- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 7, 2004

The new Kilborn

Former “Drew Carey Show” co-star Craig Ferguson is taking over CBS’ “The Late Late Show,” according to the New York Post.

The late-night talker, which competes with NBC’s “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” in the 12:35 a.m. time slot, has been hostless since Craig Kilborn stepped down earlier this year.

The network has experimented over the past few months with a series of guest hosts in what amounted to on-air auditions.

The newspaper reports Mr. Ferguson’s “poise and off-the-cuff sense of humor” landed him the gig.

The Scottish-born comic actor will take over the show early next month.

He beat out a list of potential hosts including MTV’s Damien Fahey, former “Ed” co-star Michael Ian Black and comedian D.L. Hughley.

Mr. Ferguson, 42, played Mr. Carey’s boss, Nigel Wick, on ABC’s “The Drew Carey Show.”

Alda’s political roles

Alan Alda sure is looking senatorial these days.

Blame his sensible — but firm — demeanor or the august way his familiar features have aged.

The actor sounds just like a politician when discussing his new role on NBC’s “The West Wing,” that of a moderate Republican senator running for the White House.

“I don’t rank a person so much by their political ideas as by how much they want to be helpful to other people,” Mr. Alda says during a phone press conference to discuss the role.

(The “M*A*S*H” veteran also plays a more dastardly senator in the new Howard Hughes biopic “The Aviator.”)

The actor did let his own bias peek through when describing his new role, though.

“He’s an idealist and a decent person who happens to be a Republican,” Mr. Alda says. “Although he’s Republican, he’s one of one of those ideal candidates in a way: moderate on social issues and conservative fiscally [who] looks to do good for his country.”

We’re sure the Republican National Committee is going to be sending Mr. Alda a congratulatory bouquet on his new part any day now.

Party lines didn’t play into his accepting the role. Playing a character running for office against fellow “West Wing” addition Jimmy Smits “would be fun no matter what party he is,” he says.

What clinched the deal for him, said Mr. Alda, was the chance to reteam with John Wells, who took over the reins on “The West Wing” two years ago and continues to lord over “ER.” The actor appeared in a multi-episode arc of the medical drama during its 1999 season.

“I trust John Wells completely,” Mr. Alda says. “The way he’s shepherding the show now is wonderful.”

Mr. Alda may be new on the “West Wing” set, but he quickly recognized the bond between cast mates.

“They’re a lot like we were after we had a long run on ‘M*A*S*H.’ We had a shorthand with each other. … Between scenes we’d kid around and have fun,” he reports.

“The West Wing” airs at 9 p.m. Wednesday nights on NBC.

Organized protest

The outrage sparked by this year’s Super Bowl semi-strip-tease may be overblown.

Mediaweek.com reported yesterday that nearly all the indecency complaints filed with the Federal Communications Commission in 2003 were lodged by the Parents Television Council, the group activist L. Brent Bozell III formed in 1995.

In 2004, the group’s influence has only grown, the magazine reports. This year, during which the CBS Super Bowl halftime debacle occurred, 99.9 percent of the filed complaints have come from the PTC, according to Media Week.

The magazine added that FCC Chairman Michael Powell was unaware of the complaint breakdown until recently.

Oops.

The PTC regularly keeps its members informed of what it deems unsuitable broadcast material with e-mail updates. The group also provides links to which enraged viewers can steer their complaints.

The PTC contends in the Media Week piece that such figures shouldn’t distract from the main issue: whether these programs are violating decency standards.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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