Sanjaya Has Finally Found His Lane On ‘Celebrity’


It took a trip to the Costa Rican jungle and a run-in with a plate of bull testicles for Sanjaya Malakar to finally find his groove. The frequently mocked “American Idol” seventh place finisher from season six (who became a national joke thanks to his infamous ponyhawk and questionable singings skills) is starting to look pretty smart right about now for not seriously pursuing a singing career right away (aside from those Bar Mitzvah gigs).

What he has done is embraced his inner “jungle boy” and, on Monday night, he transformed into the break-out star on the slow motion train wreck that is this season of “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!” With the Heidi and Spencer drama thankfully taking a back seat to the goings-on in camp for most the episode, Sanjaya took center screen for a good portion of Monday night’s show, and he shined!

He killed in the food trial against the increasingly unhinged Janice Dickinson, calmly bobbing up and down in a big glass tank filled with snakes, alligators and frogs while unlocking the shackles on his feet and hands and gamely kissing a frog at the end (there’s a metaphor in there … somewhere). He also had a great showing in the bid to unseat Lou Diamond Phillips as the leader of the group, slowly eating a succession of nasty bugs without losing it, but ultimately losing out when he just couldn’t grin and bear it through a plate of bull’s balls.

Not nearly as innocent as he seems, he also slyly convinced Heidi to sing one of her songs for the group, bringing “The Hills” star under withering rebuke for her wobbly skills and creating tension in the group while he hung out on the sidelines. He also proved that he’s adapted quite well to the harsh jungle conditions, scrounging around the surroundings for raw materials and blithely turning them into bracelets, rocking chairs, warpaint and a reed broom to brush away the ants.

Though Daniel Baldwin fears Sanjaya is being played by Dickinson, there’s a twinkle in the reed-thin “Idol” cast-off’s eye that makes me think he could have the last laugh. Simon Cowell, prepare to be served!