- The Washington Times - Friday, July 6, 2007

Name game at ABC

What’s in a name?

For ABC, a lot.

First the estate of Theodor Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss, forced the network to drop the title “Sam I Am” from its upcoming Christina Applegate sitcom. After announcing the show’s new name was “Samantha Be Good,” ABC has once again changed it, to “Samantha Who?” Mediaweek.com reports.

The network also announced that Emmy-winning writer-producer Alex Reid would join the series as a co-executive producer. His arrival comes with a two-year deal at ABC Studios, which produces the comedy. Under terms of the agreement, he also will develop new projects for the studio.

Mr. Reid was an executive producer on the final season of Fox’s “Malcolm in the Middle.” His Emmy is for writing an episode of the single-cam sitcom in 2001.

More recently, he was an executive producer on the ABC comedy “Help Me Help You,” Mediaweek.com says.

Divine calling

How’s this for a movie title?

The Christian-based Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) will air the world broadcast premiere of the film “I Flunked Sunday School” tomorrow afternoon at 2.

Yes, that’s really the name of the movie.

It also pretty much sums up the subject matter.

Based on the book of the same name by Ken Bailey, “I Flunked Sunday School” is the story of how Lloyd Boyd (played by Kevin Dean), a man who flunked Sunday school, is called by the Almighty — while taking a shower — to become a personal preacher, EurWeb.com explains.

At first, Boyd isn’t sure what to do because he has never figured out what to do with his life. Still, he follows his heart and leaves his business card all over town. Soon he starts getting calls from people in need, including the church where he actually flunked Sunday school.

He awkwardly stumbles and bumbles through each situation. Yet God is able to use Boyd to change the lives of those he helps out of humorous and dramatic circumstances.

“I Flunked Sunday School,” a Steve McCurdy-Ken Bailey film, won best feature film out of 59 selected films at the Secret City Film Festival in Oak Ridge, Tenn. in October.

New season for ‘Jim’

In other ABC news, the network, as expected, has renewed its long-running family sitcom “According to Jim” for a seventh season.

Because of extensive negotiations regarding the series, ABC did not announce “Jim” when it laid out its fall schedule for advertisers in the spring. However, following a successful close to those talks, the Disney-owned network has ordered 18 episodes, Mediaweek.com reports.

The sitcom, which stars Jim Belushi as an oaf of a dad, is produced by ABC Studios and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Although “Jim” has never been a star player for the network, it has proved to be a consistently modest performer. With ABC placing its bets on several unknown comedies next season — “Cavemen,” “Carpoolers,” “Samantha Who?” — “Jim” could play a key pinch-hitting role if any of those series fail to draw viewers. In fact, “Jim” stands as the network’s only multicam sitcom next season.

‘Practice’ makes perfect

The tweaking of “Private Practice” that ABC’s president promised back in May has begun.

Actually, it’s more than just a tweak: The “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff has recast one of its lead roles, replacing Merrin Dungey with multiple Tony Award winner Audra McDonald, Zap2it.com says.

Miss Dungey (“Alias,” “The King of Queens”) starred in the “Grey’s” episode that set up “Private Practice,” playing a friend of Addison’s (Kate Walsh) from medical school who is a partner in a Los Angeles practice — and recently split from her husband (Taye Diggs), also a partner in the business. The show also will star Tim Daly (“The Nine”), Amy Brenneman (“Judging Amy”), Paul Adelstein (“Prison Break”) and Chris Lowell (“Veronica Mars”).

When he announced ABC’s fall schedule in May, ABC Entertainment chief Stephen McPherson noted that there still was “some work to do” on “Private Practice,” even though the “Grey’s” episode that introduced it drew more than 20 million viewers.

“I think it spent a lot of time introducing the characters and not as much time on stories,” Mr. McPherson said at the time.

Audiences now will be introduced to Miss McDonald as well. The actress’s recent TV credits include “The Bedford Diaries” (on the WB) and a recurring part on NBC’s “Kidnapped.” She earned an Emmy nomination in 2001 for her role in the HBO movie “Wit.”

Her greatest successes have come onstage, however. She has won four Tony Awards in her career, most recently for the 2004 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun.”

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