It’s never too early to start handicapping this fall’s most squirm-worthy, Darwinian reality competitions. Let’s start with Celebrity Duets, which debuts Aug. 29 on Fox. The network announced today that the golden-throated competitors are WWE wrestler Chris Jericho, Lucy Lawless, Cheech Marin, Olympic gymnast Carly Patterson, Fresh Prince of Bel-Air alum Alfonso Ribeiro, Queer Eye’s Jai Rodriguez, Queer as Folk’s Hal Sparks, and Lea Thompson. (They’ll be paired each week with pros who should know better, including Clint Black, Michael Bolton, Belinda Carlisle, Chaka Khan, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Loggins, Brian McKnight, Aaron Neville, Smokey Robinson, Randy Travis, and Dionne Warwick.) Now, Lawless, Rodriguez, and Thompson have all sung on Broadway, and Marin proved he can sing (sort of) on old Cheech & Chong bits like ”Earache My Eye.” My money’s on Xena, if only because of Lawless’ excellent impersonation of Stevie Nicks in this classic SNL sketch.
As for America’s Next Top Model, whose seventh season begins Sept. 20 on the CW, that’s a much tougher call. (Especially since my track record here is about as poor as my predictions for who’ll survive on Lost.) Still, looking at this photo, released today, of the 13 finalists, I’m struck by the exotic visage of Anchal (bottom row, right). No doubt Tyra will decide her eyes are too far apart and send her packing about halfway through. So I’ll go out on a limb and guess Eugena (third row from top, third from left). She looks fierce enough to cut down anyone who gets in her way, using just her sharp cheekbones. Besides, her day job is as a customer service rep, so you know she’s just about to snap.