- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Jay’s June handoff

NBC announced 3½ years ago that Conan O’Brien eventually would take over “The Tonight Show” from Jay Leno.

They’ve finally said when.

Mr. O’Brien, current host of “Late Night,” which airs right after “The Tonight Show,” will replace Mr. Leno on June 1. Mr. Leno’s final appearance after 17 years of hosting — which began when he took over from Johnny Carson — will be May 29. Mr. O’Brien becomes just the fifth permanent host of the late-night institution.

Jimmy Fallon, best known from his stint on “Saturday Night Live,” where Mr. O’Brien once was a writer, will become host of “Late Night.”

Roeper exits ‘Movies’

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Richard Roeper says he’s leaving the nationally syndicated show “At the Movies With Ebert & Roeper” after eight seasons, Associated Press reports.

In a statement, Mr. Roeper said that he had failed to agree on a contract extension with Disney-ABC Domestic Television, so his last appearance on the show will air the weekend of Aug. 16 and 17.

Mr. Roeper, 48, says he intends to “proceed elsewhere … as the co-host of a movie review show that honors the standards established by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert more than 30 years ago.”

Big doin’s at Showtime

Showtime has purchased the Edie Falco pilot and given Mary-Louise Parker two more seasons to sell dope, Variety reports.

During the network’s Television Critics Association session on Friday, the premium cable network made plenty of programming announcements, unveiling, for example, the tentative title of “Nurse Jackie,” the new series starring Miss Falco (formerly of HBO’s “The Sopranos”). Production will begin in the fall, and the show will arrive on air in spring or early summer, Variety says.

Showtime also said it was ordering an untitled spinoff of “The L Word,” which wrapped its fifth season in March and will finish up in 2009 with eight more episodes. Robert Greenblatt, president of entertainment for Showtime Networks Inc., said the story line for the spinoff would continue from where the series ends — including taking one actress from “The L Word” and moving her character forward. He declined to say who that actress is.

Elsewhere, Miss Parker and her “Weeds” gang will be back for two more 13-episode cycles of the Emmy-nominated black comedy, the show’s fifth and sixth seasons. Also returning is the series starring comic illusionists Penn & Teller. Now in its seventh season, it will become Showtime’s longest-running show. Ten episodes have been ordered, Variety says.

On the reality front, the network has ordered six episodes of the half-hour series “Lock ‘N Load,” which examines the range of customers who come in to buy firearms at a rural Colorado gun store. Also on the horizon: the previously announced “United States of Tara.” The show, executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (“Juno”), will launch early in 2009. Oscar nominee Toni Collette (“The Sixth Sense”) stars as a suburban housewife with multiple personalities.

Showtime has 16 million subscribers and saw a year-to-year increase of about 1 million.

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

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