- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 4, 2004

‘Seacrest, in!’

Ryan Seacrest will be back for another talk show season — but it’s unclear whether his eponymous chatfest will remain intact.

The “American Idol” host’s option to host a second season of the syndicated “On-Air With Ryan Seacrest” has been picked up by Twentieth Television, the Fox-owned company that distributes the talk-variety show, Reuters News Agency reports. The deal pertains to Mr. Seacrest only and does not apply to the show itself, sources said.

Last week, a handful of lower-level staffers left “On-Air” before its scheduled production hiatus in early August, but sources said those departures have not affected production on the current season’s remaining weeks.

Representatives for “On-Air” declined comment on whether the show will be retooled for its second season, scheduled to start in September.

“On-Air,” which is broadcast live from a multimillion-dollar studio in Hollywood, has faced an uphill climb in the ratings since its January debut. The show averaged a meager 1.0 household rating in the week ending June 20, according to Nielsen Media Research.

‘Scrubbing’ up?

Heather Graham, the beautiful actress best known for her work in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Boogie Nights,” is slowly building an impressive comedy career.

Case in point: the blonde bombshell could be joining the cast of NBC’s well-regarded “Scrubs,” Reuters News Agency reports.

Miss Graham’s previous comedic projects include “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me” and a turn on Fox’s “Arrested Development.” Her “Scrubs” duties would cast her as a therapist who wreaks havoc among the other staffers on the quirky hospital comedy.

If the deal comes to pass, Miss Graham will already have at least one acquaintance on the “Scrubs” set: She and “Scrubs” co-star Sarah Chalke are wrapping up production on the indie feature “Cake.”

Hung ‘Jury’

Fox’s summer season drama “The Jury” may need a last-minute stay of execution in order to remain on the network’s schedule.

Fox scaled down the struggling show’s airings last Thursday, Reuters reports.

Fox’s sibling studio, 20th Century Fox TV, also dismissed the cast and notified the show’s producers that no more original episodes will be shot at this time.

Coming from the “Homicide” team of Tom Fontana, James Yoshimura and Barry Levinson (who also played the judge), each “Jury” episode re-created a case in flashback as the empaneled citizens debated the verdict. After their decision was delivered, the audience learned what really happened.

On Fox’s summer schedule, original episodes of “The Jury” ran in the 9 p.m. slot on Tuesdays, with encores airing at 9 p.m. Fridays. Beginning this week, the series will air only in the Friday slot, with all five remaining original episodes slated to run.

The reduction isn’t the only tweak to the network’s schedule.

In the next three weeks, Fox will air reruns of “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Method & Red,” the Major League Baseball All-Star Game and repeats of “That ‘70s Show” and “Quintuplets” in the Tuesday 9 p.m. period.

While “The Jury’s” return to the November schedule appears highly unlikely, a spokesman for the network stressed that Fox’s late-fall launch provides a long enough hiatus to allow the show to resume production should its ratings improve over the next few weeks.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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