- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back in the limelight

Remember Coolio?

The ‘90s rapper has been out of the loop of late, but it looks like things are about to change.

According to MediaWeek.com, Oxygen has greenlighted an unscripted series starring the 44-year-old rap star that will follow his trials and tribulations as he tries to balance his work with his role as a single parent raising six teenagers.

Yes, six teenagers.

The network has ordered six half-hour episodes of the series, titled “Coolio & the Gang,” set to air in second-quarter 2008. Oxygen will produce with RDF USA, whose reality credits include ABC’s “Wife Swap,” Fox’s “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” and Lifetime’s upcoming “How to Look Good Naked.”

Coolio (born Artis Leon Ivey Jr.), whose recording career took off in 1995, boasts three platinum albums and six top 10 hits, including “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage.”

Debby Beece, president of programming and marketing at Oxygen, says “Coolio” will feature comedic elements. She added that shows about people juggling a career and home life resonate with Oxygen viewers and likened “Coolio” to a real-life version of “My Three Sons.”

Caan on Lifetime

James Caan is rejoining the mob, signing on to play a crime boss in an upcoming movie for Lifetime.

The former “Las Vegas” star is teaming with Alyssa Milano and Jason Gedrick in the cast of “Wisegal,” which tells the story of a woman who gets caught up in a Mafia family’s business, Zap2it.com reports.

“Wisegal” stars Miss Milano — currently seen in a recurring role on NBC’s “My Name Is Earl” — as a woman who goes to work for a Brooklyn crime family and becomes romantically involved with one of its captains (Mr. Gedrick). Mr. Caan will play the boss who persuades Miss Milano’s character to work for the family.

The movie is the first TV project for Mr. Caan since he left NBC’s “Las Vegas” at the end of last season. He has, of course, played mobsters in the past, most famously Sonny Corleone in “The Godfather.”

ABC’s ‘Dancing’ No. 1

ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” took last week’s ratings crown with its Monday edition, outstepping even the World Series’ decisive Game 4.

Overall, though, the week belonged to Fox, which scored big with its coverage of the Boston Red Sox vs. Colorado Rockies. All four games of the Red Sox sweep landed in the top 15, with the Game 4 audience totaling nearly 21 million viewers, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

NBC didn’t have such a good week, particularly without its usual Sunday night football. It averaged about half of Fox’s viewers, to claim a puny fourth-place showing among the networks. Its new reality series “Phenomenon” ranked a not-so-phenomenal 45th place.

Once deemed a budding hit with a debut audience of 13.9 million viewers, the Peacock network’s “Bionic Women” — now in its fifth airing — sank to 7.8 million. And NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” had fewer viewers (5.8 million) than three editions of “Destilando Amor,” a weeknight telenovela on the Spanish-language Univision.

For the week in prime time, Fox won with an average of 13.7 million viewers, followed by ABC and CBS — both with 11.1 million. NBC was far back with 7 million. Following were the CW with 2.9 million, My Network TV with 900,000 viewers and ION Television with 460,000 viewers.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision averaged 3.4 million viewers, Telemundo had 1 million viewers, TeleFutura 630,000 viewers and Azteca 140,000 viewers.

For the week of Oct. 22-28, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “Dancing with the Stars” (Monday), ABC, 21.3 million; 2) World Series: Boston at Colorado (Game 4), Fox, 20.9 million viewers; 3) “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 18.2 million; 4) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 18.1 million; and 5) “House,” Fox, 18.1 million viewers.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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