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Tuning In

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Back for one more

Mandy Patinkin will return for a single episode of CBS' Criminal Minds "to wrap up his story," TV Guide Online reports. No further details were provided.

Earlier, Ed Bernero, the show's executive producer, refuted rumors that producers had refused to grant the Tony- and Emmy-winning Mr. Patinkin a raise after the show became a hit. "This is not about money," Mr. Bernero said on a fan site for the show. "This is not about something Mr. Patinkin asked for that wasn't provided."

In fact, Mr. Bernero claimed, Mr. Patinkin gave no hint that he was leaving the show until he failed to show up for work on the day before the first episode was scheduled to be shot. "He also has not contacted anyone within the show (producers, cast, crew) to explain why he isn't returning. Even to this moment, we have no word from him," Mr. Bernero said.

"He gave us no advance notice that anything was wrong, no opportunity to find a way to make the loss of this character work, no indication that we should be looking for someone else, no warning that we might have to rewrite the first seven scripts (which is how far ahead we try to work) without the central character in them. None. Zero."

'Extreme' measures

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge rejected a claim by five orphans saying the producers of ABC's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" owed them a place to live, says TVWeek.com, citing a story in Monday's Los Angeles Times.

The article said the dispute revolved around an Easter 2005 episode of "Makeover" in which the home of Phil and Loki Leomiti was remodeled after they took in the five Higgins siblings: Charles II, Michael, Charis, Joshua and Jeremiah. Afterward, the relationship between the Leomitis and the Higginses became strained, and the Higgins siblings moved out.

The Higgins siblings hired a lawyer to sue several entities, including ABC and Walt Disney Co., for "fraud, breach of contract and infliction of emotional distress." The siblings plan to appeal, the Times article said.

Side job for Shatner

After a recent career path that's taken him from Web pitchman to prime-time Emmy winner, William Shatner has been signed to host a celebrity-interview show on the Biography Channel, Variety reports.

Mr. Shatner, currently starring on ABC's "Boston Legal," will interview a range of guests on the half-hour show, titled "Shatner's Raw Nerve." Both actors and politicians will be featured, and network representatives said producers will make an effort to book guests separately from their movie and other junkets.

Biography also said that Mr. Shatner "will explore life's most intriguing questions and unearth his guests' strange and unknown stories." Thirteen episodes have been ordered by the network, with the series set to air next year, Variety said.

Beckham show bashed

"Victoria Beckham: Coming to America," an attempt by the former Spice Girl and her soccer-playing hubby David to woo the American media, was originally intended as a miniseries, but has been trimmed to a one-hour special by NBC, Agence France-Presse reports.

Billed as a revealing special that "delves into Victoria's larger-than-life world to reveal, among other things, her wicked sense of humor and style," the show — which aired Monday night — failed to impress the mainstream media. The New York Post slammed the pop-star turned fashion figure as "relentlessly self-promoting" and described the show as "an orgy of self-indulgence."

NBC's 'Bee'-utiful news

Finally, beleaguered NBC has something to sing about. Its premiere of "The Singing Bee" was last week's most popular television show, with the biggest audience among young viewers of any new summer series in five years, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Former 'N Sync member Joey Fatone earned strong reviews for his work as host of the game, which tests contestants' memories of song lyrics. Fox's version of the same show, "Don't Forget the Lyrics!" did well last week but didn't come close to NBC. Eager for any good news, NBC moved swiftly to announce the series would return in September.

Fox claimed the week's ratings crown, however, due largely to the 12.5 million people who watched baseball's All-Star game. It was the second-smallest audience on record for the game, which was seen by 12.3 million in 2005.

Fox averaged 6.7 million people for the week, CBS had 6.3 million and NBC averaged 5.8 million. Following were ABC with 4.4 million, the CW with 1.8 million, My Network TV with 1 million and ION Television with 670,000.

For the week of July 9 through 15, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) "The Singing Bee," NBC, 13.3 million; 2) Major League Baseball All-Star Game: National vs. American, Fox, 12.5 million; 3) "America's Got Talent," NBC, 11.3 million; 4) "So You Think You Can Dance" (Thursday), Fox, 9.69 million; and 5) "NCIS," CBS, 9.68 million.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from Web and wire reports