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Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Show not unique but still worth a ‘Look’

June 4, 2008

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"She's Got the Look" (9 p.m., TV Land) must be the 4 millionth show to cast ordinary women in a talent search for America's top supermodel on the project runway. It also increases the sense that TV Land has become the dumping ground for the fourth-generation photocopy of other rejected shows from the Viacom slush pile.

The formula is familiar. Get a brand-name model or two and a couple of judges, including one flamboyant guy who tells the truth in a manner both pithy and mean. Gather an assembly line of quasi-desperate women. Make sure one-third of them are grateful and one-third tearful, add a smattering of deranged freaks who didn't make the early stages of "American Idol" and round out the talent with a few super-tough, semidangerous types who threaten the judges during their evaluation and curse at them thereafter.

Despite all this, I was still charmed by "She's Got the Look," because although its group of 35-and-older would-be models fit into the categories above, enough of them seemed genuinely interesting enough to care about.

Model Beverly Johnson appears as one of the judges, and ubiquitous 1980s cover girl Kim Alexis presides as overall host. You could call her the Heidi Klum of these proceedings, but she doesn't seem to have a catchphrase. At least not one that I could remember.

l The new 12-episode "On the Road in America" (8 p.m., Sundance) follows four young people from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan as they travel across the United States. Along they way, they hope to dispel stereotypes about both Americans and Arabs. It's not easy.

This show was produced well before the decision made last week by Dunkin' Donuts to knuckle under to the crudest form of ethnic stereotyping. Blogger and Fox News fixture Michelle Malkin accused the doughnut franchiser of engaging in terrorist chic because Dunkin's perky pitchwoman, Rachael Ray, was seen in an Internet ad wearing a scarf that looked vaguely Palestinian.

To those of us who have brains and still use them, the notion of the terminally cheerful Ray as pro-terrorist is absurd. But not to Malkin and not, apparently, to the geniuses who run the fast-food franchise.

Did the doughnut merchants think this through? Will all giant retailers now be blackmailed by extremist bloggers who accuse their ads of looking "Arab" and therefore, in their crude way of thinking, pro-terrorist?

If the Dunkin' folks think they played this one safe, they are 100 percent wrong. Perhaps not since Madison Avenue walked away from "The Nat King Cole Show" in the 1950s has big-business advertising been so closely associated with blatant racism and craven cowardice.

Tonight's other highlights

¢ The Oscar-winning documentary short "Freeheld" (6:30 p.m., Cinemax) follows a New Jersey battle over domestic-partner benefits.

¢ "Making News: Savannah Style" (7 p.m., TV Guide) is the second season of this documentary-style series set in the newsroom of the lowest-rated station in a small media market.

¢ A hotelier with a long enemies list expires on "CSI: NY" (9 p.m., CBS).

¢ Patrick returns on "Men in Trees" (9 p.m., ABC).

¢ Part one of the season finale of "Top Chef" (9 p.m., Bravo).

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