- The Washington Times - Monday, May 11, 2009

Look who’s talking

Aisha Tyler has been tapped to host a talk show pilot for ABC, the Hollywood Reporter says.

“The Aisha Tyler Show” is described as a hybrid that will incorporate aspects of a traditional talk show with comedic political commentary, produced comedy segments and other elements usually associated with late-night shows. Aimed at a younger audience, “Tyler” is being developed as a fully “wired” concept, with fans being able to communicate with Tyler via Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, THR notes.

There has been speculation that the project might be eyed for ABC’s afternoon block, which airs the soaps “All My Children,” “One Life to Live” and “General Hospital.” (CBS recently canceled its long-running soap “Guiding Light” and will replace it with a game or talk show).

But ABC sources stressed that “Tyler” is being targeted strictly for syndication or cable.

Miss Tyler — a Dartmouth College graduate and a former host of E! Entertainment Television’s “Talk Soup” (2001-2002) — recently appeared in the feature film “Bedtime Stories.”

Mel to chat with Jay

Whether his pending divorce will be a topic of conversation — or even jokes — Mel Gibson will join Jay Leno as the NBC host oversees the “Tonight Show’s” final week.

According to People.com, Mr. Gibson, whose 29-year-marriage has ended amid stories of a new girlfriend, will appear on the late-night show May 25, along with musical guest Lyle Lovett.

Other guests that final week include Dwight Yoakum and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on May 26; Wanda Sykes and Sarah McLachlan, May 27; and Prince and Billy Crystal, May 28.

Stars for the very last show have yet to be announced. Once the curtain on the Leno era comes down, Conan O’Brien will then occupy the “Tonight” chair that Mr. Leno inherited from Johnny Carson in 1992.

Mr. Leno will then move to NBC prime time with a new nightly program this fall.

‘J&K’ premiere a go

TLC is dealing with a real-life controversy stemming from its real-life reality series “Jon & Kate Plus 8,” Multichannel.com reports.

The network is still planning its May 25 season five premiere of the series, which focuses on the lives of Jon and Kate Gosselin and their eight children, despite reports that Jon is having an affair. TLC executives would not comment on recent photographs published by Us Magazine of Jon leaving a bar at 2 a.m. with third-grade teacher Deanna Hummel.

Mr. Gosselin, however, released a statement, saying his late-night jaunt “showed poor judgment” and that he is not cheating on his wife.

Kate Gosselin, during an appearance on NBC’s “Today” show on Friday, said she’s “very hesitant” to believe Jon is cheating, according to the New York Daily News.

“Jon and Kate Plus 8” is a major hit for TLC. The show’s fourth season averaged 2.9 million viewers for TLC, and the season’s March 23 finale drew a record 4.6 million viewers.

A TLC spokeswoman said the controversy will be addressed “in some way” during the fifth-season premiere episode, but would not give further details.

ABC gets a ‘Family’

ABC has given an early series pickup to “Modern Family,” the new sitcom from Steve Levitan and Chris Lloyd.

“Modern Family” — formerly known as “My American Family” — scored a great response at ABC’s pilot screenings, Variety reports, giving the network reason to go ahead now and pick up 13 episodes for fall.

The show follows the lives of three American families, as seen through the eyes of a Dutch filmmaker. One home centers on a traditional nuclear family, another is a gay couple with a newly adopted Vietnamese child; and the third consists of an older man who has just married a younger Latina wife.

Jason Winer directed the pilot. Ed O’Neill, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara, Julie Bowen, Eric Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson star.

Abdul recants story

Paula Abdul is now denying a Ladies’ Home Journal story that said she checked into rehab to escape an addiction to painkillers, YVGuide.com reports.

The magazine, however, stands by its story.

The June cover story on Miss Abdul said the “American Idol” judge came clean about a 12-year struggle with painkillers and checked into La Costa Resort & Spa in Carlsbad, Calif., last Thanksgiving to wean herself off them for good. The magazine article attributed lengthy quotes to Miss Abdul: “I could have killed myself. … Withdrawal — it’s the worst thing. … I was freezing cold, then sweating hot, then chattering and in so much pain, it was excruciating. But at my very core, I did not like existing the way I had been.”

On Thursday, Miss Abdul told Detroit radio show “Mojo in the Morning” that she only checked into the resort for a spa vacation.

“It was very stressful for me to hear that and to be quoted saying something I’ve never said. — I’ve never checked into a rehab clinic. I’ve never been addicted or abused drugs, and I’ve never been addicted or abused alcohol. I’ve never even been drunk in my life,” Miss Abdul said. “It’s a spa. I was there for almost three days having fun doing spa stuff. It’s not a clinic. It’s not a detox place. It’s a luxurious spa. It’s like taking a mini vacation. I just wanted to chill out and get massages and maybe a manicure and pedicure.”

Asked about the magazine quoting her about suffering cold, chattering teeth and pain, she told the station, “That actually is true,” but didn’t elaborate or explain.

One of the radio hosts later asked: “So you sure you ain’t never been on those drugs?”

“We’re not going to go there,” Miss Abdul answered.

Later, when asked if she would pursue legal action against the magazine, Miss Abdul said she would leave the decision up to her handlers.

Ladies’ Home Journal has no plans to retract the article. “We stand by our reporting and are happy Paula decided to share her story with us,” a LHJ spokeswoman told TVGuide.com.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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