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Tuning in to TV

- - Sunday, January 8, 2012

'Sherlock' actor defends co-star's nude scene

Benedict Cumberbatch is shrugging off British newspaper criticism of his female co-star's nude scene in TV's latest season of "Sherlock."

It may be an effort to sell papers, he said, but it also helps the drama about a modern-day Holmes that will air its second season in the United States this May on PBS' "Masterpiece Mystery!"

"It's great publicity, isn't it?" Mr. Cumberbatch told the Television Critics Association on Thursday, the Associated Press reports. "I think there's an awful lot of support for the way that we did [the scene] and the taste that we did it with. And if it creates more interest in the program, thank you very much for that."

In this week's BBC-aired episode titled "A Scandal in Belgravia," Holmes has a close encounter with a whip-smart dominatrix, Irene Adler (Lara Pulver), who gets under his skin by flashing much of hers. Some detractors said the scene was too racy to air early in the evening, when children are more likely to be watching TV.

"It's not supposed to be a source of stimulation for the audience," Mr. Cumberbatch said. "It's supposed to throw [Holmes'] radar off, which is exactly what it does."

He played it coy on whether the hit series will return for a third season. The actor has become a hot property with film credits including "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and "War Horse."

During a Q&A by satellite from London, Mr. Cumberbatch pretended to seek legal counsel when asked if he would sign on for more "Sherlock." He also consulted another fictional lawyer when queried about his role in the forthcoming "Star Trek" sequel from filmmaker J.J. Abrams.

"I'm just getting my head around the fact it's happened. ... I'll give you my headline on it, which is, 'I'm over the moon.' "

'X Factor' winner still wants to pursue nursing

She has a $5 million recording contract, but Melanie Amaro still sees herself as becoming a nurse someday.

The 19-year-old was studying nursing in college before her winning run on Fox's "The X Factor." Although she just signed a deal with Epic Records and is about to start working on her debut album, she said she still wants to pursue nursing at some point, according to the Associated Press.

"To be honest, I still do want to do nursing because I want to help people," she said. "But I think as of right now, I want to pursue what I absolutely love, which is my singing first."

If her singing career takes off like she did on "The X Factor," she'll likely never get the chance. Miss Amaro won the talent competition last month on the strength of her big voice and ballad-style singing. But she said people shouldn't expect just slow, anthemlike songs on her debut.

She'll be working on her album with L.A. Reid, the "X Factor" judge who is also chairman and CEO of Epic Records. Although Simon Cowell was her official mentor on the show, she said Mr. Reid always gave her confidence.

Sheen delivers on promise to help tornado survivors

Actor Charlie Sheen quietly donated $25,000 to help tornado relief in Tuscaloosa, Ala., making good on a pledge to help survivors of the deadly twisters even though some had doubted his promises.

The head of Tuscaloosa's tourism agency, Don Staley, said a representative of Mr. Sheen recently turned over money that came in through a fundraising website the actor set up after tornadoes last spring killed about 250 people in Alabama, including 52 in the west Alabama city.

Mr. Sheen wrote a check for about $15,000 after the website generated $10,000 in contributions.

Mr. Sheen visited Tuscaloosa after the April 27 twisters in response to messages from then-University of Alabama student David Harris, who had sent tweets to celebrities asking them to help out. Mr. Sheen - who had been fired the previous month from the hit sitcom "Two and a Half Men" - talked about staging a relief show and celebrity ball game to raise $25,000.

Months passed and many of Mr. Sheen's plans didn't materialize, leading some to wonder whether he'd forgotten about the town of more than 80,000. But the actor donated the money without any public announcement around Dec. 1, said Donny Jones of the West Alabama Chamber of Commerce, which is helping manage the Tuscaloosa Disaster Relief Fund, which received the donation.

Mr. Staley, who accompanied Mr. Sheen during his daylong visit to Alabama, said the actor just wanted to help.

"The man delivered," Mr. Staley said. "He's a man of his word."

'One Life to Live' to wrap Friday after 43 years

Instead of using her tears for a scene this time, "One Life to Live" actress Kassie DePaiva waited until she walked off the set and into the shadows.

She buried her head in a friend's shoulder and wept. The ABC daytime drama, which leaves the air Friday after 43 years, has been her home for 20 years.

Miss DePaiva was letting go of her character, the put-upon Blair Manning Cramer. And it wasn't easy, according to Scripps Howard News Service.

"One Life to Live" is set in the Pennsylvania town of Llanview, where an heiress with a split personality and a man with an evil identical twin aren't so unusual.

The town was tied together through newspaper publisher Viki Lord (Erika Slezak, a Daytime Emmy winner ), whose multiple marriages almost equal the number of her hidden personalities.

The "One Life" universe included the wealthy Buchanans, the bickering Cramers and the vile Mannings.

Aside from off-the-wall antics, the show also dealt with down-to-earth issues with relative restraint. Racism, drug abuse, rape, openly gay relationships and unwanted pregnancies were among the topics addressed.

In 2011, ABC canned two soap operas - "All My Children" and "One Life to Live." The decision was due to the genre's declining profits. A plan to take the show online failed, making Friday the end of an era.

As of Jan. 16, "General Hospital," about to mark its 49th anniversary, will be the only daytime drama ABC has left.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports.