- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Platt’s Golden turn

Oliver Platt starred in two television series that never made it past the first season.

Now, as the lecherous Russell in Showtime’s “Huff,” the portly actor can sit back and work on his scenes.

“Huff,” which stars Hank Azaria as psychitarist Craig Huffstodt, has already been guaranteed a two-season commitment.

Mr. Platt, just nominated for a Golden Globe as best supporting actor in a television drama for his work as Mr. Azaria’s confidant, says the playing field for broadcast programs is “almost inhuman.”

“Shows that work on network TV are hard to do, and I have oodles of respect for them,” Mr. Platt says. “Even if you have a great idea, the speed with which you need to get it done, it’s almost inhuman.”

Now he gets to dig his heels into Russell, a character whose oversize spirit is matched by his carnal appetites.

“I’ve never played a character who is, how shall I put it, such an unvarnished look at compulsive behavior,” says Mr. Platt, who researched similar compulsives before taking the role.

The trouble with such people, he says, is that often they’re very good at what they do.

Consider Russell a high-functioning compulsive: His lawyerly acrobatics in an early episode spared Huff a messy legal complication after the suicide of a patient.

This weekend’s “Huff,” airing at 10 p.m. Sunday on Showtime, finds the title character camping with his father and son while Russell attempts a liver detoxification program with curious results. The show repeats at 9 p.m. Wednesday nights.

Mr. Platt, a veteran of the big screen with credits including “Pieces of April,” “Flatliners” and “Bulworth,” grew up moving to and from the District as the son of a diplomat. One of his first brushes with the arts came with a tiny role in a Christmas play at the Potomac School in McLean. He portrayed an innkeeper with only one line, but he made it count.

“When I did it, the whole auditorium was up for grabs,” he says of the experience. “When you’re an 8-year old boy who’s been moving around a lot, you tend to remember something like that.”

Housewives’ on top

Even the finale of reality-show stalwart “Survivor” couldn’t derail the “Desperate Housewives” express.

ABC’s dark comedy and CBS’ “CSI” beat the “Survivor: Vanuatu” conclusion Sunday in the Nielsen Media Research ratings, the first time in nine editions that any program has beaten the decisive episode of the game, Associated Press reports.

The 19.7 million viewers who watched Sunday made it the least popular “Survivor” finale ever.

“Survivor: Thailand” had 22.3 million viewers in May 2003.

The “Survivor” audience did dip into the “Housewives” ratings pool, which was down to 21.6 million viewers after topping 27 million when the neighborhood busybody was knocked off the week before.

CBS still won the weekly ratings race, averaging 13.1 million viewers (8.3 rating, 13 share) and dominating the youthful demographic. ABC was second with 10.3 million (6.7, 11), NBC had 9.6 million (6.5, 10), Fox had 7 million (4.5, 7), UPN had 3.3 million (2.3, 4), the WB had 3.1 million (2.0, 3) and Pax TV had 670,000 (0.5, 1).

The numbers are continued evidence of NBC’s prime-time ratings erosion. NBC had only four of the 20 most popular prime-time shows last week, compared with 10 for CBS and six for ABC, Nielsen said.

Without Matt LeBlanc’s old friends, “Joey” dropped to 10.2 million viewers, with a sagging “Will & Grace” behind it with 10.1 million. That number put the duo behind an “According to Jim” rerun in the ratings race.

A ratings point represents 1.096 million households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Dec. 6-12, the top five shows and their networks and viewerships: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29.8 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 21.6 million; “Survivor: Vanuatu” (Thursday), CBS, 20 million; “Survivor: Vanuatu Finale,” CBS, 19.7 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 19.5 million.

Davey, Goliath return

This Sunday marks the belated return of two old television friends.

The Hallmark Channel is broadcasting “Davey and Goliath’s Snowboard Christmas” at noon Sunday, the first new “D&G;” production in 30 years, the network says.

The special, created by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, employs the same kind of stop-motion technology that moved the original show’s characters decades ago.

The revived “Davey and Goliath” has the intent of bringing “moral and religious faith-based values to a new generation of children,” the ELCA says.

The special features an inclusive spiritual message as the Christian Davey interacts with a Jewish character named Sam and with Yasmeen, a Muslim.

Trump-size finale

Finally, a time slot to fit Donald Trump’s considerable ego. Tonight’s season finale of NBC’s “The Apprentice” at 8 p.m. gives Mr. Trump and company three hours of live television to fill.

The real estate mogul chooses one of his final two candidates on the show’s second season in a live broadcast from Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center.

Either lawyer Jennifer Massey, 30, or software executive Kelly Perdew, 37, will follow in the footsteps of previous “Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic and win a six-figure salary with His Trumpness.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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