Nine set to dance its ass off. Sit down, take a deep breath and wonder: what would you get if you crossed The Biggest Loser with So You Think You Can Dance, Dancing With The Stars and the base motives and mind of an American reality TV shop producer?

Add the unfortunate attraction people have to their 15 seconds in the spotlight these days, especially Americans (who demand more), throw in a desperate Australian TV network that has already mined The Hole in The Wall, Monster House and of course, Wipeout.

What do you get? You get this press release from the Nine Network, written completely straight:

You get Twelve finalists, nearly 1361 kilos, one goal – to go from an eating machine to a dancing machine – in Channel Nine’s outrageous new dance/weight loss competition series DANCE YOUR ASS OFF, direct from the US.

Bringing dance and diet together, DANCE YOUR ASS OFF features talented, full-figured contestants who have to lose to win, in this fun, energetic new series that will premiere in the coming weeks on Channel Nine.

Each contestant is paired with a professional dance partner who will train him or her for weekly stage performances – ranging from Hip Hop, to Ballroom and even Pole Dancing! Then they shake and rattle their rolls in front of a live studio audience and a panel of expert judges. The judges score the routines, and then the contestants weigh in to reveal their weekly weight loss. The dance score and the weight loss are combined for an overall score, which determines who is sent home each week.”

I emphasise: it is 1 July 1, not 1 April. This is, unfortunately, real.

So dance the salsa, not eat it? Arthur Murray, eat your heart out. — Glenn Dyer

Happy Birthday, Mr Squiggle! An important news update from the Australian Cartoonists’ Association: Mr. Squiggle and Friends, easily Australia’s longest-running television programme, turns 50 on July 1, 2009. Mr. Squiggle uses his pencil-nose to create recognisable drawings from children’s squiggles, always drawing them upside-down.

The creation of Norman Hetherington, a former cartoonist for The Bulletin (he took over as head cartoonist from Norman Lindsay), Mr. Squiggle lives on the moon at 93 Crater Crescent. He travels to Earth in his trusty pet, Rocket, and is ably assisted by Bill Steamshovel, the grumpy Blackboard, Gus the Snail and a human helper.

Norman’s wife, Margaret, has written all the scripts for Mr Squiggle and Friends. In a surprising twist, Squiggle’s experiences in living on the moon have made the character a popular guest at science fiction conventions.

Norman was presented with an Order of Australia in 1990, saying, “this Order is in my family’s honour”.

A big congratulations to Mr Squiggle and friends!

“Everything’s upside-down these days”, Mr. Squiggle is often fond of saying.

Another big round of layoffs is imminent at newspaper publisher Gannett. A former Gannett editor who closely follows the company, Jim Hopkins, quotes an unnamed person in the company as saying that it will announce on July 8 that it is eliminating 4,500 United States newspaper jobs, and cutting salaries in its broadcast division. — Media Decoder, New York Times

Another Russian journo dies in mysterious circumstances. Yaroslav Yaroshenko, the editor-in-chief of the monthly Korruptsiya i Prestupnost (Corruption and Crime), has succumbed to head injuries suffered in an attack two months ago on the staircase of his apartment block … In the weeks before the incident, the paper had published a number of articles on alleged corruption in the Rostov regional government, police, and the prosecutor’s office. — Roy Greenslade, Guardian

YouTube launches Reporters’ Center. The YouTube Reporters’ Center includes instructional videos, tips and advice from established journalists including Katie Couric, Bob Woodward, Nicholas Kristof. — WebNewser

OK! mag paid $500k for Michael Jackson death pic. OK! Weekly is bracing for some flak over its pick for this week’s cover. While other publications went with feel-good images to commemorate Michael Jackson, OK! chose a grim photo of the dying star being whisked to the hospital June 25. — Media Week

Advertising industry shocked to learn gays and straights buy the same crap. Who knows how much was spent studying the consumption habits of gay Americans, but the data reveals at least this much: We’re greedy materialists just like breeders. — Queerty becomes a media giant. is now the hottest Hollywood celebrity gossip website on the planet. So hot, in fact, that when it broke the news of Michael Jackson’s death last week, its world exclusive popped up online six minutes before the singer actually died. — Guardian

on the other hand…

What if TMZ had been wrong about Jackson’s death? It’s one thing to marvel at how social media sites have helped spread Iranian news we might not have attained due to censorship — and with such timeliness; it’s quite another to have become a culture that prizes speed over confirmed facts. — LA Times

Kill the lawyers before they kill the news. Schultz and the Marbergers complain about what they call the “free-riding” of aggregators, et al. But they simply don’t understand the economics of the internet. It’s the newspapers that are free-riding, getting the benefit of links. These newspaper people are the ones trying to act as if they own the news and can monopolize it. — BuzzMachine

Inside the disturbing world of Doll Reader. We enjoyed playing with dolls when we were little, but no Barbie or Baby Alive could prepare us for Doll Reader, the magazine for adults who make, collect, and occasionally dismember ultra-realistic dolls. — Jezebel

L.A. dope dealer finally finds a use for Twitter. Meet former Northwestern J-school student Dann Halem, who is building an online business selling weed on Twitter. — Valleywag