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Through the Wire

3/09/2007 7:00 PM Eastern

Dick Grayson Was Bruce Wayne’s … What?

The two nations warred for centuries, and even today their antipathy is not totally submerged beneath the rituals of unity found in the common market.”

Question: Find the homonym for someone under the protection of another.

So went the final question at GSN’s first-ever National Vocabulary Championship, which wrapped up last week at the New York Public Library with 50 high school students from around the country competing for $40,000 towards college tuition.

“The response has been incredible,” GSN vice president of marketing and promotions Joel Chiodi said. “People are already asking how to get involved from next year.” This year’s sponsors included Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, and Cablevision Systems’ “Power to Learn” initiative.

There’s a general recognition that the U.S. education system is at a low point right now, Chiodi said, and this education-based initiative is the sort that draws interest and inspires effort.

The contest began on a regional basis through work with affiliates on local ad sales and video-on-demand initiatives. GSN targeted about 30,000 students from schools in key markets, offering them a chance to win money toward higher education, as well as to compete in the national competition. Each regional show was aired on demand with coinciding Web support.

The network then opened the competition to students outside the selected schools, who could take an online test and, if they scored well, go on to test via the Princeton Review for a chance to compete nationally. Of 50 students at the library last Monday, eight were regional winners and 42 came from the greater pool.

Robert Marsland, 18, of St. Ambrose Academy in Wisconsin, took home the prize. The game-deciding homonym: “Ward.” GSN will air a one-hour special on the event Sunday, April 15, at 8 p.m.

Kids’ Choice Awards Can’t Really Be 20, Can It?

Here’s something that will make you feel old. In award show years, the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards is no longer a teenager.

The slime-drenched award show turns 20 this year on March 31 at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. Has it been that long since anyone thought Tony Danza was cool? He was the first host, joined by music talent Debbie Gibson. To give Danza more kid-cred, Dan Schneider and Brian Robbins, both stars of Head of the Class and now theatrical producers, helped with the on-stage duties.

Other early talent on the show: New Kids on the Block and Corey Feldman (what, just one Corey?).

The first sliming was an “honor” reserved for a Nick star: Les Lye of You Can’t Do That on Television. The first grown-up movie star to get green was James Earl Jones — the voice of Darth Vader — in 1994.

Now, the awards franchise has spread to Brazil, Mexico City, Australia, Holland, Sweden, China and Milan. This year, versions will debut in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Sure bets this year: high-profile celebrity sliming, burping and one loud audience.

'Grudge’ Bout For Charity OK’d by Nevada Officials

Let’s get ready to rumble! The Nevada Athletic Commission last week officially gave its blessing to a March 24 “grudge” boxing match between Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White and current UFC heavyweight contender Tito Ortiz.

The fight — written into Ortiz’s contract with the UFC — will feature no grappling, wrestling or other UFC-incorporated moves. Just traditional fisticuffs.

While Ortiz is an active mixed martial arts fighter, the 37-year old White – who’s been training for nearly a year to get ready — says he’s not intimidated by swapping punches with his employee, who happens to be a former UFC heavyweight champion.

“I have taken this very serious and done as much as I can to prepare with my crazy travel schedule,” White said. “I will be happy to have this behind me so I can eat like a 37-year old fat guy again!”

The UFC said the bout will be taped to air later.

It’s unclear if that means SpikeTV, which airs several UFC-based programs, or if the fight video will appear on www.ufc.com.

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