- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 17, 2004

‘Extreme’ lawsuit

ABC’s “Extreme Makeover” has proven to be a great idea, at least as far as the network’s ratings watchers are concerned.

The problem: a woman is claiming the idea for the plastic surgery show was hers, not the show’s producers, according to Reuters.

Diane Locke filed a $10 million lawsuit last week against the production company and talent agency behind ABC’s hit series, claiming they ripped off her idea for a cosmetic surgery-themed reality show.

Miss Locke filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Endeavor Agency, which packaged “Makeover,” and Lighthearted Entertainment, the company that produces the series. Also named in the suit are Endeavor agent Sean Perry and Lighthearted’s Howard Schultz, an executive producer of the series.

Miss Locke claims that she pitched a producer with ties to Mr. Perry and Mr. Schultz on a concept similar to “Makeover” but was rebuffed. She accused the defendants of stealing her idea and setting it up as a series at ABC without compensating her. The lawsuit blames Mr. Schultz for taking credit for the concept.

“It’s not appropriate to comment on such matters,” an Endeavor spokesman told Reuters. ABC was not named in the lawsuit.

ABC goes ‘Micro’

ABC will trot out a new type of movie later this month, one that wraps up in about the same time it takes to sit through a commercial break.

The network’s “Micro-Mini Series” will air during the network’s Monday night comedy block, the Reuters News Agency reports.

The four short films, which last three minutes each, will air June 28, July 12 and July 19. The content stems from the network’s diversity-oriented talent development program.

The “Micro-Minis,” which also will be featured on ABC.com, are: “Not Now, Kitty,” about a cat who becomes a woman; “I Didn’t Really Wet My Pants,” about a blind date gone horribly wrong; “Mosquito Cupid,” an offbeat love story featuring a matchmaking mosquito; and “Dirty and Dirtier,” the story of a man whose dream girl makes an appearance at his filthy apartment.

Rather, Clinton chat

Former president Bill Clinton gets his upcoming book tour in full swing this weekend with a lengthy sit-down with CBS’ Dan Rather.

The 42nd president, whose new book “My Life” recalls his complicated presidency, will appear on “60 Minutes” Sunday to discuss its contents with the CBS news anchor. Alfred A. Knopf is set to publish the anticipated autobiography this Tuesday with a first printing of 1.5 million copies.

The venerable news show airs at 7 p.m. Sunday nights.

‘5ive’ underwhelms

The Sci-Fi Channel hit its first mini-series snag with the just wrapped thriller “5ive Days to Midnight.”

The miniseries, starring Timothy Hutton as a professor who learns he will be killed in five days, averaged a meager 1.69 million total viewers in its premiere window at 9 p.m. over four consecutive nights last week beginning June 7, Reuters reports.

The hyped five-hour thriller attracted less than half the number of viewers that the channel’s previous miniseries — “Battlestar Galactica” and “Steven Spielberg Presents Taken” — drew.

“I would be lying if I said we weren’t disappointed and really surprised,” Bonnie Hammer, president of Sci Fi and USA Network, told Reuters. “But we’ve been so fortunate that, at some point, something had to be lower than expectations.”

“5ive” marked Sci Fi’s first attempt to court more mainstream appeal with a project devoid of the traditional trappings of science fiction, such as aliens or vampires.

“5ive” began its inauspicious run last Monday by reaching 1.6 million in its opening two-hour installment. The subsequent three one-hour installments were barely an improvement: The miniseries dropped slightly on its second night, jumped to just over 2 million viewers on the third, then dropped again to 1.63 million on its final night, Thursday.

The miniseries’ average was far below not only “Galactica,” which drew 4.2 million in December, but also “Taken” (5 million), “Frank Herbert’s Dune” (4.6 million) and “Children of Dune” (2.7 million). “5ive” did, however, nearly double Sci Fi’s primetime average from the previous week.

Next up for Sci Fi on the miniseries front is “Earthsea,” a four-hour project from Hallmark Entertainment scheduled to air in December. The channel has many miniseries in development from such producers as Martin Scorsese and Clive Barker.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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