Saturday, March 31, 2007

Rare photo shows Beatle Paul wearing glasses

The Daily Mail has published this rare picture showing Paul McCartney wearing a pair of thick horn-rimmed specs while working with the Beatles on Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The previously unpublished photograph is one of a rare set taken as The Beatles worked at Abbey Road studios in North London.

The Mail quotes McCartney's friends saying he rarely wore glasses because it was part of John Lennon's image.


Stern tries to take credit for Sanjaya's success

Ever since Howard Stern dropped off the pop culture radar screen when he took a huge lump of money and ran off to satellite radio, he's relied on a powerful PR company to keep his name in the news. Whether it's an engagement to his girlfriend (just in time, as her popularity is surpassing his), or cruelly sending out his besotted sidekick Artie Lange on a public Belushi-Farley death tour, Howard has become a silent gossip item who can't overcome the impression that he'll need to return to free radio in one form or another.

So now he's claiming to be influencing American Idol by promoting a website that urges people to vote for Sanjaya Malakar. And, with his powerful PR company, the claim that no one got to hear on the radio gets front page placement today in the New York Times!

"We're corrupting the entire thing," Mr. Stern said on his pay show Thursday, the day after Sanjaya secured a place in the top nine. "All of us are routing American Idol. It's so great. The No. 1 show in television and it's getting ruined."

Bullshit! Continue reading the article and you'll see that Howard's claims are refuted... while the stately New York Times supports Tabloid Baby's exclusive report that India is keeping Sanjaya in the contest!

Howard's claims that he influenced the voting are based on the fact that Sanjaya bounced out of the bottom three on March 19--but that was the day after his extraordinary, mind-blowing, crying girl performance of The Kinks' "You Really Got Me" (which has already made it onto Tabloid Baby's list of the Top 50 TV Moments of All Time).

And although it used Howard as the hook for its article, The Times gives a different analysis of the appeal of "Mr. Malakar, who at 17 looks like a 1970s pop star of the David Cassidy/Bobby Sherman/Andy Gibb variety... (and) is perhaps the most talked-about Idol contestant ever:

"A number of those voting for Mr. Malakar may be genuine fans, many of them in the pre- and early-teenage brackets, to judge from posts on a number of Internet bulletin boards dedicated to the show.

"But the fans also include older women and Indian-Americans, and Mr. Malakar's progress is being tracked voraciously by Indian newspapers in both the United States and India..."

A Fox spokeswoman dismissed Howard's claims, just as executive producer Nigel Lythgoe shrugged off the website last week. So why did The New York Times write an article that featured Howard Stern? Well, the LA Times was scandalized recently over an editor's romance with a woman who does PR for Brian Grazer. What's the Sirius-Times connection?

Friday, March 30, 2007

Who is killing off the Buena Vista Social Club?

The death this week of popular Cuban singer and humorist Faustino Oramas has brought renewed attention to the Buena Vista Social Club, the landmark, Grammy-winning album of classic Cuban music performed by Ry Cooder and a group of musicians who'd played at the legendary Havana dance club in the 1940s.

The 1997 album led to a film, concert tour and international success for the musicians who’d carried on in obscurity for the decades.

But the Buena Vista Social Club has also been dogged by controversy because of its connection to Fidel Castro and Cuba's government. Buena Vista concerts and appearances have been canceled due to bomb threats, attacked by protesters, and broken into riots.

And as the death of Social Club musician Oramas drives home-- the success of the Buena Vista Social Club carries with it a curse. In the time since the initial success... at least seven of its musicians have been found dead:

Manuel "Puntillita" Licea
Born: January 4, 1927
DIED: December 4, 2000

Compay Segundo
tres player & singer
Born: November 18, 1907
DIED: July 13, 2003

Rubén González
Born: May 26, 1919
DIED: December 8, 2003

Ibrahim Ferrer
Born: February 20, 1927
DIED: August 6, 2005

Pío Leyva
Born: May 5, 1917
DIED: March 22, 2006

Miguel 'Angá' Díaz
Born: June 15, 1961
DIED: August 9, 2006

Faustino Oramas
Born: June 4, 1911
DIED: March 27, 2007

The Buena Vista bad luck is an eerie parallel to another popular "club" album of the Nineties: Sheryl Crow's debut, Tuesday Night Music Club. The album is named for the group of musicians, including Crow, who came together on Tuesdays to work on the album. After the album's success, Crow's relationship with the musicians became acrimonious over songwriting credits. One would commit suicide (as would the author of the book that gave title to the song, Leaving Las Vegas), another lost his son in an accident and Crow would be stricken with cancer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

False Idol: Christians damned their own Chris Sligh

Jesus Christ! Who's to blame for Chris Sligh's elimination from the American Idol Top Ten?

That's how the Jeopardy! question would read. The out-of-breath doughboy with the mop of curls had a built-in constituency that should have trounced Sanjaya's Desi factor. But he never capitalized on or gave a signal to the widespread, Southern-based voting bloc-- and that could be because many had damned him for making it to Idol in the first place.

See, although Chris today claims he comes from "an indie, alternative-rock background," he's actually a product of the Christian music scene. And until recently, the Mark Volman lookalike (look it up), known to Idol fans as a jokester who went a wisecrack too far when he backsassed Simon Cowell (in the notorious "Il Divo and Teletubbies" incident), sang only the Lord's music.

Though he cites Jesus (along with Adam Duritz) among his heroes on the Idol website, Chris never played up his Christian background. He's the son of Christian missionaries, spent much of his childhood overseas, attended the conservative fundamentalist Bob Jones University, and was a favorite of the influential Gospel Music Association.

He even participated in the GMA Music in The Rockies showcase back in 2002.

But though Chris currently performs as part of the Seacoast Church "praise band" in Greenville, South Carolina, he's been the target of backlash because he recently began performing mainstream (The Devil's) pop music. Jonathan Pait, spokesman for the Bob Jones school, even said publicly: "We really are somewhat disappointed with the direction he has gone musically."

Well, we and Idol voters were also disappointed with Chris' direction-- into bland pop music and apologies (to Simon, and for his singing-- and Chris should have known that Simon's suggestion to keep the glasses was revenge for the teletubbies crack).

And let it be a lesson to future Idol contestants: Keep away from that satanic yogic lute-playing (and Studio 60 on The Sunset Strip guest star), Sting. Both Chris and Phil Bat Boy" Stacy sang boring Sting songs. Both wound up in the bottom three.

Now watch the producers slip Sanjaya the lyrics to "De Do Do Do De Da Da Da"...

(The GMA, by the way, says it recognizes three Christian Idol finalists as "keeping the faith alive": Jordin Sparks, Melinda Doolittle, and Phil.)

JibJab JibJumps the shark

When the JibJab brothers first made a splash with their "This Land Is Your Land" Bush-Kerry web cartoon back in 2004, they were fresh, different, unexpected and funny. And when Jay Leno ran their video on The Tonight Show, he seemed to be riding the curve.

What a difference a few years makes. We're used to dead air and groaners on Leno, but last night's debut of JibJab's "What We Call The News" had us wishing for one of those Tom Green travelogues-- or maybe another Richard Jeni tribute. Finger-in-the-chili, Scott Peterson, George-Bush-can't-open-the-door and Geraldo jokes? Real current and cutting edge-- in 2005, maybe.

Set to "The Battle Hymn of The Republic"? These guys are turning into regular Mark Russells.

Even the Today show only showed a few seconds of the clip this morning-- and they have three hours to fill. We bet Leno and company regret getting hooked into that contract.

Check out JibJab and their diminishing returns here.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

So who's spreading lies about Michael Lohan?

Even the greatest gossip column in the world can get it wrong once in awhile. That’s what makes it gossip. And today’s item on Michael Lohan in the New York Post’s legendary Page Six is wrong wrong wrong…

So says Lohan friend and reality television producer Brett Hudson in Malibu, whose screams of outrage could be heard all the way to Sixth Avenue after he read this morning’s lead item, "Lohan's New Warning to Dad." The item, which spread like wildfire through the Internet, stated in part:

LINDSAY Lohan finally talked to her estranged, felonious father, Michael Lohan, and told him, "You still haven't changed. Don't go near my mother ever again," a source told Page Six. "It wasn't the phone call Michael wanted."

…Michael had hoped to patch things up with his daughter. But after talking to her dad, "Lindsay called her mother [Dina] and told her to be careful and to take care of her brother and sister," said our source…

“That is an absolute fabrication,” Hudson tells us. “And if it comes from a source, that source should be taken into an alley and forced to listen to Sanjaya until he or she learns how to tell the truth.

“Yes, there has been a conversation between Michael and his daughter, Lindsay. But the content and tenor of that conversation are drastically different from that which was reported in Page Six. Whoever fed them that information is a liar. A damnable liar. A fucking liar.”

Michael Lohan was released from prison earlier this month, after serving nearly two years on drunk driving and probation violation charges. While in prison, Lohan took Bible study courses and is now working with the Teen Challenge ministry on Long Island. And Hudson and his team at Frozen Pictures are shooting a reality television series about his life and work.

“It seems that every time Michael has any contact with his daughter, someone is very threatened, and the publicity machine starts to churn out the propaganda,” says Hudson, who's finding a new career correcting inaccurate Lohan reports. “I’ve known Michael for three years. Before he went away, he said the truth would come out about who was lying about him. Well, these people are making it pretty obvious where and from whom the stories are coming from. Why would someone be threatened by a father's love for his daughter or a daughter's need for her dad? Who would be threatened? You do the math.”

So what was the conversation between Michael and Lindsay?

“You want to know the truth? You want to know what Lindsay said to her dad?” Hudson said. “Wait for the reality show.”

How to dance The Twist

1 Pretend to drop a cigarette stub on the ground.

2 Place the ball of your foot over this imaginary cigarette and twist it to and fro as if putting it out.

3 At the same time, place an imaginary bath towel behind your back and pull it from side to side as though drying your butt.

4 You're doing the Twist!

Sanjaya: The making of a super villain?

Forget Heather Mills doing backflips on Dancing with The Stars with a bionic leg. There's real outrage this afternoon over Sanjaya Malakar's performance on American Idol last night (see his performance here).

The Chicago Sun-Times writes of death threats against an ironic Sanjaya promoter, USA Today claims that Idol's "credibility" may be at stake, and the L.A. Times suggests he "made a mockery" of the show and compares him to a prisoner at Guantanamo!

"Surely Sanjaya is aware... of the counter-Idol movements that are promoting him. Has he taken up their banner as Idol's anti-hero? If so, this introduces a toxic element which has never been unleashed on the Idol stage.

"Another factor... if it is true... that Blake, the Chrises and Phil Stacey are all roommates, this means that in the guys' dorm, the surviving gentlemen contestants are all in one room together -- except Sanjaya, who then would be in a room by himself.

"...So we can visualize the specter of Sanjaya, after watching his roommates be killed off one by one, sitting along in his cavernous, cold, bare dorm room while the cool kids party down the hall, surfing the web and seeing how one girl is starving herself demanding he be kicked off while at the same time he has become a hero to a generation of Idol haters. . . . you don't need to be a Carl Jung, just someone who reads enough comic books, to know that this is how super-villains are born..."

Ah... and what of the Desi factor... and suspicions that he's remained on the show thanks to automated call centers in India?

Uber Desi, the website tagged as a prime mover on that front, has offered sharply-debated denials-- but the most interesting clue appears today:

Update: The number to vote for Sanjaya this week is 1-800-IDOLS-04. Remember you can vote as many times as you can dial till 2 hours after the show concludes.

Meanwhile, Dial Idol has him in the Top 4 right now... so who's behind it?

C'mon. We like conspiracy theories as much as, and more than, the next guy. But in Sanjaya's case, his appeal seems obvious. Amid the big diva belters, boy band scale riders and karaoke wannabes, Sanjaya looks like a teen idol. He's got a twisted charisma. Every week, he gives the audience something to look forward to.

And for two weeks in a row, he's made us laugh out loud!

For Idol, Sanjaya is good for ratings. He's helped people forget Antonella Barba. Yes, he seems to have taken the hate to heart. But he won't be around forever. Soon the producers will clear the decks to give attention to the big charity event. And they'll turn to the call centers in India to pump up the vote against him.

Sanjaya doesn't give a f---

How does a teenage boy who's made it into the Top 10 of American Idol respond to a barrage of criticism and ridicule about his talent and his changing hairstyles?

Practice? Tone it down?

Not our Sanjaya Malakar. He's either having the time of his life or, more likely, he just doesn't give a f---.

And either attitude can only take him to the top!

Click here to see video of all of Sanjaya's hairstyles

Monday, March 26, 2007

Posh & Becks spark a British invasion

Uh oh. First Ant & Dec and now this. It looks as if NBC has opened the floodgates with its bright idea of pouring millions into a reality show starring a pair of British tabloid celebrities no one in America gives a toss about. Months before the launch of the summer series starring Skinny Spice and David Beckham, E! Entertainment is throwing up a retread, starring another vacuous plastic surgery-enhanced UK tabloid couple unknown on these shores.

E!'s bought up the rights to the UK series Katie and Peter, which follows the romance of a pair who fell in love while competing on I'm A Celebrity! Get Me Out of Here!, and then, like Peter Brady and that messed-up Top Model winner who met on The Surreal Life, turned their romance into a reality series. The only difference is that Katie and Peter allowed full access into their empty lives, including their engagement, wedding and birth of their first child.

Katie is Katie Price, a model who for some reason is also known as "Jordan," is a tabloid celeb best known for her artificial breasts, sexual relationships with footballers and boy band singers, abortions, miscarriages, topless pix, appearances in Playboy-- and a sex video.

Peter is Peter André, sort of a straight George Michael with less talent: a Greek Australian pop crooner who had some success in the UK, but had faded into obscurity by the time he hooked up with the desert island reality show.

The couple taped three seasons and even received a BBC award as The Most Annoying Couple of 2006.

E! plans to air at least 22 episodes beginning April 21st. The show will be paired with The Girls Next Door (good tie-in-- Katie, as Jordan, was a Hefner fave and, at his invitation, lived in the mansion for a few weeks-- probably getting it on with the geezer-- back in 2002). And, perhaps as a warning, E! exec Cyndi McClellan says British celebrity couples are literally lining up to tape reality shows that will introduce them to US audiences.

Just don't expect the same level of access or reality from the Beckhams. The NBC series is being quietly scripted as a comedy, and word is they've even cast someone to "play" a bodyguard in order to inject some drama and conflict into their dreary British lives.

(See a Katie & Peter in action-- in a music video-- here.)

(See some NSFW pix of Katie, er Jordan, here).

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Cathy Seipp gets her NY Times obituary

The New York Times has its biases and quirks in determining whose life is deserving of mention in its obituaries of record and often leaves us disgusted by its decisions to ignore culturally important figures in New York City and elsewhere. So since her passing on Wednesday, we've kept watch to see if the Times recognized LA-based Internet journalist and commentator Cathy Seipp. We've seen the Times dedicate space to Letterman character Larry (Bud) Melman, child development specialist Dr. Stella Chess, blind federal judge Richard Conway Casey, and moody horror and science fiction score composer Herman Stein, among others. We'd given up. Too LA. Too conservative. But in Monday's edition, she gets her due-- probably because of her East Coast media connections, although two of LA's major Internet journalism figures also get a mention:

Cathy Seipp, 49, Noted Columnist and Blogger, Dies


Cathy Seipp, a columnist and blogger who became widely known for poking fun at the liberal leanings popularly associated with her hometown, Los Angeles, died there on Wednesday. She was 49 and lived in the Silver Lake area of Los Angeles.

The cause was lung cancer, said her daughter, Maia Lazar.
Ms. Seipp was widely read on her blog, “Cathy’s World,” which she started in 2003; in a weekly column for National Review Online called “From the Left Coast,” and in a monthly column for the conservative online magazine Independent Women’s Forum.

She also wrote for Mediaweek and Salon and made guest appearances on Dennis Miller’s talk show on CNBC.

Her favorite targets included political correctness, global warming, same-sex marriage, abortion and gun control — and the Hollywood luminaries who espoused those causes.

“She would laugh about being to the right of Attila the Hun,” Kate Coe, a blogger at Mediabistro.com, said yesterday, “but she wasn’t really that doctrinaire.”

Ms. Seipp was born Nov. 17, 1957, in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Her family moved to California when she was 4. Besides her daughter, of San Diego, she is survived by her father, Harvey Seipp of Los Angeles; her mother, Claire Ungerleider of Los Alamitos, Calif.; and a sister, Michele Seipp of Beverly Hills. Her marriage to Jerry Lazar of Los Angeles ended in divorce.

After graduating from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1977, Ms. Seipp worked for The Associated Press, The California Apparel News and The Daily News in Los Angeles. In the early 1990s, she began writing a column for Buzz magazine called “Our Times,” offering piercing looks at the inner workings of The Los Angeles Times, which she considered overly politically correct.

“In Medialand,” Ms. Seipp said during a 2002 interview on the Web site lukeford.net, “people often look at you uncomprehendingly if you explain that not everyone in America agrees with the received media wisdom.”

She added, “People with different ideas are not necessarily evil bigots, even if some of them do go to church.”

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Conspiracy! Last surviving Dealey Plaza tramp dies

Another chapter in the JFK conspiracy closes with today’s report that Woody Harrelson’s father has died in of “natural causes.” Charles Voyde Harrelson was a hired assassin, convicted of killing a federal judge. But he’s most notorious for declaring that he was involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination. That avowal came years after he was pegged as one of the three tramps photographed after being arrested on November 22, 1963, in a boxcar in the railyard near Dealey Plaza (the arresting officer claims that the three were released after a few hours of questioning).

The photographs that allegedly prove it are still being debated. Hunt is said to be the second man in line (at left). Ahead of him, Watergate figure Frank Sturgis. In back, Watergate figure E. Howard Hunt. Sturgis died in 1993.

Hunt died in January-- mere weeks ago.

Harrelson was the last one. He was the only one who ever admitted his involvment in the killing of JFK. They wound up locking him away inside the maximum security federal prison in Colorado called "Supermax." That's where they say he died in his cell of an apparent heart attack. He was 69.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Cathy Seipp

Condolences to the family and friends of Cathy Seipp, the LA writer and web personality who died today of cancer at 49. We knew her only by her work and reputation, but she was a personal friend to many of Tabloid Baby's Internet pals, like Ray Richmond, Luke Ford and Kate Coe at Fishbowl LA. We knew she was a great writer. They've said she was a great person to know.

Cathy Seipp's LA Times obit is here.

Sanjaya vs. American Idol: Who's crying now?

Who needs call centers in India? Sanjaya Malakar's unexpectedly uninhibited and totally bizarre performance last night, aided by a deft director who kept cutting to a little girl who'd been weeping through the entire show (a tribute to the evening's British Invasion theme, of course) was one of the most memorable moments in American Idol history. And despite the best efforts of the judges to sway the votes, Sanjaya would seem to be a lock for a place in the Final 10, and upcoming Idol concert tour and album. (Too bad for Phil "Bat Boy" Stacey, who reminds us of a big kid from the Make A Wish Foundation.)

Sanjaya's explosion comes amid a furious refutation from one of the Indiacentric websites that led to our exclusive report about suspicions that Sanjaya's voting bloc was the Desi (South Asian) community here and outsourced call centers in India.

In the days after our report was picked up by media around world, Uberdesi writes:

"First off, AI cannot be broadcast LIVE in India. Everything is time-delayed... It is highly improbable for a TV to be present in a call center environment; do you watch reality programming when you are at your job? Even if there is a TV that did broadcast an American Channel, AI would be broadcast at the wee hours of the morning.

"The time difference would mean that the show should be available at approximately 6:30 / 7:30 AM for it to be live. But from Star World's online schedule it plays at 10 am on Thursday, which makes it 11:30 P.M. Central Time and at 8 P.M. on Wednesday, which would be 9:30 P.M Central Time Tuesday night This also happens to be the busiest time for call centers, considering the calls they have to make to the west coast.

"Think of all those telemarketing calls you receive every night when you sit down at the dinner table; if those cunning Indians were stuffing a virtual ballot box for someone who isn't even really one of their own, would they have time to annoy you?"

We'll know more after tonight's results show. That Peter Noone turned out to be a good mentor after all...

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Will Melinda Doolittle be America's lesbian Idol?

"As long as she needs me..."

She may not have much of a neck, but Melinda Doolittle again showed tonight that she's heads above the other finalists on American Idol. She's a professional. She makes a living as a background singer. She comes with a vocal coach and stylist. At 29, she's the oldest contestant, and despite her shy onstage demeanor, she obviously knows who she is. But how soon until America gets the hint?

In tonight's episode dedicated to the rock 'n' rolling British Invasion of the Sixties, Melinda chose an obscure showtune, "As Long As He Needs Me." But in the opening line, sitting on the lip of the stage, she quite clearly enunciated, "As long as she needs me," before switching back to "he" for the rest of the song.

Will America have its first openly-gay Idol here? A few weeks back, Melinda sang the gay anthem, "My Funny Valentine" and dedicated it her two "closest" female friends, whom she called her "Gayles"-- as in "gay girls"--or as she explained, "Gayle King," the woman long rumoured to be Oprah Winfrey's lover (Melinda said she's the Oprah in the triangle). And two weeks ago, she made her mark with a strutting "I'm A Woman."

Tonight, she laid it all out. And was that a (Oprah's longtime alleged boyfriend) Stedman Graham joke when she held onto the line: "I'll cling on... sted-fast-ly..."?

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

But whether Melinda the professional is merely reaching for a voting demographic, has an Oprah jones, or playing it loud and proud... we'd say it doesn't matter! It's about time we had a gay Idol!

The real issue is whether Melinda, as a professional, should be in the contest to begin with. Because every time she sings, she's so much better than the others...

But how about that Sanjaya? He deserves to stay another week!

Heather Mills amputates her past

ABC fulfilled its part of the bargain with Heather Mills' appearance on Dancing with the Stars last night. The woman known in most of the English-speaking world as the hard-boiled, attention-grabbing fantasist who married Paul McCartney in his lowest hour, then played dirty pool in her effort to fleece him in divorce, is now "an inspiration"... with "more guts than Rambo"... and, drummed over and over again... not a gold-digging former porn model and alleged call girl... but a "charity campaigner."

McCartney's name was never uttered. Whether that's due to lawyers' letters or part of the plan to present Heather as blank slate syndicated talk show candidate, the show's "first performer with an artificial limb" was presented as an odd celebrity without portfolio (and without the lower part of her left leg).

The familiar Heather only showed up between the lines: the way she twisted her face and talked out of the side of her mouth like Dick Cheney... her disingenuous claim that she was "not used to dressing up at this level" in her "ice cream sundae" gown-- followed by cohost Samantha Harris' quip, "Somebody get her some whipped cream" (obviously forgetting Heather's porny --NSFW-- photos)... and Heather's line to the judges: "Just don't ask me to point that foot! If you can point it, I'll give you a million dollars." After the McCartney settlement, she can afford to throw around a million bucks.

Not everyone bought into the new Heather. The Dancing with the Stars message boards were filled with anti-Heather postings:

"Is there anyone besides me who has a problem with a former call girl who posed nude in sexual situations now being called a 'charity campaigner' and hero for the disabled? Why would ABC put a person like this on a family show? Her nude shots (with a man) are available to anyone who can google, including my friend's older teenagers who were pulling up the pictures and laughing at them as she danced. In the UK she has a disabled parking badge. In the US she is dancing and doing high kicks."

"She is whorible"

"Judge her harshly? Are you crazy? She's being judged for being a gold digger and trying very hard to screw Sir Paul McCartney! Don't you read the news??? Jeez..."

"I, for one, am appalled that she is trying to make herself out to be something she's not right now. And I will not watch the show until she is OFF! Shame on ABC!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Thirty-nine year-old Heather and her partner wound up in the middle of the pack, placing seventh with eighteen points. The gambling site Bodog.com is among those taking bets on whether Heather's artificial leg will at one point fly off during the competition.

(See some of the NSFW photos from Heather's X-rated past here)

Monday, March 19, 2007

The A380 lands at LAX

About six hours after landing, the giant was towed to the Imperial Terminal.

Spector or Sanjaya?

Phil Spector sported a new coif as jury selection began in his murder trial today. Who knows what Sanjaya Malakar will have in store when he faces the American Idol jury later this week?

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Ant & Dec are the next big thing? Wanna bet?

The networks and their production factories have made a mint importing game and reality shows from Europe, so why bother looking through headshots of washed-up comedians to host them? Despite the performances of Denise van Outen as Billy Bush's gurning, face-pulling second banana on Grease: You're The One That I Want, Éamonn Holmes' cancellation after a single episode on Fox, the prospect of the unlikeable though one-legged Heather Mills tomorrow night on Dancing with The Stars, and Craig Ferguson, ABC is importing a pair of tiny British TV stars to host the pilot of their much-heralded variety-gambling-game show hybrid, Wanna Bet-- the rip-off of the hit German series, Wetten Dass....

Ant & Dec, seen in the above clip punking their countryman Simon Cowell in an inside joke on the last round of American Idol auditions (they hosted the original UK version of the show, Pop Idol-- but we don't think Paula and Randy got it), are a peculiarly British taste, like Robbie Williams, David Beckham or Pete Doherty... which is why you've probably never heard of them and why if they stick it out they'll wind up divorced and in rehab.

No, they're not gay! Yes, one of them is married! Just because they're British-- Jeez!

Anthony McPartlin & Declan Donnelly, both 31, have been stars in the UK since they were kids. They've starred in kiddie shows, had hit records, hosted lots of variety and game shows (including I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! featuring David Gest) and played themselves in the movie Love, Actually.

They even have their wax figures on display in Madame Tussaud's museum in London.

But a Sunday Mirror poll a couple of years ago found that 70 percent of viewers couldn't tell them apart, So photographs are always taken with Ant on the left and Dec on the right. And they're part of that peculiar British tradition of cutesy, nonthreatening, asexual panto boys that hasn't caught on here in the States.

The producers of Wanna Bet? are the same ones who brought over old Anne Robinson with The Weakest Link. And we know how her American career flourished...

And we were pushing David Hasselhoff...