- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

‘Southland’ returning

NBC has renewed its midseason drama “Southland,” the Hollywood Reporter says.

There is no official pickup yet for NBC’s other recent midseason entry, the Amy Poehler comedy “Parks and Recreation,” but the renewal of that series also is expected to be announced during today’s fall lineup presentation to advertisers.

NBC on Friday picked up 13 episodes from “Southland,” THR said.

The Warner Bros. TV-produced cop drama, starring Ben McKenzie, was a late addition to NBC’s midseason slate. It got off to a very strong start in “ER’s” Thursday 10 p.m. slot. The ratings have since slipped, but the network brass have been high on “Southland’s” creative potential and executive producer John Wells’ solid track record as a showrunner.

Still waiting to hear their fate are the series “Chuck,” “Law & Order,” “Medium” and “My Name Is Earl,” as well as the network’s crop of pilots. NBC and “Earl” producer 20th TV are in negotiations for a full-season pickup.

On the pilot front, comedies “Community” and “100 Questions for Charlotte Payne” and dramas “Trauma” and “Parenthood” are expected to land series orders, and the sitcom “Off Duty” also looks promising.

‘Roommates’ evicted

ABC Family’s comedy series “Roommates” won’t return for a second season, MediaWeek.com reports.

The remaining four episodes from the show’s freshman season will air back-to-back beginning at 9 tonight.

The series, starring Tyler Francavilla, Dorian Brown, Tamera Mowry, Tommy Dewey and David Weidoff, premiered March 23.

ABC Family recently loaded up on new series for this summer, when the cable network will unspool three new shows: the drama “Make It or Break It” and comedies “10 Things I Hate About You” and “Ruby & the Rockits.”

Sen. McCain on AMC

Sen. John S. McCain, Arizona Republican, will speak about his wartime experiences as part of a Memorial Day AMC movie marathon, Variety reports.

The former Republican presidential candidate will talk about being a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War during the “War Heroes” marathon, which begins at 8 a.m. Films to be shown on the cable network include “Midway,” “Patton,” “The Longest Day,” “Hamburger Hill,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “Battle of the Bulge.”

AMC will air other heroes-related marathons in May, including superheroes, action heroes, Western heroes and anti-heroes.

Disney does the Hulu

Walt Disney Co., through a subsidiary of ABC Enterprises Inc., has joined NBC Universal, News Corp. and Providence Equity Partners as a partner and equity owner of the online content aggregator Hulu, the two companies announced.

Disney/ABC content that will be made available on Hulu under the new arrangement will include ad-supported full-length episodes of “Lost,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Private Practice,” “Ugly Betty,” “Scrubs,” “Greek,” “Hope & Faith,” “Less Than Perfect,” “Wizards of Waverly Place,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” “General Hospital,” “The View” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” as well as some Disney library feature films, Entertainment Weekly says.

DTV readiness improves

The number of United States homes that would lose all broadcasting if the planned analog-to-digital broadcast switchover took place today fell to about 3.5 million, or 3.1 percent of American households, as many Hispanic families made the necessary adjustments to continue to receive programming, TVWeek.com reports, citing data from Nielsen.

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M., remains the least prepared U.S. metropolitan area for the switchover, which is set for June 12.

About 100,000 households became digital broadcast-ready during the two weeks that ended April 26, with the number of unprepared Hispanic households falling by almost half a percentage point, Nielsen said. About 5 percent of Hispanic homes remain unprepared for the switchover, which was bumped back from its original Feb. 17 date.

The percentage of U.S. homes that would go dark after the switchover has fallen about 2 percent in the past three months as more people either add service with a cable or satellite company, buy a digital-ready television or acquire a digital-to-analog converter box in a government-sponsored program. As of April 29, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration had spent more than $1.4 billion sending out about 56 million coupons to defray the cost of converter boxes.

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, the least prepared metropolitan market a month ago, remains in that position, with 8.8 percent of the area’s homes completely unready for the switchover, Nielsen said. By comparison, fewer than 1 percent of homes in Providence, R.I.-New Bedford, Mass.; Hartford-New Haven, Conn.; Baltimore; and Oklahoma City would go dark if the switchover took place today, according to Nielsen.

Lee’s ‘Strange’ to PBS

PBS’ “Great Performances” has acquired Spike Lee’s film adaptation of the rock musical “Passing Strange” and announced plans to air the project in 2010, Variety reports.

“Passing Strange” is the story of a young black man who leaves behind his middle-class upbringing in mid-1970s Los Angeles to travel to Europe, where he finds he can exploit his “South Central” persona. The play received seven Tony nominations and won for book of a musical in 2008.

The producers of “Passing Strange” also said they’re exploring a limited theatrical release for the film in the late summer or early fall.

Springfield’s new gig

Actor and “Jessie’s Girl” crooner Rick Springfield has signed on to play himself in four episodes of Showtime’s “Californication,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

According to the publication, producers of the dramedy put out a casting call for “an actor who experienced huge fame in the 1980s to play themselves as a now down-on his-luck-ex-celebrity waiting tables to get by.”

On tap tonight

Antiques Roadshow (8, WETA-Channel 26) — A visit to the Holland Museum in Holland, Mich., highlights Delft tiles. Also: Other appraised items include a Stickley music cabinet designed by Harvey Ellis; a painting by French artist Edouard Cortes; and prop spears from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz.”

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

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