Good trend hunting

Affleck and Damon dive into reality TV fray; Dennis Miller scared of cushy job! Plus: Bonham-Carter goes deeper into poop, and Erik Estrada finds work.

Published July 25, 2001 4:00PM (EDT)

Matt Damon and Ben Affleck may be jumping on the reality TV bandwagon as executive producers of ABC's upcoming "The Runner," but don't go thinking they're shameless opportunists.

Oh no. They have some standards.

True, their show does pit regular people against each other in an attempt to win $1 million. (They must surreptitiously make their way across the country while completing various tasks.) But it's not, you know, like some of those other reality TV shows.

The show won't be about "nubile young people in a house and watching them bicker," Affleck insists to the Toronto Sun. Neither will you see people "running through a pile of snakes" on their show.

"Rather, what we thought was kind of exciting about this show was an opportunity on a grand scale to play this game, to live out this fantasy of being in a Le Carré novel," he said, apparently taking comfort in the show's spy theme.

He and Damon also thought it would be a good way for them to live out their own fantasies. "We're not all going to be crack CIA agents. We're not all going to be Michael Jordan," Affleck said. "But you can live vicariously to a certain extent through these entertainment mediums."

And if you still have unfulfilled fantasies, you can always run for president.

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No shit

"I would say at the beginning of the season I was scared shitless because I didn't know how hard it was going to be, and at the end of the season I was scared shitless because I knew how hard it was. That's my personal growth."

-- Dennis Miller on his first season as an ABC Monday Night Football commentator.

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Juicy bits

Helena Bonham-Carter is not leaving her "Planet of the Apes" bathroom issues behind on the set. At the New York premiere of the film earlier this week, the actress told the press that, in order to walk like an ape, she played a little terlet-training-related game with herself. "I found it most helpful to picture a full diaper, and you had to make sure you weren't going to spill it," she said. Did it work? Depends ...

Speaking of wetness ... Juliette Lewis is recording a song with a Canadian rock band named Moist. The track, a cover of Dave Mason's "Feeling Alright," will be heard in her upcoming film, "Claire's Hat." So what's the slightly eerie actress's voice like? "Really pretty," said the band's singer, David Usher. "She's got a voice very much like her character: beautiful and quirky." Singing-wise, she's a natural born thriller.

Hey, Ponch! Erik Estrada is back, and he's still got his swagger. The former "ChiPs" star is voicing a character on the Cartoon Network's "Sealab 2001." That character just happens to be ... himself. "They wanted a character who's rugged, funny, a ladies' man," Estrada tells TV Guide. So, of course, they thought of him. As for his penchant for playing himself -- on "V.I.P," "Popular," "The Nanny" -- he thinks he may do it more than anyone else on the planet. Well, except one person, he says. "I think me and Bill Shatner are neck-and-neck." Maybe, just for snicks, they should play each other.

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Miss something? Read yesterday's Nothing Personal.

By Amy Reiter

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