- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2004

Political Diddy

The P in P. Diddy must stand for politics.

Fresh from his Broadway debut, Sean “P. Diddy” Combs is heading back to MTV for a new show, tentatively called “Project Change,” Associated Press reports.

Mr. Combs will use the show to grill President Bush and likely Democratic nominee Sen. John F. Kerry.

Mr. Combs told the New York Post he will scout the streets of Harlem, Brooklyn and Detroit for “real people” to ask the questions.

“The people who usually ask the candidates questions are screened, and I’m going to use real people off the streets to get their questions out there,” Mr. Combs told the paper. “I’m going to make Kerry and Bush squirm.”

Mr. Combs, 34, said he hopes to encourage a record number of young people and minorities to vote.

The rapper is starring in the Broadway revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun.” Although he received mixed reviews, initial ticket sales broke the Royale Theatre record.

Bush blocked

NBC opted to air the gross-out fest known as “Fear Factor” last night rather than broadcast President Bush’s revelations on Iraq’s transition to democracy.

The broadcast networks decided not to carry the president’s prime-time speech, in which he laid out his strategy for Iraq’s future, Reuters News Agency reports.

The president picked a bad time to inform the nation on a crucial subject, because we’re at the tail end of sweeps months, a crucial period when networks chase high ratings in order to set ad rates.

The Bush administration did not request the big four networks to air live the 8 p.m. address, given to an audience at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

NBC, Fox and ABC proceeded with their scheduled programing for the 8-to-9 p.m. hour — an episode of “Fear Factor,” the finale of “The Swan” and the broadcast premiere of the Oscar-winning film “A Beautiful Mind,” respectively.

NBC’s and Fox’s sibling cable channels, MSNBC and Fox News Channel, carried the speech.

CBS was not expected to make a final decision on whether to pre-empt its Monday 8-to-9 p.m. comedy block — season finales of “Yes, Dear” and “Still Standing” — until later yesterday, but sources indicated to Reuters that the network was leaning toward sticking with its regular programing.

At least one network, Fox, offered the speech to any of its affiliates that wished to carry it.

Last May, the Big Four had to reshuffle their Thursday lineups the second week of the sweeps to carry Mr. Bush’s address announcing the end of major combat in Iraq.

‘24’s‘ final hour

“24’s” Counter Terrorism Unit will undergo some major downsizing this fall, according to Reuters News Agency.

Sources said that the actors who play Jack Bauer’s CTU colleagues on the Fox drama have been told their options as series regulars won’t be picked up for next season.

Reiko Aylesworth and James Badge Dale, who play CTU members Michelle Dessler and Chase Edmunds, respectively, received the news just as they were to attend the Fox party after the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers Thursday, sources said.

The two, as well as Carlos Bernard (CTU’s Tony Almeida), could return to the real-time drama next season for guest appearances. Also up in the air is the future of Mary Lynn Rajskub, Zachary Quinto and Daniel Dae Kim, who played CTU members on a recurring basis.

Meanwhile, Elisha Cuthbert, who plays Jack’s daughter and CTU analyst Kimberly Bauer, is fielding film offers and is expected to recur next season subject to her availability. She was most recently in theaters playing a former porn star in the poorly received “The Girl Next Door.”

Viewers can set aside the potential cast shake-up tonight and catch the show’s third season finale.

If last week’s episode is any indication, be prepared for an explosive ending.

The final hour sees a series of problems coming to a head, and in true “24” style, some resolutions won’t be good.

Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) and Chase find the bomb containing the 11th vial of chemicals, but will they be able to disarm it in time?

President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) no longer has to deal with his back-stabbing wife and the impending investigation into his involvement in a murder, but will his conscience lead him to resign?

Given “24’s” propensity for cliffhangers, audiences may not get all the answers when the show wraps its season at 9 p.m. tonight.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Thomas Walter from staff and wire reports.

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