- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 21, 2003

Real’ roll call

Scripps Howard News Service

Is there life after MTV’s “The Real World”?

“I wouldn’t say that MTV is ‘life,’” declares Eric Nies, who was in the show’s first cast nearly a decade ago and earlier this year hosted a revival of “Dance Fever” for cable’s ABC Family.

“But you go on after it is over. You go out there and find your niche, and you roll with that,” he says. “You have to have faith in what you can do.”

“The Real World,” an MTV staple since 1992, documents the lives of seven strangers while they share the same house for weeks. It is widely regarded as television’s first “reality” show hit, and in many ways, it paved the way for today’s bevy of unscripted programming.

Mr. Nies isn’t the only former “Real World” cast member to remain in the public eye with other projects.

A brief roundup of a few other participants:

Melissa Howard of “Real World: New Orleans” is among the cutups on “Girls Behaving Badly,” the Oxygen channel’s hidden-camera show. Danny Roberts, also from “New Orleans,” has had small roles on prime-time shows such as “Dawson’s Creek.” Judd Winick from “Real World: San Francisco” is among the top writers in the comic book industry, penning the adventures of Green Lantern, among his many titles.

Rachel Campos, also from “San Francisco,” was recently a finalist for hosting duties on ABC’s “The View.”

Rapper Heather B. appeared in the series debut “Real World: New York” (1992) and has since released two CDs.

Jacinda Barrett of “Real World: London” has perhaps had the highest-profile career. She is an Australian model who has gone on to appear in such movies as “The Human Stain” and “Urban Legends.”

“‘The Real World’ can get your face out there,” Mr. Nies said. “Unfortunately, the show has changed a lot since I was on it. The first few minutes will have swearing or sex or violence.

“It’s too bad because there can be so much more done with it than that.”

Whitfield’s new ‘Family’

Actress Lynn Whitfield is the newest member of PBS’ “American Family.”

Miss Whitfield, best known for her Emmy-winning turn in HBO’s “The Josephine Baker Story,” will play Major Hall, a military superior to Yancey Arias’ character in the show.

“American Family” depicts life in the Gonzalez family, a rare televised peak at Latino culture. The show begins a 13-part second season this April on PBS stations.

Miss Whitfield’s film credits include “Head of State,” “Eve’s Bayou” and “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.”

“American Family” stars Edward James Olmos, Constance Marie, Mr. Arias, Patricia Velasquez and Raquel Welch, with appearances by Esai Morales and Rachel Ticotin.

Miss Whitfield will be joined on the show this season by newcomer Parker Torres, as Cisco, Jess Gonzalez’s (Mr. Olmos) youngest son.

E!’s new look

E! Entertainment is bringing two new faces to their weekday news show.

Emmy Award-winner John Burke and cable news veteran Alisha Davis will anchor the network’s live newscast which airs at 7 p.m. weekdays.

The new duo make their live debut Jan. 12. They also will be responsible for red carpet chores throughout the upcoming awards season, including the Jan. 25 coverage of the 61st annual Golden Globe Awards.

Mr. Burke previously hosted programs on AMC, the History Channel, PAX-TV and HGTV. He also acted in “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “Days of Our Lives” and the NBC miniseries “Message from Nam.”

Miss Davis previously provided prime time culture and entertainment reporting for CNN Headline News. She also worked at Newsweek magazine on its society, fashion and arts coverage.

First Amendment TV

The Sundance Channel is teaming up with Court TV to produce a series of films dedicated to the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment Project” will feature half-hour films created by award-winning independent filmmakers. The films “will challenge viewers to examine their understanding of the First Amendment and to recognize challenges to freedoms of religion, speech and the media in the current political climate.”

That sounds like Hollywood speak for: “Artists can’t say what they want under the Bush administration, so we’re going to speak out even though doing so disproves our own theory.”

The four-part series will air on both networks in August 2004. The networks have tapped a panel of First Amendment experts to help shape the films, including Ann Beeson, associate legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union National Legal Department in New York City; Fred Graham, Court TV’s chief anchor and managing editor; and author and legal scholar Geoffrey Stone.

Writer pens two

The creator of the WB Network’s comedy “Greetings From Tucson,” has set up two new series projects, including a comedy based on the life of ESPN’s “SportsCenter” anchor Linda Cohn, the Reuters News Agency reports.

The latter show, which has received a script commitment from NBC, is a workplace/family comedy about a successful female sports TV anchor who juggles her career in the predominantly male field and her responsibilities at home raising her children.

“It’s been really fun getting to know (Linda) over the last few months and getting her point of view on what it’s like to be a woman in that world,” Peter Murrieta, who is writing the script and will serve as an executive producer, told Reuters.

Mr. Murrieta’s “Tucson,” the writer-producer’s semi-autobiographical series about growing up with a Mexican-American father and Irish-American mother, aired last season on the WB.

Mr. Murrieta also has sold to USA Network a script for a one-hour family show about a Mexican-American male bounty hunter from the Los Angeles suburb of Echo Park.

As for his choice of a Mexican-American leading man, “I was very eager to make sure that at least one of my projects was Latino-themed because I still feel like there is a huge gap in programming out there for that,” he said.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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