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Big Brother

Mi Casa Es Nude Casa

Big Brother 3 is busting out all over. Housemate Tonya Paoni gave the show’s 17,000 Internet fans a cheap thrill last week by remaining topless for nearly five minutes — a first for the three-year-old reality show. In fact, an uninhibited Paoni was joined by the equally brazen Lisa Donahue and Chiara Berti in stripping down — a curious development that not only put producers in an editing tailspin but spawned companion websites that featured screen grabs of the seminude women (which, needless to say, was another first). Says executive producer Arnold Shapiro, ”I truly believe that after the housemates are in there for a couple of days, they pretty much forget about the cameras and the Internet. There’s no other logical explanation for some of the choices they are making.” However precedent-setting the skin display was, Shapiro had no choice but to keep the X-rated moments out of the telecast (he did, though, show how Paoni, Donahue, and Berti then smeared peanut butter over their private parts in preparation for a ”bikini” contest). Explains Shapiro, ”I have to remind people that Big Brother airs on CBS at 8 p.m., not on the Playboy Channel.”

‘Pet Project

Apparently, it’s getting easier to be green: Kermit the Frog and his Muppet buddies are looking to make a comeback in prime-time television. The Jim Henson Company has already begun production on NBC’s A Very Muppet Christmas (featuring appearances by David Arquette, Joan Cusack, Snoop Dogg, and Michael Caine) to air this December — its first original film in three years. Meanwhile, Fox is in the early stages of developing an up-to-date Muppet series with the Henson Co. and Team Todd, the masterminds behind the Austin Powers flicks (The Muppet Show first aired in syndication from 1976 to ’81). Says Henson domestic TV president Juliet Blake, ”There’s a lot of interest in good family entertainment these days, post-Sept. 11. The Muppets are an evergreen brand that comes back every few years.” Let’s just hope nobody gets any bright ideas about reviving ALF.

AND SO ON… NBC’s The West Wing could be without a national security adviser next season now that Anna Deavere Smith has elected to join the new CBS drama Presidio Med. While Smith would love to keep her gig in President Bartlet’s administration — ”That’s what I’m campaigning for,” she says — CBS insiders say her contract allows only one guest spot a season (and no, it doesn’t matter that Uberproducer John Wells is responsible for both Presidio and The West Wing). Smith will play cardiologist Dr. Letty Jordan in the drama, bowing Sept. 24.

Episode Recaps

Big Brother
Big Brother

Julie Chen hosts as the houseguests battle it out.

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