parents still live in the Hamptons? Come now, don’t have a fit! They come up once a week. How else would she pursue her music career without living alone with her totally adult 18-year-old brother?

Sebastian (which, coincidentally, is the name of Ryan Phillippe’s character in “Cruel Intentions”) has one passion: hooking up with girls. He boasts that on a good night, he can hook up with two or three girls, maybe more. Plus, he offers, if you go to the right parties, you can hook up with anywhere between two and sixteen girls a month!

For some reason, even though he pretty much wears his douchebaggery on his sleeve, girls seem to be totally into … well, hooking up with him. Some of these clueless girls include Kelli and Taylor, a — gasp! — public school girl.

Taylor is the girl, if any, that most of us can probably relate to. In this premiere episode, she throws a party because the “perception of money and status are really important.” She rolls her eyes when her mother asks her everyday questions about her life. How dare she not have the decency to live in a separate house in, say, the Hamptons!

Lastly, there is Camille, the “Blair Waldorf” character. Her life plan involves going to Harvard, becoming the business head of a genetics firm (is that where Plus 8’s come from?), and settling down at 40 with a husband and two girls.

How to do all that and still make time to drink martinis and watch “GG?” I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

"SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE"
I have to admit it: this show is growing on me. OK, mostly because of the fancy costumes … but the dancing’s not bad, either. And where else can you find out what career path dancers would take if they weren’t dancing? (Model! Actress! Loan Officer?)

Karla and Jonathan started off the night with a sort of hip-hop gangster number. For me, it was the most forgettable number of the evening. Performance: 5 Costumes: 4

Asuka and Vitolio performed a unique “trash-rocker-jazz” routine choreographed by Mandy Moore, a lady who doesn’t seem quite as sweet as the pop singer who bears her name. Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” was the perfect song choice, as the routine and costumes were straight out of an '80s video (in a good way). Performance: 7 Costumes: 8

Melissa and Ade did a sexy and very flexible rumba to “Emotion” by Destiny’s Child. Melissa’s ballet background really worked to her advantage. Nigel thought she looked like Rita Hayworth in her barely there sparkly costume but it kind of reminded me of Princess Leia’s gold bikini. Performance: 8 Costumes: 8

Brandon and Janette told a “story” with their rock ‘n’ roll meets hip hop number, complete with a throne! It was very entertaining, especially since both personas were so different. Performance: 8 Costumes: 5

Kayla and Kupono glided through the Viennese waltz in their first dance together as a couple. Kayla’s grace makes it hard to believe she is only 18. (And does anyone else think she looks like Whitney from “The Hills/The City?”) Mary put them on the Hot Tamale Train. (BTW … Does anyone know where I can get a ticket and if they sell the candies there? They are my favorite movie treat!) Performance: 7 Costumes: 6

Evan and Randi also told a story, albeit a very simple one. Apparently it was about a “poodle’s butt.” Frankly, I got more of a “Pepe le Pew” vibe from it, but the interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. Regardless, it was very cinematic and just plain old good. My favorite of the night. Performance: 9 Costumes: 8

As if being up for elimination last week wasn’t dramatic enough, Caitlin and Jason danced to the most dramatic music ever, “O Fortuna.” (Trust me, you’ve heard it.) The paso doble has always been my favorite dance on “DWTS” and this couple’s interpretation didn’t disappoint. Oh, and BTW, although I said Melissa's’s outfit was very “Return of the Jedi,” it didn’t have half the Princess Leia-ness of Caitlin’s get-up. Performance: 7 Costumes: 10!

Jeanine and Phillip did (jazz hands!) a Broadway number to “Moses” from “Singin’ in the Rain.” Now, I don’t know my pop & lock from my tush push, but I know I love Broadway dancing. Though the judges thought Phillip needs to step it up, I was impressed by him jumping over a couch and even more impressed with the feather motif and the retro vibe. BTW … No fair to compare them to Gene Kelly. Come on.
Performance: 8 Costumes: 9

"THE SUPERSTARS"
“The Superstars” premiered on ABC Tuesday and it was the longest 90 minutes of my life. The show features eight teams of celebrities and world-class athletes who compete in a variety of physical challenges in the Bahamas.

I’m not sure who the target demographic would be for a program like this. It is clearly not someone like me. Most reality fans are women, which doesn’t seem to fit with a show that is so sports-oriented.

Sure, I can appreciate the endurance and ability it takes to complete a 1.1 mile course up a steep bridge or a quarter-mile kayaking challenge, but it doesn’t mean I want to see it for an hour and a half. Especially when the challenges are repeated over and over again, tournament style. (I’m having NBA flashbacks!)

Nevertheless, if you’re a sporty gal or a guy who actually enjoys reality programming, you may want to check this one out.

The teams are as follows: Brandi Chastain & Julio Iglesias, Jr.; baseball player Jeff Kent & Ali Landy; X-treme skier Kristi Leskinen & Maks Chmerkovskiy (from “DWTS”); Alpine skier Bode Miller & Paige Hemmis (from “Extreme Home Makeover”); Lisa Leslie and Dan Cortese; NBA player Robert Horry and Estella Warren; and Jennifer Capriati and David Charvet.

The first team to be eliminated was Buffalo Bills star Terrell Owens and “supermodel” Joanna Krupa, whom I’d never heard of. Apparently her portfolio includes such classy publications as Maxim, FHM, Stuff and something called Teeze.

After losing, Joanna had a few choice words for her teammate (Sample: “You’re the one who &%$$## up. We could’ve won.”) and proved that a pretty outside doesn’t necessarily equal a pretty inside. Although, I’ve gotta hand it to her. Her outburst was the most memorable part of the show.

"TOP CHEF MASTERS"


Tonight’s episode featured former Season 4 guest judges Wilo Benet from San Juan and Rick Bayless from Chicago. Competing against them were Napa Valley chef Cindy Pawlcyn and Ludovic Lefebvre, who is based in Los Angeles.

By far the most entertaining part of this episode for me was Ludo, who could’ve just as easily have been an “SNL” character. He is a French guy with a French accent who was French-trained .. in France. He alludes to all of this repeatedly throughout the program.

For the first challenge, the chefs drew knives with colored blades and they each had to prepare a dish based on the color. Judging were three ladies: a food stylist, a cookbook author and a food photographer.

Ludo drew the red blade and prepared a steak tartare with watermelon (huh?), red onion and red beet gazpacho. But, merde! He forgot to plate the tomato. And “merde” again! The judges think the gazpacho looks like blood. 3 stars

Wilo’s color was orange, for which we whipped up a smoked salmon tartare with coconut milk and tomato paste sauce. Milk and tomato paste? Sounds like Campbell’s tomato soup to me! Get me a grilled cheese and that's a meal I can get behind! Mmm Mmm, good! 4 1/2 stars … WINNER!

For Cindy’s yellow dish, she made a vegetable curry over sweet corn grits and fried corn tortillas. This one actually looked the most appetizing to me. As the judges said, it had crunchy and creamy. 3 1/2 stars

Rick’s green concoction was roasted veggies and mole verde with tomatillos, green chilies and pumpkin seeds. Of course he did the mole; Mexican is his specialty. 4 stars

The next challenge was to prepare street food with various proteins for park goers at Universal Studios Hollywood. The “Fear Factor” twist? The ingredients were a little “out there” for middle America. In fact, they sounded like things that might be in a witch’s potion. The chefs were given $300 and 45 minutes in Whole Foods to come up with a plan.

Wilo made a kind of Puerto Rican street sandwich — tripleta — with his ingredient, beef hearts. The judges enjoyed it and the diners liked his dish the best, giving him 4 1/2 stars.

 

Cindy had to make tripe (stomach) appetizing, so she made a menudo soup and marketed it as the “classic hangover cure.” The diners gave her 3 stars and the judges thought it was a little underseasoned.

Ludo was perhaps dealt the most difficult ingredient, pig ears, and decided to make a quesadilla. Despite all his fancy French training, he maintains that there is not such thing as “street food” in France. The diners gave his concoction 3 1/2 stars.

Rick made a tongue taco that both the judges and the diners liked. The diners awarded him 4 stars (half a star less than Wilo’s recipe) but the judges preferred Bayless and awarded him the title of Top Chef for this round. Ten thousand dollars will be donated to Frontera Farmers Foundation.

Next time I reach for one of those bacon wrapped hot dogs on the stands outside the bar, I may just request a tongue taco instead.