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VH1: from 'Surreal' to 'Strange'

Get ready for the newest Couple of the Year: Public Enemy's Flavor Flav and Danish movie queen Brigitte Nielsen. The pair will star in a new VH1 reality series, "Strange Love," set to debut in January. The two entertainers are part of the third season of "The Surreal Life," which is airing on VH1.

While taping "The Surreal Life" -- the program in which a gaggle of has-beens, never-weres and D-listers share a home -- Flav and Nielsen had a brief romance that was televised on the show.

The 10-episode "Strange Love" will follow the relationship as the two meet each other's families. There will also be an episode in which the couple travels to Las Vegas, where they will run into a 25-year-old bartender named Mattia Disse. Who's he? Only the guy to whom Nielsen reportedly is engaged.

Nielsen is in the middle of a divorce and was previously married to Sylvester Stallone. She is known for her role in "Red Sonja," as well as her performance as a tough Russian woman in "Rocky IV."

Mailer drops in on `Gilmore Girls'

Norman Mailer, a TV character? He is, this week, on that most literate WB series "Gilmore Girls."

Names from pop culture, politics, and even arts and letters are forever sprinkled into the motormouth repartee of quick-witted single mom Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham) and her best-pal college daughter Rory (Alexis Bledel). So it only makes sense to have one of those names make a clever personal appearance on Tuesday.

When the 81-year-old author shows up for lunch at her Connecticut inn, Lorelai raves that Rory "read `The Naked and the Dead' while she was still wearing footsie pajamas." Her culture-sponge mom is inspired to dream of "being a salon. Of course, we'll have to keep Gore Vidal on the other side of the room, but Gabriel Garcia Marquez will run interference for us."

Too bad that Mailer only shows up for lunch. He doesn't eat it. As excitable chef Sookie (Melissa McCarthy) bemoans, day after day, "he's sitting at a table for four and ordering nothing at all but tea, iced tea," while being lengthily interviewed by a reporter (played by Mailer's son, Stephen). "When Billy Joel came in," Sookie fumes, "he would pack it away. Appetizers, main course, two, three desserts. That was a man that knew how to eat."

Since Mailer isn't the only one who doesn't eat, their inn's accountant suggests discontinuing lunch until business picks up. And that sends Sookie postal. With a confrontation in the offing, the ever-astute Lorelai warns, "I don't care how old he is, he can take you."

Mailer's unruffled attitude lends wily counterpoint to the impulsive antics around him. He even gets in some literary talk, making "Gilmore Girls" a yet more sophisticated delight.

NEWSDAY

ESPN tries hand at poker drama

Eddie Cibrian and Chris Bauer are the first two actors to be dealt into ESPN's newest original drama "Tilt." Many roles have yet to be cast in the drama, set at the fictitious World Poker Championships in Las Vegas, which will begin principal photography in November.

ESPN has already set a Jan. 13 premiere for "Tilt," from Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who wrote the Matt Damon/Edward Norton poker drama "Rounders."

"Tilt" looks at the lives of professional gamblers both at the table and in their personal lives. ESPN promises plenty of money, fame, and quests for revenge. That last characteristic is certainly in evidence with the first two announced characters.

Cibrian will play Eddie Towne, a gritty, hotshot poker player. In addition to trying to win the big pot, he's also out for revenge. Cibrian put in five seasons as firefighter Jimmy Doherty on NBC's "Third Watch" and has also appeared on daytime dramas "Sunset Beach," "The Young and the Restless," and "The Bold and the Beautiful."

Bauer is set as Lee Nickel, a Midwestern sheriff bent on bringing his brother's killer to justice. Bauer also appeared on NBC's "Third Watch" and has been seen on "The Wire." He's also in Fox's upcoming drama "Johnny Zero."

"Tilt" will shoot in Toronto.

ZAP2IT.COM

Busy Cojocaru tapes talk pilot

LOS ANGELES -- Steven Cojocaru's presence in the world of syndication could be expanding. The style guru and "Entertainment Tonight" correspondent has shot a pilot for a talk show that would be distributed by Paramount Domestic Television, sources said.

The one-hour show is said to be a showcase for Cojocaru's trademark over-the-top dissection of fashion and pop culture trends blended with celebrity interviews. Halle Berry is said to have been a guest in the pilot. It's unclear exactly when the show is being targeted for debut.

Cojocaru already has a multiyear overall development deal with Paramount Domestic TV, which he signed in June 2003 when he joined its syndicated strip "Entertainment Tonight" as a correspondent.

Cojocaru is also a correspondent for "The Insider," another entertainment newsmagazine from Paramount that debuted last month.

Paramount Domestic TV declined comment Thursday.

Cojocaru, a frequent contributor to NBC's morning show "Today," previously was a correspondent for E! Entertainment Television and the syndicated entertainment newsmagazine "Access Hollywood." He also was West Coast style editor at People magazine.

HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

Globe on NECN


Here's what's happening on "Around the Globe" today on NECN:

Talk of the dial


10 a.m. WBIX-AM (1060) -- "Stu Taylor on Business." Guests: Lieutenant General Michael DeLong, author of "Inside CentCom -- the Unvarnished Truth About the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq"; Bill Bright, author of "Two Bills From Boston -- Making the American Dream Come True."

Other radio highlights


7 a.m. WGBH-FM (89.7) -- "Classical Weekend." Nicolai's Merry Wives of Windsor Overture; Borodin's Symphony No. 3.
9 a.m. WCRB-FM (102.5) -- "Kids Classical Hour." Famous families of classical musicians.

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