- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2008

‘Cleveland’ mixes it up

A “Family Guy” spinoff show featuring the character of Cleveland Brown is mixing up its voice cast, ethnically speaking, Associated Press notes.

Mike Henry, who is white, will continue to provide the voice for Cleveland on Fox’s new animated series. Joining Mr. Henry in the cast will be black actors Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Kevin Michael Richardson, the network said Monday.

Fox programming chief Kevin Reilly said the casting wasn’t provoked by ribbing the network has taken for a black role voiced by a white actor.

“Mike’s been doing that character for a long time, so we knew going in that was a fix; we’re going to have a white guy,” he said.

“But clearly, the idea was just to make an ethnically diverse show in front of and behind the camera, which we are,” and to create a largely African-American cast for the Brown family, Mr. Reilly added.

The Tony-nominated Miss Lathan (Broadway’s 2003 revival of “A Raisin in the Sun”) will play Cleveland’s wife, Donna, while Miss Long will voice the character of rebellious stepdaughter Roberta. In a colorblind casting move, Mr. Richardson — a star of ABC’s short-lived sitcom “The Knights of Prosperity” — will play the part of Lester, described as a “redneck.”

“Cleveland” follows the Browns as they move to Cleveland’s Virginia hometown and encounter neighbors, including Lester, a family of bears and a British family enamored with the Victorian era, Fox said.

The show is set for a 2009 debut.

‘Betty’ loses a beau

“Ugly Betty’s” love life may have just become a little less complicated.

Christopher Gorham, who has played Betty’s (America Ferreracq) love interest, Henry, for two seasons on the ABC show, has been cast on CBS’ midseason show “Harper’s Island,” Zap2it.com says.

“Ugly Betty” ended its second season with a romantic cliffhanger, as Betty was picking up the phone to call either Henry or her other suitor, Gio (Freddy Rodriguez). The show also recently cast Val Emmich as a new love interest — which may be a good thing for Betty. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mr. Rodriguez (formerly of HBO’s “Six Feet Under”) isn’t expected to have a big presence in the coming season because of a busy film schedule.

Together again

“CBS Evening News” anchor and managing editor Katie Couric was named host of the 18th annual Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame Awards dinner — and Matt Lauer, her former “Today” co-host, is among the honorees.

This year’s gala event will take place at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria Oct. 21.

“It is my great privilege to be hosting this years Broadcasting & Cable Hall of Fame Awards, an event that for nearly 20 years both commemorates great television and honors television’s greatest pioneers,” Miss Couric said.

She became a member of the B&C Hall of Fame in 2001. Along with Mr. Lauer, another of Miss Couric’s affiliates, “60 Minutes” — produced by her current employer, CBS — will be saluted on its 40th anniversary.

‘Talent’ stays on top

According to data released Tuesday by Nielsen Media Research, the nation’s most-watched shows for the week of July 7 through 13, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “America’s Got Talent,” NBC, 12.7 million viewers; 2) “Wipeout,” ABC, 10.6 million viewers; 3) “The Bachelorette” (July 7, 10 p.m.), ABC, 9.9 million viewers; 4) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 9.8 million viewers; and 5) “The Bachelorette” (Monday, 8 p.m.), ABC, 9.5 million viewers.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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