- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 9, 2003

Hammer time redux

MC Hammer is trading in his genie pants for sensible slacks.

The former rapper is developing a comedy for the WB based loosely on his life as a minister and family man in the wake of his musical career’s demise, according to Reuters News Agency.

The project falls under his script deal with the network, which he signed following his stint on the WB’s reality romp “The Surreal Life.”

“The show is going to focus more on his family as well as himself adjusting to their new lifestyle — they’re not broke, they’re not rich; they’re just not in the same tax bracket as they were when he was a rapper,” Devon Shepard (“MadTV”) told Reuters. Mr. Shepard will write and executive produce the project.

“Hammer and I both agreed that we were going to try to approach this kind of like ‘The Cosby Show’ was in the ‘80s, to really give it that traditional feel that I think is lacking in television right now,” Mr. Shepard says.

MC Hammer, born Stanley Kirk Burrell, is best-known for his 1990 hit “U Can’t Touch This.”

‘Wanda’ silenced

Comic Wanda Sykes’ acerbic persona has been cast aside by the Fox network.

The District native’s “Wanda at Large” sitcom, which debuted to strong ratings in March, has been canceled, Reuters reports.

Miss Sykes portrayed a comic who lands a gig as an outspoken commentator on a local TV show in the District.

The series had a promising start as a midseason entry in the 9:30 p.m. slot each Wednesday behind “The Bernie Mac Show.”

However, it hit a ratings wall after moving this fall to 8 p.m. Friday. In its last airing Nov. 7, “Wanda” pulled in a mere 3.8 million viewers.

Fox also canceled “Wanda’s” 8:30 p.m. companion, the freshman sitcom “Luis,” in October. The network has filled both slots in recent weeks with movies and specials.

Miss Sykes won’t lack for work. She occasionally appears in such films as “Down to Earth” and “Nutty Professor II: The Klumps” and contributes to both Comedy Central’s programming and HBO’s “Inside the NFL.”

An Ozzy Christmas

Nothing says Merry Christmas like a visit to MTV’s most dysfunctional family, the Osbournes — who will ring in the holidays tomorrow with “The Osbourne Family Christmas Special,” airing at 10 p.m. on the music network, Reuters News Agency notes.

The special was taped at the clan’s Beverly Hills home, where MTV shoots its reality-show hit “The Osbournes.”

Among the celebrities toasting the season are Jessica Simpson, who duets with Mr. Osbourne on “Winter Wonderland,” and newlyweds Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra.

As luck would have it, all three stars are — or will be — starring in MTV reality shows.

Have yourselves a merry little cross promotion, MTV.

Also on hand is “Loveline” radio cutup Adam Carolla, who teams with son Jack Osbourne for a lesson on making cranberry sauce from scratch.

The evening’s promised highlight is a group reading of “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” featuring matriarch Sharon Osbourne, OutKast’s Big Boi, ‘N Sync’s JC Chasez, Eddie Griffin, Tracy Morgan, Anthony Anderson, Eva Mendes and Miss Electra. It will be capped by a caroling singalong.

On a somewhat related note, the Wizard of Ozz probably could use some holiday cheer at this point.

The singer, who turned 55 Dec. 3, was seriously hurt this week when his four-wheel all-terrain vehicle crashed at his England estate.

He suffered six broken ribs and a broken collarbone, but the injuries weren’t considered life-threatening, according to his publicist.

The rocker also made headlines over the weekend when we learned that his addled appearance of late may be the result of as many as 42 prescription pills he takes daily. His physician, Dr. David A. Kipper, reportedly prescribed the medications so he could deal with the anxiety and depression he felt following wife Sharon’s cancer diagnosis last year.

Billboard’s best

“American Idol’s” Ryan Seacrest hosts the best and brightest musical acts around as part of tonight’s 2003 Billboard Music Awards, airing at 8 on Fox.

A bevy of stars, including Pink, Sting, “American Idol” runner-up Clay Aiken, Foo Fighters, Shania Twain and No Doubt will perform for the 14th annual program.

Rapper 50 Cent leads the musical pack with six Billboard award nominations, followed by R. Kelly and Beyonce, who have five each.

Sean Paul and the rabble-rousing Dixie Chicks nabbed four nominations apiece.

White House cheer

HGTV gives viewers a sneak peek tonight at this weekend’s “White House Christmas 2003.”

The hourlong special, airing at 8 and repeated at midnight, lets viewers enter the White House and see the dozens of decorators and volunteers who help cozy up the first family’s abode.

The special officially airs at 9 p.m. Sunday on the cable channel.

The program details how first lady Laura Bush came up with this year’s design themes and shows her transforming the presidential offices with the help of her team.

“White House Christmas 2003” wraps with a grand tour of the executive mansion, including visits to the Blue Room, the State Dining Room and the East Room.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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