- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 20, 2004

Fox gets ‘Serious’

Leave it to Fox, the unofficial leader in coarse reality fare, to produce “Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay.”

The show features two straight men who will do their best to pass themselves off as homosexual as they compete for $50,000, Reuters News Agency reports.

The two-hour show, set to air June 7, marks the latest in the burgeoning TV subgenre of homosexual-themed reality shows, such as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” and the previous Fox offering “Playing It Straight.”

“Queer Eye,” in which five homosexual men teach straight slobs how to dress, dine and design, caught on quickly with homosexual and straight audiences alike, first on the Bravo cable channel and then on its sister broadcast network, NBC.

But “Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay” has raised the eyebrows of at least one homosexual activist group, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which questioned the show’s premise as potentially offensive and the “inflammatory” tone of the original press release announcing it.

“Without having seen the show yet, it raises some red flags for us, speaking to negative stereotypes that we work every day to tear down,” GLAAD spokesman Stephen Macias said.

He cited a passage in the press release stating that two straight contestants will immerse themselves in the homosexual lifestyle as they move into separate West Hollywood apartments with homosexual roommates, come out of the closet to their best friends and socialize at homosexual nightclubs. Each will even go out on a blind date with another man.

Fox also said in the initial release the two contestants will be judged by a “jury of their queers” — a panel of homosexual men from all walks of life who will decide which of the two they believe is actually homosexual and the winner of $50,000.

The show, from the creators of the Fox reality series “My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance,” will be hosted by Amanda Byram, who also emcees the much-criticized Fox makeover show, “The Swan,” and the romance reality series, “Paradise Hotel.”

WB extends three

The WB has renewed a trio of comedies with an eye on them anchoring an all-sitcom humor block on Fridays.

The network has picked up “Reba,” “Grounded for Life” and “What I Like About You,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The WB, which opened a second comedy night on Thursday last season, is said to be leaning toward returning to one night of comedies, on Friday.

The new Friday lineup is expected to include the three returning sitcoms as well as “Shacking Up,” the half-hour pilot starring Fran Drescher of “The Nanny” fame.

“Reba” continues to be the WB’s most watched comedy, averaging 4 million viewers, while “What I Like About You” and “Grounded for Life” lead their Friday time periods among teens.

Prime Time out

Colorful ex-jock Deion Sanders is now an ex-CBS employee.

The former football and baseball player is leaving the network’s “NFL Today” pregame show broadcast after two seasons, Associated Press reports.

The outspoken athlete, a seven-time Pro Bowl cornerback during a 12-year National Football League career, joined the program as a contributor during the 2001 season. For the past two seasons he has been a studio analyst, along with Dan Marino, Boomer Esiason and Jim Nantz.

Mr. Sanders, nicknamed “Prime Time,” is the only person to play in the World Series and the Super Bowl. Mr. Sanders played in the NFL with Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas and Washington. He played baseball, to much less acclaim, with the New York Yankees, Atlanta, Cincinnati and San Francisco.

‘Hee Haw’ brays again

Get ready for some pickin’ and grinnin’ — “Hee Haw” is hitting the DVD market.

This week marks the release of the first “Hee Haw” DVD on the heels of the show’s 35th anniversary, Associated Press reports.

Never mind the long-running “Friends” or “Frasier,” “Hee Haw” aired almost continuously from 1969 to 1997 on various networks.

“‘Hee Haw’ won’t go away,” said Roy Clark, host or co-host of the show for its entire run. “It brings a smile to too many faces.”

The format was folksy comic skits interspersed with performances by such country music stars as Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson. There were no serious issues debated, no cliffhangers, no drama and no wardrobe malfunctions — just down-home silliness accompanied by grins and guitars.

All the shows were taped in Nashville, home of country music and the Grand Ole Opry.

Critics mostly hated the show because of its Dogpatch look, simple humor and twangy country music, but TV viewers embraced it, and even noncountry stars such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Regis Philbin were among the celebrities eager to appear on the show.

“They just wanted to be part of the fun,” Mr. Clark said.

Mr. Clark, who played the hapless clerk at the show’s Empty Arms Hotel, was joined by singer Buck Owens as co-host for 17 seasons. There were about 600 original episodes.

The new product, priced at $14.95, has full “Hee Haw” shows including musical performances by Loretta Lynn and Charley Pride.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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