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TV Bulletin Board (June 26)

No one does a funnier late night monologue than Conan O'Brien. As a public service, here's a recent sampling:

"The members of the Spice Girls announced that they are getting back together for a reunion as a farewell gift to their fans. Then they promised to break up again as a gift for everyone else."

"It's been reported that Tom Cruise is eligible to perform weddings because he's reached the highest level of Scientology. Cruise says, 'It's been a long, difficult climb, but I've finally reached the summit of Mount Crazy.' "

"Hillary Clinton has a new campaign ad that spoofs The Sopranos finale. In the ad she orders carrot sticks at a diner and then switches the jukebox to a Celine Dion song. Hillary is calling the ad 'a lot of fun' and Bill is calling it 'a chilling window into my personal hell.' "

"A new report suggests that television journalists are biased because 90% of the money they donate to politicians goes to Democrats. Apparently it's true because earlier today, Larry King sent a huge check to President Woodrow Wilson."

"Wal-Mart is getting an advance shipment of the final Harry Potter book and they've asked their employees not to reveal the ending because they don't want to spoil it for fans. Wal-Mart says the first thing they did was fire the greeter who kept saying, 'Welcome to Wal-Mart. Harry's dead.' "

"Earlier today, Yankee Jason Giambi told Major League Baseball he will testify about his own steroid use but he will not mention the names of any other players. Instead Giambi says he's going to talk about someone whose name is Harry Honds.' "

***Former American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry will be on a bill with Nickelback and Puddle of Mud at an Aug. 19 concert in Frisco's Pizza Hut Park, 9200 World Cup Way. Ticket sales start on June 30th at 10 a.m. via all Ticketmaster outlets.

***NBC has tabbed Dancing with the Stars runnerup Joey Fatone to host The Singing Bee, a new competition reality series premiering July 10th opposite Fox's telecast of baseball's All-Star Game. The Peacock had planned to premiere the series this fall, but struck back after Fox announced a similar show, Don't Forget the Lyrics!, which as of now is set to premiere on July 11th. Wayne Brady hosts that one.

TV Bulletin Board (June 25)

***Piffle ball. Paris Hilton fell into the lap of Larry King over the weekend after ABC and then NBC ceased efforts to land an interview with the jailed airhead heiress, who's scheduled to be released on Tuesday (June 26th).

The two broadcast networks seemingly were embarrassed by revelations of money changing hands in return for a Hilton exclusive. Their news divisions insist they don't pay directly for interviews, but sometimes do pay for "other considerations," including access to family-owned photographs or videos of Hilton. NBC reportedly had considered paying up to $1 million for those rights after ABC offered a piddling $100,000 to the already filthy rich Hiltons.

CNN's King now will go one-on-one with Paris on his Wednesday program (8 p.m. central). No money will change hands, says CNN. Hilton, in a statement, says she's "thrilled that Larry King has asked me to appear on his program to discuss my experience in jail, what I have learned, how I have grown and anything else he wants to talk about."

The interview could give Larry King Live its biggest audience in years. The show usually trails Fox News Channel's competing Hannity & Colmes in the nightly Nielsen ratings.

On Sunday's edition of CBS' Face The Nation, anchor Bob Schieffer offered a tongue-in-cheek apology for failing to land the Hilton interview.

"I feel terrible about it," he said. "I haven't felt so low since one of our competitors broke into programming to report that the embalming of Anna Nicole Smith's body had begun. Getting scooped on a big story is never fun, not then, not ever. And we never got to first base on that story either, which is why we tried to be competitive on this one."

Schieffer closed the show by acknowledging, "The truth is I never asked Paris Hilton to be on Face the Nation, and for one reason. I couldn't think of anything I wanted to ask her. Can you?"

***TBS has bought the first syndicated repeat rights to NBC's The Office, which will debut on the cable network in fall 2007 at the rate of two episodes per week from the comedy's first three seasons. Fox-owned stations, including Fox4 in Dallas, will have exclusive broadcast rights to Office reruns in fall 2009.

TV Bulletin Board (June 21)

This is a big day in the annals of high-minded political discourse. For it's on this day that Comedy Central has launched the self-standing Indecision2008.com web site.

Here you'll find the very latest in "something approximating election news with something approximating honesty." Or as a press release otherwise puts it, "The launch of this new site firmly cements Comedy Central as a player in the 2008 presidential race and marks the network's 16th year covering political elections."

Look for a bounteous collection of clips from The Daily Show, The Colbert Report and the new animated series Lil' Bush. Even better, they can be embedded on various, nefarious and rebellious web sites, including friendly unclebarky.com. To celebrate the site, here's a clip from Stephen Colbert's "endorsement" of Republican Fred Thompson, which includes excerpts from his interview with Jay Leno:

TV Bulletin Board (June 20)

They've got games: Wayne Brady on Fox and Drew Carey on CBS.

***Second verse, same as the first. Fox will be replicating NBC's previously announced The Singing Bee with Don't Forget the Lyrics!
The Wayne Brady-hosted big-money game show will premiere on July 11, at least three months before NBC's competition is scheduled to begin with a host yet to be named.

(But wait, this just in! NBC quickly made a counter-move and now will premiere The Singing Bee on July 10th at 8 p.m. opposite Fox's telecast of baseball's All-Star game. Aren't networks fun?)

Here are the shorthand press release descriptions of the two tune-ins:

NBC: "A variety-competition show that challenges contestants to accurately sing the lyrics to popular songs -- even when the band stops playing. In this karaoke showdown, there's no middle ground for partially correct answers -- contestants must be perfect or they're out."

Fox: "Can you sing the next verse? We all think we know the words to the world's most popular songs, but when there's a million dollars at stake, will contestants be able to keep singing when the music stops? Or will they be at a loss for words?"

NBC and Fox have tangled before in the arena of reality copycats. In November 2004, Fox irked the Peacock by premiering the Oscar De La Hoya-fronted Next Great Champ as a preemptive strike against NBC's previously announced The Contender, which didn't start until March 2005. Neither show was a ratings knockout, but Contender eventually went another round on ESPN without frontman Sylvester Stallone.

***Another comedian goes the game show host route when Drew Carey welcomes contestants to CBS' Power of 10. A potential $10 million payday -- don't count on it -- awaits anyone who "can most accurately predict the American public's response to intriguing poll questions." The first correct answer is worth $10,000, with sums increasing 10 times in value with each winning response. Sample question from CBS: "How many Americans believe they are smarter than president George W. Bush?" It all begins on Aug. 7th.

***TNT's third season premiere of The Closer opened really big and set another advertiser-supported cable network ratings record. The Kyra Sedgwick crime drama drew 8.8 million viewers, surpassing the 8.3 million who watched the show's second season premiere. TNT's new Heartland medical drama, which followed The Closer, held on to roughly half the audience with 4.3 million viewers.

In contrast, HBO's new and perplexing John From Cincinnati had a another rough Sunday night. Episode 2 dropped to 1.2 million viewers after the drama's premiere drew 3.4 million viewers following the June 10th series finale of The Sopranos and its 11.9 million viewers.

HBO's first episode of Flight of the Conchords also had 1.2 million viewers while a preceding new season of Entourage kicked off with 2.2 million. Lifetime's new Army Wives, competing against the HBO comedies, had 3.8 million viewers Sunday night for its third episode.

***Soap-aholics rejoice. Beginning Wednesday (July 20th) at 5 p.m. central, CBS.com will be streaming the same day's complete episodes of The Young and the Restless, As the World Turns and Guiding Light. They'll remain available for one week.

TV Bulletin Board (June 14)

Diversifying: Late night's Jimmy Kimmel latest to get game show gig.

Comedians are making a gold rush to game shows, with Jimmy Kimmel the newest to try his hand.

Starting July 20th, Kimmel will host ABC's Set For Life, in which contestants get shots at winning monthly paychecks for up to 40 years. The network says no skill is required. "It's all about knowing when to stop, and about bringing along a trusted 'guardian angel' advisor who will ensure you go home a winner."

Kimmel, former sidekick on MTV's Win Ben Stein's Money, is following in the footsteps of Howie Mandel (Deal Or No Deal), Bob Saget (1 vs. 100), Penn Jillette (Identity) Dennis Miller (the upcoming Grand Slam) and other funnymen turned quizmasters.

***Reprieved for a seven-episode return in mid-season, CBS' Jericho will restart at the beginning on July 6 with a repeat of the series' pilot episode. Subsequent episodes, beginning with No. 12, then will air on Fridays at 8 p.m. (central).

***ABC is adding John Larroquette to the cast of next season's Boston Legal. He'll play a new partner in the firm of Crane, Poole & Schmidt. And The CW's Smallville will put Supergirl in play when the series returns. An actress hasn't been cast yet.

***Viewers were too busy buzzing about the controversial finale of The Sopranos to show much interest in HBO's immediately following premiere of the bizarre John From Cincinnati. It plummeted to 3.4 million viewers after 11.9 million watched Tony click to black. Lifetime's second episode of its new Army Wives drew 3.3 million viewers opposite John From Cincinnati.

***Sign of our times: NBC Universal Television Studio no longer has the word "Television." It's now Universal Media Studios. New co-entertainment president Ben Silverman says the name change "reflects our TV studio's natural evolution, as digital distribution expands and more platforms need premier ideas and programming."

The first allegedly premier idea under the new name is a deal to produce an English language version of the telenovela Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso (Without Breasts There Is No Paradise). It's earmarked for NBC, with a Spanish language edition with a different cast being made for Telemundo, a Universal property.

"These synergistic productions represent a giant leap forward for the networks of NBC Universal. I scour the world for the best ideas and for the game-changing hit shows," Silverman says humbly in a press release.

Earth to Big Ben: "Synergistic" is such a yesterday word. It's almost as outdated as "television."

TV Bulletin Board (June 11)

Off, on and rich: Isaiah Washington, Peter O'Toole and Tyler Perry

***Credit or discredit the banished Don Imus with greasing the skids. Then say goodbye to Isaiah Washington, whose set blowup and widely publicized, disparaging comments about gays have cost him his job as Dr. Preston Burke on the hit ABC series Grey's Anatomy.

In the season finale, Dr. Burke walked away from his wedding to Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) after she initially stood him up at the altar. Then he moved out of her apartment. Now the exit's complete.

***Showtime cable has landed two estimable actors to co-star in the second seasons of critically acclaimed series. Peter O'Toole will play Pope Paul III in The Tudors. He's the pivotal figure in excommunicating Henry VIII (Johnathan Rhys Meyers) from the Catholic Church. And David Carradine, terrific as Wild Bill Hickock in HBO's Deadwood, has been cast as FBI agent Frank Lundy in Dexter. Returning on Sept. 30th, Dexter stars Michael C. Hall as serial killing forensics expert Dexter Morgan.

***A rash of bad reviews for Tyler Perry's House of Payne didn't keep it from achieving ratings highs for for TBS. Last Wednesday's two premiere episodes each drew more than five million viewers, with the second setting an ad-supported cable record for a sitcom with 5.82 million. TBS has ordered 100 episodes of the show, which depicts a multi-generational black family headed by a verbally abusive fire chief.

***Fox has a start date for Anchorwoman, the previously announced new reality series in which model and former wrestling villain Lauren Jones will join the staff of KYTX-TV in Tyler, TX. It all begins unfolding on Tuesday, Aug. 21 with a special one-hour episode. Jones' first day with the CBS station is Monday, June 11th. "The entire newsroom thinks the boss has made a giant mistake," says Fox.

***ABC News reports that the newly re-jailed Paris Hilton found time to talk to Barbara Walters Sunday afternoon.

Babs had been conversing with Paris' mom, Kathy Hilton, when the kid called mom on the other line.

"When she heard I was talking to her mother, she said she'd like to talk to me herself," Walters relates in a first-person article.

Paris proclaimed herself a "different person" who "used to act dumb. That act is no longer cute."

During her first truncated stint as an inmate, "I was not eating or sleeping," she says. "I was severely depressed and felt as if I was in a cage."

Insert late night monologue joke here.

TV Bulletin Board (June 6)

Game's on for Dennis Miller; Matt Lauer lands two princes.

***Conservative comedian/talk show host Dennis Miller has signed to host Grand Slam, a new GSN cable network series featuring 16 big-money game show winners.

Premiering Aug. 7th, it's from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire producer Michael Davies, whose first grand prize winner from that show, John Carpenter, will be one of the combatants. Jeopardy! streaker Ken Jennings also is in the mix, with others to be named later. The winner in a single-elimination format will take home a relatively pedestrian $100 grand.

***Today co-host Matt Lauer has landed two big fish in Princes William and Harry of Wales, who will do their first American TV interview with him. Show time is June 18th on both Today and Dateline NBC. Among other things, William and Harry will disclose their childhood nicknames.

Why Lauer? Well, he's also hosting Concert for Diana, a prime-time NBC special scheduled for July 1st. Originating from Wembley Stadium in London, it's a tribute to their mother organized by William and Harry. You butter their scones, they'll butter yours.

***Numerous reports say that CBS now is strongly considering at least a truncated reprieve for Jericho after fans of the canceled serial drama demanded that the show tie up all of its loose ends. The network reportedly is considering a seven-to-eight-episode midseason run with a downsized cast.

On a related front, Mark Cuban's Dallas-based HDNet has bought all 13 episodes of NBC's The Black Donnellys, which was canceled last month. Seven of the episodes of the serial drama never aired on broadcast TV, but were shown on NBC.com. HDNet will begin replaying all 13 -- in high-definition -- on Wednesday, June 13th.

***CBS11 and TXA21 have partnered with cable's The Weather Channel in an arrangement that will allow "content sharing" by all three parties.

"We're proud to be teamed with one of the most respected weather brands in the country," says Regent Ducas, vice president of news for the D-FW stations.

***TNT will try to ease withdrawal pains from The Sopranos with a 12-hour Law & Order marathon featuring stars from the HBO series in guest shots.

It begins at 1 p.m. (central) on Monday, June 11, the day after The Sopranos has its series finale. Look for the likes of Aida "Janice" Turturro (1 p.m.) Edie "Carmela" Falco (2 p.m.), Vincent "Johnny Sack" Curatola (4 p.m.), Michael "Christopher" Imperioli (8 and 9 p.m.), Dominic "Uncle Junior" Chianese (10 p.m.) and Frank "Phil Leotardo" Vincent (11 p.m.).

Sunday night's first showing of the next-to-last Sopranos episode drew 8.02 million viewers to rank as cable's most-watched program of the week (May 28-June 3).

***ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live has just notched its most-watched season ever, upping its nightly average viewership from 1.64 million in 2005-06 to 1.8 million. And the network's World News with Charles Gibson continues to solidify its first-place standing. It won for the sixth straight week (May 28-June 1) over NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams in total viewers and the main advertiser target audience of 25-to-54-year-olds.

TV Bulletin Board (June 1)

Kellys Rowland and Clarkson: One's coming to CBS (and Dallas).

***CBS' The Early Show will launch a half-dozen traveling summer concerts in July, with R&B singer Kelly Rowland scheduled to appear in Dallas on Aug. 3rd. American Idol runnerup Katharine McPhee kicks off the tour with a July 6th performance in Orlando, Fla.

***NBC Universal has bought exclusive rights to Live Earth: The Concerts for a Climate in Crisis. All of its broadcast and cable networks will have a piece of the July 7th all-day event, with NBC presenting a three-hour prime-time special.

The Sundance Channel and Universal HD get the biggest slices, with 22 hours of live coverage and "best of" moments. Bravo is slated to show 18 hours.

Announced artists so far include Kelly Clarkson, The Police, Madonna, Faith Hill, Kanye West, Bon Jovi, John Mayer, Sheryl Crow, Enrique Iglesias, Black Eyed Peas, Fall Out Boy, Duran Duran and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Expect many, many more.

***Battlestar Galactica will be grounding itself after Season 4, the show's executive producers announced Friday. Production is underway in Vancouver, with a two-hour episode, "Razor," scheduled to kick off the final season in November before the rest of the episodes touch down in early 2008.

A la Lost, Battlestar didn't want to overstay its welcome, say producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick

"This show was always meant to have a beginning, a middle and finally, an end," they said in a statement. "Over the course of the last year, the story and the characters have been moving strongly toward that end and we've decided to listen to those internal voices and conclude the show on our own terms." OK, enough.

***Gearing up to join the Republican field of presidential candidates, Fred Thompson has removed himself from the cast of Law & Order, where he's been playing district attorney Arthur Branch.

Executive producer Dick Wolf says in a statement that Thompson "has not made a firm decision about his political future," but "asked to be released from his responsibilities on the show" just in case. Moved to Sundays next season, Law & Order isn't scheduled to return to NBC until January.