- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 19, 2004

Blooming ‘Weeds’

Mary-Louise Parker is set to star in a new Showtime series about a soccer mom who happens to sell pot on the side.

The pay cable network has given a 10-episode order to an envelope-pushing comedy called “Weeds,” the Reuters News Agency reports.

The show will follow a suburban mom, played by Miss Parker, who starts selling pot to make ends meet after her husband dies unexpectedly.

Even as she embarks on her new career in the underground economy in a fictional California town, Miss Parker’s character struggles to maintain outward appearances as a responsible mother and PTA member. Elizabeth Perkins co-stars as the uptight head of the PTA, while “Saturday Night Live” alum Kevin Nealon plays one of the town council members.

“Weeds” was one of the six pilots — three comedies and three dramas — that Showtime Networks entertainment president Robert Greenblatt greenlighted in May. Mr. Greenblatt said he expected to serialize three or four of the projects.

The network continues to labor under the imposing shadow of HBO, which is noted for its award-winning original fare.

Mr. Greenblatt told Reuters that “Weeds” made the cut because of its offbeat sensibility, one that could play only on pay TV. The show is set to debut in late spring or early summer.

“It just feels unlike anything else out there,” Mr. Greenblatt told Reuters. “It’s ironic because there is some audacious subject matter in it with respect to selling marijuana, yet it also has a lot of heart and a lot of family values.”

More than a few viewers won’t find the marriage of drug peddling and family values a cozy mix, but let’s wait for the finished product.

Bracco’s new ‘Order’

Michael Imperioli isn’t the only “Sopranos” star spending time with the “Law & Order” franchise these days.

Lorraine Bracco, who plays mobster Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist on the HBO show, has been cast as an ambitious lawyer on the upcoming “Law & Order: Trial by Jury” on NBC, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Imperioli, who plays the hot-headed Christopher on the raw mob drama, will appear in the final four episodes of the original “Law” this season.

Another pair of “Sopranos” regulars also have ties to the enduring crime shows.

Robert Iler, who plays Tony Soprano’s son, enjoyed a guest spot on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” last year. Edie Falco, better known to many as Carmela Soprano, played a defense lawyer on “Law & Order” before starring in “The Sopranos.”

“Law & Order: Trial by Jury,” the fourth in the “L&O;” franchise, stars Bebe Neuwirth and Jerry Orbach and will debut in early 2005. Miss Bracco’s episode will film in January but no air date has been announced.

Survivor’ lives on

A small ratings downturn for the latest “Survivor” finale hasn’t dimmed the show’s appeal to the suits at CBS.

The network has announced the reality show will return for at least two more installments, the Reuters News Agency reports.

The top rated reality series will air its next two contests during the 2005-2006 season.

“Survivor” has been one of television’s most successful franchises during the past few years. Through “Survivor: Vanuatu’s” final episode earlier this month, the show averaged nearly 20 million viewers each week, according to Nielsen Media Research. Its recent finale got beat in the ratings by “Desperate Housewives” but still drew a respectable audience.

CBS did not reveal where the new installments of the program would be shot or when they would premiere.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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