'Celebrity Cooking' Lays It on Thicke


NBC has finalized the sorta-famous kitchen crew for its week-long "Celebrity Cooking Showdown," and the cast has a distinct "Dancing with the Stars" vibe.

The group includes an all-pro football player, a hip-hop star, a self-effacing veteran actor, a statuesque athlete/actress, a soap-opera star and a former boy-band singer, job descriptions straight from the "Dancing" playbook. In this case, those roles are filled by Kansas City Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez, Ja Rule, Tom Arnold, Gabrielle Reece, "Days of Our Lives'" Allison Sweeney and O-Town/"There and Back" star Ashley Parker Angel.

Rounding out the celebs are famously temperamental supermodel Naomi Campbell, reigning Miss USA Chelsea Cooley and country singer Big Kenny, half of Big and Rich. "Growing Pains" paterfamilias Alan Thicke and the Food Network's Sandra Lee will host the show; event planner Colin Cowie ("Everyday Elegance") and food critic Gael Greene will serve as judges.

"Our superstars [sic] represent a great cross section of our multicultural country and share every American's passion for food and cooking," says Ben Silverman, who's executive producing the show with Sean "Diddy" Combs. "That passion combined with a cooking competition will be great television."

"Celebrity Cooking" will air over five consecutive nights, beginning Monday, April 17. Three celebs will compete in a cook-off on each of the first three episodes, after getting a culinary crash course from one of a trio of famous chefs: Wolfgang Puck, Cat Cora and Govind Armstrong. The winner from each night will compete in the final kitchen battle on Thursday, with the winner revealed Friday. Viewers will be able to vote on the presentation of the finalists' feasts; those scores will be combined with Cowie and Greene's marks for taste.

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