- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

‘Swingtown’ draws ire

The Parents Television Council is strongly urging all CBS affiliates, particularly those in the Central and Mountain time zones, to pre-empt the mildly risque new show “Swingtown,” which the group says “introduces viewers to a world of drugs and sexual experimentation with the premise of open marriage at its core.”

“The CBS Television Network appears determined to reinvent itself as a cable network,” President Tim Winter said Monday. “‘Swingtown’ is one of the most sexually indulgent programs we’ve seen on broadcast television in a long time but is par for the course in CBS’ race to the bottom of vile and violent television programming. “This show should not be on broadcast television - period.”

“Swingtime,” which bowed Thursday, revisits the sexually liberated ‘70s and the heyday of wife-swapping through the eyes of two couples in an upscale Chicago suburb. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the adulterous suburbanites trumped the bloody slashers of NBC’s horror anthology “Fear Itself” - attracting 8.6 million viewers, as compared to 5.2 million for “Fear,” in the 10 p.m. time slot.

The period drama finished in second place behind ABC’s presentation of Game 1 of the NBA Finals, featuring the Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Boston Celtics, which attracted 13.4 million, Reuters news agency says.

Final ratings data is expected to be released Tuesday.

Reports: Jay to aid Ed

“Tonight” host Jay Leno has offered his support to Ed McMahon, the show’s former sidekick, who is facing foreclosure on his multimillion-dollar home, says Contactmusic.com, citing a report in the New York Daily News.

According to the Daily News, the late-night king has vowed to assist Mr. McMahon, who has fallen behind with his mortgage payments.

“Everybody loves Ed. Jay and others on the show are discussing how they can help him,” a representative for Mr. Leno told the newspaper.

Mr. McMahon, 85, has been out of work for 18 months after breaking his neck in a fall. He has been attempting to sell his $6.25 million home in Beverly Hills, Calif., for two years, but the sluggish property market has delayed his plans.

However, several endorsement offers are said to be in the pipeline for Mr. McMahon, who served as the second banana to the late Johnny Carson until Mr. Carson left “Tonight” after a 30-year reign in 1992. Mr. McMahon, a Catholic University of America graduate also hosted the talent competition series “Star Search” (1983-1995) and was the spokesman-presenter for American Family Publishing sweepstakes, which annually awards $10,000,000 to lucky participants.

“A lot of people have shown generosity. Things are going to work out,”says Howard Bragman, Mr. McMahon’s publicist.

VH1 ‘Screams’

VH1 is looking for actresses who aren’t afraid to scream.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cable network has greenlighted “Scream Queens,” a series from Lionsgate that will gather 10 unknown actresses to compete for a “major” role in a horror movie from Lionsgate Films. The contestants will compete in challenges and be schooled by acting coach John Homa. Their skills and progress will be judged by an unnamed director from Lionsgate’s roster.

“Horror films have dominated the pop-culture landscape for decades and along the way have produced some of the biggest names in Hollywood,” said Jeff Olde, VH1’s executive vice president for original programming and production.

The series, consisting of eight hour-long episodes, is set to premiere in the fall.

Swayze series a go

A&E has ordered 13 episodes of “The Beast,” a drama series starring Patrick Swayze as an unorthodox FBI agent dogged by Internal Affairs, TVGuide.com reports. Mr. Swayze was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer earlier this year but has been responding well to treatment, and his doctors cleared him to return to work.

“I have searched for quite a long time to find a character that is this multilayered, unpredictable and downright entertaining,” Mr. Swayze says, “as well as a project this current and cutting-edged.”

“The Beast” and Benjamin Bratt’s “The Cleaner” (premiering July 15) mark A&E’s first original scripted dramas in six years. Production starts this summer in Chicago, the Hollywood Reporter says, with an eye on an early 2009 bow.

Rock’s bro gets show

MyNetworkTV has added a half-hour sketch comedy series starring Tony Rock to its fall schedule, MediaWeek.com reports. The new show will air at 8:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, leading out of “Under One Roof.”

Tony Rock, the younger brother of comedian Chris Rock, recently starred in the sitcom “All of Us.”

The new show is produced by Langley Productions, which also produces the reality shows “Jail” and “Street Patrol” for MNTV. Those shows air as part of MNTV’s Tuesday-night programming block.

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

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