July 10, 2008

Food Network’s Next Star is Now Former Next Star After One Season

By Rich Heldenfels, The Akron Beacon Journal, Ohio

Jul. 10--If it's Thursday, this must be the mailbag . . .

Q: I have been watching "The Next Food Network Star." What happened to last year's winner, Amy Finley? Her show was on last fall, then disappeared from the schedule.

A: According to a Q&A on the network's Web site (http://www.foodnetwork.com), Finley and her family are living in France. She decided not to continue her show, The Gourmet Next Door.

"With my family I decided it was time to move on to other projects," she said on the site. "The lifestyle and obligations of a television personality -- including cultivating the thick skin it takes to survive the harsh criticism and vicious personal attacks mounted by bloggers -- just aren't compatible with my goals or my family at this time."

Q: Last summer, there was a show (don't remember the name) on a cable channel (don't know which one), but the pretty blonde was a newspaper reporter whose best friend was fighting cancer and she and her fiance has broken up and she was dating again. I think he was on "90210." I really enjoyed the show and I wonder if it is coming back on?

A: The show was Side Order of Life, on Lifetime. It starred Marissa Coughlan as Jenny McIntyre, a magazine photographer whose best friend (played by Diana-Maria Riva) learns that her cancer has returned. Jason Priestley of Beverly Hills 90210 fame played Jenny's fiance.

Lifetime did not renew the show for a second season, but said in a statement that "we are extremely proud of the show, particularly its sensitive exploration of the issue of living with cancer."

Q: I have tried to get anything with Frank Merrill as Tarzan; he was the last of the silent film Tarzans. He was the first to use the vine swing and the first to do the Tarzan yell, which was put in the films after they were made and sound was started in films. My grandmother married him when they were both in their 70s. I met him shortly prior to his death. He was a true gentleman and his handshake almost broke my hand.

A: I'm not surprised. A gymnastics champion, Merrill was considered one of the most physically fit of the movie Tarzans. He starred in two serials -- Tarzan the Mighty (1928) and Tarzan the Tiger (1929) -- as well as stunt-doubling Elmo Lincoln's Tarzan in at least one production.

I could not find a copy of Tarzan the Mighty. But Tarzan the Tiger has been released on DVD. By the way, both of Merrill's films were made as silents, but Tarzan the Tiger added some sound after talkies came in, so Merrill dubbed in the first Tarzan yell.

You can find out more about Merrill and Tarzan at http://www.erbonline.com and http://www.tarzanmovieguide.com.

Q: My inquiry regards Kurt Nilsen of Norway, the winner of the special program "World Idol" that aired a few years ago. My search led me to Borders Books, but although it initially had a catalog number for Mr. Nielsen's CD, it didn't have it in their stores. Can you find if there is any way one could get a copy of his CD? I don't know if his CD even made it to the U.S.

A: Nilsen outpointed American Idol champ Kelly Clarkson in the competition among winners of various Idol-like shows in 2004. He has made several CDs, although many of them are imports. Still, if your local retailer cannot get them, I have seen some for sale on http://www.Amazon.com.

Do you have a question or comment about movies, TV and other popular culture? Write to [email protected] or the Akron Beacon Journal, 44 E. Exchange St., Akron, OH 44309. Please mark the note for Mailbag and do not phone in questions.

Letters may be edited. Individual replies cannot be guaranteed.

Rich Heldenfels writes about popular culture for the Beacon Journal and in a blog at http://www.ohio.com. You can find more columns, questions and answers at http://www.ohio.com/entertainment/heldenfels.


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