Channel Surfing with C.T.

If there are screaming girls and men being addressed as “miss” while sashaying down the runway, it can only mean one thing: That’s right, AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL returned last night. Which girl do I favor? Please, at this point, who can tell them apart? Thankfully, the editors and producers worked hard to make sure at least several of this year’s walkers would fit into easily recognizable categories. We’ve got Ebony, the bitch, and Heather, the hunchbacked beauty. Of course, it wouldn’t be ANTM without a drama queen. And I’m not talking about a girl who stirs up trouble, but rather the chick who always looks like she’s about to cry. Last night, that prize went to Lisa, who really had no competition. During the final moments, when Tyra was announcing the names of the final 13, the camera cut to Lisa over and over as first her cheek twitched, then her eyebrow furrowed… as each name called proved not to be hers, Lisa verged closer and closer to a nervous breakdown. Which, of course, assured that hers would be the final name uttered by Tyra. Already, this batch of girls is luckier than those of any previous season (sorry, “cycle”): All 33 of the screaming mimi’s were flown to Puerto Rico, loaded onto a cruise ship and taken to a beautiful Caribbean beach for their first photo shoot. Guess Tyra and the J’s needed a vacation they could write off as a business expense. When the field was narrowed, the people I was watching with kept hoping that those not selected would be tossed overboard, especially after Jay indicated the castoffs would be “shipwrecked.” Alas, no. As far as we could tell, they were either flown back home or perhaps sold into slavery.

Oh, sure, I could be all snobby and say that Kristen Bell — who rocked our worlds as VERONICA MARS — deserves better than to be uttering lines like “There’s nothing Gossip Girl loves more than a good cat fight” as the heard-but-never-seen narrator of the new CW show named after her character’s website, but it would be hypocritical at best. Because there’s nothing CT loves more than a show about pretty people living dirty lives. Not surprisingly, GOSSIP GIRL — set, as it is, at an elite private school on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and attended by kids with last names like van der Woodsen and Waldorf — might well be the whitest show on television. This is the kind of show where girls named Serena and Blair refer to each other as S and B, and their horny young suitors combine neanderthalic tendencies with erudite verbosity, uttering such lines as, “There’s something wrong with that level of perfection. It needs to be violated.” Following in the footsteps of every teen drama in the history of television, our tale focuses on a misunderstood rich girl who can’t help being drawn to the school’s handsome young charity case. If you’re having visions of Marissa Cooper and Ryan Atwood, that’s entirely appropriate, since this frothy concoction comes from Josh Schwartz, the creator of THE OC. We even get hip, cool parents in the form of Kelly Rutherford and Matthew Settle. By the end of the premiere, we’d been treated to flashback sex, underage drinking, a cute meet, two attempted rapes and, of course, the prerequisite party at which a fight breaks out. In other words, this is the wildly addictive stuff that guilty pleasure seekers dream of.

Can someone please explain to me why ads for Vince Vaughn’s Christmas-themed movie, The Clause, ran during KID NATION, complete with the announcer declaring “This holiday season!” Look, I’ve accepted that the moment the Halloween candy has been taken off the shelves it’s replaced by Christmas crap. But for the love of St.Nick, we’re still a month away from All Saint’s Day!

Speaking of KID NATION, what did y’all think of the premiere? For me, it was a mixed bag. I couldnt’ help but be impressed by the kids, many of whom had better vocabularies than some adults I know. But at the same time, I’m just not a fan of reality shows which incorporate animal-related elements. When some of the boys went jack rabbit hunting, I had to flinch, just as I had earlier in the episode when the kids were roping sheep and chasing chickens. In the end, the show gives one hope for the future. As for all that controversy surrounding the series? Look, if I had kids, I’d rather they learn from an experience like this than from Britney or any of the other idiots so many of today’s children consider role models.