Space "Survivor"?

Will reality TV go into orbit? Playmate denies breaking up Helen Hunt's marriage; is "Survivor's" Kelly a biter? Plus: "Livin' La Vida Loca" writer calls Republicans' use of song "perverse"!

By Amy Reiter
Published August 10, 2000 6:00PM (EDT)

If you think the concept of "Survivor" is out there, check this: "Destination Mir."

Oh-ho-ho, yes. Mark Burnett, the genius behind everyone's favorite island-based survival show, is looking to take one small step for man, one giant step for reality TV; he's shopping around a show in which one winning contestant will blast into space with two Russian cosmonauts. (Liftoff will be broadcast live worldwide -- can you say "rocketing ratings"?)

"The winner of our show would orbit the Earth over 20 times before linking up with the Mir space station," Burnett tells USA Today, in the first time in recent memory that the word "Mir" has been uttered without an anteceding "troubled." "It's a 10-day trip." (Burnett turned to the Mir people after NASA turned him down flat.)

The lucky winner will be weeded out "Survivor"-style from 13 to 15 competitors who will endure rigorous training exercises to prepare for orbit.

But don't go getting your hopes up for intergalactic alliances. Unlike those earthbound "Survivor" contenders, "Destination Mir" contestants will have no hand in selecting the winner. It's "all about teamwork" and physical and mental prowess, says Burnett. "We can't have someone who's going to freak out."

And, of course, most importantly, the winner has to look sexy in a spacesuit.

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Once bitten ...

"During her time on the island, she never bit anyone, not even a rat."

-- A CBS spokesperson on reports that "Survivor" contestant Kelly Wiglesworth was arrested back in 1997 for biting her then-husband on the nose so hard it turned purple and bled.

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Her heart belongs to Daddy

If her father ever lands in the clink, Meadow Soprano might want to consult John Gotti's daughter Victoria on receiving special visitor privileges.

"When I go to see my father in prison, I am the only visitor who does not have to walk through a metal detector," Victoria Gotti boasted this week at the party for the release of her new novel, "Superstar," at New York's Baldoria restaurant. "I just show the guards a little card which indicates that I have been fitted with an internal defibrillator."

"Essentially I am on the verge of a heart attack at any second, so doctors implanted a little computer into my chest," Gotti told a party attendee who, perhaps fearing a fate involving cement shoes, asked not to be named. "The doctors warned me that if I ever walk through a metal detector it could inadvertently trigger my defibrillator and my heart tissue would get a full massive electric shock ... So when I go visit my father I have a medical notification card which exempts me from walking through the metal detector."

And you thought wiseguys had no heart.

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No bra-vo

"Frankly, it's a storm in an A-cup."

-- London Daily Express theater critic Robert Gore-Langton on Jerry Hall's nude turn as Mrs. Robinson in the West End production of "The Graduate."

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Juicy bits

Proof that Japanese culture is way more evolved than American culture: The ratings for Japan's version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" are flatter than a paper-thin slice of sashimi. The Associated Press attributes the show's failure to catch on to a) the fact that the Japanese people, as a rule, aren't into flaunting wealth and b) the country's antitrust laws limit the prize money to a mere 10 million yen ($108,000) at its peak. "Who Wants to Be a $108,000-aire" just doesn't have the same ring.

Playboy Playmate Summer Altice wants the world (and Helen Hunt) to know that she never went skinny-dipping with Hank Azaria. And she wants the National Enquirer, which recently suggested she was responsible for the demise of Azaria's marriage to Hunt, to take back its all-wet allegations. "I am demanding a retraction. Or else I will sue and donate the proceeds to charity," Altice, currently linked to Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, tells Extra. "I have never even met Hank Azaria." Doh!

What's holding up the marriage of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, now that they've hammered out a prenup and popped out a baby boy? Her postpartum paunch. "We will have the wedding when Catherine feels she can wear a svelte white dress," Douglas recently revealed. Never mind the baby puke on the shoulder.

Loca this: Robi Rosa, who co-wrote and produced Ricky Martin's "Livin' La Vida Loca," was apparently none too pleased to find his song "The Cup of Life" being used to rally the troops at the Republican National Convention last week. He feels it was a sneaky, underhanded way for the party to ingratiate itself with the Latin community. "It is perverse that the Republicans are trying to forge a connection to the Latin community with the use of my song and by parading famous Latinos on stage," Rosa told the Los Angeles Times. "Seventy-five percent of the delegates to the Republican convention earn more than $1 million a year -- I don't see the connection at all." Way to deflate the big tent.

Coming soon, the Jackie Chan telethon? The action hero is in talks to star in a remake of Jerry Lewis' 1960 comedy "The Bellboy." According to Variety, Chan's version of the classic flick will be substantially different from Lewis's original. But will it play in Paris?

It's here, it's queer, it's new on CBS. After a heated bidding war, "Say Uncle," a new comedy from "Frasier" producer Jeffrey Richman, has been picked up by the eyeball network. The show, about a gay man who inherits his niece and nephew, "addresses some of those feelings straight people have when they walk into a gay friend's perfect living room and think, 'It wouldn't be so perfect if he had kids,'" the show's writer, Steve Levitan, tells Variety. Do you suppose they'll air it opposite Dr. Laura?

Amy Reiter

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