Lure of Body Painting Draws Romijn to GSN’s ‘Skin Wars’

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GSN’s continued extension beyond game shows includes the first competition show to attract model-actress Rebecca Romijn as a host. That’s because the milieu of this summer’s Skin Wars is competitive body painting, a pursuit close to her, um, heart.

“This is the first time I’ve felt inclined to do one, because of the subject matter,” she told The Wire between sips of champagne at the end of GSN’s upfront show-and-tell in New York’s Sony Club on March 18.

You might recall Romijn was the first model to be body-painted in a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, and she played the blue body-painted Mystique in X-men.

Among the images GSN showed from upcoming episodes was an amazing trompe l’oeil display of adroitly painted models blending into a supermarket shelf and draped almost invisibly across baskets of fruit.

“And that was a mini-challenge,” Romijn said.

GSN programming chief Amy Introcaso-Davis thanked Romijn at the upfront for enduring extra-long taping sessions. Shoots like the one at the supermarket went until 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., Romijn said, as several activities had to be done back to back, instead of spread over a couple of days.

“Because body paint is a fleeting art form, we had to do the elimination [of one competitor] on the same day as the main challenge, because the models can’t go home and wash it off and come back and get painted again,” Introcaso-Davis said. “So it made the days of our main challenge that much longer.”

Every competition show needs a catchy closing line. In Skin Wars, “It ended up being, ‘It’s time to go wash off the canvas,’ ” Romijn said. “We actually had a shower in the work space for the models to go wash off , and we show the paint going down the drain.”

Her best-known co-star here is RuPaul. The star of Logo’s RuPaul’s Drag Race stays in male attire for Skin Wars, but offers plenty of oneliners. “RuPaul’s on-camera energy is like no one else’s,” Romijn said. “There’s no one funnier with a quip.”

The last artist remaining after the others are eliminated wins $100,000 and a year’s supply of body paint.

“It turned out better than I thought it would,” Romijn told The Wire. “It’s going to get a lot of eyeballs for possibly the T&A end of it,” she said. Romjin paused, then continued: “It’s a fine art show. The level of art is second to none. These painters are so talented, people are going to be blown away.”

Disney Is Down With Drones

Amazon.com thinks they’ll play a part in the future of product delivery. Netflix likes to mock them.

Adaptive streaming standards? No. We’re talking about drones, of course.

And these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are gaining interest elsewhere in the video world, including the Wonderful World of Disney.

Vince Roberts, the executive vice president of global operations and chief technology officer of the Disney/ ABC Television Group, thinks drones are pretty neat, and represent a great way to obtain new vantage points for news coverage and fresh experiences for filmed entertainment.

Roberts, a guest keynoter at Harris Broadcasting’s first ever Media Day in New York (and its last under that moniker, as it turns out; the company shed the Harris brand and splitting into two companies, Imagine Communications and GatesAir), talked about the potential of drones in the video-production arena, and shot by video taken with a drone that he took for an aerial spin around his home.

The use of drones represents a “huge opportunity for us to explore,” he said at the March 17 session.

But he said widespread civil and commercial use of drones still need to fly above some important technology and regulatory barriers.

On the tech side, the drones themselves need to be hardened to sustain flights that last longer than a couple of dozen of minutes.

And they need to clear the decks of the Federal Aviation Administration when it comes to air traffic control and avoidance to ensure that drones can be safely integrated into the nation’s airspace system. After all, “This is like a lawnmower flying above your head,” Roberts said of UAVs.

But you probably won’t have to worry about getting an unexpected haircut from one of these unmanned whirlybirds anytime soon. The FAA expects to publish a proposed rule for small drones (55 pounds or less) later this year that will likely include provisions for commercial operations. Final approval could take years.

— Jeff Baumgartner

Shift in Time KOs the Guide

Cablevision Systems subscribers in the Bronx, N.Y., who have Scientific Atlanta cable boxes turned their clocks back one hour on March 9 and woke up without an interactive cable guide.

The guide was down for most of March 10, preventing subscribers from identifying which shows were on each channel, setting their DVR to record future shows or looking up future airtimes for any programming.

Cablevision officials would not say how many subscribers were affected or how widespread the outage was, but the MSO acknowledged it in an email to subscribers that afternoon, noting that it was “working quickly to resolve the issue.” The company also sent out reassuring messages on Twitter (via @OptimumHelp), suggesting ways to set recordings via the Web or an app.

By the evening, the company said, the guide was back up and running.

In a statement obtained by The Wire, Cablevision officials said a technical issue prevented “some” of its customers to view program guide data on their televisions, but the matter “was resolved and we apologize to our customers for the inconvenience.”

As a make good, Cablevision offered subscribers affected by the outage a three-month free subscription to its Movie-Pak on demand service, which retails for $5.95 per month.

— R. Thomas Umstead

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