Lots of “Biggest Loser” fans felt things went too far on this week’s premiere episode – when contestants Mo DeWalt and Tracey Yukich wound up hospitalized after a surprise challenge that called for a mile run by the newcomers, some of whom weighed in at more than 400 lbs. Yukich, in fact, was still in the hospital as the episode concluded.
But when Bob Harper is asked if he and fellow “Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels worry about pushing the “losers” too hard, he’s quick to make it clear, “No, because we know what we’re doing. When that happened, when that girl was sent to the hospital, we’d never met her. She should not have run the way she did.”
He notes that when Yukich did make it back to the “Biggest Loser” ranch, “We had to take it real easy with her.”
Is he concerned that the incident will reflect badly on him?
“I don’t think it really reflects on my training,” he replies. “My style and technique through eight years have been established.”
Indeed. The fitness master, who debuts as a regular contributor on the syndicated “Dr. Oz” show today (9/18), is known as much for his tenderhearted, sometimes teary-eyed ways as his tough workouts.
He also put his all into the October-release “Biggest Loser” game for Nintendo Wii and DS, he lets us know. It allows users to experience their own versions of life at the “Biggest Loser” ranch, complete with food journals, calorie-burning logs, recipes, challenges – and, of course, workouts. “I was part of putting all the workouts together,” says Harper, who also tested the finished product. He stresses that he wanted to be sure to give users a full-body regimen, with everything from core and upper body strengthening exercises to yoga. The only drawback: “I’m taller and thinner than my avatar,” he dead-pans.
MOVING RIGHT ALONG: Ernest Bognine has been a perpetual motion man in recent months, with film commitments, book signings for his autobiography, and last weekend’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards – where he lost out to Michael J. Fox for Guest Actor in a Drama honors. Now, “I may stay with my wife in Pennsylvania for awhile. She bought a place there because it’s so close to her work,” he tells us, referring to wife Tova’s Beauty By Tova cosmetics line that’s featured on West Chester, PA-based QVC. Ernie notes that Tova is also often on the go for her business – “to England, to Dusseldorf, Germany, to Italy…If she goes to Italy, I go along,” laughs the man born Ermes Effron Borgnino 92 years ago to an Italian countess who emigrated from Modena.
He happily adds that he and Tova “thank our lucky stars because after all this time and everything that’s happened, we love each other all the more every day. This marriage has lasted close to 38 years now. And to think, people gave us an hour and a half when we got married.”
THE HEARTTHROB BEAT: “Melrose Place’s” Colin Egglesfield, who’s had the tough duty of romancing Laura Leighton and Ashlee Simpson on the show, doesn’t mind putting it right out there: “I’m really living my dream right now. It’s really awesome. My family back home – they are just so excited. When I booked the job, you probably could have heard my mom and sister screaming from Chicago,” he says. “I’ve had text messages from friends – ‘I saw you on the side of a bus!’” He’s trying to exercise caution in these heady times, however. “The tricky part right now is, you want to enjoy what you have – but you still have a job to do and you want to do the best job possible. Without that, none of the rest matters.” His family members, he adds, “keep me grounded, for sure.”
INSIDE INSIGHT: Veteran actor Rocky Carroll, remembered by many from the TV series “Roc,” is now a two-series regular, working both “NCIS” and its spin-off, “NCIS: Los Angeles.” He tells us he feels blessed to still be working regularly in a business that is known for having no rules. “I’ve been doing this professionally now for over 20 years. The key for actors whose careers last more than a few years, part of it has to do with luck, but a huge part of it is I still love what I do,” says Carroll, who plays Director Leon Vance in the CBS drama.
“There are actors in town who get a taste of success and your whole view of the town starts to sour and it shows in your demeanor and your work. You go to an audition and everyone sees you have a chip on your shoulder because you feel like your career should be further. You have to understand it’s simply a business,” he notes. “Things are cyclical. There’s no rhyme or reason why seven movies are made about the same topic. I think the real artists are the ones who roll with the punches. This is a business where paupers can become kings. You’ll read a story of a guy who worked in the mailroom and now has a three-picture deal. That is the norm in our business. That doesn’t necessarily happen at somewhere like IBM. That’s why busloads of people come to Los Angeles every day.”
With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster