- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Powell’s crystal ball

Secretary of State Colin Powell takes a long, hard look ahead to 2004 this evening on a special edition of “Lou Dobbs Tonight.”

In the pre-taped interview for CNN, Mr. Powell talks about NATO, the Iraq situation and how other countries view the United States at this moment in history.

The interview was taped Dec. 12 in conjunction with the Economist magazine.

The following is an excerpt from Mr. Dobbs’ interview, airing at 6 tonight.

Dobbs: Mr. Secretary, you’ve written that there is a caricature, particularly among our European allies, of the Bush administration as a “shoot from the hip unilateralism.” Why is there that impression, and what is there, in your judgment, to refute that in the administration’s policies?

Powell: The people of Iraq have a better future ahead of them now, and it was a coalition that came together. Was it under a U.N. mandate? I think it was. I think the resolution that was passed covered what we did. Some would disagree with that, but the point is, it was not just the United States acting alone. A lot of nations realized this was a danger that had to be dealt with.

‘Smackdown’ in Iraq

Christmas came early for some U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq this year.

The big, burly wrestlers of the WWE — and some of its lovely female warriors — dropped by military installations in Iraq and Kuwait last week for a special “Smackdown” episode airing tonight.

“WWE Smackdown,” seen Thursday evenings at 9 on UPN, features the sport’s biggest stars, such as the Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Chris Benoit and Big Show. Tonight’s special edition includes those brawlers as well as Eddie Guerrero, John Cena, Faarooq, Torrie Wilson, Sable and the WWE’s chairman and occasional performer, Vince McMahon.

The wrestlers mingled with the soldiers, played pickup basketball with them and brought messages from home during their stay. The tour, organized by Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE), let the wrestlers live like the soldiers themselves at times, including sleeping as many as 14 men to a room on cots in some of former Iraq dictator Saddam Hussein’s palaces.

Smackdown for ‘Jesse’

The holiday may be a bit less cheery for one former wrestler.

After a two-month run, former Gov. Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s cable show is off the air and there are no immediate plans for MSNBC to bring it back.

The news channel’s president, Erik Sorenson, sent a memo Tuesday to the staff announcing he was extending a previously announced holiday break for the show.

“I’ve decided to focus the majority of our resources on Monday-Friday primetime in 2004,” Mr. Sorenson wrote.

“Consequently, the holiday hiatus for ‘Jesse Ventura’s America’ will continue indefinitely.”

Mr. Ventura’s phone number is unlisted, and he has refused interviews with local reporters since leaving the governor’s office in January. His Los Angeles-based agent, Barry Bloom, didn’t immediately return a call yesterday from the Associated Press.

The hourlong Saturday evening show, taped in St. Paul, featured the former professional wrestler commenting on issues of the day. His interviews with guests sometimes got combative, and he closed the show each week by picking a hero and dork of the week.

Neither Mr. Ventura nor MSNBC has revealed how much he is paid or whether he will receive a paycheck regardless of the show’s status.

The show debuted in October, but the Saturday time slot was far less than the weeknight prime-time show MSNBC had originally planned.

Mr. Ventura had a weekly radio show during his four years as governor and was a television commentator for the XFL, an alternative football league that folded after airing for one season on NBC.

Mr. Sorenson said Mr. Ventura will continue to serve as a political commentator for MSNBC during the 2004 campaign season.

Bruckheimer TV

Chances are if you were watching television last week, super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer had a hand in your viewing choice.

Three different shows produced by Mr. Bruckheimer (of “Pearl Harbor” and “The Rock” fame) were the three most-watched programs on prime-time television last week, the Associated Press reports.

The trio, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Without a Trace” and “CSI: Miami,” all air on CBS, which easily won the week’s ratings race.

A fourth Bruckheimer show, “Cold Case,” came in ninth for the week.

Well, there’s always next week, Mr. Bruckheimer.

The producer isn’t the only one making noise on the tube.

Tabloid darling du jour Paris Hilton’s “The Simple Life” —which also stars her best friend, Nicole Richie— suddenly stands as Fox’s biggest ratings draw. It was seen by just under 12 million people last week.

After a delay, Nielsen Media Research released viewership figures for Sunday shows on Dec. 14, the day after Saddam Hussein’s capture. NBC’s “Meet the Press” was seen by 6.9 million people, ABC’s “This Week” had 4.6 million viewers and “Fox News Sunday” had 2.6 million. CBS’ “Face the Nation” was pre-empted.

For the week of Dec. 15-21, the top 5 shows, their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 24.7 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 19.4 million; “CSI: Miami,” 19.2 million; “NFL Monday Night Football: Philadelphia at Miami,” ABC, 18.8 million; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 18.1 million.

‘Sunnyside’ up

ABC wants us to pack our swim trunks and lotion and head to camp this summer.

In the spirit of such dubious film romps as “Meatballs” and “Little Darling,” the upcoming “Camp Sunnyside” will chronicle the stay of three siblings at a summer camp from the point of view of one of them, a 12-year-old boy, Reuters News Agency reports.

The project is being developed as a potential 13-episode limited series to air in the summer or fall.

Scott Lew is writing the project, which has received a script commitment from ABC. He next directs his first feature, the indie coming-of-age comedy “Bickford Schmeckler’s Cool Ideas,” from his own script.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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