Reality check: 'Utopia' sounds anything but

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Is this show for real?

Fox released the cast list for “unscripted” “Utopia” earlier this week, and the 15 contestants don’t sound like the sort of people you’d want to spend a day with in a remote location, let alone a whole year.

There’s Bella Chartrand, 45, from Georgia. Bella is a “naked yoga enthusiast,” a “peppy prepper with a purpose.” Three of the contestants’ bios touch upon Christian values (“When I go to Utopia, God goes to Utopia,” notes Tennessee pastor Jonathan Lovelace), and then there is Chris Tuorto, a glassblower from North Carolina who says, “Bible bangers drive me nuts.”

This being a “Big Brother”-type show that will employ 24/7 cameras and streaming, expect various states of undress and the usual bold self-proclamations of sexiness.

Unemployed Hex Vanisles, from Michigan, is referred to as “six feet of twisted steel and sex appeal.” New York doctor and “tantric sex enthusiast” Nikki Noce is looking forward to communal living.

Rob Hospidor, a security programmer from New Jersey, lists among his skill set “hunting, fishing, handling guns, getting combative.” Yikes.

And there’s Red VanWinkle (really, that’s his name). Red is a handyman and moonshiner from Kentucky who sounds as though he’d be good to have around if you’re trying to establish a new society. What with the moonshining and all.

One woman, California raw vegan chef Andrea Cox, says she would resort to cannibalism before killing and eating an animal. And rest assured, at least five of the others sound rather normal. Whatever that means.

Fox premieres “Utopia” with a three-night event beginning Sept. 7. Additional content can be accessed via and the Utopia app.

Elsewhere on reality TV ...

• His attempt to be the next “American Ninja Warrior” ended with a splash. University of Pittsburgh professor Joel Brady was shown briefly during the Monday’s NBC broadcast of the finals from Las Vegas. Decked out in khaki shorts, sweater vest, oxford shirt and necktie, he progressed as far as the jumping spider but could not quite find purchase between the two parallel walls.

Mr. Brady wound up in the water.

• ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” has added two-time professional winner Julianne Hough as a fourth permanent judge. Ms. Hough’s brother, Derek, will be one of the 12 pros on the upcoming season.

The celebrity cast will be announced Sept. 4 on “Good Morning America,” and live shows begin Sept. 15.

• Calling all master chefs. Auditions have been announced for 11 sites for Fox’s season six casting of “MasterChef.” Cleveland, Sept. 20 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. at the DoubleTree Downtown, is the closest location to Pittsburgh so far. For more information and news on additional audition sites, go to

• We will keep this brief: WE tv has announced it will produce a show next year based on a British program. This show is called “Sex Box.” The description sounds about as depressing as one might imagine: Couples go though “extreme” counseling, then retire to a soundproof, camera-free (whew) chamber where they have sex. Afterward, they emerge and discuss it on a nationally televised program.

And they say romance is dead.

Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.

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