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[07/23/04 - 12:00 AM]
TCA Summer Press Tour: Gsn
By The Futon Critic Staff (TFC)

LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- The cable portion of the TCA's summer press tour began on Wednesday in which the networks outlined their plans for the 2004-05 season and beyond.

Here's the breakdown of GSN's presentation (via press release):

'Celebrity Blackjack' Series is a Hit on GSN

Network Orders a Second Season of 13 Episodes Featuring 40 Stars

New Series Will Donate One Million Dollars to Charity

Pariah Returns as Production Company

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- Based on the overwhelming success of GSN's casino game series CELEBRITY BLACKJACK, the network announced today that it has ordered a second season of 13 episodes from Gavin Polone's production company Pariah. The second season will feature 40 stars playing for the chance to earn as much as $300,000 for the charity of their choice, with a total sum of one million dollars going to the various charities. The announcement was made today by Ian Valentine, Senior Vice President of Programming for GSN, the network for games, at the company's summer Television Critics Association presentation in Century City.

The original series of CELEBRITY BLACKJACK is airing its grand finale on Monday, August 9 at 10 PM ET/PT with finalists Shannon Elizabeth, Dean Cain, Caroline Rhea, Ben Stein and Billy Baldwin (standing in for his wife Chynna Phillips). These five finalists are competing for the $100,000 grand prize for the charity of their choice. CELEBRITY BLACKJACK'S performance for the network has been notable. The casino game series has increased the time period's performance in households by 24 percent and Adults 18-49 by an impressive 60 percent.

In the second season, the first ten episodes will feature four celebrities playing tournament-style blackjack with each respective winner advancing to the semi-finals. Each player will receive $10,000 for their charity, with the winner of each game receiving $25,000 and a place in the semi-finals, which will consists of two games with five players each.

In the semi-finals, the first place winners will receive another $75,000 and the second place winners $25,000 -- both win a seat in the final game where the four qualifiers compete for a first place prize of $200,000 and a second place prize of $50,000. The first place winner of the series earns an impressive total of $300,000 for their charity.

CELEBRITY BLACKJACK will be produced again by Pariah. Executive producer Gavin Polone's credits include "Panic Room," "Secret Window," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Gilmore Girls." Andrew Golder ("Star Search," "Win Ben Stein's Money") also will executive produce. Jonathan Frank will serve as co-producer.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via GSN.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

GSN Develops Amateur Pool Series 'Ultimate Pool Challenge'

Amateur Pool Players Participate in Winner-Takes-All Tournament for $100,000

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- GSN, the network for games, has entered a deal with SokoLobl Entertainment to develop 'ULTIMATE POOL CHALLENGE,' a 9-ball pool tournament series featuring top pool sharks who will participate in a winner-take-all tournament of "No-Limit Pool." The announcement was made today at the network's Television Critics Association presentation by Ian Valentine, Senior Vice President of Programming, GSN.

"There seems to be a vast interest in professional and high-level amateur pool and we wanted to broaden that appeal in a high-stakes and competitive environment," said Valentine.

Each participant will be given a "bankroll" to challenge the competition throughout the tournament. A player is eliminated when he/she has lost his/her entire bankroll. The player who defeats the competition and leaves all of the other players broke will walk away with $100,000.

ULTIMATE POOL CHALLENGE is co-executive produced by Mars Callahan, a legendary Hollywood pool shark and top amateur player who has won nearly $500,000 in cash and prizes from tournament play, and who co-wrote, directed and starred in the film "Pool Hall Junkies."

"This brand new format used in ULTIMATE POOL CHALLENGE is the most innovative, most exciting way to play pool I've ever seen," say Callahan. "It raises the stakes to a level where every game -- even every shot is for all the marbles. I believe it will literally revolutionize the way pool is played all over the world."

ULTIMATE POOL CHALLENGE is a game of no-limit 9-ball pool where no player can deny a challenge from another player regardless of the stakes of the challenge. Once a challenge is levied, both players will place cash on the table (a $5,000 challenge would net a $10,000 game). The players will then flip a coin to determine who breaks and plays one game of 9-ball for all the money on the table. The general format of the game will determine the following points -- who plays the best 9-ball, who manages his bankroll the best, who can con the other competitors over time and who, in the end, is the best 'hustler.'

The rules of 9-Ball: Nine ball is played with nine balls (numbered one through nine) and a cue ball. On each shot the first ball that the cue ball contacts must be the lowest-numbered ball on the table. If a player pockets any ball on a legal shot, he remains at the table for another shot, and continues until he misses, fouls, or wins the game by pocketing the 9-ball. After a miss, the incoming player must shoot from the position left by the previous player, but after any foul the incoming player may start with the cue ball anywhere on the table.

SokoLobl Entertainment has created and Executive Produced "Vegas Weddings Unveiled" for GSN and "Taildaters" for MTV. SokoLobl has also Executive Produced "MTV's Burned" and "Ultimatum" for The Style Channel.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

GSN to Create 'Extreme Dodgeball' League

League to Feature Teams of Contestants From Nationwide Player Search in Top U.S. Cities

'Extreme Dodgeball' Franchise Will Expand With Celebrity Version in 2005

Burger King(R) Returns as Series Sponsor With In-Show Product Placement

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- It's the fastest, deadliest and most ferocious sport on earth and GSN, the network for games, is coming back for more with its EXTREME DODGEBALL league. Production for the series will begin in November and feature a new league of a dozen co-ed teams comprised of players from a nationwide player search conducted by GSN in top cities around the country. The new season is scheduled to premiere in January 2005. The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association presentation by Ian Valentine, Senior Vice President of Programming, GSN.

The EXTREME DODGEBALL teams for this season will consist of five players (3 men and 2 women) who will be grouped together by the region from which they originate. In addition, some of the original extreme Dodgeball teams such as "Ink Inc." and "Certified Public Assassins," who gained popularity in the show's first season, may continue in league play.

Burger King(R) will return as a show sponsor and provide product placement throughout the series.

Since its premiere on June 15, EXTREME DODGEBALL has steadily improved the Tuesday, 10 pm time period. After five weeks, EXTREME DODGEBALL's ratings are up +25% versus season-to-date households for the time period, and up +50% among Adults 25-54.

GSN will also produce a celebrity version of EXTREME DODGEBALL in 2005 with co-ed celebrity teams battling it out for charity.

As with the first installment of EXTREME DODGEBALL, the new season will look at the sport with instant replay, highlights and player interviews. It will consist of regular season, play-off and semi-finals episodes culminating with a grand championship episode.

The current season of EXTREME DODGEBALL is wrapping up with the semi-finals featuring the "Certified Public Assassins" vs. "Ink Inc." and "Armed Response" vs. "Barbell Mafia" airing on Tuesday, July 27 at 10 pm ET/PT. The championship game between the semi-finals winners will air on Tuesday, August 3 at 10 pm ET/PT.

EXTREME DODGEBALL is executive produced by Mark Cronin and James Rowley of Mindless Entertainment.

Mark Cronin's Mindless Entertainment has several other series in production including the hit "Surreal Life 3" for VH-1, "Life Is Too Short," an NBC half-hour reality comedy pilot starring two-foot-eight actor Verne Troyer and his surrogate family, and the IFC eight-part series "Ultimate Film Fanatic," a competition show in search of the nation's biggest film buff premiering this July.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

Chips Fly During the Rambunctious Finals of 'CELEBRITY BLACKJACK' as Comedy, Strategy and Double-Downs Prevail in the Fun-Filled Finale August 9

Billy Baldwin, Shannon Elizabeth, Dean Cain, Ben Stein and Caroline Rhea Compete for the $100,000 Grand Prize

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- The 90-minute finale of CELEBRITY BLACKJACK on GSN, the network for games, Monday, August 9 (10:00-11:30 PM ET/PT) features aggressive competition, a bloody nose and a suspenseful ending as Shannon Elizabeth, Dean Cain, Caroline Rhea, Ben Stein and Billy Baldwin (standing in for wife Chynna Phillips) duke it out for a six-figure charity donation.

This don't miss episode features hilarious moments from each player who demonstrated their best blackjack skills in order to become the ultimate winner of the $100,000 grand prize for charity.

The celebrities start the trash talking early and by the end of the game blood has been spilled. The finale's tension grows until the last hand which concludes with the players literally letting the chips (affectionately) fly toward host Matt Vasgersian. It was a great end to an entertaining series which has been picked up for a second season of 13 new episodes by GSN. The new season will air early next year and increase from 25 to 40 stars participating with $1 million being donated to charity.

In tournament-style blackjack, the player with the most money at the end of a set number of hands (in this case, 21) is deemed the winner. Each player starts with $100,000. The minimum bet is $1,000 and the maximum is $25,000 for the first 10 hands only. After that, the minimum increases to $5,000 with no maximum. In the final hand of CELEBRITY BLACKJACK, the players bet secretly.

As an added twist, CELEBRITY BLACKJACK includes the play of four jokers in the six-deck shoe; any player dealt a joker may steal a card from any hand still in play.

The six-episode series featured five tournaments with the above mentioned winners advancing to the sixth and final episode. In all, 25 celebrities participated including Snoop Dogg, Jason Alexander, Camryn Manheim and Andy Dick. Each player received $10,000 for their charity and the winner of each game earned $25,000 and the chance to make it $100,000 if they won in the final round.

A list of each show's players follows with the winners in bold:

The Monday, July 5 episode featured Snoop Dogg, Shannon Elizabeth, Jason Alexander, Camryn Manheim and Kevin Nealon. Monday, July 12's episode was Richard Belzer, Chynna Phillips, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Andy Dick and Mark Steines. On Monday, July 19, Dean Cain won over Eddie Griffin, Jamie Kennedy, Melissa Joan Hart and Hal Sparks. This Monday, July 26 will feature Shannen Doherty, Caroline Rhea, D.L. Hughley, Willie Garson and Bijou Phillips. On Monday, August 2, the episode will have Billy Baldwin, Ben Stein, Shelley Morrison, Rodney Peete and John Melendez. The series finishes with the finals on Monday, August 9.

CELEBRITY BLACKJACK is produced by Pariah. Executive producer Gavin Polone's credits include "Panic Room," "Secret Window," "Curb Your Enthusiasm" and "Gilmore Girls." Andrew Golder ("Star Search," "Win Ben Stein's Money") also executive produces. Jonathan Frank serves as co-producer.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

GSN Begins Production on 'American Dream Derby' the First Reality Series Based on Thoroughbred Horse Racing

Stone Stanley Entertainment Will Serve as the Production Company and Santa Anita Park as Home Base for the Series and Live Event

Series Culminates With Live GSN Broadcast of Horse Race Finale

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- Stone Stanley Entertainment, the production company behind "The Mole," "The Joe Schmo Show" and "The Man Show," is taking over the reins as the executive producer of GSN's multi- episode unscripted series AMERICAN DREAM DERBY, the first reality show set in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. The series, premiering in early January 2005, will be filmed at one of the most beautiful and historic race tracks in the world today, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California, which will also serve as the host track for the first-ever live AMERICAN DREAM DERBY horse racing event on Feb. 21, 2005. AMERICAN DREAM DERBY will be executive produced by Scott A. Stone and Sharon Levy for Stone Stanley Entertainment. The announcements were made today by Ian Valentine, Senior Vice President of Programming for GSN, the network for games, at the company's summer Television Critics Association presentation in Century City.

"We couldn't be more thrilled than to have Stone Stanley Entertainment on board as our production company and Santa Anita Park as our partner as the host track," said Valentine. "This is a very complicated series and we needed the best in the business to handle the complexities of marrying a reality show with the classic sport of thoroughbred horse racing. This has not been done before and with Scott Stone and Chris McCarron associated with this endeavor I'm confident that we will generate a fresh and compelling series that our viewers will embrace."

Scott A. Stone, Executive Producer of AMERICAN DREAM DERBY said, "We have received thousands of reality pitches and this is the first time horse racing has come in our doors. The uniqueness caught our attention and is one of the reasons we decided to take on this project."

Sharon Levy, Executive Producer of AMERICAN DREAM DERBY added, "The live culmination of this series will be event television that viewers will not want to miss."

Chris McCarron, Vice President and General Manager, Santa Anita Park commented on the announcement, "We couldn't be more pleased that Santa Anita Park will serve as the backdrop to this exciting series on GSN. We are very proud of our grounds, operations and history and are thrilled that our Park and the sport of thoroughbred horse racing will be seen by a new audience of viewers on a weekly basis. The exposure the show will create for us is an added bonus as we enter our 68th year of horse racing."

AMERICAN DREAM DERBY will cast a dozen contestants and purchase at least that many thoroughbred horses in this unprecedented series that will encompass the twists and turns of a reality show along with real-life occurrences surrounding race horse training and the relationship between owners, jockeys and trainers.

Stone Stanley will begin the contestant audition process in early September by crisscrossing the country in search of people who love horses and horse racing. The producers will cast a diverse group of contestants from varying ages and experience levels. The auditions will occur at several locations which will be named later next month. In addition, the network did begin the auditioning process earlier last May with a written application posted on its website, http://www.gsn.com, and have received over 500 interested participants to date.

As the leader in interactive television, GSN will provide its users with entertaining applications to play along and learn about the series on its website. Further information will be announced closer to airdate regarding GSN's interactive offerings.

About GSN
GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via GSN.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

About Stone Stanley Entertainment
Stone Stanley Entertainment is a broad-based television, motion picture and home video production company. The company is home to such series as "The Man Show" for Comedy Central; ABC's "Celebrity Mole: Yucatan" "Joe Schmo 2" and "Oblivious" for Spike TV; "Shop 'til You Drop" for PAX; "Legends of the Hidden Temple" which airs on Nickelodeon's Games and Sports; as well as the new series of specials for TLC entitled "America's Ugliest."

About Santa Anita Park
The home of legendary Seabiscuit, historic Santa Anita Park is located in a spectacular natural setting 14 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles. As one of America's most celebrated sporting landmarks since it first opened on Christmas Day in 1934, the track has hosted some of Thoroughbred racing's greatest moments, including Seabiscuit's thrilling 1940 Santa Anita Handicap victory. Santa Anita offers visitors lush landscaping, soaring Art Deco architecture, treasures of painting and sculpture, live entertainment, and fine dining combined with the pulse-pounding thrills of Thoroughbred racing.

GSN Presents the 'Dog Days of Summer' With a Three and a Half Hour 'DOG EAT DOG' Marathon Sponsored by Bush's Baked Beans

Special Host Wrap Segments Include Summertime Fun and Games Poolside

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- GSN, the network for games presents "Dog Days of Summer," a special three and a half-hour block of DOG EAT DOG on Saturday, August 7 from 3:00PM - 6:30PM ET/PT.

Sponsored by Bush's Baked Beans, the marathon will include 13 segments of fun-in-the-sun pool party action hosted interstitials with sun bathers engaging in games around the pool and barbecue including "Who can make the best or worst belly flop?" and "Best Cannonball." Additionally, special "bean counter judges" will be on hand, judging the entertaining competitions.

Below is a list of some of the special episodes that will be featured on the DOG EAT DOG hosted marathon:

Episode 1001 Featuring Nick Warnock, finalist on "The Apprentice."

Episode 1011 Featuring reality stars Susan Hawk and Richard Hatch ("Survivor"), Kaya Wittenburg and Ytossie Patterson ("Temptation Island"), Darva Conger ("Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire") and Kato Kaelin.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via GSN.com. Reaching over 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

GSN Will Switch From a Single Transmission to a Dual Feed on Monday, September 27

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- GSN, the network for games, today announced that it will switch to a dual transmission from a single feed on Monday, September 27 at 6 AM ET/3 AM PT. The network, which currently serves the entire U.S., Caribbean and Canada with a single feed, will offer more viewing opportunities with the addition of a dual cable feed that will service the Pacific and Mountain time zones.

Therefore, on September 27, the Pacific and Mountain time zones including the states of Hawaii and Alaska will be serviced on a Pacific time zone feed. The Central and Eastern time zones as well as the territories of Canada and the Caribbean will be serviced by an Eastern time zone feed.

"The switch to a dual transmission feed benefits our company and viewers greatly by providing a host of programming opportunities that were otherwise unavailable to us. We now can target our programming more specifically to a particular air time across the U.S. and Canada," said Rich Cronin, President and CEO, GSN on making the announcement at the company's Television Critics Association presentation.

As with many other basic cable networks Dish Network and DirecTV will carry the Eastern time zone feed. GSN dual feed will be carried on Satcom C3, Transponder 8.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.

It All Comes Down to Two Teams Battling it Out for $10,000 and the Chance to Be Called 'Extreme Dodgeball' World Champions

GSN'S 'Extreme Dodgeball' Championship Game Airs August 3 at 10 PM

Special All-Star Game Precedes Final Match Semi-Finals Air July 27

CENTURY CITY, Calif., July 23 -- After seven weeks of harrowing spin throws, head deflections and human ricochets, it all comes down to two teams from the mighty eight. GSN, the network for games, will air the final championship game of its EXTREME DODGEBALL series on Tuesday, August 3 at 10 pm ET/PT. The winning team of the Coca-Cola(C) and Burger King(R) sponsored series will walk away with a grand prize of $10,000. The finals feature play between the undefeated "Certified Public Assassins" (CPA's) vs. the "Barbell Mafia" (power weightlifters).

The battle between GSN's own league of eight teams of five players began on June 15 and was comprised of four regular season episodes, followed by two playoff episodes and a semi-finals episode, which airs on Tuesday, July 27 at 10 pm ET/PT. Teams participating in the semi-finals are "Certified Public Assassins" vs. "Ink Inc." (hard-core tattoo players) and "Armed Response" (real life security guards) vs. "Barbell Mafia" (power weightlifters).

Comedian Bil Dwyer ("Battlebots") calls the action as play-by-play announcer; Zach Selwyn (ESPN's "Dream Job") serves as color commentator and Jerri Manthey ("Survivor") reports from the sidelines.

Other teams who participated in the series but did not advance to the semi-finals are "Curves of Steel" (four physically fit women and one man in swimsuits); "Silent But Deadly Mimes" (actual trained mimes); "The Sumo Storm" (Sumo wrestlers including one woman) and "Stallion Battalion" (horse racing jockeys).

As with other sports, EXTREME DODGEBALL will air its own All-Star game comprised of the season's best players; however the EXTREME DODGEBALL All-Star teams were personally selected by commentators Bil Dwyer and Zach Selwyn and named "Friends of Bil" and "Smoking Jackets." The All-Star game will be featured in the final championship episode on August 3.

The rules for both the regular season of EXTREME DODGEBALL and the All-Star game are the same and include elements unique to the series such as the "Last Man Standing" option by which the last person on a team can hit a target and re-activate all of their eliminated team members. Also included is the "Dead Man Walking" rule where a designated player on each team must avoid being eliminated for their elimination will result in an automatic win for the other team.

EXTREME DODGEBALL is executive produced by Mark Cronin and James Rowley of Mindless Entertainment.

Mark Cronin's Mindless Entertainment has several other series in production including the hit "Surreal Life 3" for VH-1, "Life Is Too Short," an NBC half-hour reality comedy pilot starring two-foot-eight actor Verne Troyer and his surrogate family, and the IFC eight-part series "Ultimate Film Fanatic," a competition show in search of the nation's biggest film buff.

GSN, the Network for Games, is the only U.S. television network dedicated to game-related programming and interactive game playing. The network features game shows, reality series, documentaries, video game programs and casino games. As the industry leader in interactivity, GSN features 84 hours per week of interactive programming, which allows viewers a chance to win prizes by playing along with GSN's televised games via gsn.com. Reaching 55 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation. For further media information, visit GSN's press website at corp.gsn.com.





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· APPRENTICE, THE (NBC)
· BATTLEBOTS (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (HBO)
· DOG EAT DOG (NBC)
· DREAM JOB (ESPN)
· GILMORE GIRLS (CW)
· JOE SCHMO SHOW, THE (SPIKE TV)
· LIFE IS TOO SHORT (NBC)
· MAN SHOW, THE (COMEDY CENTRAL)
· MOLE, THE (ABC)
· OBLIVIOUS (SPIKE TV)
· STAR SEARCH (CBS)
· SURREAL LIFE, THE (VH1)
· SURVIVOR (CBS)
· TEMPTATION ISLAND (FOX)









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