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‘Contender’ still has fighting chance

Will ESPN pick up boxing reality show? Don't count it out yet. Plus: Rob's Red Soz art; "Road Rules" future.
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There's no doubt about it: "Contender" fans aren't going down without a fight. We've been deluged with questions about the NBC boxing reality show. (Please note: We at have nothing to do with whether the show is renewed, so the threats and swearing, as well as helpful suggestions about time slot or day the show airs, really are best directed elsewhere).

Q: I think that “The Contender” was by far the best reality show yet. All of my family and friends watched every episode this season. We really think that it should be in the line up for next season. Any chance that it would be picked up by another channel or in a different time slot?      —Shay, New York

A: NBC's "The Contender" may not have been a smash hit, but it had a solid base of about 6 million viewers per week, and it has rabid support among fans. Still, in mid-May, host and producer Sylvester Stallone said he didn't think the show would be returning for a second season. He cited the show's time slot — 8 p.m. on Sundays, opposite ABC's powerhouse "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" — as one reason that it didn't take off.

Now that the series is over, however, there appears to be hope.

Executive producers Sugar Ray Leonard, Stallone, and Mark Burnett are reportedly talking to ESPN about taking the series to the cable network for a second season. And NBC has said they haven't officially turned down the show yet. Last week Burnett told the New York Times that a renewal announcement was "highly likely" last week. There hasn't been word yet, but all of these seem to add up to a return for "The Contender."

The first series' boxers may also make a televised comeback. There are also rumors of a July 5 pay-per-view bout in Las Vegas that would reunite the final four: Sergio Mora, Peter Manfredo, Alfonso Gomez, and Jesse Brinkley. Peter's father told the Providence Journal that a July date would be too rapid a return to the ring, although he hadn't yet heard anything from producers.    —A.D.

Q: Who is the artist that painted the Boston Red Sox painting which Amber gave to Rob for a wedding gift in "Rob and Amber Get Married"? Does he have other Red Sox paintings for sale?    —Anonymous

A: According to the Boston Herald, the artist is Giovanni DeCunto, a Boston artist whose Red Sox-themed work was spotted by "Survivor" winner Amber Brkich in a local bar. She bought then-fiance Rob Mariano a painting and sent it to Boston Red Sox spring training, where baseball's world champs signed it.

The Herald quotes Mariano as saying the gift "blew me away" and that he wants to hang it in the couple's new Florida kitchen where he can "eat my Cheerios by it every day."

DeCunto has a Web site with images of his work and contact information.  Some of his work is also displayed, with prices, at, though we didn't see Red Sox paintings there.    —G.F.C.

Q: When is the next "Road Rules" season going to start?    —Linda

A: After 13 seasons, it appears that "Road Rules" is taking a break. It hasn't been officially "cancelled," though, so there's always a chance that it could return.

The evidence that the series has entered a coma is piling up: In January, MTV renewed "The Real World" for five more seasons, including "Austin," which debuts June 21. MTV also ordered two more seasons of the wonderful "Challenge" series, which reunites past cast members who compete in lame contests and act immaturely. But "Road Rules" was nowhere to be found.

Additionally, production company Bunim-Murray, which also created and produces "The Real World" and the "Challenge," no longer lists "Road Rules" among their shows that they are producing now, relegating it to the "past shows" section. And the new lists the show as "cancelled."

With the series gone, there is one lingering question: With more "Challenge" shows coming but no "Road Rules," where will half of the cast members come from? Or will Eric Nies be called to return again and again?    —A.D.

Gael Fashingbauer Cooper is's Television Editor. is a writer and teacher who publishes , a daily summary of reality TV news.