No bull: Springer looking for a co-host

If it’s been your dream to preside over a catfight between strippers who are sleeping with their boyfriends’ fathers, then spin a lesson about tolerance from the resulting mayhem, has Jerry Springer got a deal for you.

Springer’s daytime talk show, infamous for its warring lovers, shock-manufacturing stories and eternally bemused host, is launching a contest in which viewers can “Be Jerry for a Day” and co-host the show with the former Cincinnati mayor. The catch is, would-be hopefuls have to attend a Professional Bull Riders event to enter.

We’re not entirely sure what the connection between the PBR and “Jerry Springer” is, aside from a corporate cross-promotional link: NBC and its Spanish-language network, Telemundo, broadcast several bull-riding events, and media conglomerate NBC Universal’s syndication unit distributes Springer’s show.

Anyway, the contest launches April 30 at a PBR event on Long Island and will continue through the summer. Contestants will be asked to sing an original song about Springer or record a Springer-esque “Final Thought.” Those who can’t make it to an in-person audition can mail a videotape to the show.

Five finalists will be flown to Chicago in September to tape a final audition in front of an audience. The show will air the finalists’ tapes in October, and a viewer vote will determine the winner. (Details on the contest are at JerrySpringerTV.com.)

“It’s good timing for everyone to try and be me and co-host my show,” Springer quips, “because that is when I will be auditioning to be Oprah.”

‘Batman Begins’ with extended sneak on ‘Smallville’

The Time Warner empire will deploy its synergistic superpowers in May to offer fans of “Smallville” an extensive look at the summer movie “Batman Begins.”

The WB will show an eight-minute preview of the film, which opens June 17, during the season finale of “Smallville” on May 18. The network and studio aren’t calling the sneak a trailer; instead, it’s a “special footage preview,” which means viewers will see a full scene from the film, plus some additional material.

Warner Bros., which like The WB is part of the Time Warner conglomerate, is releasing the film. Both the movie and the series are based on the two most enduring DC Comic characters, Batman and Superman (DC is also a Time Warner subsidiary).

“Superman and Batman have always been inextricably linked to each other, so it seems fitting that a show chronicling the Man of Steel’s youth give you the first look at the birth of the Dark Knight,” “Smallville” co-creator Al Gough says.

The “Smallville” finale, titled “Commencement,” will run 90 minutes and revolve around graduation day at Smallville High. The network also mentions “murder” and “betrayal” in its description of the episode, but little else.

“Batman Begins,” which stars Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader, follows a younger Bruce Wayne as he begins to take on his alter ego and fight crime in Gotham City. Christopher Nolan (“Memento”) is the movie’s director and co-screenwriter (with “Blade’s” David S. Goyer).

CBS sets date for Rob-Amber nuptials

As has been long rumored, and reported by the bride’s hometown newspaper, the wedding of TV couple Amber Brkich and Rob Mariano will become a CBS special.

The network confirmed Tuesday that it will air a two-hour special – appropriately titled “Rob and Amber Get Married” – chronicling the planning and execution of the “Survivor”/”Amazing Race” stars’ wedding, which took place last weekend. The special is scheduled to air May 24, two weeks after the finale of “The Amazing Race.”

Brkich’s hometown paper, Pennsylvania’s Beaver County Times, reported Friday that the couple were set to marry over the weekend. However, no one involved could say anything on record because of confidentiality agreements they had signed with CBS.

The network has now caught up to the rumor mill and provided a few additional details. The special will be set at the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas, and celebrity event planner Colin Cowie – a frequent “Oprah Winfrey Show” and CBS “Early Show” guest – designed the wedding’s look.

Cameras will also follow Rob and Amber to their bachelor and bachelorette parties and rehearsal dinner and capture “special surprises that they planned for each other.” There’s no word on whether they wrote their own vows, and if so, whether Rob used the words “slammin”‘ or “smokin”‘ in his.

“Rob and Amber Get Married” further extends the pair’s reality-TV fame, which now spans three editions of “Survivor” and the current “Amazing Race,” in which they’re among the final five teams. CBS is doubtless hoping their wedding will draw ratings approaching that of “Bachelorette” couple Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter; 17 million people watched their nuptials on ABC in December 2003.

Chuck Dalaklis, Theresa McKeown and Bob Asher, all of Lifetime’s “Merge,” are executive producing the special.

‘Jack & Bobby’ adds stars to finale

There’s no word yet whether The WB’s “Jack & Bobby,” the freshman future-president drama from executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Everwood”) and Tommy Schlamme (“The West Wing”) will make it to a second season, but either way, it’s finishing its first season with a bang.

Lou Diamond Phillips was previously announced to play the long-lost father of Missouri teens Jack and Bobby McCallister (Matt Long, Logan Lerman) in the season finale, called “Legacy,” airing May 11. He’s now joined by an eclectic trio of fellow guest-stars.

Since the show’s premiere, interstitial segments featuring interviews with White House staffers, administration officials and others have described the presidency – almost four decades hence – of younger brother Bobby, and hinted at the premature death of older brother Jack. In “Legacy,” these interstitials are revealed as part of a larger documentary, with a host played by novelist Gore Vidal.

Additionally, actor Tim Robbins (“Mystic River,” “The Shawshank Redemption”) provides the voice of President McCallister, although he isn’t seen on-screen, and writer and TV producer Norman Lear (“All in the Family”), reportedly a big fan of the show, appears as the older version of Peter Benedict, played in the series by John Slattery.

In the present time, Benedict is president of the college that employs the boys’ single mother, Prof. Grace McCallister (Christine Lahti). He is also the future father-in-law of Bobby, to whom he is already a father figure.

Donovan sails back to ‘The O.C.’

Jimmy Cooper is headed back to “The O.C.”

Tate Donovan, who left the Fox show midway through this season, is returning as a guest star in the season finale, the network says. The episode is scheduled for Thursday, May 19.

The network isn’t saying a whole lot about the circumstances under which Jimmy comes back from his self-imposed exile in Hawaii. The advance copy for the episode states that he’s “worried about Marissa and his family (and) rushes home to Newport Beach.”

Donovan’s last appearance on the show came in January, when Jimmy took off for Hawaii after his daughter Marissa (Mischa Barton) caught him in flagrante delicto with his ex-wife, Julie (Melinda Clarke). His decision to leave devastated Marissa, who’s been acting out ever since.

Since leaving the show, Donovan has appeared in the Vin Diesel comedy “The Pacifier” and has worked on the George Clooney-directed “Goodnight, and Good Luck,” about CBS newsman Edward R. Murrow’s battle against Sen. Joseph McCarthy. The film is scheduled for release next year.

“The O.C.” has five episodes remaining in its second season. Upcoming episodes will feature a trip to Miami to visit The Nana (returning guest Linda Lavin) and delve into a possible drinking problem for Kirsten (Kelly Rowan) that’s been hinted at in past episodes.

NBC back in NFL game; ‘Monday Night’ to ESPN

After more than 35 years as a staple of broadcast television, “Monday Night Football” will move to cable in 2006. NBC, meanwhile, will return to broadcasting the National Football League for the first time in almost a decade.

The NFL announced Monday that it has completed its TV contracts for the remainder of this decade. The deals represent a major shift in the way fans will watch prime-time football in the coming years. For more than a decade, Sunday-night games have aired on cable, while “MNF” has been an ABC institution since 1970.

Starting with the 2006 season, “Monday Night Football” will move from ABC to its cable sibling, ESPN (both are owned by Disney). The start time for Monday night games will move up a little to 8:40 p.m. ET and be preceded by the channel’s “Monday Night Countdown” show. ESPN’s deal runs through 2013.

“These agreements improve our television arrangements for fans,” NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue says. “They underscore our unique commitment to broadcast television and our tradition of delivering our games to the widest possible audience. In the current media environment, Sunday is now the better night for our prime-time broadcast package.”

Although “Monday Night Football” draws solid ratings – it averaged 16.38 million viewers per week this year – the heavy rights fees ABC pays the NFL make it a money-losing endeavor. ESPN, which is paying a reported $1.1 billion for the “MNF” rights over eight years, can better cover the cost because it draws revenue both from ad sales and the fees it charges cable and satellite companies to carry the network.

That NBC grabbed the Sunday-night package (its deal also starts in 2006) comes as something of a surprise. The network has in recent years shied away from big-money deals to air the major pro team sports, instead focusing on its Olympics coverage and NASCAR. NBC last had rights to NFL games in the 1997 season.

As part of its reported $600 million deal, which runs through 2011, the network will give its entire Sunday prime-time schedule to the NFL, with games starting at 8:15 p.m. ET. NBC also gets the season-opening Thursday game each year, two wild-card playoff games and the Super Bowl telecast in 2009 and 2012.

NBC’s deal also allows for what the NFL calls “flexible scheduling” in the final seven weeks of the season. Details are still being worked out, but it likely means that NBC will have the opportunity to move intriguing games from the Sunday afternoon schedule to prime time. CBS and Fox, which carry the afternoon games, had previously objected to such an arrangement.


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