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Bravo orders seconds of ‘Top chef’

Bravo’s competition series “Top Chef,” which has enjoyed steady ratings growth over its eight weeks on the air, will be coming back for a second course.

The cable network has renewed the show, which comes from the producers of “Project Runway,” for a second cycle and will begin searching for undiscovered culinary stars later this month in Las Vegas, New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles.

“‘Top Chef’ has a flavor and spice viewers are savoring, making it one of the most successful new cable shows to debut this year,” Bravo President Lauren Zalaznick says. “We’re committed to this series and look forward to another successful season showcasing some of the best culinary talent in the country.”

And, as Bravo is wont to do with shows that are doing well, the network has extended the current season by adding a reunion show and playing out the finale over two weeks. The reunion special, featuring previously eliminated contestants and unaired footage from past episodes, is scheduled for May 10.

The final three contestants will be pared to two the following week, and the winner will be revealed May 24.

Ratings for “Top Chef,” while not in the upper reaches of the cable stratosphere, have nonetheless been improving over the show’s run. Last week’s episode hit a series high of 1.3 million viewers, with more than 900,000 of those coming from the adults 18-49 demographic.



“SOPRANOS’ ACTORS ARRESTED

Two actors from “The Sopranos” have crossed over the line from fictional wiseguys to alleged real-life criminals in recent weeks.

John Ventimiglia, who plays chef Artie Bucco on the Emmy-winning HBO series, was arrested early Monday on charges of DUI and cocaine possession, according to a New York City police report. Louis Gross, who has a small role this season as Tony’s (James Gandolfini) driver, was charged in a separate incident last month with breaking into a home in Queens.

Ventimiglia, 42, was arrested about 12:45 a.m. Monday after an officer observed his car weaving on a Brooklyn street, its headlights off, according to an NYPD report posted at TheSmokingGun.com. The officer notes that Ventimiglia was slurring his speech and smelled of alcohol. The actor also took a test that showed his blood-alcohol level at .12 percent, above New York’s legal limit.

During a search, the officer found a small plastic bag and an envelope with cocaine residue on them in Ventimiglia’s pants pocket, resulting in a misdemeanor charge for possession of a controlled substance.

Gross, meanwhile, was arrested Sunday on a charge of breaking into a friend’s home in Queens on April 18, New York’s tabloids report. The 23-year-old allegedly broke a lock to retrieve some belongings from a friend’s home. He’s also accused of assaulting a Manhattan merchant in another incident in February.

Gross maintains his innocence in both cases.



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AP-NY-05-02-06 1600EDT

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