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Tuning In to TV

- - Monday, April 18, 2011

Baltimore-filmed 'Veep' picked up by HBO

HBO has picked up a political satire series called "Veep" starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and is expected to shoot the show in Baltimore.

The show, planned to debut in fall 2012 features the "Seinfeld" and "New Adventures of Old Christine" star as a former senator who becomes vice president. The pilot was filmed in Baltimore as a stand-in for the District.

The Maryland Film Office estimated the pilot generated $6 million in economic impact for the state's economy. The show could be a boon for the TV business in Baltimore after the end of "The Wire" in 2008.

"Veep" was created by Armando Iannucci, who earned an Oscar nomination for writing "In the Loop." He's an executive producer along with Frank Rich, a former New York Times columnist.

Said Miss Louis-Dreyfus: "Although everyone says this is a comedy, I don't think there is anything funny at all about me being a heartbeat away from the presidency."

Beck leaving New York as well as Fox News

Glenn Beck is leaving Fox News — and the New York area, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

He announced in a live road show from Albany, N.Y., Saturday that he has sold his Connecticut mansion, which has been on the market for more than a year. He did not say where he would be moving, TVNewser reports.

As for his production company, Mercury Radio Arts, it's going to develop a research department "that will utilize the idle brains that we have — retired CIA and military," Mr. Beck told the audience.

"What you are about to see in a few months is a new way to communicate with each other," Mr. Beck said, adding that he's going to "build a way to deliver news directly to the youth of America."

Joel Cheatwood, the new executive vice president at Mercury Radio Arts, will head up the new venture. Mr. Cheatwood's last day at Fox News was April 8.

"The last thing I will be doing," Mr. Beck said, "I will be leaving New York City. As we build a new media, I'm not building it in New York."

TVNewser reports that Mercury Radio Arts' more than 50 employees will continue to work out of a New York office.

Mr. Beck announced the end of his Fox News show earlier this month.

Cowell won't judge both 'X Factor' shows

Britain's ITV network has confirmed that Simon Cowell will not split his time between the United Kingdom and the new U.S. versions of "X Factor," saying it was "completely comfortable" with that, according to the BBC.

ITV said it was "talking about ways in which he can have an on-screen presence later in the series."

Mr. Cowell will lead the judges on the U.S. "X Factor." Other judges for both versions of the show have yet to be announced.

The U.S show is due to start screening in September, while the U.K. show usually begins in August.

ITV said Mr. Cowell would continue to be "an enormous presence backstage" on the U.K. program and that the network would be in constant discussions with him to ensure the show "continues to evolve."

William and Kate movie: So bad it's good?

The most talked about movie in Britain this week is probably a made-for-TV special about Prince William and Kate Middleton that documents the early days of their romance, Associated Press reports.

The response so far to "William and Kate: The Movie" suggests the film may find a wide audience — even though it likely will not be in line for any Emmy Awards.

The Guardian newspaper's response Friday was typical, calling the movie far worse than expectations, which were low in the first place. The newspaper said the movie was so bad it probably would be a smash.

"So bad it's awful, toe-curlingly, teeth-furringly, pillow-bitingly ghastly," the paper said. The movie suffers from poor acting, bad locations and bogus accents, it said.

However, those shortcomings, real or imagined, will not keep the movie, shot entirely in Los Angeles, from getting TV time in Britain and in the United States in the two weeks left before the April 29 wedding of the real William and Miss Middleton. It will air at 9 and 11 p.m. Saturdayon Lifetime.

London Evening Standard critic Richard Godwin said American critics have "panned this movie as a cheesy chick-flick" but predicted the English will end up cherishing the movie because it is so outlandish.

It stars New Zealander Nico Evers-Swindell playing a dashing version of Prince William and Camilla Luddington as a highly emotional Miss Middleton, portrayed as determined to snag a prince despite the obstacles she faces.

'Treme' homes razed despite New Orleans protests

Several ramshackle houses featured on advertisements for the HBO series "Treme" were demolished last weekdespite efforts by preservationists and show producers who wanted the row homes renovated.

The houses had roofs that were barely there and chunks of siding missing. They needed to be torn down because they were dangerous and an eyesore, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and several neighbors said.

The producers of the television show, set in New Orleans in the months after Hurricane Katrina, asked the mayor in a letter to hold off on razing the homes.

"What a powerful message it would send about the resiliency and recovery of the city for this block to be restored and transformed into desirable homes for returning residents," the producers said in the letter.

Bradley Vogel of the National Trust for Historic Preservation said efforts to improve blight have gotten better since Mr. Landrieu took office last year. However, he said more needs to be done to get houses into the hands of potential developers and preservationists, and the vacant lots left behind will be little improvement.

Mr. Landrieu said he was committed to preserving the city's historic architecture wherever possible. He noted the city's work to move, rather than demolish, a number of historic homes on land now planned for a new medical center.

TV on DVD: What's a solar flare?

"The Universe: Mega Collection" (A&E Home Entertainment, $179.95) gives amateur astronomers a 15-disc Blu-ray set compiling all five seasons of the History Channel's highly educational documentary series.

Through 63 episodes delivering more than 50 hours of programming, the discs teach about minutia such as Mars' Olympus Mons volcano, the sun's coronal mass ejections, destructive dark energy and Titan's methane lakes, with help from renowned scientists and some stunning, high-definition CGI animation.

Not-so-impressive extras include featurettes on meteors and comets, along with an image gallery and two dozen text facts about the universe.

A&E also tosses in a 16th Blu-ray offering the episode "7 Wonders of the Solar System" in 3-D for those early adopters of the latest home entertainment technology.

Joseph Szadkowski

Compiled from web and wire reports