- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 2, 2004

‘Pride’ takes a hit

The expensive computer-generated “Father of the Pride” is taking a break right in the middle of sweeps, Reuters News Agency reports.

The hiatus comes just days after shares of DreamWorks Animation Inc. (the creator of “Pride”) rose well above their initial-public-offering price as trading began in the stock of the company behind the recent hit films “Shrek 2” and “Shark Tales.”

“Pride,” on the other hand, hasn’t found the same success as its big-screen computer generated image (CGI) brethren. Within the rankings for the new fall season through Oct. 24, “Pride” was tied for 42nd place among household audiences after a strong start with its late-August debut.

Of the 13 episodes ordered, only seven have aired. An NBC spokeswoman said the show would return to the network’s schedule after sweeps, although she did not pinpoint a date. Voice work has been done for all 13 episodes, although some animation is yet to be wrapped.

The show, which reports say cost $1.6 million per episode to produce, drew fire from some critics for its adult sensibilities. Typically, computer-generated animation is a draw for younger audiences.

Networks roll out their best programming during the annual sweeps periods to boost ratings, which, in turn, are used to set local advertising rates.

“Pride’s” hiatus comes amid admissions by network executives that NBC has struggled this season.

“We’ve gotten spanked,” Jeff Zucker, president of the NBC Universal Television Group, told the Los Angeles Times yesterday, pointing to new hits on ABC and CBS.

‘America’ expands

“Janet Parshall’s America” is ready for its close-up.

The nationally syndicated show hosted by Miss Parshall — a conservative broadcaster, author and advocate for family values — has joined a growing list of TV chat shows hosted by radio personalities, whose ranks include Howard Stern, Don Imus and Al Franken.

The cable channel FamilyNet is now airing an hourly version of her show, seen weeknights at 7.

“America,” which originates from the District, can’t be seen by viewers here, but plans are under way to change that in the coming weeks, representatives for the show said.

Miss Parshall is currently heard nationwide on more than 200 affiliates, including commercial radio stations and the Cable Radio Networks system. She may also be heard on the Sky Angel Network, XM Satellite radio, and live on the Internet at www.jpamerica.com.

Saving Grace

Topher Grace thinks some of the girls who rejected him in high school are having second thoughts. He couldn’t be happier.

“I think about it, and I really hope it’s happening,” the star of Fox’s “That ‘70s Show” told the Boston Globe. “I could even name names.”

Mr. Grace, 26, said he looked so young as an adolescent that most girls wouldn’t consider him boyfriend material.

“I’m not trying to say ‘poor me,’ not like the way supermodels say, ‘I had a terrible childhood; everyone made fun of me,’ but I was very small in high school and nobody wanted to date me,” he told the Globe, according to Associated Press.

Mr. Grace left college after his freshman year for TV fame.

“I had a growth spurt right before college. Unfortunately, I’ll never know if I would have done better in college as I grew into myself or if I became popular because I got a TV show.”

Mr. Grace also has had movie roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “Traffic” and starred in “Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!” He next stars in “P.S.” opposite Laura Linney (which opens Friday), and in December will appear with Dennis Quaid and Scarlett Johansson in “In Good Company.”

Despite those awkward high school days, Mr. Grace isn’t telling tales about his current personal life.

“I’ve started to realize my personal life is the most valuable thing I have,” he said. “It actually makes your public life possible because you draw on it so much as an actor.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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