Reality Check: Lifetime gives 'Dance Moms' star another spinoff

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Imagine a cross between "Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares" and "On the Road with Austin & Santino." Mix in "Dance Moms," and maybe that's the idea behind Lifetime's "Abby's Studio Rescue."

Seven, one-hour episodes comprise what might be the greatest/worst addition to the reality universe, depending on your opinion of Abby Lee Miller.

"Each week, the show follows Abby as she dishes her tough love and no-nonsense advice while giving dance studios a second chance to finally bring home the gold," according to press materials.

Collins Avenue, the company behind "Dance Moms" and "Abby's Ultimate Dance Competition," produces this latest spinoff. It debuts at 9 p.m. June 17.

"A studio owner since 1980, Abby knows running a business can be full of challenges, and she is ready to give them the tools they need to take their studios and dancers to the next level," according to the press release.

"Whether it's fine-tuning choreography, finding the right staff, scheduling classes, tweaking dances, dealing with overbearing moms or even renovating the studio space, 'Abby's Studio Rescue' will help them all raise the bar."

As much fun as it will be to see Ms. Miller yell at cringing studio owners, there is more than a hint of insincerity here. Ms. Miller fell behind on real estate taxes for her home and her Penn Hills studio, and according to court records she filed for bankruptcy in December 2010.

It's admirable she has since emerged from debt, but her solution -- lucking into a hit TV reality program -- isn't exactly a credible blueprint for others facing insolvency.

'Face Off'

In six seasons of "Face Off" (Syfy, Tuesdays), there have been 14 graduates of the Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects Program on the show. To celebrate Tyler Green reaching the live finale Tuesday, the Douglas Education Center in Monessen will host a watch party at the River House Cafe in Charleroi.

The event begins at 6 p.m. and will include a live Skype session with Mr. Green (#TeamTyler) as well as Skypes with some of the other "Face Off" grads. There will be a makeup contest open to DEC students and the public from 8-9 p.m., with the Syfy broadcast at 9 p.m.

Mr. Green, a native of Litchfield, Conn., earlier this year told the Post-Gazette he planned to attend the Savini program from the time he was in high school. He almost didn't reach the finale despite turning in consistently strong designs each week on the show.

After a rare misfire with a vampire concept two weeks ago, he saved the day by creating a werewolf suitable for slaying vampires. So he, Rashaad Santiago of Bronx, N.Y., and George Schminky of Walnut Creek, Calif., will be mixing up the makeup to see who wins $100,000.

Sent home was Niko Gonzalez, of Los Angeles, which was hardly a surprise. His werewolf creation looked more like a steroidal version of Stitch from the Disney film "Lilo and Stitch" and he'd made a rather yucky vampire to boot.

'Creature Shop Challenge'

Two of the top three looks on "Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge" had Pittsburgh ties as the designers worked on building funny mounted animal heads. Belle Vernon native Jake Corrick transformed a bear's head into a troll via some impressive sculpting, and former Art Institute student Robert Bennett of Orlando, Fla., gave a boar somewhat of a hippie flair.

But it was a bad week for Ivonne Escoto of Los Angeles. Her creation turned out to be too small to house the technical stuffing and she turned in an unfinished creature. With her departure, six creature designers remain.

Maria Sciullo: msciullo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.


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