- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More ‘Idol’ glory

Another “American Idol” contestant is heading for Broadway.

Diana DeGarmo — following in the footsteps of Frenchie Davis, a 2002 finalist and former Howard University student who appears in the rock musical “Rent” — will join the cast of “Hairspray” on Feb. 7.

According to Associated Press, Miss DeGarmo, 18, one of the Fox television series’ most popular runners-up, will portray the heroine’s best friend, Penny Pingleton, in the musical, which opened on Broadway in August 2002.

“Hairspray,” based on the 1988 John Waters film, concerns a chubby Baltimore teen who wants to appear on a TV dance show. The show now stars Shannon Durig as the eager young woman and John Pinette as her full-figured mother.

Miss DeGarmo, a Georgia native, appeared on “Idol” in 2004.

Move good for Globes

The move to Monday by NBC’s “63rd Annual Golden Globes Awards” may have given it a slight boost in the ratings over last year’s telecast, which battled ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”-led Sunday-night juggernaut.

This year, however, the Globes broadcast faced a different daunting rival: the final two hours of the four-hour opening of the new season of Fox TV’s “24.”

Monday’s three-hour Golden Globes show drew 18.7 million viewers, according to preliminary Nielsen Media Research figures, up about 2 million viewers from last year’s total. However, “24” attracted a robust 14.9 million viewers, helping keep NBC’s gains to a minimum.

Final ratings numbers for this year’s face-off are due today.

‘Heaven’ out at WB

Financial woes are shutting down “7th Heaven,” the WB’s top executive said — noting that the network is losing $16 million on the show this year.

The family drama, the most popular program in the network’s history, will end its run after 10 years, Associated Press reports. The decision seems irreversible despite an Internet campaign to save it. “7th Heaven” is still the WB’s second-highest-rated show, after “Gilmore Girls.”

Production costs tend to jump for television series as they get older, largely because the salaries of actors and others involved grow with success. “7th Heaven,” about a family of seven and all their friends, has a large cast.

Reruns of “7th Heaven” also were fading in the ratings, and that made it tougher for the network to recoup its investment, said Garth Ancier, the WB’s top executive.

“As much as we all love the show, we do have to run a business,” Mr. Ancier said.

Other older WB series “Smallville” and “Gilmore Girls” don’t have the same problem, he added.

Talks about a spinoff to “7th Heaven” have proved inconclusive so far.

The WB has struggled recently as it has tried to shed its image as a teen-oriented network and seek a broader audience. It learned the dangers of going too far when the new series “Just Legal,” starring Don Johnson, attracted viewers with the average age of 50 and was canceled swiftly after debuting last fall.

As a result, the WB is developing a new comedy about teenagers in a New England boarding school. The network also is developing series for Ellen DeGeneres, playing the voice of a family dog, and for music stars Brandy and Nick Lachey (the soon-to-be former Mr. Jessica Simpson) as the leads in a romantic comedy.

Yet things are grim, overall, for the WB. Viewership is down 8 percent this season — and even more in its key demographics — after dropping nearly 10 percent last season. It’s behind former last-place network UPN, and 40 employees were laid off in December.

Still, WB Entertainment President David Janollari tried to put a happy face on his network’s fortunes.

“Are we a tenth off from where we want to be? Sure,” Mr. Janollari told journalists assembled in Pasadena, Calif., for the semiannual Television Critics Association press tour. “We’re in a period of rebuilding. … But a number of our returning shows are doing really well, and we’re banking on our new shows to help us feed on our momentum.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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