By ED BARK
Former First Daughter Jenna Bush, now Jenna Bush Hager, has been named a Washington-based "contributing correspondent" for NBC's Today show.
The announcement was made Monday by executive producer Jim Bell, who calls the 27-year-old University of Texas grad "a terrific addition."
"In previous appearances, she displayed a natural ability to communicate and connect," he adds in an NBC publicity release. "She has great passion about important subjects, especially education and literacy, and we look forward to having her bring her unique perspective to Today."
During formative years, Jenna generally was portrayed as the wilder of the Bush twin daughters. But she since has gotten married, authored two books (one co-written with her mother, Laura Bush), taught elementary school and had an overseas internship with UNICEF.
Bush Hager will cover a "variety of human interest and feature stories" for Today, NBC says.
ABC's Good Morning America recently hired another prominent raw recruit, naming former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader Melissa Rycroft as a special correspondent. Rycroft first came to national fame as a jilted contestant on ABC's The Bachelor before becoming a finalist on the network's most recent Dancing with the Stars.
****Fox is offering pre-Labor Day "tweet-peats" of two prime-time series, Fringe and Glee.
Cast members and producers of both shows will tweet both online and onscreen during the replays. Fox says they'll "provide commentary, answer fan questions, reveal behind-the-scenes secrets and offer exclusive insights" on the new season.
The Fringe tweet-peat is Thursday, Sept. 3 at 8 p.m. (central), with Glee's on Friday, Sept. 4th at the same time. Fringe's twitter page is here and Glee's is here.
By ED BARK
Broadcast TV's longest-running reality competition series sets sail for the 19th time on Sept. 17th, with a brawny oil company owner from a dinky Texas town among the 20 castaways on CBS' Survivor: Samoa.
Russell Hantz, 36, hails from Dayton, population 5,709 as of the 2000 census. It's located in far east Texas, a bit north of burgeoning Stilson.
Hantz positions himself as a cocksure svengali in a CBS promotional tape.
"You can call me the puppetmaster," he says. "If I tell 'em to run, they're gonna run. I tell 'em to stop, they'll stop. And when I'm finished with 'em, just throw 'em in the trash."
That's the spirit.
***Laura Linney, an Emmy winner for her performance in HBO's John Adams miniseries, will return to contemporary times as a cancer-sticken suburban housewife in the new Showtime series The C Word.
The network bills it as a comedy, with Showtime entertainment president Robert Greenblatt saying that Linney "will no doubt make this character both heartbreaking and disarmingly funny."
A pilot will be shot this fall.
*** TNT has renewed its action series Leverage for a third season. The network also recently announced a pickup of the medical drama HawthoRNe for a sophomore year.
***Summer Glau, formerly of Fox's Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, is segueing to the network's second-year series Dollhouse, where she'll play a recurring character named Bennett.
Dollhouse creator Joss Whedon previously employed Glau in his shortlived Fox series Firefly.
By ED BARK
CMT has a new jones for game shows.
The country cable network has ordered 20 new episodes of The Singing Bee, which failed on NBC with host Joey Fatone but is considered a hit on CMT with new emcee Melissa Peterman, formerly of Reba.
The Aug. 15th finale of Singing Bee drew 848,000 viewers nationally, which is pretty big stuff for CMT. So a second season of the show is coming in January.
CMT also has exclusive cable rights to the syndicated version of Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which originated on Fox but currently isn't included in the network's future plans.
As part of the deal, CMT will co-produce new themed episodes of the series, beginning with a week's worth of country music stars playing for charity on Sept. 21-25. Host Jeff Foxworthy, who also presided over the Fox version, will be testing the rudimentary brain power of Big Kenny, Heidi Newfield, Bucky Covington, Jack Ingram and Emily West.
By ED BARK
Paula Abdul again struck first with a tweet, telling the world Monday night that she'll be hosting VH1's Divas on Sept. 17th while also maintaining ties to American Idol.
That's because two of the designated divas are inaugural Idol champ Kelly Clarkson of Burleson, TX and Season 6 winner Jordin Sparks. Also in the mix are Adele, Leona Lewis and the inevitable Miley Cyrus.
Abdul also announced her departure from Idol in a tweet after the two sides couldn't agree on how much to pay her.
This will be VH1's first Divas special in five years. Airing live from the Brooklyn Academy of Music Howard Gilman Opera House, it benefits the network's Save the Music Foundation.
By ED BARK
Former House Majority leader Tom DeLay gets a two-time champ while Michael Irvin draws Season 9's only rookie.
Which means that Irvin will be up against it while DeLay gets a kick start when the two Texas connections begin hoofing and puffing on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.
DeLay's pro partner, Cheryl Burke, helped guide and glide Irvin's former Dallas Cowboys teammate, Emmitt Smith, to Season 3's championship. She also mentored Drew Lachey all the way to the Mirror Ball trophy.
Irvin's dancemate, Anna Demidova, looks hot, but can she effectively choreograph a fox trot? Ex-pro football stars generally have done very well on Dancing, but the odds against Irvin just went up with a freshman on the floor with him.
Other teamings of note:
Mark Cuban's former partner, Kym Johnson, is paired with Donny Osmond.
Debi Mazur gets self-important Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who won ABC's recent The Superstars competition in partnership with freestyle skier Kristi Leskinen.
Kelly Osbourne teams with Louie Van Amstel, back for a fifth season.
Julianne Hough, also a two-time champ with Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves, is sitting Season 9 out in favor of touring as a country singer. But her brother, Derek Hough is back for a fifth season, this time with snippy supermodel Joanna Krupa. She's fresh from dissing and cursing Terrell Owens during their quality time together on Superstars.
It all starts again on Sept. 21st.
By ED BARK
Michael Vick will go public on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday to tell interviewer James Brown of his remorse after serving jail time for bankrolling a dog-fighting ring.
"It's wrong, man," he says in an excerpt provided by CBS. "I feel, you know, some tremendous hurt behind what happened. And, you know, I should have took the initiative to stop it all. I didn't. I didn't step up. I wasn't a leader."
***NBC's The Jay Leno Show has booked Jerry Seinfeld as its first guest. As previously reported, the inaugural musical guests are Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West, who will perform "Run This Town" from the Z-Man's upcoming new CD. Launch date is Sept. 14th, with the show airing Mondays through Fridays at 9 p.m. central.
***TNT has announced plans for the series finale of Saving Grace, which is set to end with nine new episodes scheduled to run next summer.
Series star Holly Hunter, who will compete for a best actress Emmy next month, plays Oklahoma detective Grace Hanadarko, whose self-destructive behavior vexes but never discourages a guardian angel named Earl. The series premiered in 2007. Its current summer run ends on Tuesday, Aug. 18th (9 p.m. central).
***The Great American Country (GAC) cable network will air Country at the White House on Saturday, Aug. 15th at 8 p.m. central.
Among the performers for President Obama is Dallas resident Charley Pride, the first African-American to make it big in country music. He'll be singing "Mountain of Love" and "Kiss An Angel Good Morning." Also on the bill are Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss with Union Station.
***Also on the country scene this weekend, the longrunning duo of Brooks & Dunn will tell CMT Insider while they're breakin' up after one allegedly final concert tour next year.
"I mean, honestly, we both feel like it's just too good of a horse to ride it into the ground, so that's kinda it," Brooks says. Their segment airs on Saturday, Aug. 15th at 12:30 p.m. central on cable's Country Music Television (CMT).
By ED BARK
Fox has set Sept. 13th for its "Southern-style send-off" of King of the Hill, which endured for 13 seasons.
The series finale, at 7 p.m. (central), will be back-to-back new episodes titled "The Boy Can't Help It" and "The Honeymooners."
Series creator Mike Judge, who now headquarters in Austin, based the series on his formative years in Garland, with fictional Arlen, TX standing in. He also is the voice of family patriarch Hank Hill, who shared countless six-packs with beer-loving buddies Dale, Bill and the incoherent Boomhauer, also voiced by Judge.
Guest voices over the years have included Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Brad Pitt, Chris Rock, Sally Field, Rene Zellwegger, Ben Stiller, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaughey and The Dixie Chicks. In later years, Tom Petty became the recurring voice of Lucky, who married Hank's niece, Luanne.
***NBC will get into the ring on Saturday, Aug. 29th with a one-hour package of highlights from Wrestlemania 25. The April 5th event drew 72,000 fans to Houston's Reliant Stadium, where the main event of The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels "tore the house down," according to NBC.
Mickey Rourke, an Oscar nominee for The Wrestler, also dropped in "interjected himself into a match." Musical guests include AC/DC, Korn and The Hives.
TV Bulletin Board (Aug. 6) -- Leno announces first prime-time musical guest, Letterman continues to best his successor
By ED BARK
NBC's biggest prime-time gamble ever, The Jay Leno Show, has its inaugural musical guests inked.
The Sept. 14th premiere will feature Jay-Z, Rihanna and Kanye West performing the Z-man's "Run This Town" from his "highly anticipated" new CD, "The Blueprint 3," conveniently in stores and online three days earlier.
Leno's one-hour show will air Mondays through Fridays this fall after he left what had been NBC's No.1-rated Tonight Show in the hands of Conan O'Brien on June 1st. But as CBS crowed Thursday, Late Show with David Letterman now has beaten Tonight in total viewers for four consecutive weeks, its longest winning streak in more than 14 years (the weeks ending June 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th of 1995.)
In the week of July 27-31, Letterman averaged 3.38 million viewers to O'Brien's 2.63 million. ABC's Nightline ran second opposite the first half-hours of Late Show and Tonight with 3.36 million viewers.
O'Brien continues to win among advertiser-favored 18-to-49-year-olds, but his margin was just two-tenths of a rating point last week. Leno soundly beat Letterman in all audience demographics when he was at the Tonight throttle.
CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler, in a Monday session with TV critics, said that Letterman will continue to benefit from the network's high-powered 9 p.m. (central) crime shows, which Leno will have to face.
"He's very excited," she said of Letterman, who again declined to meet with critics. "So there will be great guest stars, great strategy leading up to his (fall) launch, but he's raring to go."
Tassler said CBS feels "pretty confident" that Letterman can maintain his lead over O'Brien during the fall season. But then again, she never was much for words.
***On another late night front, Craig Ferguson and his post-Letterman Late Late Show at last will be joining the real world in HD. The switch takes place on Aug. 31st, CBS says. Letterman, O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel already are in high-def.
***Dallas-based HDNet, owned by Mavericks maestro Mark Cuban, will carry five games during the United Football League's inaugural season. The first is set for Saturday, Oct. 10th at 6 p.m. (central). Cuban says that "fans are hungry for more professional football and we're thrilled to add the UFL to our great roster of championship sports coverage."
***CBS is replacing Guiding Light with a new version of Let's Make A Deal hosted by Wayne Brady. It'll premiere on Monday, Oct. 5th, with original host Monty Hall signing on as a token "creative consultant."
"I will be walking with a big whip," Hall joshed during a session with TV critics.
"Don't say 'whip' when a brother is sitting next to you," Brady rejoined.
***Amy Poehler, who will return to NBC's prime-time lineup with the second season of her Parks and Recreation series, has taken on the added burden of appearing with former desk mate Seth Meyers on the first two episodes of fall's Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday. She'll be on the Sept. 17th and 24th editions.
*** ABC's 11-night, prime-time run of Who Wants to Be A Millionaire, with original host Regis Philbin, will end each night's episode with a celebrity player trying to answer a single question worth $50,000 for his or her designated charity. Each celebrity also will have a celebrity "Ask the Expert" lifeline. It all begins on Sunday, August 9th at 7 p.m. (central). In order of appearance, here are the celebs and their lifeline companions:
Kate Perry/Sam Donaldson
Vanessa Williams/George Stephanopoulos
Sherri Shepherd/Wolf Blitzer
Lauren Conrad/Cokie Roberts
Shawn Johnson/Candy Crowley
Rachael Ray/Connie Chung
Patricia Heaton/Jodi Picoult
Snoop Dogg/Ken Jennings
Steve Nash/Mo Rocca
The concluding August 23rd show will feature a surprise guest and Bill Nye as helpmate.