- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2003

Games go legit

Anyone weaned on Pong or the now-archaic Atari video gaming systems might be shocked to learn about tonight’s “Video Game Awards.”

Spike TV broadcasts the first-ever event (taped Tuesday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas) at 9.

The two-hour show will feature musical performances (Andrew W.K., DMX and P.O.D. among them) and cameos by real and animated figures.

“Just Shoot Me’s” David Spade is your snarky host.

Award categories include game of the year, best sports game, best action game, best animation, best game based on a movie, best music, best performance by a human, best hand-held game, best fighting game, best first-person action and best fantasy game.

Who knows ? Maybe Pac Man will finally receive the lifetime achievement award he so richly deserves.

‘Mad’ addition

Saturday night’s perpetual underdog “MadTV” is coming to Comedy Central.

The late-night sketch show rarely grabs headlines as NBC’s venerable “Saturday Night Live” routinely does.

Nor do its graduates go on to feature-film stardom.

So far, the best its alumni have obtained are occasional cameos in movies or smaller roles in television series. Former sketch player Will Sasso, for instance, co-stars on ABC’s “Less Than Perfect.”

Still, perseverance must count for something, and the oft-maligned show celebrated its 200th episode last month.

Some of the more noteworthy “MadTV” graduates include Orlando Jones (who co-starred in the film “Drumline” and briefly hosted a short-lived talk show on FX last summer) and Artie Lange, a portly comic who replaced Jackie “the Jokeman” Martling as “The Howard Stern Show’s” resident sidekick and also had small roles in the films “Elf” and “Old School.”

In any given season, it takes a bit of fortitude to sit through an entire “MadTV” episode. Like “SNL,” it occasionally hits comic pay dirt, particularly with its movie spoofs.

Perhaps the show’s finest hour came with a sendup of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” as interpreted by director Martin Scorsese, film’s reigning aesthete of violence.

Comedy Central’s repeats of “MadTV” will air at 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Thursdays on the cable network beginning Jan. 6.

The network also will serve up a 13-hour “MadTV” marathon starting at 8 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Jimmy meets Sharon

Today’s installment of “The Sharon Osbourne Show” gives viewers two talk-show hosts for the price of one.

The star of ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” drops by Miss Osbourne’s show to share the trials and tribulations of their peculiar profession.

“I love having the show,” says Mr. Kimmel, “but there are a lot of things about doing the show that I don’t enjoy. Having to pretend to be interested — in a case when you have a guest that you don’t know anything about, kind of like ‘What’s happening here?’” he tells Miss Osbourne.

Ozzy’s better half also welcomes “Days of Our Lives” star Eric Winter and hosts a performance by Lit.

“The Sharon Osbourne Show” airs at 2 p.m. weekdays on the WB.

Legal afterlife

The Sci Fi channel is planning a show to give new life to all those evil lawyer jokes.

Oscar-winner F. Murray Abraham and Sean Patrick Flanery have been tapped to star in the Sci Fi Channel’s pilot drama “Dead Lawyers,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The project centers on Jimmy Quinn (Mr. Flanery), an arrogant, heartless lawyer to the rich and famous. Jimmy dies in a car crash and is sent back to Earth to do pro bono work, thus undoing the injustices he committed in his earlier incarnation.

Mr. Abraham will play Jimmy’s afterlife mentor. Also dead, he’s the managing partner of the pro bono law firm and father figure to all the dead lawyers trying to make amends.

Production is set to begin this month in Toronto.

Paris Barclay (“NYPD Blue”) will direct the pilot from a script by Christopher Murphey.

Mr. Abraham won an Oscar in 1985 for his role as Antonio Salieri in Milos Forman’s “Amadeus.” His credits also include the films “The Mummy” and “Finding Forrester” and the NBC miniseries “Noah’s Ark.”

This past development season, Mr. Flanery played the title character in ABC’s drama pilot “Then Came Jones.” His other credits include recurring roles on USA Network’s “The Dead Zone” and the WB’s “Charmed” as well as parts in the features “Powder,” “Suicide Kings” and “The Boondock Saints.”

CBS thanks viewers

These days, the CBS ratings steamroller is so mighty the other television networks are lucky to get two shows in the top 10.

The Tiffany network won its fourth consecutive ratings week, snaring eight of the top 10 programs, according to Associated Press.

A special Thanksgiving Eve telecast of “Survivor: Pearl Islands” came in first with 20.1 million viewers.

Rounding out the top five shows for the week of Nov. 24 through 30 are:

“CSI: Miami,” CBS, 19.7 million viewers; “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 19.1 million viewers; “60 Minutes,” CBS, 19.1 million viewers and “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 17.1 million viewers.

ABC’s “Monday Night Football: New York Giants at Tampa Bay” and NBC’s “Fear Factor” came in ninth and 10th, respectively (CBS’ “The King of Queens” tied with “Fear Factor” for 10th place).

‘Walsh’ unwanted

TV Guide Online

It’s back to full-time crime fighting for John Walsh.

The “America’s Most Wanted” host’s daytime talk show has been axed after a little more than a year on the air, TV Guide Online reports.

Although production will cease next week, “The John Walsh Show” will continue to air through the February sweeps.

Mr. Walsh, who became a crusader against crime after the abduction and murder of his 6-year-old son, Adam, in 1981, has been hosting “America’s Most Wanted” — which airs Saturday evenings on Fox — since 1988.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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