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Trainer Bob Sick of Game Players on ‘Biggest Loser’

Expect lots of clashes ahead on this season of "The Biggest Loser." That's the word from trainer Bob Harper, who complains that unlike past groups, in which weight loss and camaraderie were foremost, the current group of contestants "were very into playing the game. That, to me — I have no time for it. It's unfortunate they worked so hard to get onto the show and then made it about that," he adds.

This season, in fact, features some changes in structure that bring out the fierceness of the competitors. Still, says Harper, "I love it when contestants tend to unite. We've definitely had some great contestants in the past, ones who've stuck with it, who've inspired a lot of people."

Inspiring people to lose weight and get healthy is the aspect of "Biggest Loser" that means the most to Harper, who's happy with this season's Pay it Forward theme in which the show is seeking to get entire communities motivated to get fit. They also traveled to Southern California's Camp Pendleton Marine base for an upcoming episode in which the contestants train like Marines, complete with lots of dirt 'n' grit.

"The Camp Pendleton part was really fun. The only thing is, what Jillian and I really saw is that the Marines are about building up your character — not necessarily getting you to lose weight," he says, referring to fellow trainer Jillian Michaels. "I think the two things do go hand in hand, but you have to know how to do it."

The drill instructors and trainers do have some things in common, however. "You get people to push their bodies to different kinds of limits, to get uncomfortable, to do things they wouldn't normally do."

The 10th season of the popular reality show got off to a slower start ratings-wise than seasons past. Is Harper concerned about running out of steam?

"I keep it out of my mind," he says. "We're starting to shoot Season 11 right now, and we're on a good upward trend, and I just really feel good for all of us."

ROAD WARRIORS: This has been a tough year for touring, with many music acts singing the blues over anemic concert attendance amidst the recession. However, "You can make it work if you want to," contends Pat Simmons. The Doobie Brothers' founding member, currently riding a fresh wave of acclaim with the band's new "World Gone Crazy" album, goes on, "I think it probably has to do with people's expectations. I think some of the bigger artists have expectations that they're going to sell out stadiums. Some can't face having to step down another rung. People actually cancel tours because they're unable to accept the fact they're not filling baseball stadiums. The problem is with their egos. Why not go into a smaller venue? Why not lower your ticket prices? You have to be realistic."

At this stage of their careers, with some 30 million in album sales already under their belts, the Doobies "don't have a lot of illusions about what we do. We have continued to tour over 20 years with this entity we have. We've been working. We love it. It's not just a job to us."

Not surprisingly, he finds the welcoming reception to "World Gone Crazy" — the band's first album in a decade — "really satisfying, I have to say." The result of a collaboration with their original producer, Ted Templeman, the album features appearances by Willie Nelson and by former member Michael McDonald, along with members Simmons, Tom Johnston, John McFee and Mike Hossack. They've performed live with Nelson and McDonald in recent times, and Simmons won't be surprised if there are more joint appearances.

"Mike is just a great guy and one of my best friends, so I see him quite often. To have him do this song ("Don't Say Goodbye") was something special for me personally, after playing with him for so many years," Simmons notes. "I kind of heard his voice on the track before he did it. Ted and I were talking one day and said, 'You think Mike would come in and do the track?'"

As it turned out, not only did McDonald perform vocals, but his wife Amy — "She's a great singer," says Simmons — and past Doobie collaborator Gail Swanson came in as backup vocalists.

"Mike with the two girls," he says, "it was the exact sound we were looking for."

THE BIG-SCREEN SCENE: With Steve Carell having drafted a script for "Get Smart 2," it's just a question of when, not if, there'll be a follow-up to his hit feature of 2008. Patrick Warburton — who did a cameo as Hymie the Robot in the film — says he hasn't heard anything specific as to dates, but would love to get back into robot mode. "I guess when Steve Carell gets ready, it'll happen. This is his last year of 'The Office,' then he'll have more time to get out and make more pictures," points out Warburton. Of course, he has his own hands full now with "Rules of Engagement." Carell has also said that Anne Hathaway and Alan Arkin are back for the sequel.

To find out more about Marilyn Beck and Stacy Jenel Smith and read their past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.



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