Reality Check: Shrimp toss Ward for loss in semifinals of 'Cook-Off'

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For Hines Ward, the penultimate episode of "Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off" was just like jumping from the proverbial frying pan into the fire.

He's done. But at least he was well done.

On a Sunday night with about half the world watching the Super Bowl, over on Food Network the game's 2006 MVP tripped over an undercooked piece of shrimp and was eliminated from the show.

A professed non-foodie, Mr. Ward made it to the semifinals on the basis of his "keep it simple" philosophy. He and actress Kathy Najimy were knocked out after a food truck challenge with singer Carnie Wilson, then battled it out in a final test that had the chefs creating something "on a stick."

Mr. Ward's "Hines-Kababs" scored well in taste and presentation, but the shrimp grilled for the skewers were deemed raw.

"I disagree with the shrimp," he said. "I ate the shrimp myself, and it wasn't raw. It was perfectly fine, but maybe it wasn't up to Guy [Fieri]'s standards."

Still, he said, "Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get this far... In the beginning, I didn't think I had much to learn, but at the end of the day I showed America that I know how to cook.

"I'm trying to be a Renaissance man."

The winner of the competition gets $50,000 for the charity of his/her choosing. In Mr. Ward's case, it was the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation.

"Regardless of my not winning, I'm winning in the long haul for helping out these kids. I want them to be anything they want to be."

• The big cats on "RuPaul's Drag Race" (Logo, Mondays) had enough of pesky kitten Serena Cha Cha and were only too happy to see the youngster sashay away.

This week's episode was all about the lip sync. The main event involved teams re-creating famous "Untucked" scenes; turned out the group re-creating Season 4 involved Alaska. This gave the Pittsburgh queen a chance to play boyfriend Sharon Needles -- but that was too obvious. Instead, she chose Phi Phi O'Hara, piling on the dark orange foundation in homage to Sharon Needles archenemy on the show.

There was bigger drama later, however, when Monica Beverly Hillz broke down and admitted she is a transgender woman. Everyone was fine with what might seem to be an obvious advantage. So it was all good.

• Model behavior is on display Feb. 12 when Oxygen's "The Face" premieres on that network as well as Bravo and Style.

Teams of four modeling unknowns are mentored by Naomi Campbell, Coco Rocha or Karolina Kurkova through seven episodes of photo shoots, on- and off-camera pouting, and aggressive non-eating.

In on the fun is Marlee Nichols, 23, a native of Annapolis, Calif. Her press bio notes that she and her long-term boyfriend have a daughter and lived in Pittsburgh a while ago.

She was signed by an agency and would "travel by bus multiple times a week for castings in the Big Apple."

Ms. Nichols is once again based in California, having moved back after her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is a member of Team Coco.

• Pittsburgh's cheerful "Joe," Chase Rogan, is showing signs of being in on the joke, but with reality TV (or in this case, fake reality TV), it's all about the editing. So who knows? "The Joe Schmo Show" (Spike TV, Tuesdays) continues to ramp up the level of absurdity, this time hinging the elimination ceremony on a coin flip.

"Allison" (Nikki McKenzie), who has played the "overachieving Asian" with frightening intensity, loses the toss and does not go quietly into the night.

• On Face-Off (Syfy, Tuesdays), the week's candy-themed episode yielded several sweet designs and executions, but most of the special makeup effects artists struggled. Savini School grad Eric Zapata made a neat little gingerbread house diorama to serve as a hunchback for his creation, and it was solid enough to rouse smiles from the judges.

Not so fortunate was Pittsburgh's Autumn Cook, who aimed for "gummy bear" and somehow wound up with "disco wig-wearing cat." In addition, the edges of her work were rough.

Although she was in the bottom three, Ms. Cook was declared safe.

• MTV has ordered a second season of "Buckwild," which follows nine "young, carefree and adventurous friends living in West Virginia, who find unique ways to create their own fun."

Well, that's one way to describe it.

Get ready for 12 more half-hour episodes. The Season 1 finale aired Thursday night. "Buckwild" is the top-rated original cable series on that night among viewers ages 12-34. In the first quarter of 2013, it's No. 3 among cable series in that demographic.

• Believe you're a "Top Chef"? Bravo's signature show will be holding nationwide casting calls for "chef'testants" Season 11, beginning Monday in Austin, Texas. Other sites include New York City and Las Vegas (Feb. 20); Chicago (Feb. 24), Miami (Feb. 25) and Los Angeles (March 1).

For additional casting information, go to


Maria Sciullo: or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciullo. First Published February 9, 2013 5:00 AM


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