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Homegrown Wrasslin'

You heard it here first

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Cult shows aren't made; they just happen. They start out in obscure time slots, and slowly catch on. The trouble is, by the time people catch on, they're already over.

But just when I thought there were no local cult shows left, I stumbled onto a gem on WJZY-TV (UPN 46) Saturday mornings. It's called United Championship Wrestling. If you're expecting the high-budget mayhem and busty broads of WWF Smackdown, you won't see the high-budget part, but there is a busty broad.

UCW is a locally produced "professional" wrestling show, with villains and good guys, obnoxious announcers,and a small, if enthusiastic, audience. What I like is the public access feel and braggadocio of guys who just aren't ready for primetime. It might be unintentional comedy, but that's exactly what UPN 46 was hoping for.

"The producers approached us, and we took a look at it. We thought it was campy enough to run," WJZY program director Joe Heaton told me.

They may not have the pyrotechnics and bombast of the big-time, but all the usual ingredients for "wrasslin" are here. You've got the great names for the competitors, like The Barbarian, Doctor X, and Lee Storm. The grand entrances and costumes leave a bit to be desired, though. Some low rider cargo pants and a t-shirt was what one wrester wore, while another one, save for my confidence that there was Lycra at work, had on what appeared to be pink cowgirl pants with fringe down each leg.

The ringside announcers rabble-rouse and explain the intricacies of the action in the ring. "Oooooh! Another blow to the bread basket!" "He's just got to make that tag!" But with the bad lighting and the rec center look, (I think it is a rec center, actually), you can almost smell the sweat.

The added bonus of UCW is the commercial breaks, where we see more funny stuff. One is the commercial that runs over and over again for a Spartanburg car dealer. Move over, Apple Auto Sales! "The Lone Arranger" is a guy dressed as the cowboy hero, rescuing people with bad credit and sliding them into new minivans. But even better is the Kia car spot, fronted by "Angel," a bosomy lass who gives new meaning to a cardigan sweater, while delivering her sales pitch in a catatonic stare. And you'll see these spots over and over. And over. And over.

"We hope it becomes a cult show," Heaton says. "Basically, it's just a bunch of fat guys wrestling. And I mean that in a nice way," he laughed.

On the national front, MTV's newest reality show, The Osbournes, might climb beyond cult status. Definitely a family sitcom for the new millennium, cameras are inside the Los Angeles mansion of rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his almost-functional real-life family for an unscripted slice of their life.

Don't mistake them for The Bradys or the Huxtables, but there is an odd charm about this family rambling around the huge house. Ozzy, a post-production audio guy's nightmare, is a surprisingly befuddled but gentle dad, despite more frequent F-word bleep-outs than A Season on the Brink.

Mom Sharon is a hyper foil to her hubby, with more dogs than the Humane Society, who repeatedly soil her French Country upholstery. And the Osbourne teens, Kelly and Jack, cope with LA club life while keeping their nanny busy, and arguing with Mum and Dad at any provocation. But somehow, you end up liking them even as you're laughing at them.

Now is your chance to dig out Grandma's antique or that rusty Cheerwine sign you've got in the basement, because PBS' popular Antiques Roadshow is bringing its act to Charlotte August 10.

Here's the skinny on how you might get to be part of Antiques Roadshow. You have to send a postcard (one per household), and then a lottery drawing will determine the ticket "winners." Only two tickets per "winner," but they are free.

The address is: Charlotte Roadshow, PO Box 249, Canton, Massachusetts, 02021. For more info, try pbs.org/antiques, or an information hotline at 1-888-762-3749.

Some well-known local media faces and voices turned out for the launch of CharlottePR, a new public relations outlet to be run by former WBT radio newsie Dianne Chase. It's a branch of TrianglePR in Raleigh.

Seen dishing, noshing, and enjoying rather large goblets of vino at Frankie's March 12 were Suzanne Stevens, Steve Crump, and Chris Clackum from TV land. Radioworld was represented by Brad Krantz and Jim Barroll of WBT, and we also saw Don Hudson and Ellison Cleary from the Observer, as well as Liz Neely of Carolina Bride Magazine.

Also on hand were various and sundry PR types from around town, no doubt checking out the new competition.

RADIO ON TV AND OTHER NONSENSE: Fans of Charlotte 49ers baseball can get their fix by listening on TV this spring. Yes, listening on TV. Time Warner Cable and Adelphia Cable will carry audio-only broadcasts of their baseball games on channel 22. Broadcast will include home and elected away games, and the 49ers games in the Conference USA Tournament in late May. . .

The flak about CBS not showing the end of the UNC-Wilmington NCAA tournament game overshadowed a bigger boo-boo by WBTV in the hoops department. ACC tournament fans expecting the Duke-Carolina game at 7pm March 8 instead got the first four minutes or so of an Atlantic-10 Conference game. Hello, Heidi. . .

Patrick Schneider of the Charlotte Observer is NC Press Photographer of the year, which makes the fourth time he's won the award. The O also won Staff of the Year for the fifth time in a row. . .

There is a ray of sunshine for us all. The former NYPD Blue actress turned CNN Headline News anchor, Andrea Thompson, has quit her job. Turned out she decided she wasn't cut out to be a news anchor after all.

Stay tuned...

E-mail Shannon at Shannon.Reichley@cln.com *

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