Federal Judge Puts Kibosh on Blago's Plans for Celebrity Reality Show
Judge rules Rod Blagojevich may not travel to Costa Rica for reality show.
April 21, 2009— -- A federal judge dashed indicted former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's reality TV dream Tuesday, refusing to give the ousted Democrat permission to travel to Costa Rica to tape a show in the jungle.
U.S. District Judge James Zagel refused to modify terms of Blagojevich's bail to allow him to leave the United States, saying he needs to remain in the country to help his attorneys formulate a strategy for his defense.
The judge said that would give Blagojevich a better sense of the gravity of the legal problems he faces -- including allegations he tried to auction off President Barack Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.
"I don't think this defendant fully understands and I don't think he could understand ... the position he finds himself in," Zagel sat during Tuesday's the hearing.
As he left the courthouse, Blagojevich told the media and spectators that he's "going to play a very big role, a significant role" in his defense.
"I'm fully aware of what the allegations are and I know what the truth is concerning me and I know that I've done absolutely nothing wrong," Blagojevich said.
Blagojevich had sought permission to appear on NBC's "I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here!" -- a program similar to "Survivor." Contestants will be plopped down in the Costa Rican jungle to perform sweaty physical tasks and scheme to avoid elimination.
Blagojevich attorney Sheldon Sorosky told Zagel the TV program would pay for security to make sure the former governor didn't flee if he were allowed to go to Costa Rica. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Schar said there was no way to predict whether Blagojevich would stay in Costa Rica or try to flee. Schar said Blagojevich may be facing 25 to 30 years behind bars if convicted, a strong incentive to run.
The TV show proposal was just the latest spotlight-seeking move from Blagojevich. Since his arrest, he has announced a deal to write a book, hosted a Chicago radio talk show and made the New York talk show circuit, chatting it up with everyone from David Letterman to the women of "The View."