- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Lee won’t forget

Spike Lee plans to return to New Orleans for HBO to follow up on the stories told in last year’s four-hour documentary about the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, Associated Press reports.

The filmmaker, who on Monday accepted a Peabody Award at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel for directing “When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts,” said he’s still not sure when that will be. Now is too soon, he said.

“The story is not over,” Mr. Lee said backstage. “It’s still something that’s evolving, and we want to keep on top of it.”

His film tells stories not often seen on television news because of the time he had to work on it and the ability to show things others couldn’t. Some of his interview subjects asked if he minded if they cursed; he said it proved essential to conveying the anger of the event.

He collected footage of bloated bodies floating in the floodwaters near New Orleans, much of it taken by the BBC. American news networks could show little of it, he said.

Mr. Lee and his team were among the 35 winners of the 66th annual Peabody Awards, given for excellence in electronic media. They included cable and network entertainment shows and local and network news programs, AP says.

Onstage, Mr. Lee told his audience that he became friends with many of the people featured in the program.

“Most of them are still up the creek without a paddle, abandoned by their local, state and federal governments,” Mr. Lee said. “We can’t forget about them.”

New CEO for HBO

A month after HBO drew the curtain on the Chris Albrecht era, parent company Time Warner yesterday named Bill Nelson chairman and chief executive officer of the premium network, MediaWeek.com reports.

Mr. Nelson, who previously served as chief operating officer, last month assumed Mr. Albrecht’s duties on an interim basis while Time Warner began its search for his replacement. Mr. Albrecht was forced out in the wake of an embarrassing arrest earlier that week when he was picked up by Las Vegas police after he reportedly choked his girlfriend in a parking lot outside the MGM Grand.

‘Jericho’ reprieve

After being bombarded with thousands of pounds of nuts, CBS is close to giving “Jericho” fans a second season of the apocalyptic drama, TVweek.com reports.

Sources close to the production said the network is near a deal with “Jericho’s” producers to bring the show back for midseason.

Passionate fans have mailed boxes of peanuts to CBS ever since it was announced that “Jericho” wouldn’t be picked up for a second season. The nuts are a reference to the show’s cliffhanger season finale, which included a reference to the Battle of Bastogne during World War II. During the battle, surrounded and outnumbered Allied troops gave the one-word reply “Nuts” to German forces demanding their surrender. According to “Nuts for Jericho” campaign partner nutsonline.com, about 39,000 pounds of peanuts have been sent to CBS executives.

Orderly transition

Sam Waterston may be a getting a “Law & Order” promotion.

The actor is negotiating to step in as the show’s New York district attorney, replacing co-star Fred Thompson, a source close to the production said Monday, according to Associated Press. Mr. Thompson, a former U.S. senator, is weighing a presidential run and asked to be released from the NBC drama.

The source was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity, AP said.

Mr. Waterston, who has been with “Law & Order” for 13 years, plays Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy. His character would take over from District Attorney Arthur Branch (Mr. Thompson) when the show returns in midseason, the source said.

The story line and McCoy’s replacement have yet to be determined.

NBC and series creator and executive producer Dick Wolf declined comment Monday, as did Mr. Waterston’s representative.

Cast changes are part of the “Law & Order” history, with a variety of actors playing prosecutors and police detectives. Late last week, NBC announced that Jeremy Sisto (“Six Feet Under”) will join the drama as a detective when the show begins its 18th year this fall.

Mr. Sisto is replacing Milena Govich, who played Detective Nina Cassady.

Curbing their marriage

The inconvenient truth for Laurie and Larry Davidis that their marriage is over. The couple has separated after 14 years and two children, the New York Post reported in yesterday’s editions.

Laurie David — who produced the Oscar-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and recently toured with Sheryl Crow to promote environmental issues — was starting to overshadow her husband, the co-creator of NBC’s “Seinfeld” and star of HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” the newspaper said.

The official word is that the split is amicable and no other parties are involved.

It’s Miller time on GSN

Cable’s GSN (formerly the Game Show Network) has named Dennis Miller as host of its new game show, “Grand Slam.”

Mr. Miller, known from “Saturday Night Live,” “Monday Night Football” and his own HBO show, is taking on a game show for the first time, TVWeek.com reports.

“Grand Slam” will pit winners of other game shows against one another in an elimination tournament with a final prize of $100,000. Winners from several shows — including “Jeopardy!,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “Wheel of Fortune,” “Tic Tac Dough,” “Lingo” and “The Weakest Link” — are scheduled to compete.

The show premieres Aug. 7 with Amanda Byram as co-host.

TV’s slide continues

Another week, another set of negative ratings records for broadcast television.

NBC’s average prime-time audience of 4.8 million people last week was the smallest since at least 1991, the earliest Nielsen Media Research records that could be traced immediately, AP reports. It’s likely you would have to go back to the days of black-and-white sets to find a smaller number.

Poor ratings have been the story of the spring for TV networks, and it doesn’t look as if anything will get better heading into the summer.

The season finale of Fox’s “House” was easily the most-watched show on TV last week. Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance,” with two top-10 airings, is the first summer series to show promise in the ratings.

Meanwhile, Fox’s “On the Lot” and ABC’s “The Ex-Wives Club” and “National Bingo Night” have fizzled quickly.

For the week, CBS averaged 7.6 million viewers, Fox had 6.7 million, ABC had 5.4 million, and NBC had 3.3 million. Following were the CW with 1.9 million, My Network TV with 1 million and ION Television with 480,000.

For the week of May 28 through June 3, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “House,” Fox, 17.2 million; 2) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 12 million; 3) “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 10.7 million; 4) “So You Think You Can Dance” (Thursday), Fox 10.58 million; and 5)”CSI: NY,” CBS, 10.1 million.

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

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