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August TV preview: What to watch

What to expect from the Olympics, returning favorites such as ”The Hills,” and new shows ”The Cho Show,” and more

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2008 Summer Olympics
NBC and related networks · Aug. 8-24

THE SCOOP Live from Beijing, it’s the Games of the XXIX Olympiad…and NBC is using more platforms than Donkey Kong to make sure you don’t miss a minute. With the network, its cable channels (including USA, MSNBC, Oxygen, and Telemundo), and live online streams, the Peacock plans to air more than 3,600 hours of coverage — more than all the Summer Olympic Games since 1960 combined. “You can find your sport,” says NBC Sports executive producer David Neal. “If you’re interested in India-versus-Pakistan badminton, we’re going to make it available to you.”

ATHLETES TO WATCH Swimming, gymnastics, and beach volleyball will run live in prime time, meaning American viewers can tune in for unspoiled answers to this year’s pressing questions: Will Michael Phelps break Mark Spitz’s record of seven golds? Is this really the strongest U.S. women’s gymnastics team in years? Can Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor bump-set-spike their way back to the podium? But for true excitement, don’t rule out hometown heroes. Yao Ming should return from injury in time to lead the Chinese basketball squad against a USA team that includes Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, and Jason Kidd, and the night Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang defends his Athens gold, says Neal, “will be one of those moments where you’ll feel an entire country holding its collective breath.”

THE POLITICAL ARENA Human-rights protesters trashed the torch relay (and are encouraging a boycott of the opening ceremony), but sports guy Neal is happy to just focus on the game. “If something happens that affects the athletes or the competition, we will cover it fully,” he says. “NBC News will be on hand in Beijing, and they will cover stories that happen outside of the competition venues.”
Whitney Pastorek


The Hills
MTV · Aug. 18 · 10 PM

THE SCOOP It’s been mere weeks since the season finale of The Hills, but MTV’s hit series has already gone back into production for season 4. “I think they gave me, like, a few days off,” says star Lauren Conrad. The network can’t afford to let the pseudo-reality show take a break, though: The May finale pulled in 3.8 million viewers, and season 3 ranked as MTV’s highest-rated series since 2004’s The Real World: San Diego. Still, Conrad says she’s been assured she’ll get a brief respite from cameras this summer. “I’m running away to Europe for two weeks, and they’re not allowed to come with me,” she says. “It’s a family vacation, and my mother said no way.”

BOY CRAZY Back in L.A., cameras will follow Conrad as she enters into a relationship with minor-league baseball player Doug Reinhardt. “He was really cool about it,” she says of the constant film-crew presence. “It’s hard to find a guy that’s okay with filming and doesn’t really want it but is willing to do it for you.” Exec producer Adam DiVello teases that Reinhardt might not be the only boy toy for fans to ogle. “You’re gonna see a lot of new faces this year, as far as new guys coming in and out of their lives,” he says. (Speaking of which, Conrad’s on-again, off-again boyfriend Brody Jenner will be back, though DiVello is mum on whether he’s a love interest for LC.) Heidi and Spencer’s reign of terror will continue, as the newly reconciled (though were they ever really apart?) couple return, bringing their blindingly bright chompers with them. EPISODES: 19
Tim Stack


Glam God with Vivica A. Fox
VH1 · Aug. 21 · 10 PM

THE SCOOP What Project Runway did for designers Glam God hopes to accomplish for aspiring stylists. Contestants move to L.A. and compete to win $100,000 plus the chance to style host Vivica A. Fox (Curb Your Enthusiasm) for a photo shoot. “We put them through weekly challenges,” says Fox. “If we give you two twins, who can style the twin better.”

ARTISTIC LICENSE Fox knows all about working with reality-show divas — she was a judge on The Starlet with Faye Dunaway, after all. But she wasn’t prepared for Glam‘s contestants. “Hoo boy, stylists can be a little different,” she says. “They’re very artistic and demanding in their own way.” EPISODES: 8
Tim Stack


Robot Chicken
Adult Swim · Aug. 31 · 11:30 PM

THE SCOOP As the Adult Swim series returns, exec producer Seth Green and his merry band of stop-motion pranksters turn their attention to a show just begging to be parodied: Fox’s 24. “We had a hard time trying to find our way into [spoofing] it because it’s so outrageous,” says Green. Their solution? “We made Jack Bauer [into] Dracula to see how that altered the dynamic of him interrogating people. For half the day, he’s in a coffin.” While Kiefer Sutherland didn’t get to lend his pipes for the show, another late-’80s sensation did. “Oh, my gosh, man, we got Sir Mix-A-Lot to do a Knights of the Round Table sketch,” says Green excitedly. “We wrote the rap for him, and then he added his own flourishes to make it his own…. I mean, we try to rap and sing on the show, and we’re terrible performers in that capacity. So every once in a while it’s nice to get a professional to show you just why they get paid to do that for a living.”

SCREECH, MEET JIGSAW “We have a really great Saved by the Bell sketch coming up,” raves Green, “if you can imagine Saved by the Bell crossed with Saw. The greatest thing is, this is the first unofficial Saved by the Bell reunion. We got Mario Lopez, Lark Voorhies, Dustin Diamond, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and Mr. Belding, Dennis Haskins — who was pretty f—ing awesome, by the way.” Well, of course he was. EPISODES: 6
Adam B. Vary


Sunset Tan
E! · Aug. 3 · 10:30 PM

THE SCOOP Janelle, a troublemaking manager of the L.A.-based tanning franchise, will attempt to spread her wings by opening up a satellite operation in Las Vegas. Owners Jeff Bozz and Devin Hamon hire a brunette named Jenae to operate their mobile tanning unit, and assistant manager Erin dates a hardbody. “He’s a pro volleyball player!” says exec producer Jay James. “If he feels good enough to take his shirt off at the beach, then he’s good enough for our show.”

CELEBRITY GOLD Rest assured, the chichi tanning salon will continue to serve many famous faces. “We tan celebrities like Mario Lopez, his girlfriend, and Robin Leach,” says James. OMG, did he just say Mario Lopez’s girlfriend? We’re there! EPISODES: 8
Lynette Rice


Luke’s Parental Advisory
VH1 · Aug. 4 · 10 PM

THE SCOOP VH1’s cameras follow former 2 Live Crew rapper Luther Campbell as he balances his home life with running Luke Entertainment Group — i.e., an adult-themed production company. “One thing about my life that’s a big mystery is, who am I at home?” Campbell says. “Most people think my life is just T&A all day.”

FATHER KNOWS PORN (AND BEST) Campbell might not be Cliff Huxtable, but the show still highlights fatherhood dilemmas, including how he talks to his 15- and 17-year-olds about his career. “People will see how I deal with those issues, which is what everyday adults have to deal with, [whether] they’re working with the Luke Entertainment Group or for IBM,” he says. EPISODES: 8
Kate Ward


The Cho Show
VH1 · Aug. 21 · 11 PM

THE SCOOP Comedian Margaret Cho, her little-person assistant (Selene Luna), and her “glam squad gays” go Curb Your Enthusiasm on us with a “scripted reality” show. Cho and the gang will be, as she puts it, “exploring different worlds” like anal bleaching and G-shots (injecting collagen into the G-spot). “I try to be informative and also very wild,” says Cho. “I can’t believe some of the stuff I got to do, but VH1 hasn’t said no to us yet.”

PARENTAL GUIDANCE? Also showing up: Cho’s very traditional Korean parents. “My parents were really freaked out by the cameras at first,” Cho says. “They have that weird refugee mentality. You never know when you’re gonna get put into a camp.” EPISODES: 7
Jessica Shaw


New York Goes to Hollywood
VH1 · Aug. 4 · 10 PM

THE SCOOP She’s appeared on four dating shows over the past two-plus years, but Tiffany “New York” Pollard had yet to pursue her real love — acting — until now. The reality star’s newest VH1 show follows her as she heads to Tinseltown and hits the audition circuit. “You’re going to see me laugh, you’re going to see me cry, you’re going to see me throw a tantrum, you’re going to see me just transition into a full-fledged actress,” she says.

REALITY DETOX After the show wrapped, Pollard had trouble adjusting to life without a film crew following her around. “I was waking up every morning waiting for the cameras. When they weren’t coming, I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness, nobody’s catching this funny s— right now.'” EPISODES: 10
Kate Ward

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