LOS ANGELES – The reality series “I’m a Celebrity . . . Get Me Out of Here!” lost Rod Blagojevich but boasts TV lovebirds Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt and a Baldwin brother among the contestants.
Ousted Illinois governor Blagojevich, who had hoped to compete on the NBC show, was barred by a judge from travelling to Costa Rica for filming while he awaits trial on racketeering and other charges. He was in Los Angeles on Friday to join in the cast announcement.
The “I’m a Celebrity” contestants include Montag and Pratt of MTV’s “The Hills,” who were set to be married this weekend.
Others who agreed to test their survival skills in the Costa Rican jungle and vie for bragging rights and money for charity: former pro basketball player John Salley; model and TV host Janice Dickinson; actor Stephen Baldwin and former pro wrestler and model Torrie Wilson.
The glamorous Dickinson was asked if she would be out of her element.
“Are you insane? Life is a jungle,” she replied, adding that she had participated in the original British version of “I’m a Celebrity.”
Three other contestants will be announced, NBC told a news conference held in Pasadena and by phone.
The series will premiere with a two-hour episode 8 p.m. EDT June 1, and air 8-9 p.m. EDT Monday through Thursday until its June 24 finale.
MTV, which is a partner with NBC on the series, will show a marathon of the preceding week’s episodes on Sundays, beginning June 7. Unaired footage and commentary from cast members will be included.
Blagojevich travelled to Southern California on Thursday and filmed a promotional spot for “I’m a Celebrity” in which he was hoisted in front of a blank screen and feigned making a parachute jump.
Trying to survive in the jungle would not have been his first choice of a job, Blagojevich said Friday. But he had “basically deluded myself” into thinking of it as a chance to be a modern-day version of the adventurous Teddy Roosevelt.
He will abide by the court’s decision, Blagojevich said.
Noting his admiration for California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Blagojevich offered a comparison with the actor-turned-politician.
“I guess you could say doing something like this (TV show) would be the reverse career path,” he said.
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