- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 7, 2006

A new gold rush

Sasha Cohen earned a silver medal in the just-wrapped Olympic Games, but she’ll soon be shooting for gold — Hollywood style.

The diminutive figure skater served as a special correspondent for TV’s “Inside Edition” at Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast and the star-studded parties that followed. And now her whirl through the celebrity world has led to an offer for a cameo role in an upcoming picture, she tells Associated Press.

Actor-comedian Ben Stiller approached her at the Vanity Fair party to talk about his next project: a comedy focusing on figure skating, Miss Cohen says.

“I want to do it,” she says. “It’s not like it would be a stretch, and hopefully I’ll get to be funny.”

Miss Cohen, 21, says the world of competitive skating should provide ample comedic material.

“There are a lot of characters in skating,” she says.

‘Rescue’ mission

Oscar winner Susan Sarandon is following in the footsteps of Glenn Close.

Miss Sarandon will film a three-episode arc for the FX series “Rescue Me,” according to the network. Last year, Miss Close wrapped a successful run on FX’s cop drama “The Shield.”

The “Thelma & Louise” star will play Franco’s (Daniel Sunjata) latest flame, who just happens to be a rich, successful older woman. Miss Sarandon’s character will seduce Franco, the network reports, by showing him how much he needs the affections of an experienced partner. Her character will debut in the second episode of the new season.

The show, currently in production, will premiere on FX in early summer.

‘Idol’s‘ triple threat

Fox expanded its “American Idol” schedule last week from two to three nights, a move that helped the network beat ABC and its glitzy Oscar telecast for the weekly ratings crown.

Fox not only rode its juggernaut to the winner’s circle, but the triple broadcast helped it win a large portion of the demographically appealing 18-to-49-year-old audience, as well, Associated Press reports.

The Oscar audience of just under 39 million in the Nielsen Media Research tally was the second smallest in 20 years, although it still ranks as the second most popular TV event of the season after the Super Bowl. ABC moved its traditional Barbara Walters interview special, which has often preceded the awards, to a separate night, and it drew fewer than 10 million viewers as a result.

CBS was left to crow about “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” becoming the first series in two years to get a bigger audience than “American Idol” on an individual night. But until the show’s two spinoffs can all defeat “AI” themselves, the victory will go to Fox.

For the week, Fox averaged 13.5 million viewers, ABC had 12.6 million, CBS 12.3 million and NBC 9.6 million. Following were Univision with 3.7 million, the WB with 3.2 million, UPN with 2.7 million, Telemundo with 1 million and Pax TV with 400,000.

The top five shows for the week of Feb. 27-March 5, their networks and viewerships were: “Academy Awards,” ABC, 38.93 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 30.08 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 29.64 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 27.81 million; and “American Idol” (Thursday), Fox, 26.32 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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