- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Cable’s diversity

“Why do so-called ‘reality’ shows, cable series and especially kid-friendly programs find it so much easier to reflect the nation’s ethnic diversity?

“‘The truth is, there are six networks and 500 or so cable channels; inevitably, cable is going to reflect a broader slice of life,’ said Fenton Bailey, documentarian and producer of such reality series as ‘Tori & Dean: Inn Love,’ ‘Pam: Girl on the Loose’ and ‘Million Dollar Listing.’

“‘But also, in the reality arena, you need variety, you need characters, you need difference,’ said Bailey. ‘It is rapacious and it continually needs new people. It’s similar to the way rap appeared; people thought it was a niche genre, but eventually rap overtook rock ‘n’ roll to become the new rock.’

“Entertainment Weekly noted white characters over-represented by an average 9 percent on the five biggest networks. CBS was the worst, with 79.3 percent white characters, compared with 66.2 percent white people in the U.S. population. …

“But some say all it takes is a little effort and confidence that your audience wants to see the characters you’re developing.

“‘It’s very simple; we think about it, we work at it, we talk about it,’ said Gary Marsh, entertainment president for the Disney Channel, who described casting a black family for a new series without changing the script, which wasn’t written specifically for characters of color.

“‘I am hoping that this generation of kids who were raised on [our shows] have that same sense of a color-blind world as they grow up,’ he said.”

Eric Deggans, writing on “Cable tops broadcast TV in reflecting diversity,” in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times Sept. 14

The cool prince

Prince Harry’s overseas military service has bagged him the rank of “coolest” young member of Britain’s royal family, a poll conducted by MSN Entertainment shows.

Of the more than 3,000 people surveyed, the poll found 42 percent of respondents tabbed Harry as the “coolest” among all young royals, beating out his cousin Zara Phillips and his brother, Prince William, said a Sept. 14 London Telegraph report distributed by United Press International.

Princess Zara earned 35 percent of respondents’ support, while William finished a distant third with 15 percent.

When asked what prompted their support of Harry, some respondents cited his military service in Afghanistan, while others mentioned his charitable work.

Harry and his girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, also were named the royal couple by whom most respondents would want to be entertained for a night.

William and his love interest, Kate Middleton, came in third in the poll, with 28 percent.

History of wrinkles

“Wrinkles are like new vocabulary words: Once you become aware of them, you notice them everywhere. Worry lines, laugh lines, frown lines, crow’s-feet. Los Angeles … is a great city for wrinkle watching.

“True, in the enclaves of plastic-surgery enthusiasts - Brentwood, Beverly Hills, the sets of Hollywood films - there is nary a wrinkle in sight. But the city is also home to some of the crinkliest people you will ever see, their faces baked by the hot desert sun into relief maps of creases and furrows and crosshatching.

“In the past few years, we have become quite sophisticated in our understanding of wrinkles and the various methods for erasing them. We are versed in the physical and social repercussions of unfettered aging - skin cancer, job discrimination, invisibility in a society that shamelessly values youth. …

“In 2007, 11.7 million Americans underwent some sort of cosmetic procedure (surgery, Botox, fillers and the like), an 8 percent increase from the year before and a 457 percent increase from a decade earlier.

“Yet we also fear the sometimes-poor results of these endeavors: the blank foreheads of Botox, the wind-tunnel face-lifts favored by various actresses and socialites, the regrettable collagen sins committed by Melanie Griffith and Meg Ryan.”

Amanda Fortini, writing on “Oh, the Wrinkles You’ll Get,” on Slate.com Sept. 11.

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