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Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

‘Fashion Show’ knocks off ‘Runway’

May 7, 2009

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Isaac Mizrahi hosts “Fashion Show” (9 p.m., Bravo), an obvious imitation of “Project Runway,” the show formerly known as Bravo’s biggest hit.

If any reality tussle deserves to be its own documentary film, it has to be the legal clash between NBC-Universal and The Weinstein Co., owners of “Project Runway.” It’s easy to get the impression that the right to air this ersatz “Show” was one of the meager consolation prizes NBC-Universal-Bravo received for letting Lifetime win the rights to air “Runway” later this summer.

Mizrahi and singer Kelly Rowland preside over a contest between 14 aspiring designers who bring with them varying degrees of experience, audacity and flamboyance. Every “Show” kicks off with a minor contest followed by an elimination contest. In the pilot, the contestants must make a little black dress out of a small black t-shirt. The three winners went on to lead teams in a more elaborate challenge.

With a reputation for frank exuberance that some find hilarious and others merely rude, Mizrahi is ill-cast for the avuncular role of Tim Gunn, the reserved fashion mentor and the heart and soul of “Runway.” The two hosts of “Show” have a hard time maintaining a poker face and even making comments during the fashion presentations.

On the other hand, “Show” is much more plugged into viewer participation and marketing than “Runway.” Every winning outfit will be sold on Bravo’s Web site. And once the 14 worthies are winnowed down, viewers will get to choose the ultimate winner of a $125,000 prize.

In the world of fashion, there are originals and there are knock-offs, and “Show” makes no attempt to disguise its counterfeit nature.

• “Michael J. Fox: Adventures of an Incurable Optimist” (9 p.m., ABC) celebrates the spirit of the star of “Back to the Future,” “Family Ties” and “Spin City” who has been public with his Parkinson’s disease since 1998.

He shares a rather unorthodox golf outing with Bill Murray, and he returns to a place that might be considered a shrine to the eternal optimist — Chicago’s Wrigley Field, home to a team that has been waiting for a World Championship for more than a century.

• “China’s Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province” (7 p.m., HBO) recalls the 2008 earthquake that killed more than 70,000 and the anguish of the parents of the more than 10,000 dead children. Blamed for shoddily built housing and an inadequate response to the disaster, the Chinese government has reacted forcefully to civil uprising and unrest.

Tonight’s other highlights

• The crab-shack mystery is solved on “My Name is Earl” (7 p.m., NBC).

• Stewie from “Family Guy” arrives on “Bones” (7 p.m., Fox).

• A kidnapping crisis upsets a bailout bid on “Ugly Betty” (7 p.m., ABC).

• On two episodes of “CSI” (CBS), undercover bikers (8 p.m.), mute witnesses (9 p.m.).

• Wedding bells loom for Meredith and Derek on “Grey’s Anatomy” (8 p.m., ABC).

• Jack searches for his roots on “30 Rock” (8:30 p.m., NBC).

• Sallinger loses his gun on “Southland” (9 p.m., NBC).

Cult choice

Can’t wait for the next big screen “Star Trek”? Catch “Star Trek: Nemesis” (7 p.m., AMC) from 2002, or the 1996 adventure “Star Trek: First Contact” (8 p.m., Sci Fi), starring Patrick Stewart.

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