Judge denies ex-governor Rod Blagojevich's 'I'm a Celebrity' request
By John Bracchitta, 04/21/2009
A federal court judge has denied disgraced former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's request that he be allowed to travel to Costa Rica to participate in this summer's NBC revival of I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!
"It's way too soon. I don't think this defendant in all honesty ... fully understands the position he finds himself in," said U.S. District Judge James Zagel said in his denial of Blagojevich's request, the Chicago Sun-Timesreported Tuesday.
Blagojevich faces up to 30 years in prison at his upcoming trial on federal racketeering and fraud charges, which Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Shar noted could be enough of a reason for Blagojevich to flee if he was allowed to leave the United States for Costa Rica, according to the Sun-Times.
In addition to Zagel's personal belief that he didn't he "confidence that things will not go astray if I modify bond conditions," prosecutors also noted that it could be difficult for the United States to extradite Blagojevich back from Costa Rica if he were to decide not to return once I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! ends.
Blagojevich had requested for his bond conditions -- which ban him from leaving the United States -- to be modified to let him appear on the NBC reality show that will be filmed in Costa Rica. Blagojevich and his attorney, Sheldon Sorosky, had argued that he needed to participate in the show as a means to make money and support his family while awaiting trial and said he had "no choice" but to use reality TV as a means of income.
"I have to do it for my kids," Blagojevich said, according to the Sun-Times. "I have to support my family."
The Sun-Times reported that Blagojevich stood to make as much as $123,000 if he were allowed to appear on the show.
NBC has yet to announce the formally show's cast, however Blagojevich would have been competing against a group of contestants that will include Dog The Bounty Hunter star Duane Chapman, Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency Janice star Dickinson and The Hills stars Spencer Pratt and Heidi Montag, according to recent reports.
Each episode of the Survivor-like U.K. celebrity reality series will follow a group of celebrities who are "dropped in the heart of the jungle to face fun and comedic challenges designed to test their survival skills," according to NBC.
Similar to its first stateside version on ABC in 2003, NBC's revival will have home viewer votes determine which celebrities compete in certain challenges to win food, supplies and luxury items.
In addition, home viewers will also determine which celebrities are eliminated, with the ultimate winner being crowned "King or Queen of the Jungle" and receiving a cash prize for their favorite charity.
Following it's premiere, I'm A Celebrity... will then air Mondays through Thursdays in the 8PM ET/PT timeslot for three consecutive weeks and be telecast Monday through Wednesday in its fourth broadcast week, with the finale currently slated to air June 24.
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NBC ordered the Granada America-produced reality series in February, more than five years after the ABC version stranded 10 celebrities in an Australian rain forest and aired the event live over the course of 15 consecutive nights.