- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2005

Turning the Paige

Paige Davis, whose perky personality became a trademark for TLC’s “Trading Spaces,” is leaving the network’s popular home decorating show, Associated Press reports.

TLC said Miss Davis’ departure is part of a spring transition to a hostless format.

“We believe that this new creative direction will enable the show to be more spontaneous, focus more on the homeowners and designers, and create alternative home trades in different cities and on opposite coasts,” the network said.

Miss Davis’ duties included introducing the homeowners and designers, swapping the keys to their homes and holding their hands when their newly decorated rooms were revealed. She also winced whenever the homeowners disagreed with the designers’ decisions during each episode’s “reveal” moment.

Miss Davis, who performed the role of Belle in the national touring company of the musical “Beauty and the Beast,” began hosting “Spaces” in 2001, its second season. A dancer by trade, Miss Davis used “Spaces” to help her gain other major projects, such as a role in Broadway’s “Chicago.”

Daily Variety has reported that Miss Davis may be in line to front her own daytime talker in the near future.

Her last new episodes of “Spaces” will air in March.

INXS of talent

The latest wrinkle in reality TV has a morbid back story — proving once more that the genre will troll any topic for ratings.

“Survivor” and “Apprentice” maestro Mark Burnett and CBS are preparing a show to find a new lead singer for the Australian rock band INXS, which shut down after the suicide of vocalist Michael Hutchence in 1997.

The untitled show, slated to air this summer, will combine rock music with unscripted drama to find Mr. Hutchence’s successor. The winner will be picked by viewer feedback, a panel of judges and the surviving INXS members.

The newly re-formed band will then start a worldwide tour and create a new album.

This isn’t the first attempt INXS has made to go on with the show. The Australian band — whose ‘80s heyday included smashes like “What You Need” and “Devil Inside” — hired a new lead singer, Jon Stevens, in 2002, but he quit a year later.

Preventive measure

It looks as though NBC isn’t going to give CBS the chance to wrangle Katie Couric away from her “Today” co-anchor duties.

TV Guide Online is reporting that NBC has begun talks to extend Miss Couric’s contract to prevent her from considering a move to the “CBS Evening News” anchor chair.

Miss Couric has 18 months left on her contract with the Peacock network.

The morning-show host is rumored to be at the top of CBS’ wish list to replace Dan Rather, who steps down as news anchor March 9. Yet even in the best-case scenario, CBS would still have to wait 18 months while Miss Couric’s current deal winds down.

Renewed ‘Passions’

NBC’s soapy “Passions” will return for a seventh season along with its creator and guiding light, according to the network.

The daytime drama, the youngest of all the currently running soaps, debuted in July 1999.

Show creator James E. Reilly, who also serves as the head writer on the NBC soap “Days of Our Lives,” will continue as consulting producer and head writer.

ABC’s ‘Good’ news

ABC’s good ratings news isn’t relegated to its prime-time hits “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives.”

The network’s “Good Morning America” keeps closing the gap behind NBC’s “Today,” Reuters News Agency reports, citing preliminary data released by Nielsen Media Research.

NBC’s “Today” remained on top in total viewers and adults ages 25 to 54 for the week ending Jan. 10, but by the smallest margin in eight years. “Today” averaged 5.9 million viewers for the week, compared with 5.7 million for “Good Morning America” — a difference of just 253,000. Among adults 25 to 54, “Today” averaged 3 million viewers versus 2.7 million for “GMA.”

ABC said it was the closest the race had been since the week of April 26, 1996, when “GMA” had 4.9 million viewers compared with 5.1 million for “Today.”

CBS’ “The Early Show” had 3.2 million viewers last week and 1.5 million viewers in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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