DANCE FEVER: Politics has made a delirious descent on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars with the endorsement of two of the show’s contestants by some very different political figures. Last week, former U.S. House of Representatives Republican majority leader Tom DeLay sent out a mailing urging his supporters to back country singer Sara Evans in the phone voting, if only to send a disapproving message about another contestant.

“One of her opponents on the show is ultra liberal talk show host Jerry Springer,” wrote DeLay in the letter, which was quoted by Roger Catlin, TV critic for the Hartford, Conn. Courant, on his blog. “We need to send a message to Hollywood and the media that smut has no place on television by supporting good people like Sara Evans.”


If that wasn’t enough to hoist one’s eyebrows past the hairline, the New York Daily News reports that none other than Rev. Al Sharpton is supporting former CNN pundit Tucker Carlson’s bid for televised terpsichorean stardom. “Watch Tucker do the cha-cha and then call in your vote to make sure he advances to the next week’s show,” Sharpton pronounced. “You can call as often as you like. Remember: Voting in celebrity dance contests is not just your right in this country, it’s a privilege. ... If you sit back idly and fail to perform your civic duty, lesser dancers could win this competition. America simply cannot afford that.”

He later admitted to Lloyd Grove of the Daily News that he thought “it would be a great contribution to society to have him as a cheeseball disco dancer than a talk-show host propagating right-wing politics.” If there’s even an ounce of logic in Sharpton’s support for Carlson, emptying out the newsrooms of CNN, CNBC, PBS and Fox News might be the greatest contribution reality TV has brought to our culture. I, for one, think Greta Van Susteren’s passions might be better utilized as a Survivor contestant, and that Nancy Grace missed her calling when she passed the bar, and that the next season of Rock Star might address this injustice.

BUILDING A BETTER PHASER: Geek world was thrown into a tizzy last week with news that Paramount would be digitally improving vintage episodes of the original Star Trek. According to a Sci-Fi Wire story, “the show’s opening, ship exteriors, space battles and other elements” would be buffed up to contemporary standards for future syndicated airing, while the digital magic wand would spare “live action, interiors, costumes or aliens, except in very specific instances.”

Images released to the press show the Trek flagship, the Enterprise, rendered in impressively luminous digital detail, a far cry from the miniature floating in a darkened soundstage, so beloved by Trekkies. Best of all was the wicked Red Bull banner running along the engine nacelles. I always wondered why Scotty always seemed so edgy.

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