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Tuning in to TV: Philanthropist gives $1M to PBS’ ‘Masterpiece’

- - Thursday, March 29, 2012

Even the landed gentry of "Downton Abbey" would be impressed: A philanthropist is giving $1 million to PBS' "Masterpiece," U.S. home of the British upstairs-downstairs drama series.

The gift is the largest yet for the Masterpiece Trust, a fundraising initiative started last year, PBS said Wednesday. The donor is Darlene Shiley of San Diego, who previously gave $250,000 to support "Masterpiece," the Associated Press reports.

The drama showcase scored a hit with the second season of "Downton Abbey," which drew a total of 17 million viewers to make it the most-watched "Masterpiece" miniseries on record, PBS said.

There's life away from the 'Shore' for Pauly D

Paul "DJ Pauly D" DelVecchio admits he felt a little odd when he got a deal for his own show, "The Pauly D Project," on MTV.

"I felt a little strange," he said, adding that his "Jersey Shore" co-stars were happy for him.

"I got a text from everybody when they heard," the 31-year-old from Providence, R.I., said in a recent Associated Press interview. "They were all happy for me, and so I'm glad that they're happy."

Cast mates Jenni "JWoww" Farley and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi are filming their own spinoff for MTV, but the entire cast will return to the shore this summer for season six of "Jersey Shore."

Pauly isn't completely alone on his new show, which airs Thursdays. His longtime friends from home also are featured as cameras follow his busy schedule of DJ'ing, personal appearances and other ventures.

He's been a DJ since he was 16. His first gig was at a Sweet 16 party, where he says he "killed it" and knew "this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."

Still, working as a DJ at clubs in Rhode Island didn't pay the bills. Pauly said he "lived paycheck to paycheck," working as a car salesman during the day and a DJ at night.

Now money is one less thing he has to worry about, he said.

50 Cent signed him to his music label, and Britney Spears tapped him to open for a few dates on her Femme Fatale Tour. She even famously pulled him onstage for a lap dance, which Pauly describes as the coolest thing that's happened to him.

"They're still rock stars in my eyes. I've been playing their music since before they ever knew I existed," he said.

Couric returns to morning with one-week 'GMA' gig

Katie Couric greeted early-morning network viewers for 15 years, and she'll soon be adding one more week to that resume.

The former "Today" co-host will substitute on ABC's "Good Morning America" next week for the vacationing Robin Roberts, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The move, which will place her alongside George Stephanopoulos, was announced on the show's Thursday morning broadcast.

Ms. Couric, who left NBC's "Today" in 2006 to anchor "CBS Evening News," signed a record $40 million deal with ABC in June. She has acted as a special correspondent for the network's news programs, including "GMA" and "Nightline," and will host her own syndicated daytime talk show, "Katie," starting in September.

'Idol's' Archuleta preps for Mormon mission

"American Idol" runner-up David Archuleta has posted a farewell YouTube video to fans as he prepares for a two-year Mormon mission in South America.

According to the Associated Press, the 21-year-old singer said in a video blog posted Wednesday that his contact with fans will be limited while he's in the undisclosed country.

He reportedly entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday as a precursor to the assignment.

Mr. Archuleta competed on the seventh season of "American Idol" and has since released three albums. He announced at a December concert that he would be going on a mission, like many young men in the church.