- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Bernie’s better half

Politically incorrect characters can become beloved small-screen icons. Just ask anyone weaned on “All in the Family.”

Kellita Smith, who plays Bernie Mac’s wife, Wanda, on Fox’s “The Bernie Mac Show,” thinks her on-screen spouse gives off a similar, Archie Bunker-style vibe.

“I think it comes from Bernie’s point of view. That’s what makes the comedians we end up falling in love with, regardless if it’s PC or not,” says Miss Smith, whose show airs Sunday evenings at 9.

Having worked on a number of sitcoms, she relishes the focus “The Bernie Mac Show” provides.

“It allows my work to be more honest, which is what I prefer, coming from a background of theater,” she says.

“The Bernie Mac Show,” now in its third season, has endured behind the scenes changes but remains a scabrously funny affair.

The actress, who’s TV work includes appearances on “The Jamie Foxx Show,” “Malcolm & Eddie” and “NYPD Blue,” says she knew from the start that “Bernie Mac” wasn’t like every other sitcom. The first episode didn’t have a laugh track, used funky camera angles and required special effects, she says.

The show never became a breakout hit, but it’s a reliable cog in the network’s Sunday lineup.

Miss Smith’s Wanda, though, is no June Cleaver. She’s independent, sexy and strong enough to give Bernie Mac fits.

“She’s not your conventional wife,” Miss Smith says. “I consider my character the anchor.”

Bowled over

Even the wobbly warblers of “American Idol” were no match for some old-fashioned football.

Fox’s reality juggernaut took a back seat to “Super Bowl XXXVIII” this week in the ratings race, Associated Press reports.

Sunday’s showdown between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers on CBS snared 89.9 million viewers and countless TiVo replays of Janet Jackson’s halftime peekaboo.

The game, and its now infamous halftime show, also overshadowed some other solid ratings performances last week.

Fox’s “American Idol,” for example, continues its impressive return for a third season. Its two episodes last week were seen by 28.3 million and 29.6 million viewers.

“My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance,” also on Fox, was seen by a respectable 13.4 million people last week. NBC’s “The Apprentice” also did well, seen by 18.9 million people after its move to Thursday.

For the week, CBS averaged 25.3 million viewers (13.5 rating, 21 share).

Fox was a distant second with 9.8 million viewers (6.0, 9), NBC had 9.4 million (6.2, 10), ABC had 7.9 million (5.2, 8), UPN had 4 million (2.7, 4), the WB had 3.7 million (2.4, 4) and Pax TV had 960,000 (0.7, 1).

A ratings point represents 1,084,000 households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of Jan. 26 to Feb. 1, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “Super Bowl XXXVIII: Carolina vs. New England,” CBS, 89.8 million; “Super Bowl Post-Game,” CBS, 59 million; “Survivor All-Stars,” CBS, 33.5 million; “American Idol” — Tuesday, Fox, 29.6 million; “American Idol” — Wednesday, Fox, 28.3 million.

Bold, beautiful Lamas

The men and women who felt the sting of Lorenzo Lamas’ laser pointer on ABC’s short-lived “Are You Hot?” will chuckle over the actor’s latest career move.

Mr. Lamas, the son of actors Fernando Lamas and Arlene Dahl, is joining the cast of CBS’ “The Bold and the Beautiful” beginning Feb. 18.

Now, many an unemployed actor would kill for a regular gig like a soap opera, but for Mr. Lamas, it’s a comedown after working on prime time’s “Falcon Crest,” as well as his own syndicated series, “Renegade.”

Nevertheless, the chiseled thespian will play Hector Ramirez, a Los Angeles firefighter whose connection to other show regulars will slowly be revealed.

“The Bold and the Beautiful” airs weekdays at 1:30 p.m.

‘Word’ renewed

Showtime wants to be the destination for alternative-lifestyle love.

The cable network debuted “The L Word” just weeks ago and has already greenlighted it for a second season, according to AP.

The Showtime series follows a group of glamorous Los Angeles lesbians — much as the network’s “Queer as Folk” zeroes in on homosexual male romances.

Showtime ordered 13 more episodes of “Word” less than two weeks after its Jan. 18 debut, making its renewal the fastest ever for the network’s original series division.

The hourlong drama, airing Sunday evenings at 10, has an ensemble cast that includes film actresses Jennifer Beals (“Flashdance”) and Pam Grier (“Jackie Brown”).

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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