- The Washington Times - Monday, May 9, 2005

A ‘Scrubs’ surprise

The creator of NBC’s “Scrubs” doesn’t want his show to wind up like those high school dramas in which the characters stay in their senior year indefinitely.

In a hospital, people move on, Bill Lawrence told reporters during a conference call several weeks ago on the final day of shooting for the show’s current season. So “Scrubs,” which serves up its season finale tonight, will do so by saying goodbye to one of its regular characters.

“People have to go out and get new jobs,” Mr. Lawrence says, particularly in the world of medicine.

We just won’t know who’s leaving until 9 p.m. — or whether the character could return for cameo appearances down the road.

Neither Mr. Lawrence nor star Zach Braff appears to be concerned with convention. The critically acclaimed (though ratings-challenged) show — shot single-camera style without a laugh track — never followed any rules anyway.

Why start now, they ask?

“We were passionately convinced the show would be canceled after a year,” Mr. Lawrence says.

“Scrubs,” which debuted in 2001, never broke out of the pack to become a network smash. Today, just enough viewers watch to keep it alive. That means the sitcom doesn’t get much love from the network, Mr. Lawrence says.

“Since they don’t stand to make any money on it, they use it as a Band-Aid, moving it from time slot to time slot,” he says of the show’s peripatetic past. “We haven’t gotten a lot of help from NBC over the years.”

Still, “Scrubs” has attracted a core following. Die-hard fans will be happy to know a DVD of its first season — featuring the usual array of commentaries on the show’s regulars as well as a peek at its creation — is coming soon.

“The fans have been so patient,” Mr. Braff says.

“We did a bunch of features on what it was like to start a TV show,” Mr. Lawrence says of the DVD.

“We really took the time to hopefully talk about stuff that people into the show will care about.”

Where’s Dave?

Fans of “Chappelle’s Show” on Comedy Central will have to wait a little longer for the third season to arrive.

Just how much longer is anyone’s guess.

The cable channel postponed the premiere of the new season late last week, and now Newsweek magazine is providing a glimpse of just what’s holding up its return.

Neither Mr. Chappelle nor Comedy Central has much to say on the matter, Reuters News Agency reports.

Mr. Chappelle’s pals, though, have given Newsweek some clues about the work stoppage. Their explanation: the age-old combination of too much pressure and too much partying.

“Chappelle’s Show” was supposed to be back on the air May 31, following a previous announcement of a postponement. The third season originally was slated to bow in February.

A Comedy Central spokesman blamed the first postponement on writing delays. Other published reports noted that Mr. Chappelle, a District native, was battling the “flu.”

The funnyman made headlines in August when he signed on for two more seasons of his hit series in a deal worth about $50 million, an exorbitant amount for a cable program. The new deal was supposed to give Mr. Chappelle a portion of the robust DVD sales generated by the show’s first season —more than 3 million units. However, the DVD release of the second season also was postponed this year after Paramount Home Video originally scheduled units to hit stores in February in time for the new season’s debut. That release date was pushed back to May 24.

Comedy Central had ordered 13 episodes for the third season of “Chappelle’s Show.” Production on the series yielded some material late last year but then closed for the holidays and didn’t resume until February.

Iconoclastic’ nature

The Sundance Channel is prepping “Iconoclasts,” an original series that will bring two creative innovators who work in different fields together to explore each other’s passions and inspirations.

The six-part series will air weekly beginning in November, with Sundance founder Robert Redford serving as executive producer.

Sundance promises the show won’t be yet another biography or interview program, but a unique way to look at today’s artists from a number of fields.

Neglected ‘Jim’

Entertainment Weekly features an interview with Jim Belushi this week in which the actor bemoans what he says is the lack of respect given to his ABC sitcom, “According to Jim.”

Viewers can judge for themselves tonight when the network offers up a pair of back-to-back “Jims” starting at 9.

Though reviled by critics, the show scores solid ratings for ABC year after year and already has been guaranteed a return for the 2005-06 season.

Tonight’s first installment finds Jim’s family worried when he begins taking an interest in sky diving.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff, Web and wire reports.

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