NBC revealed the cast of its summer reality series "I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here" on Friday, but the actual stars of the show were upstaged by disgraced and ousted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The "I'm a Celebrity..." cast, as unveiled Friday (April 24) is dominated by reality TV retreads Sanjaya Malakar ("American Idol"), Janis Dickinson ("America's Next Top Model") and Heidi Montage and Spencer Pratt ("The Hills"), plus former NBC player John Salley ("Best Damned Sports Show Period"), professional wrestler Torrie Wilson and available Baldwin Brother, Stephen ("Bio-Dome").
"I'm a Celebrity..." is based on a popular British format, previously translated without success by ABC in 2003 (and won by alleged celebrity Chris Judd). Ten celebrities will be dropped into the heart of the Costa Rican jungle to face fun and comedic challenges designed to test their survival skills.
And yes, your math is correct. NBC appears to still be at least two celebrities short (some might say the network is seven or eight actual celebrities shot). The network says that additional stars, plus a host, will be announced next week.
One person unlikely to make that cut is Blagojevich, who was denied permission to go to Costa Rica by a federal judge who refused to alter the terms of his bail to allow him to exit the country. The former Illinois governor faces trial on charges of racketeering and fraud among other misdeeds.
That dark cloud over Blagojevich hasn't stopped NBC from using him to promote the show, including bringing him to the network's summer press day on Friday, where he proceeded to use the forum to profess his innocence and to compare himself to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Teddy Roosevelt. Nobody on the panel, which was also broadcast as a conference call for reporters, could explain whether or not Blagojevich will end up having anything to do with the show at all.
"When I was a governor of Illinois, my second-favorite governor in America was Arnold Schwarzenegger," Blagojevich said. "Now that I'm not governor of Illinois, he's my favorite governor. I guess you can see that doing something like this would sort of be the reverse career path of Arnold."
He added, "I'm not ruling out staying active on the causes and issues I fought for when I was a governor and a Congressman before that, but at this point, I'm looking for a new line of work and when you face some of the obstacles I have, an opportunity to get away from it all and enjoy some of the very impressive celebrities... This is a chance to be able to make a living and support my my little girls and my family. A judge made a decision that I can't go to Costa Rica, but I'm not ruling out the possibility of being involved in some capacity."
"I'm a Celebrity..." will debut as a two-hour television event on Monday, June 1 and will be stripped over four weeks in June. Yes, that means it will air every night, Monday through Thursday in the 8 p.m. hour, leading up to a finale on Wednesday, June 24.
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