- The Washington Times - Friday, April 24, 2009

Summer slot for ‘Kings’

NBC’s “Kings” is on the move again, this time to summer.

After originally being scheduled midseason as a Thursday-night drama, the series actually premiered on a Sunday (March 15) and was moved to repeat-laden Saturday night after its four low-rated Sunday episodes. Then, the contemporary King David drama — which stars Ian McShane (HBO’s “Deadwood”) — was pulled off the schedule.

Now it’s returning to its 8 p.m. Saturday slot on June 13, where it will finish its run through July 25.

Meanwhile, beginning Saturday, NBC will air reruns of “Law & Order: SVU,” the freshman cop drama “Southland” and “Law & Order,” in the “Kings’” slot until its June 13 return, notes the Hollywood Reporter.

Serving up new shows

Coming off of its highest-rated quarter ever, Food Network unveiled eight new prime-time shows at its upfront presentation Tuesday in New York.

The cable network’s focus on cooking competitions continues in the upcoming programming slate. “Chefs vs. City” is a foodie version of “The Amazing Race” in which notable chefs Chris Cosentino and Aaron Sanchez take on a pair of local chefs in a different city each week, vying in a series of five challenges. The series begins in July.

Launching in the fall is “Extreme Cuisine With Jeff Corwin.”

Mr. Corwin, whose former series “The Jeff Corwin Experience” appeared on Food’s sister network, Animal Planet, will head to foreign locales to taste native cuisines.

“We don’t want to overdo it with competition shows, but viewers like it,” network President Brooke Johnson tells Daily Variety. “We sort of have a bifurcated strategy. We have the ‘In the Kitchen’ blocks — Saturday and Sunday morning, and weekdays — which are as important to us as prime time. We’re able to develop new shows and draw on talent from the kitchen.”

The network has done well with competition series, such as “Iron Chef America” and “Food Network Challenge.” Top-performing shows also travel far from the network’s in-house kitchen, focusing on restaurants and cuisine from across the globe — such as “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (hosted by 2006 “The Next Food Network Star” winner Guy Fieri), the network’s No. 1 show in prime time.

According to Variety, Food Network was up 16 percent in total viewers in 2009’s first quarter compared to a year earlier (982,000 versus 844,000). “I’d be lying if I didn’t say we were helped by the writers strike,” Miss Johnson said. “People started sampling us and didn’t go back. We’ve had that great base to build on.”

Other new prime-time programming coming to the Scripps-owned cable network includes: “Worst Cooks in America” and “Foods That Changed the World.” Existing series drawing renewals are “The Next Iron Chef,” “Ultimate Recipe Showdown” and “The Next Food Network Star.”

On the daytime side, “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals” will premiere May 10, “Viva Daisy” returns for a second season in July, and “What Would Brian Boitano Make” — in which the former Olympic figure skater entertains guests — begins in August.

‘Gangster’ in A&E fold

“The Sopranos” aren’t the only thugs in A&E Television Networks’ programming portfolio.

The cable network has acquired the first three seasons of “American Gangster,” Black Entertainment Television’s documentary series. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The series, which profiles infamous crime figures such as convicted murderer and former Los Angeles gang leader Stanley “Tookie” Williams (who was executed in 2005) and New York drug kingpin Frank Lucas (now 78) through eyewitness accounts, courtroom documents and archival footage, will air worldwide on Crime & Investigation Network, according to A&E officials. As part of the agreement, AETN will represent worldwide sales of the series through AETN International.

Weekend watch:

Journey to the Center of the Earth (8 p.m. Saturday, HBO) — Jules Verne’s science-fiction classic comes to life in this 2008 epic about a trio of explorers who discover a pathway to Earth’s core. Brendan Fraser stars.

Walking the Baby Mammoth (9 p.m. Sunday, National Geographic Channel) — Scientists explore the preserved body of Lyuba (whose name is a variant on the old Russian word for “love”), a baby mammoth that died about 40,000 years ago. By analyzing her body, scientists can learn more about the mysteries of the Ice Age, why certain species disappeared then and what it might mean to our changing climate, notes Zap2it.com.

The 2009 TV Land Awards (8 p.m. Sunday, TV Land) — Neil Patrick Harris hosts the gala ceremony that recognizes the best and brightest from television’s past. Among the honorees: Julia Louis-Dreyfus (“The New Adventures of Old Christine,” “Seinfeld”), who will receive the Legacy of Laughter Award. Also: “Home Improvement” receives the Fan Favorite Award, and “Magnum, P.I.” gets the Hero Award.

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

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