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Hollywood celebrities mouth off

Saturday, January 25, 2003

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

HOLLYWOOD -- Celebrities say the darndest things, even in staged press conferences where they're surprisingly willing to bite the hands that feed them.

Here's some reality

Comedian Wanda Sykes, who stars in Fox's upcoming sitcom "Wanda at Large," isn't a fan of reality shows, even those that air on Fox and especially the special "Man vs. Beast."

"Does the animal really know he's competing?" Sykes said. "He doesn't know. That's just unfair."

So how does she feel about being on the same network as so many reality shows?

"I did watch an episode of 'Joe Millionaire,' and I thought I'd never say this, but, boy, do I wish I was on UPN," Sykes said.

"I just hate seeing dumb women, and then the guy is starting to really believe it's really his money: 'Oh, I got to find a girl who really likes me for me and not for my money.' You're broke! You have no money! Dummy."

Politics v. entertainment

Former Sen. Fred Thompson has gone from Capitol Hill to "Law & Order," but he's still trying to decide which industry is more vicious.

"People ask me why I chose to leave the Senate," Thompson said. "And I always respond, 'After eight years in Washington, I simply longed for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.' "

Repeat: It's only TV

"CSI" star Paul Guilfoyle said one his more bizarre fan encounters came with a viewer who didn't seem able to distinguish fact from fiction.

"I was stopped in the airport once by someone who said, 'You guys should get on the JonBenet Ramsey case. You could definitely figure that out.' I looked at that person to see if they were going to actually laugh and smile like it was a joke, and they didn't. ... So people do expect a lot from our show."

Keep it in perspective

Broadway star Nathan Lane ("The Producers") starred in the flop sitcom "Encore! Encore!" a few years back, but he's not trying to distance himself from it.

"Look, it wasn't a war crime, it was just a sitcom that didn't quite work," Lane said while promoting his upcoming gay actor-turned-congressman CBS comedy "Charlie Lawrence." "I'm not going to go to my grave thinking, 'Why, oh why!' "

Cover up

Supermodel Tyra Banks, who hosts the upcoming UPN reality show "America's Next Top Model," said she's comfortable wearing a skimpy wardrobe as she walks the runway because she knows she has control over how skimpy it will be.

"You all will never see my butt on the runway. I might have something on kind of sheer, but you're not going to see the whole butt like you do some of those other girls because it's too big and it's too juicy," Banks said. "I love my booty and I think it's juicy, but I've got dimples in it, too. I think big, juicy with dimples is beautiful for me or my man or whatever, but in terms of showing it to all of America, I like to cover what I think are my flaws and try to accentuate other things. ... There's no pill to get rid of cellulite."

WB stand-up comedy

Keith Marder, a TV critic-turned-publicist for The WB, always has the best cracks on press tour, including a few jokes at the expense of his favorite former WB star.

"We aired the classic movie 'The Wizard of Oz,' which was the first time the Wicked Witch was on The WB and it wasn't Shannen Doherty."

He also made jokes at the expense of rivals:

"CBS is keeping the TV streets safe with at least 8 million cops, detectives and smokin' hot forensic scientists, amidst a sea of dead bodies," Marder said. "Kind of like their target audience."

"For everybody who knows what a dramedy is, it's a show that's part comedy, part drama," Marder said. "You know what you call a show that's neither comedy nor drama? 'Dinotopia.' "

"The Norwalk virus has affected thousands of people who became violently ill on luxury oceanliners. There hasn't been this much nausea associated with a cruise ship since UPN's remake of 'The Love Boat.' "

Define 'celebrity'

The stars of ABC's upcoming "Survivor" knock-off, "I'm a Celebrity -- Get Me Out of Here!" include model Tyson Beckford, Olympian Bruce Jenner, former rock star wife Alana Stewart, former MTV veejay Downtown Julie Brown and E! fashionista Melissa Rivers.

Calling them celebrities may do a disservice to celebrities everywhere, and star Robin Leach ("Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous") claims he's not a celebrity, even though he's signed on to a series with the word in its title.

"I don't ever think of myself as a celebrity," he said. "That's a label that gets dropped by you guys on us guys and we aren't."

Finally, something we can agree on.

Post-Gazette TV editor Rob Owen attended the Television Critics Association winter press tour earlier this month. You can reach him at 412-263-2582 orrowen@post-gazette.com .

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