- The Washington Times - Monday, November 17, 2003

‘Wing’ flies to DVD

Fans of NBC’s “The West Wing,” still smarting over the departure of creator Aaron Sorkin, have a way to relive the past.

“The West Wing: The Complete First Season” debuts today on DVD for $59.98. The box set features all 22 first-season episodes as well as cast and crew interviews, deleted scenes and a donation form for Howard Dean’s campaign for president.

Just kidding on the last part, although the show historically leans leftward. Yet critics on both sides of the aisle agree that Mr. Sorkin’s crisp writing brought life to the series’ behind-the-scenes look at a noble Democratic administration.

Smith pumps ‘Us’ up

Will Smith became a television star as the lovable lead on the NBC sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” in the 1990s.

So when he helped create and executive produce a show for UPN this year along with his real-life wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, it seemed logical that the big-screen star might return to his roots for a night.

Tonight’s episode of “All of Us,” airing at 8:30 on UPN, finds Mr. Smith playing a just-divorced college pal of Robert’s (Duane Martin) who strikes up a romance with Neesee (LisaRaye), Robert’s ex-wife.

UPN’s guest-star syndrome continues when Missy Elliott drops by “Eve” at 9 tonight, and Jessica Alba (“Dark Angel,” the upcoming feature “Honey”) does a turn on “Rock Me Baby” at 9:30 p.m.

‘Queer Eye’ returns

Fellas, break out your tweezers, hair gel and a No. 2 pencil.

The self-described “Fab 5” are back in all-new episodes of Bravo’s cable hit, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.”

The first new episode airs tonight at 10 as Carson Kressley, Jai Rodriguez, Kyan Douglas, Ted Allen and Thom Filicia reinvent another group of hapless straight males.

Among the “victims” this time around are a hippie postal worker, an ex-Marine and a conservative lawyer ready to say adios to his toupee.

The new episodes will include a holiday special complete with “hip tips” for yuletide sparkle (airing Dec. 16), plus the chance to revisit the more memorable straight guys from episodes past to find out how they’ve kept up their new look.

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” lets a group of five homosexual style experts make over a seemingly clueless straight fellow, often to help him win the girl of his dreams.

High-stakes ‘Crack’ up

The star of the cult film “Rushmore” is taking his quirky sensibilities to Fox.

Jason Schwartzman will star opposite Molly Shannon and Chris McDonald in the Fox midseason comedy “Cracking Up,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The project, from writer-producer Mike White (“The School of Rock,” “Freaks and Geeks”), centers on a psychology graduate student (Mr. Schwartzman) who moves into the house of a nutty Beverly Hills family to counsel the introverted youngest son.

The stakes are high for “Cracking Up.” Fox has had little ratings traction with its new fall comedy slate, which includes the moribund “A Minute With Stan Hooper,” the occasionally brilliant “Arrested Development” and the justly cancelled “Luis.”

‘Reagans’ to air

Associated Press

Showtime will air “The Reagans,” the made-for-TV movie that CBS scuttled, Nov. 30.

The cable channel’s announcement yesterday was unexpected because it originally had planned to air the movie next year.

“We just thought it didn’t make sense to prolong this and bring it on next year,” said Robert Greenblatt, Showtime entertainment president. “I’m just tired of people making judgments on this when they haven’t seen it. ”

Fans of the former president, accusing CBS of distorting Ronald Reagan’s legacy while he’s sick with Alzheimer’s disease, had mounted a furious protest. CBS denied it was bowing to pressure in handing off the project to Showtime but said producers had made a film that crossed the line into advocacy.

Mr. Greenblatt said the movie, which was to air over two prime-time nights on CBS, would be shown commercial-free in one sitting — at 8 p.m. EST the Sunday after Thanksgiving — and would last about three hours.

The following night, Showtime will air a panel discussion about the movie with people familiar with Mr. Reagan’s presidency.

Michael Paranzino, who set up the Web site boycottcbs.com to fight the TV movie on CBS, said it might be harder to persuade Showtime to change its mind because it is smaller. Showtime is seen in slightly fewer than 15 million homes; CBS is in 108 million.

“I think that Showtime realized they have a turkey on their hands, and turkeys don’t last much beyond Thanksgiving,” said Mr. Paranzino, a government affairs consultant from Bethesda. “I’m disappointed that they reversed their promise to take a fresh look and not air it until 2004.”

Mr. Greenblatt said the movie will appear pretty much the way the filmmakers made it. Left out, however, will be a scene about AIDS that was the focus of controversy when a version of the screenplay was leaked. Mr. Reagan had been depicted as uncaring and judgmental toward people with AIDS.

“I think this is as balanced and honest a movie as can be made out of this movie,” Mr. Greenblatt said.

CBS said it had believed producers were making a love story about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, with politics as a backdrop, and was angered about a tone that appeared too strident.

The movie’s producers, Crag Zadan and Neil Meron, said they are “pleased that our final version of the movie will be presented. We are proud to live in a country where everyone, including artists and writers, has the right of free speech.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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