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‘The Cut’ all about Tommy Hilfiger

Kevin McDonough United Feature Syndicate

The makers of “The Cut” (8 p.m., CBS) forgot a basic rule of reality television: The contestants are supposed to look desperate, not the host.

“The Cut,” a jury-rigged combination of “The Apprentice” and “Project Runway,” is actually an extended commercial for Tommy Hilfiger, described in the show’s press material as a “design mogul.”

What, exactly is a design mogul? And what does he do? That’s not entirely clear, but 16 overcaffeinated and tediously self-assured contestants want the job.

During the first five minutes of “The Cut,” we hear all about Hilfiger’s storied past, his rise from teen designer to owner of a vast array of stores all by the time most of us are losing our wisdom teeth.

We later learn that, while still unknown, he once produced a much-talked-about billboard that put him on an equal par with the world’s most famous designers.

But Mr. Hilfiger, what do you do? Why, he explains with great seriousness, “I create lifestyles!”

What, exactly, is a lifestyle? And how do you create one? And how do you compete in the making of a lifestyle in a one-hour show?

Well, you start by pitting two teams against each other in a feat of lifestyle creation. And since this show is supposed to be (per CBS) the re-creation of Hilfiger’s life “in fast-forward,” phase one is the creation of a billboard touting the greatness of Tommy Hilfiger.

With so much Hilfiger adoration going on, it’s hard to get a grasp on the many contestants. Several stand out like lunatics on a crowded subway car.

But Jeff of Chicago quickly emerges as the most dreadful and deluded. A 42-year-old married salesman and father of two, he introduces himself with the line, “God took a whole day to make me. It was probably a Saturday, so he rested to admire his work.”

He goes on to tout himself further: “I have the potential to blow the mind.”

But can he make a lifestyle?

The billboard competition goes badly, but not as poorly as “The Cut.” Even the clouds conspire against Mr. H’s spectacle. His teams spend two days in Times Square during a late-winter drizzle, a weather event that hardly lends itself to June viewing. Hey, honey, let’s come in from a summer evening to watch people freeze in New York on television!

Jimmy Fallon hosts the “2005 Movie Awards” (8:30 p.m., MTV) featuring performances by Nine Inch Nails and Eminem. This ceremony, in its 14th year, includes two brand new categories: “Best Frightened Performance” and “Best Video Game Based on a Movie.” Shouldn’t that be the other way around?

I’ll let you in on a little secret. Last week, during the premiere of “Hit Me Baby One More Time” (9 p.m., NBC), millions of middle-aged guys secretly gawked at the members of Loverboy and Flock of Seagulls and silently exclaimed, “I’m not as fat/bald/old as THAT guy! Or am I?”

This week we take the pulse of The Motels, The Knack, Tommy Tutone, Vanilla Ice and Haddaway.

Other highlights

On back-to-back episodes of “The O.C.” (Fox), the Cohens open their arms (8 p.m.), and Caleb’s bombshell reverberates (9 p.m.).

Evidence places Lady Heather at the center of a murder case on “CSI” (9:30 p.m., CBS).

The NBA Finals (6 p.m., ABC).

Gang members take Abby hostage on “ER” (10 p.m., NBC).

Cult choice

Border-town corruption interrupts the honeymoon of a Mexican agent (Charlton Heston) and his American bride (Janet Leigh) in director Orson Welles’ 1958 pulp classic “Touch of Evil” (7:30 p.m., Turner Classic Movies).

Series

On back-to-back episodes of “Joey” (NBC), regrets (8 p.m.), and Lucy Liu (8:30 p.m.) … Too many chores on “My Wife and Kids” (8:30 p.m., ABC) … Wrestling on “WWE SmackDown!” (8 p.m., UPN) … On back-to-back helpings of “Blue Collar TV” (WB), underemployment (8 p.m.), and grave matters (8:30 p.m.).

Close encounters on “Beauty and the Geek” (9 p.m., WB).

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