Art and Entertainment

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich arrives at court in Chicago for his arraignment on
federal racketeering and fraud charges.

Judge Says Blago Can’t Go On Celebrity Show: He’s Facing Trial

April 22, 2009 02:30 PM
by Rachel Balik
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is facing charges of fraud, racketeering and extortion, must remain in the United States, a judge has ruled.

Blago Encouraged to Work With His Lawyers

The federal judge overseeing his case has shot down Blagojevich's hopes of recovering his financial stability by appearing on an NBC reality show. NBC offered Blagojevich $80,000 a week to appear as a guest on “I'm a Celebrity … Get me Out of Here,” which was to be filmed in Costa Rica

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said he does not think the former governor understands "the position he finds himself in.” Zagel said there were even more charges that have not been revealed, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

Blagojevich, who was removed from office after being impeached, is facing several federal charges relating to allegations that he tried to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Earlier this month he was indicted on 16 counts of extortion, fraud and racketeering.

The only silver lining for the impeached governor is that his campaign funds have been unfrozen to help pay legal fees. To that end, the judge also advised Blagojevich to spend time working with his lawyers on his defense, The Associated Press reports. The judge inferred that Blagojevich might better understand how serious his situation was if he remained in the United States.

Background: Blago’s lawyer asks judge to change bail terms

The upcoming NBC reality show “I'm a Celebrity … Get me Out of Here,” is being filmed in Central America, and the former governor had agreed to appear as a star if he could get permission from the federal judge overseeing his case to go abroad. In order for Blago to travel, the judge needed to lift the travel restrictions that are part of his bail.

Comments on a Hollywood Reporter article indicate that the public might agree with the judge’s ruling. Readers reflected that “crime pays” and one angry user suggested, “Put Blago in jail already, that way we can have an NBC show called, ‘I’m a crooked politician that's repeatedly taken advantage of by my cell mate ... now get me outta here!’” Another concluded, “I feel everyone would be better off without this garbage (the person and the show).” That person’s prayers have been answered.

Reference: “I'm a Celebrity … Get me Out of Here”

The NBC Web site describes the show as “the ultimate Swiss Family Robinson” in which 10 contestants live together in the jungle of Costa Rica and compete for supplies, prizes and the right to stay on the show. The American audience is the judge of each challenge, voting actors off or allotting awards.

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