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'Empire Girls'' Adrienne Bailon bares her Kardashian tramp stamp

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Empire Girls (8pm Sun, Style)

This new reality series provides a fascinating glimpse at a certain level of show business. It’s the level inhabited by pretty women who have had minor success in TV, movies, or music but want to move up a notch before their 30th birthdays. Empire Girls focuses on Latina friends Adrienne Bailon (The Cheetah Girls) and Julissa Bermúdez (106 & Park) as they search for gigs in New York City. The biz is ruthless, and so are they. Julissa will do just about anything for a TV hosting job, including erasing her accent; and Adrienne whines and pleads her way into an arrangement with singer-producer Ne-Yo.

But these two are not interchangeable. Adrienne is foul-mouthed and obnoxious, obsessed with the tattoo of former boyfriend Rob Kardashian’s name on her butt. Julissa is good-natured and charming, taking life’s knocks with a sense of humor. I wouldn’t be surprised if Adrienne got the boot next season in favor of a solo show for Julissa, entitled Empire Girl. Now that would be ruthless.

The Newsroom (9pm Sun, HBO)

In Aaron Sorkin's show, complacent TV anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) rediscovers his inner Edward R. Murrow with the help of passionate new producer (and old flame) MacKenzie McHale (Emily Mortimer). All the Sorkin trademarks are here, familiar from The West Wing: smart dialogue, prickly professionals immersed in their high-powered jobs, even the long tracking shots as characters barrel down a hallway in mid-conversation.

What's missing is the Sorkin magic. Those prickly professionals are meant to be ultimately likable, but so far Will is too overbearing and MacKenzie too cutesy. That smart dialogue is showoffy this time around, with groan-inducing references to The Merchant of Venice and Don Quixote.

And Sorkin doesn't convince us that he really knows this setting. The people stand around the newsroom making bogus patriotic speeches: “There's nothing more important in a democracy than a well-informed electorate!” MacKenzie tells Will in a typically unlikely exchange.
In a presidential election year, who needs more bogus patriotic speeches?

Me @ the Zoo (8pm Fri, HBO)

This documentary explores the rise of a new kind of person: one who lives in the perpetual self-documenting bubble of YouTube. It’s a portrait of Chris Crocker, who became a viral-video pioneer with his tearful defense of Britney Spears, “Leave Britney Alone.” People were attracted and repelled by Crocker’s shrieking monologue in lipstick and mascara, and the documentary has the same effect. As much as you might gag at Crocker’s self-involvement — his conviction that every funny face and idiotic thought deserves a national audience — you can’t look away.

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