Top Model rolls into season 3

Starting March 2, the race is on to see what aspiring beauty will take the crown as “America’s Next Top Model.” On Monday, UPN unveiled the names of the 14 ladies who are in the running to follow in the footsteps of “Top Model 3” winner Eva Pigford.

The 14 candidates feature three women from California and another trio from Florida. The oldest contestant, Brita, is 25, while Tatiana is the junior model at 18. Given their youth, the women have somewhat limited career experiences. The new crop of wannabe lovelies is led four waitresses, one restaurant hostesses and three students. However, there may be intrigue from Lluvy, perhaps the country’s most attractive janitor, and Michelle, who is described only as a wrestler.

As with the show’s popular first three installments, the 14 women will learn the skills necessary to become a model, while living together and being monitored by cameras 24-hours-a-day. Tyra Banks, Jay Manuel and J. Alexander return as mentors, while Janice Dickinson, Nigel Barker and Nole Marin are back as judges.

ABC extends Oscar contract to 2014

ABC has extended its contract with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to telecast the Oscars through 2014. The new deal marks a six-year extension beyond the previous agreement.

“The Academy Awards stand as the preeminent awards show in the world,” says Anne Sweeney, president of the Disney-ABC Television Group. “We’re thrilled to continue our long, fruitful association with the Academy through 2014 and to continue bringing this exciting and glamorous event to our audience.”

Bracing for the 77th Academy Awards telecast on Feb. 27, ABC’s new pact ensures that the network will have aired 28 consecutive Oscars by 2014 and 56 of 61 televised ceremonies.

“Oscar lives at ABC,” notes Academy President Frank Pierson.

The extension governs domestic Oscar telecasts through 2014. International rights are controlled by ABC’s corporate sibling Buena Vista International and run through 2010.

“All of us at the Academy were particularly gratified by the participation of Walt Disney President and Chief Operating Officer Bob Iger in these negotiations,” says Academy Executive Director Bruce Davis. “The Academy is very protective of the Oscars, and one of the main factors that has kept us at ABC is our confidence that Bob understands and respects the things that make us the gold standard of Award Shows. He’s been an important constant throughout all our dealings with the network since 1989.”

Quinn to star in ‘Book’

Aidan Quinn will star in NBC’s drama pilot “The Book of Daniel,” while the network has also given a cast-contingent pilot order to a comedy from “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow.

In “Book of Daniel,” one of the network’s most discussed pilots, Quinn will play an unconventional priest with a painkiller problem. The pilot was developed by writer-producer Jack Kenny (“Titus”) and features the central priest having ethical and theological discussions with a character NBC insists on describing as a hip and modern Jesus.

Quinn recently completed a guest starring run on NBC’s “Third Watch.” The actor, who will next be seen in the HBO adaptation of “Empire Falls,” has a long list of feature film credits including “Benny & Joon” and “Practical Magic.”

Also at NBC, the network has grabbed “All In,” a comedy from Warner Bros TV and Kudrow’s Is or Isn’t Entertainment. The laughs come from the story of a single mother of four who moonlights as a poker champion, based on the life of Annie Duke. Jack Burditt (“I’m With Her”) wrote the pilot and will executive produce along with Kudrow and her Is or Isn’t partner Dan Bucatinsky.

‘STARGATE’ gets familiar faces

Sci Fi’s two-headed franchise of “Stargate SG-1” and “Stargate Atlantis” has landed an Emmy-winning regular, an Oscar-winning recurring star and one of the most familiar faces from recent sci fi television. Beau Bridges, Louis Gossett, Jr. and Mitch Pileggi have signed on for appearances on the two shows, which are both set to begin production in March for summer premieres.

Bridges (“The Fabulous Baker Boys”), winner of a trio of Emmys, will become a regular on “Stargate SG-1,” one of Sci Fi’s most successful original series as it enters its ninth season. Bridges will play General Hank Landry, the new head of Stargate Command. Bridges’ character will also cross over into a few episodes of “Stargate Atlantis.”

An Oscar winner for “An Officer and a Gentleman,” Gossett will take a recurring role as a Jaffa leader who vies with Teal’c for political control of the new Jaffa nation. That last sentence is bound to be meaningful to fans of the show.

Pileggi, a veteran of Fox’s “The X-Files” and The WB’s “The Mountain,” will appear on “Stargate Atlantis” in the recurring role of a hard-nosed colonel who runs afoul of Dr. Weir (Torri Higginson) and Major Sheppard (Joe Flanigan).

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