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Tested Positive for Caffeine and Sugar
February 18

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We start this week with a few breaking news items. The first of which occurred on Thursday morning. Joanna Pacitti, who just made the top 36 in American Idol is OUT of the competition. Entertainment Weekly reported on it’s website that Pacitti has been replaced by 26 year old Felicia Barton. "It has been determined that Joanna Pacitti is ineligible to continue in the competition," stated a Fox press release sent early Thursday morning announcing the show's full roster of semifinalists.

EW continues...For the last several weeks, Pacitti has been the subject of Internet chatter regarding her former deal with A&M Records, which yielded the single "Let It Slide", and more recently, for her rumored close relationship with a pair of 19 Entertainment executives. Specifically, Star magazine reported that Pacitti lived for a time in the same apartment building as 19's Michelle Young and Roger Widynowski, even referring to the former exec as her "best friend"; 19, of course, is the production company behind Idol.

Now this begs the question...what did they know...and when did they know it? How long did Fox, 19 and the producers know of that relationship? And was this a case of “doing the right thing” or covering their backside when Pacitti was getting a ton of press...most of which was incredibly negative?

I don’t think we will know. As for the Top 36...the presentation on Wednesday night was a bit cheesy. Did Fox need to rent out a massively huge mansion to present the Top 36? And did we need to expand it out to two hours? Yes, I do know it’s sweeps month...but that’s just me. The sing-offs were a nice touch... and it will be very interesting to see if the early favorites like Anoop Desai, Lil Rounds, and Scott Mcintyre make it to the Top 12.

It is now up to you. Voting starts February 17.

Item 2 on the breaking news tip: The cast has been released for Season 8 of “Dancing with the Stars”. And this cast looks pretty weak...

- singer Jewel
- her husband, professional rodeo champ Ty Murray
- country singer Chuck Wicks (who will be paired with Julianne Hough who is his girlfriend)
- Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson
- reality TV prankster and Jackass member Steve O
- former NFL star Lawrence Taylor
- rapper/actress Lil' Kim
- actor Gilles Marini (of Sex and the City)
- Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak
- actress Denise Richards
- comedian David Alan Grier
- Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O'Dell
- singer Belinda Carlisle

I will let that soak in for a second...and we should give the gold ball to Shawn Johnson and be done with it. That should save us the 15 weeks of Darn.

Item 3 is the host change in “America’s Got Talent”. Jerry Springer quit the show last week, citing his work schedule. And who is the replacement...Nick Cannon. Of course, he hosted “Wild’n Out” for 4 seasons on MTV.

"Nick exemplifies the spirit of 'America's Got Talent' with his talent, originality and an infectious love of performing and creating," said Paul Telegdy. Executive Vice President, Alternative Programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios. "His popularity and appeal are sure to take the series to a new level of success."

"This is just the first of multiple projects we are looking to do with Nick at NBC," added Ben Silverman, Co Chairman, NBC and Universal Media Studios. "He's a true triple threat, a multi talented producer, actor and musician. We are excited to welcome him to the NBC family."

"I'm thrilled to be with working with NBC," said Nick Cannon. "Ben Silverman and Paul Teledgy understand my vision as not only an entertainer but as a creative show producer. I look forward to working with the network and their executive team on 'America's Got Talent' and other shows to come."

Let me translate this press release. NBC hired Cannon because the first two hosts (Regis Philbin and Jerry Springer) have a combined age of 142 years of age (77 and 65 respectively). He skews incredibly young and attracts the magic 18-49 demographic. And the fact that Cannon is black doesn’t hurt. He will bring in his urban MTV audience and expand the audience, which NBC desperately needs.

This is not to pick on Nick, mind you. Cannon is very talented and very funny. The Block Party is just being real as to another reason why Cannon got hired.

Random Newsbits:

– Condolences go out to the families of Philip Carey (Asa Buchanan of One Life to Live) and BBC Comedy Producer Geoffrey Perkins (Have I Got News For You) who passed away this week.

– Oxygen premieres “Pretty Wicked” on March 31. The contestants are challenged to confront their mean spirited ways in a series of tasks designed "to beautify their insides to match their outside," such as being "made under" so they appear years older, and having to make a perfect first impression on a group of blind men. The winner takes home a $50,000 prize. CariDee English, winner of the seventh season of America's Next Top Model, will host the show. Sounds a lot like “True Beauty”

– The cast of “Top Chef Masters” is announced.

– The reruns of “Any Dream Will Do” hit BBC America. This was the successful BBC show that found a lead for “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” Revival on London’s West End.

– If you are a country music fan and love the Price is Right...they are looking for you! A special Country Music Themed episode tapes February 25 with Reba McEntire. Call 1 800 852 8909 if you are interested. This comes on the heels of the Valentine’s Day episode with couples that was recently broadcast on February 13.

– Wheel of Fortune hits the Playstation Network.

– The “Japanese Adventurous Variety Show” taped a segment Feb. 8 in New Richmond North Dakota.

– Jon Bauman (Bowzer from Sha Na Na) campaigns in Utah for a “Truth in Music” act.

– “The Biggest Loser” celebrates its 100th Episode...and is looking for new contestants and trainers for next season in a 14 city tour.

– Top Model’s 12th Cycle premiere date is moved back to March 4th.

– Endemol is casting for a show rumored to be called “The Whole 19 Yards.”

– Indonesia moves to ban text in contests as it is being compared to gambling. “It is gambling and we know that gambling is prohibited in this country,” Slamet said at a commission meeting with Communication and Information Technology Minister Muhammad Nuh earlier this week.

– Carol Volderman talks up her new role as British Math Czar in the London Times.

– Kristy Swanson marries her Skating with Celebrities partner Lloyd Eisler.

– ITV Games “The Colour of Money” gets a ton of licensed goods.

– Ricki Lake replaces Sharon Osbourne as the headmistress of VH1's Charm School. Do you think Sharon got pushed out after spilling her drink on Megan during this year’s reunion?

– “Fear Factor Live” closes at Universal Orlando because of the economy.

– Fantasia Barrino goes back to school to get her High School Diploma.

This is Jason Block reminding you...don’t just play to win.

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