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Tuning in to TV

- - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

WikiLeaks founder planning TV show

You've read his leaks. Now watch his show.

Cybertransparency activist Julian Assange said he's launching a career in television, hosting what he's billing as a new brand of talk show built around the theme of "the world tomorrow," according to the Associated Press.

The show's guests haven't been disclosed, but Mr. Assange has promised to give viewers more of what he's been supplying for years: controversy.

The WikiLeaks secret-spilling site said in a statement released late Monday that "iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders" would be brought in so Mr. Assange could challenge them on their vision of world affairs and "their ideas on how to secure a brighter future."

The world of television talk shows is a new one for the 40-year-old Australian, whose group has orchestrated the biggest mass disclosures of secret documents in U.S. history. But the statement argued that Mr. Assange was uniquely qualified for the role given his past as "a pioneer for a more just world and a victim of political repression."

WikiLeaks said the show would begin airing in mid-March, although how the show will be produced and who will carry it are open questions.

It's not even clear if Mr. Assange will be free to host the show. He's currently fighting extradition to Sweden, where he's wanted on sex crime allegations, and U.S. officials are still weighing possible charges linked to his attention-grabbing leaks.

Harvard troupe names Segel Man of the Year

"How I Met Your Mother" star Jason Segel can add a Hasty Pudding award to his career highlights.

Harvard University's Hasty Pudding Theatricals on Monday named Mr. Segel its Man of the Year.

The student group is the nation's oldest undergraduate drama troupe. It'll host a parade and roast for Mr. Segel on Feb. 3.

Mr. Segel got his start in the short-lived but critically acclaimed television series "Freaks and Geeks." He later wrote and starred in the 2008 movie "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," which earned more than $100 million worldwide. And he co-wrote and starred in last year's "The Muppets." He plays Marshall Eriksen on the CBS comedy "How I Met Your Mother."

Actress Claire Danes, currently starring in Showtime's "Homeland," has been named this year's Woman of the Year.

Leno joke about Romney upsets India's Sikhs

India's Sikh community isn't finding Jay Leno so funny.

Members of the religious group said they were outraged when the "Tonight Show" host showed a photo of a glittering gold building and claimed it was Republican Mitt Romney's summer home, according to the Associated Press.

It was meant to be a joke about the Republican presidential candidate's wealth, but the building in the photograph is the Golden Temple, the holiest site in the Sikh religion.

Dalbeg Singh, a top Sikh leader, said Tuesday that community leaders would seek an apology from Mr. Leno. India's foreign ministry said the government had taken the issue up with U.S. authorities.

Meanwhile, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday that Mr. Leno's comments "appeared to be satirical in nature."

Globes broadcast dispute is headed to court

A little more than a week after handing out Golden Globes to show business elite, members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and their longtime collaborators will begin a trial to determine which group controls broadcast rights to the popular awards ceremony.

The decision will alter the future of the glitzy gala and whether it will remain on NBC or, for the first time in 17 years, appear on another network.

If the association prevails, it may mean an end to its relationship with Dick Clark Productions, the company that brought the Globes back to network television after a scandal threatened its future. The partnership also helped transform the show into one of the biggest events in Hollywood's crowded awards season.

The trial's scheduled opening Tuesday in a Los Angeles federal court came just nine days after nearly 17 million viewers tuned in to the show, which featured barbs from host Ricky Gervais and a potential bump in Oscar momentum for films such as "The Artist" and actor George Clooney.

U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz has already been presented thousands of pages of documents and evidence to decide the case, and he will hear live testimony from a number of current HFPA members, executives and possibly from Dick Clark himself. The extensive documents filed in the case include minutes of board meetings dating back to the early 1980s.

Audiences of the past two Globes awards shows didn't notice it, but the HFPA and its producers have waged a bitter legal war since November 2010 over who has the right to negotiate broadcast deals for the Globes. The association contends Dick Clark Productions improperly negotiated a deal keeping the Globes on NBC until 2018, a move that also guarantees the company the right to work on the show until then.

The association claims it was blindsided by the deal and had received assurances throughout 2010 from Dick Clark Productions that it wasn't negotiating a new broadcast deal. The company, however, claims it had the right to pursue the NBC extension.

'American Ninja Warrior' expands on NBC, G4

NBC and its G4 cable sister will crown an "American Ninja Warrior" this summer — and it's a good bet that person will be tired.

The network said Tuesday it will air a summer competition series putting contestants through an arduous obstacle course, sort of a serious version of ABC's "Wipeout" series, the Associated Press reports. Regional rounds will winnow a field of 100 contestants before a winner is chosen at a Las Vegas course.

Weekly episodes will air on NBC and G4; both networks are owned by the Comcast Corp. Spokesman Dave Welch said it hasn't yet been determined how many episodes will air or when the show will premiere.

The competition began three years ago. NBC aired the finale last season and was pleased by the ratings, leading to the expansion.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.