- - Monday, April 2, 2012

Ashton Kutcher is to play Steve Jobs in an independent film about the late Apple chief’s life, a spokeswoman for the “Two and a Half Men” actor said Monday, reported Agence France-Presse.

“Jobs” will tell the story of his life from wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple and revered creative entrepreneur, according to industry daily Variety, whose report was confirmed as accurate by the spokeswoman.

Twitter trailblazer Mr. Kutcher, who recently split from actress Demi Moore, is attached to the project to be directed by Joshua Michael Stern based on a script by Matt Whiteley, it said.

Production is due to start in May while Mr. Kutcher is taking a break from “Two and a Half Men,” the hit TV series he joined last year after Charlie Sheen was fired following a very public row with the producer.

Major studio Sony Pictures also is developing a movie about Jobs, based on the best-selling book by Walter Isaacson that was released after the Apple chief’s death in October.

Mr. Kutcher, 34, was best known for TV shows including “That ‘70s Show” and “Punk’d” before he replaced Mr. Sheen in May. He and Miss Moore, both Twitter early adopters, announced their separation in November.

Oprah still bullish on her cable network

Oprah Winfrey says she still has faith in her troubled cable network.

Appearing Monday on “CBS This Morning,” Miss Winfrey told the show’s co-host - and her best friend - Gayle King that she believes the Oprah Winfrey Network will fulfill its mission of transforming viewers’ lives.

If viewers don’t respond, Miss Winfrey says, “I will move on to the next thing.”

OWN has struggled to build an audience since its launch in January 2011.

Says Miss Winfrey: “I’ll always be OK.”

Meanwhile, her longtime boyfriend, Stedman Graham, was on NBC’s “Today” show promoting his new book, “Identity: Your Passport to Success.”

Noting the couple’s clashing TV appearances, host Matt Lauer asked Mr. Graham whether they share a competitive streak. He replied that he wants only the best for Miss Winfrey.

TV sets sail with Titanic anniversary specials

From dramas to documentaries, the Titanic centennial won’t escape TV’s notice. On special programming, viewers will be welcomed aboard the doomed luxury vessel, hear stories of its passengers and crew, and explore the legacy of its tragic end.

If you don’t feel like heading for your local movie house to see James Cameron’s “Titanic” re-released in 3-D splendor, you can catch a new dramatic telling of the epic on ABC.

This four-hour miniseries can’t claim Leonardo DiCaprio, but it does have a big name attached: Julian Fellowes, the acclaimed screenwriter of “Gosford Park,” “The Tourist” and “Downton Abbey.” It airs over two nights, beginning at 8 p.m. on April 14 and concluding the next night at 9 p.m. to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.

Linus Roache (“Law & Order”) stars as lofty first-class passenger Hugh, Earl of Manton, while his wife, Louisa, is played by Geraldine Somerville (the “Harry Potter” films). Their daughter Georgianna is played by Perdita Weeks (“The Tudors”).

Each hour follows similar events from the perspectives of different passengers and crew, building to a powerful conclusion in the final hour that draws together all the stories during Titanic’s final moments - and the final moments of many people it was carrying.

Other Titanic programming includes:

• “Titanic’s Final Mystery” (Thursday at 8 p.m. on the Smithsonian Channel) re-examines two critical questions of the Titanic’s demise: Why did it hit the iceberg in the first place? And why did the ship closest to Titanic, the Californian, never come to its rescue? Author and Titanic researcher Tim Maltin uncovers evidence that both ships were deceived by mirages, dooming Titanic to its fate.

• “Titanic: The Final Word With James Cameron” (Saturday at 8 p.m. on National Geographic Channel) follows the Oscar-winning filmmaker and National Geographic explorer-in-residence as he dives back into Titanic’s mysteries. Mr. Cameron gathers some of the world’s leading Titanic researchers to pore over underwater footage from Mr. Cameron’s more than 30 dives to the wreck, as well as historical records, survivor eyewitness accounts and scenes from Mr. Cameron’s blockbuster hit, as well as a never-before-seen stress model and forensic evidence. The goal: to answer questions about how the ship broke apart and why its remains are scattered.

• “Save the Titanic With Bob Ballard” (Monday at 10 p.m. on National Geographic Channel) sets the man who discovered the ship’s final resting place on a new quest: protecting Titanic’s underwater graveyard. As evidence mounts that the ship is under siege by natural forces, careless visitors and, possibly, rogue salvage attempts, Mr. Ballard mounts an effort to protect the legacy of history’s most famous ship. Mr. Ballard’s odyssey takes him to the shipyards of Northern Ireland to meet with descendants of the men who helped build Titanic, then sailed on her maiden voyage.

• “The Titanic With Len Goodman” (April 10 at 8 p.m. on most PBS stations) examines the impact of the sinking on the thousands of affected families, part of the Titanic legacy that lives on in the victims’ descendants. Len Goodman, best known as a judge on “Dancing With the Stars,” has his own connection: Before he was a dancer, he was a welder in East London for the company that built Titanic, in Belfast. Mr. Goodman takes viewers on an exploration of the ship’s 100-year legacy through the stories of the hand-picked group of men who helped build Titanic and then died with it.

• “Why Ships Sink” (April 18 at 9 p.m. on most PBS stations) is a “Nova” program that investigates the safety of current-day cruise ships, which keep getting bigger and bigger. Some engineers fear that these towering behemoths are dangerously unstable, and the recent tragedy of the Costa Concordia has raised new questions about their safety. “Nova” brings together marine engineering and safety specialists to reconstruct the events that led to famous cruise disasters, including the ill-fated Concordia, the Sea Diamond and the Oceanos.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports

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