Reality Check: Seton Hill student falls short of finale


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In a two-heads-are-better-than-one competition, it was the end of the road for Jake Corrick. The Seton Hill University senior from Belle Vernon fell just short of reaching the season-one finale of Syfy's "Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge."

Mr. Corrick, who celebrated his 22nd birthday during the episode, entered the reality show as the youngest contestant. His strong sculpting skills took him far, but going into the final four, he was the only one who'd failed to win an individual challenge.

Still, it must have been a close call. The creature designers had to create a creature-within-a-creature that would appear at an "alien press conference." The interior head had to be sculpted, which immediately made Mr. Corrick happy: "I sculpt aliens all the time."

He was warned, however, from mentor Pete Brooke that despite his sculpting prowess, "that's not the whole thing." His final looks were good but perhaps not as sophisticated as the top two creatures.

All four presented strong creatures and creative motion in the screen test, where the addition of guest judge Barry Sonnenfeld (director of "Men in Black") raised the bar.

Season front-runners Ben Bayouth of Woodland Hills, Calif., and Art Institute grad Robert Bennett of Orlando, Fla., were put through to the finals, which brought it down to Mr. Corrick and Melissa Doss of Fort Wainwright, Alaska.

Ms. Doss, who had won the last two challenges, was chosen to compete in the finale.

"We have been so impressed with your growth as an artist over the last seven weeks," said Brian Henson, chairman of the Jim Henson Co.

Mr. Corrick is scheduled to graduate from Seton Hill with a degree in fine arts.

'Dance Moms' star mouths off

There was no kidding around when "Dance Moms" star Abby Lee Miller guest-judged ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" Monday. Bucking the "DWTS" trend of buffering honest criticism with effusive praise (that would be Bruno Tonioli), Ms. Miller dissed the feet of Olympic ice dancing star Meryl Davis.

This didn't sit well with Ms. Davis' partner, Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who noted on-air that he didn't care what Ms. Miller had to say. Later in an online ABC interview, Ms. Miller countered that his comments were "disrespectful to ABC and 'Dancing With the Stars.' "

Lessons from the incident: It wasn't necessary to play good cop/bad cop at the judges table because Len Goodman already is the bad cop. And, it's one thing to offer up honest criticism to 12-year-old girls who aren't going to talk back, but it's pointless to do so with professional dancers and skaters (who might as well be professional dancers, given their training).

If it's a legit dance critique you want, watch "So You Think You Can Dance." It returns May 28 on Fox.

'Godfather of Pittsburgh'

Well, this is intriguing ... A&E just announced a new fall docuseries, "Godfather of Pittsburgh," which will center around local businessman Vince Isoldi. The eight one-hour episodes are produced by Renegade83.

"Pittsburgh is a town ruled by Vince Isolde [sic], a first-generation Italian American who has built an empire of nightclubs and restaurants all in hope of supporting his family. But getting to the top means making a lot of enemies, and some of them are kin. While Vince is one of the most revered -- and feared -- men in the city, all bets are off when he comes home. Between his wife and sons and his six brothers and sisters, the entire family relies on Vince for jobs, houses and everything in between," according to the A&E press release.

Wait, we HAVE an empire of nightclubs here?

'Shark Tank' shakeout

Fox Chapel High School graduate John Tabis went swimming with sharks last week and came away with no nibbles from the team of ABC "Shark Tank" entrepreneurs.

He did, however, get bitten.

Perhaps it wasn't a good sign that a Verizon ad running online before the show began with the phrase "Tech trumps flowers" for Mother's Day. Mr. Tabis, whose e-commerce business, The Bouqs, is based in Marina del Rey, Calif., was asking for $258,000 in exchange for 3 percent of his company.

Here's how it works: Customers order bouquets of fresh-cut flowers for a set price ($40, with no handling or shipping fees; upgrades available). The blooms, raised near an active volcano in Ecuador or in California, are shipped directly to the consumer with no middleman.

Mr. Tabis said that in almost 11 months, The Bouqs has generated $700,000 in sales and received notice from media outlets such as Oprah Winfrey's magazine and the Wall Street Journal.

His claim that his company has a valuation of $8.6 million was met with skepticism.

Kevin O'Leary, aka "Mr. Wonderful," told him "you are crazy expensive," and Barbara Corcoran said she hated the name of the company.

"Brutal," Mr. Tabis said upon leaving the "Shark Tank."

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


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