- The Washington Times - Monday, March 31, 2008

‘Today’ concerts

Paula Abdul and Miley Cyrus are among the stars who will headline the “Today” show’s 13th annual concert series on NBC, the Associated Press reports.

Miss Abdul will kick off the series on the plaza outside the “Today” studio on April 25, NBC said last week. The ‘80s pop star and “American Idol” judge recently debuted her first new song in a decade, “Dance Like There’s No Tomorrow.” The song was produced by fellow “Idol” judge Randy Jackson.

Young Miley, 15, star of the Disney Channel’s “Hannah Montana,” is set to perform July 25, the AP says.

Other headliners include Ashlee Simpson, Rascal Flatts, Natasha Bedingfield, Neil Diamond, Mary J. Blige, Alanis Morissette, the B-52s, Donna Summer, Chris Brown, Kenny Chesney, Rihanna and Coldplay.

Sheryl Crow will take the stage Aug. 1.

NBC said it will announce additional acts in the coming months.

Fight nights

Speaking of NBC, the Peacock has beaten CBS to the punch in mixed martial arts programming.

As mixed martial arts (MMA) continues to forge bonds with broadcasters, the network is partnering with world championship promotion company Strikeforce for an MMA cage fight series for a weekly late-night run.

Night owls can catch “Strikeforce on NBC” when it premieres April 12 at 2 a.m., following “Poker After Dark” — which features a core audience of 18- to 34-year-old males that also make up the majority of the MMA fan base, notes TVWeek.com.

“Mixed martial arts has exploded onto the sports scene,” said Jerry Petry, executive vice president of NBC Universal Television. “Its athletes are tremendous competitors and the sport is one of the fastest-growing in the world. As a leader in this arena, Strikeforce will be able to deliver some of the finest and most intense action ever seen on broadcast TV.”

Each episode will feature taped Strikeforce mixed martial arts fights and highlights along with fighter profiles. The premiere episode is slated to feature Cung Le vs. Brian Warren and Duane “Bang” Ludwig vs. Tony “The Freak,” as well as a profile on Mr. Le, who is recognized as one of the top competitors in the sport.

Earlier this year, CBS and ProElite announced a formal partnership that will put four annual EliteXC events on prime-time television. The first EliteXC-CBS event is expected to air in May.

New comedy shows

Cable’s Comedy Central is loading up on satire, ordering a magazine show spoof from David Alan Grier (“In Living Color,” “Life with Bonnie”) and a reality TV parody from 3Ball Prods. (“The Biggest Loser”).

According to Variety, the magazine show riff, tentatively titled “David Alan Grier’s Chocolate News,” stars the Tony-nominated Mr. Grier as the host of a show that takes on unusual (and untrue) pop culture topics — such as an operation to save black and white conjoined twins.

The other project, “Reality Bites” (also a working title), features comedians competing in takeoffs of real formats (such as “Are You Smarter Than a Monkey?”).

Both shows were part of Comedy Central’s development slate, announced earlier this month.

“Chocolate News” is set to premiere in early 2009, while “Reality Bites” will land on the schedule this summer, Variety said.

She’s baaaaack

Elisha Cuthbert is returning to television as the female lead in CBS’ one-hour pilot “Ny-Lon,” notes the Hollywood Reporter.

Also cast in the ABC Studios-produced adaptation of the British series are Caterina Scorsone and Johnny Whitworth.

“Ny-Lon” centers on Edie (Miss Cuthbert), a New York literacy teacher/record store clerk, and Michael, a London stock broker, who embark on a cross-continental romance.

Miss Scorsone (“1-800-Missing”) will play Edie’s roommate, a slutty, Bohemian rocker. Mr. Whitworth (“CSI: Miami”) will play Edie’s rocker ex-boyfriend.

After her breakthrough role on Fox’s “24,” Miss Cuthbert had focused on movies. Her upcoming features include “My Sassy Girl” and “The Six Lives of Henry Lefay.”

HBO’s ‘Tim’

HBO plans to launch a pair of comedies on Friday nights starting in June, TVWeek.com reports.

“The Life and Times of Tim” is an animated series about an average guy whose instincts take him down the wrong path. “Summer Heights High,” from Australia, takes a look at life in high school, focusing on a drama teacher, an exchange student and a student who is obsessed with breakdancing.

The series will run back-to-back during “Summer Heights High’s” eight-episode season. The ninth and 10th episodes of “Tim” will air back-to-back the following week.

‘ER’ visit for Hal

Recent Oscar nominee Hal Holbrook (“Into the Wild”) is making a house call to NBC’s “ER” for a guest appearance on the first night of sweeps, says Zap2it.com.

He’ll play a cancer patient who has a strong effect on Luka (Goran Visnjic). The episode is scheduled for April 24.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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