- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2007

‘The View’s‘ new 2?

ABC’s “The View” appears close to adding Whoopi Goldberg and Sherri Shepherd as regular cast members following a year with more plot twists than a soap opera, says the New York Daily News.

The two women were in final negotiations to join the show, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. While characterizing the report as premature, an executive close to the show who spoke on condition of anonymity because negotiations were ongoing wouldn’t deny they were the top candidates.

Miss Goldberg, 51, would give “View” creator Barbara Walters a big name to replace Rosie O’Donnell. In less than a year on the show, the brash Miss O’Donnell was a never-ending source of headlines for her feuds with Donald Trump and co-star Elisabeth Hasselbeck. Despite the near-constant need for damage control, the show’s ratings shot up.

Miss Goldberg is one of the few performers to earn Emmy, Grammy, Tony and Academy awards in her versatile career, and could be expected to take the moderator role filled by Miss O’Donnell.

Miss Shepherd, 40, has been a guest host on “The View” more than a dozen times, five times this month alone — an indication that producers were considering her seriously, the New York Daily News notes. The busy actress is now appearing in the film “Who’s Your Caddy,” which opened Friday. Her resume also includes roles on “Pauly Shore is Dead” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” and she even played God once on the CBS show “Joan of Arcadia.”

With Miss Hasselbeck and Joy Behar, the cast changes would give the show a full complement of regulars for the first time since last summer, when Star Jones Reynolds left amid acrimony. Miss Walters appears on the show occasionally.

The changes would also give the show some ethnic diversity. “The View” has been without a regular black cast member since Miss Jones Reynolds left, and both Miss Goldberg and Miss Shepherd are black.

‘Better’ just so-so

The controversy surrounding BET’s new series “We Got to Do Better” — formerly known as “Hot Ghetto Mess” — didn’t translate into huge ratings for the show’s premiere Wednesday night.

“Better” averaged 1.1 million viewers in its debut at 10:30 p.m., says the Hollywood Reporter, citing data out Friday from Nielsen Media Research. That includes 556,000 viewers in the adults 18 to 49 demographic and 487,000 among adults 25 to 54.

Those numbers are on par with other recent BET series premieres, including the July 10 debut of the reality series “Baldwin Hills,” which drew 1.1 million total viewers.

However, “Better” didn’t match the series debuts of the reality show “Lil’ Kim: Countdown to Lockdown” and BET’s documentary series “American Gangster,” which broke records for the network. The March 2006 debut of “Lil’ Kim” averaged 1.9 million total viewers, while “Gangster” (on Nov. 28) drew 1.6 million total viewers.

“Better,” hosted by Charlie Murphy, is described as a “tongue-in-cheek examination of the good, the bad and the ugly of black popular culture.” It made headlines this month after a few advertisers pulled out over mounting criticism that its content perpetuated racial stereotypes. BET changed the show’s title prior to its premiere last Wednesday.

‘Numb3rs’ up for Kilmer

Val Kilmer will make a rare network TV appearance when he pops up on the season premiere of CBS’ “Numb3rs.”

CBS announced Thursday that the movie star will play Mason Lancer, the mastermind behind last season’s events that culminated in the discovery that Agent Granger was a mole.

The premiere finds Agent Eppes (Rob Morrow) and the rest of his team tracking down the fugitive Granger.

Mr. Kilmer’s appearance shouldn’t be surprising, given that the “Numb3rs” premiere is directed by series producer Tony Scott, who previously worked with Kilmer on the features “Top Gun,” “True Romance” and “Deja Vu.”

The “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” star is also on good terms with CBS after co-starring in the network’s upcoming miniseries “Comanche Moon.”

“Numb3rs” kicks off its fourth season Sept. 28.

The ‘Bus’ stops here

Fresh off her Emmy win for “Dance Party: The Teenarama Story,” WHUT (Channel 32) producer Beverly Lindsay-Johnson is showcasing another part of unique D.C. lore with “The 70 Bus Line,” a documentary on the eccentric and varied passengers who ride the winding bus route stretching from the city’s Southwest waterfront to downtown Silver Spring. The story, premiering Sept. 16 at 8 p.m. on Channel 32, will chronicle the bus line’s diverse ridership and its impact on the communities it serves as one of the city’s major transportation arteries.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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