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Bravo’s ‘Top Chef’ goes for four in Chicago. Plus TV shorts High School Reunion; a documentary on Robert Mapplethorpe and his lover and mentor, Sam Wagstaff
By Nancy Ford
Foodies, rejoice! Bravo TV has announced it is serving up yet another helping of its highly popular culinary competition, Top Chef. This time the kitchen is set in Chicago, where 16 contestants battle to determine who has the best skills when it comes to chowtime.
OK, “chowtime” is a little garish, especially given the esteemed lineup seated at the judges’ table. Series host and author Padma Lakshmi, culinary giant Tom Colicchio, Food & Wine magazine’s Gail Simmons, and former Queer Eye palate guy, Ted Allen, all help determine who emerges this time as queen (or king) of the TC kitchen.
According to press info, surprise celebrity chefs pop into the Windy City kitchen to share gastronomical secrets as the elimination rolls on. (Note to Paula Deen: You better bobby-pin down that wig, Sister!)
Delighting those of us who love it when “family” is represented in our basic-cable television programming, this fourth season of TC features three lesbians competing for first-toque honors: food service management expert Lisa, Culinary Institute of Arts grad Jennifer, and Zoi, the self-taught restaurant consultant. (In photo from top to bottom: Lisa, Jennifer, and Zoi.)
All three women enjoy cooking with lamb, press info also hints. Lisa rubs hers with chili, Zoi roasts hers with artichokes. But our money is on the über-creative Jennifer, who works the little bleater into a tongue salad. Mangia!
Debuts March 12, 9 p.m., on Bravo. Details: www.bravotv.com.
Alma Mater Matters
Imagine spending two full weeks with 13 of your former high school classmates, and then having the whole thing broadcast on national television. Stop screaming. With High School Reunion, TV Land ventures into this no-man’s land of pubescent thrills and chills, and even locates the presumably one lesbian to graduate from Richardson, Texas’ JJ Pearce High School.
Premieres March 5, 9 p.m.
As Different As…
Though polar opposites, punk rocker Patti Smith and A-List author Dominick Dunne were both fans and friends of controversial 20th-century photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. In James Crump’s Black White + Gray: A Portrait of Sam Wagstaff and Robert Mapplethorpe, Smith, Dunne, and others discuss Mapplethorpe’s homoerotic work, which may never have been seen had it not been for the efforts of his lover and mentor, Wagstaff.
Airs March 7, 7:30 p.m., on Sundance Channel as part of a weeklong series on photography, which begins March 3.
Photo caption: Robert Mapplethorpe (r) with his lover and mentor, art patron Sam Wagstaff.
Ben and not Jerry, Dave. Sweet
The Ben and Dave Show
, hosted by Radio with a Twist DJ Ben Harvey and stand-up comic Dave Rubin, is thought to be the first TV show of its kind to feature two openly gay co-hosts, press notes say. Perhaps they’ve forgotten about a little variety program from the ’70s called The Sonny and Cher Show. (Uh…S&C were gay, right?)
Airs March 14 on here! Details: www.heretv.com.