- The Washington Times - Monday, May 2, 2005

McElhone’s ‘Revelations’

Actress Natasha McElhone figured her new NBC show “Revelations” was bound to provoke an uproar for dealing with sensitive matters of faith.

“It doesn’t tread a conventional line, but it is a drama, and people are sophisticated enough to realize that,” Miss McElhone told reporters during a recent press conference to promote the new show.

So far, complaints have been modest, but the ratings have been anything but for the limited series.

The show follows a series of signs that point to the “end of days,” a scenario being pursued by a skeptical astrophysicist (Bill Pullman) and a nun of great faith (Miss McElhone).

In the show’s fourth installment, airing at 9 p.m. tomorrow night, Dr. Massey (Mr. Pullman) tries to find his kidnapped stepson.

Miss McElhone, seen with George Clooney in Steven Soderbergh’s 2002 remake of “Solaris,” makes her American television debut with “Revelations.”

She says her grandmother’s strong faith helped guide her character and that she isn’t surprised at the sudden release of several spiritually based projects.

“There is a trend, and things tend to go in cycles,” she says, referring to the popular book — and forthcoming film — “The Da Vinci Code” as but one example. “Who knows when it will reach saturation point?”

The new role offered a less obvious perk for the attractive actress, something her peers probably would kill for now and again.

“It was refreshing not to have to worry about costumes,” she says, referring to her nun’s habit. “It was lovely to have a black-and-white uniform you couldn’t overinterpret.”

Those wacky neighbors

Sometimes a sitcom’s secret weapon is the wacky neighbor down the hall or road.

TV Land’s “Top Ten” series recognizes the contributions such neighbors have made through the years with a new special featuring fresh interviews with some former TV stars.

“Top Ten: Wacky Neighbors” airs at 10 p.m. tomorrow with interviews of Matt LeBlanc, Barbara Eden, Betty White, Danny Bonaduce and Erik Estrada. The show honors the peculiar charms of famous neighbors like Cosmo Kramer (“Seinfeld”) and Ed Norton (“The Honeymooners”).

Future “Top Ten” episodes will focus on “Characters You Love to Hate” and “Lovable Losers: Geeks & Nerds.”

NBC backpedals

For nearly a decade, NBC has opted against rating its television programming for fear that might lead to censorship abuses.

Now the network is changing course and will add content descriptors to the age-based ratings system it has used since the inception of the V-chip, Reuters News Agency reports.

The ratings system was developed in 1997 in response to the V-chip section of the 1996 Telecommunications Act, but NBC refused to run the descriptors — V for violence, S for sexual content, L for vulgar language, D for suggestive dialogue and FV for fantasy violence — because of First Amendment concerns and the fear that the on-screen clutter would confuse viewers.

NBC Universal Chairman and CEO Bob Wright said the change was made to serve the network’s viewers.

“We particularly want to provide information to parents so that they can judge the appropriateness of programming for their children,” he said. “These changes provide our network and cable viewers with more frequent and more detailed information about our programs.”

However, back in 1997, Mr. Wright told Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, the content descriptors confused people.

“At this juncture, we feel additional labels merely add to parents’ confusion,” Mr. Wright said in October 1997.

Showtime’s ‘Redemption’

In 1994 “The Shawshank Redemption” came and basically went at the box office. Since then, its stature as one of that decade’s most admired films has exploded. Check out any recent fan listing of best films of the past few decades, and “Redemption” will be among them.

Viewers can check out why as Showtime airs the compelling drama at 8 tonight.

“Redemption,” based on a Stephen King story, follows a man (Tim Robbins) convicted of murder as he finds friends and, yes, redemption, while in prison.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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