- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2003

Liza’s ‘Development’

Casting Liza Minnelli in a sitcom sounds like a plea for attention — and ratings.

That’s just one reason why Fox’s “Arrested Development” remains so refreshing. It takes what should be a case of stunt casting and weaves it into a hilarious set of plot maneuverings.

This week’s “Development,” which airs Sundays at 9:30 p.m., finds Miss Minnelli as a social rival to the Bluths’ matriarch (Jessica Walter). Their story arc is just part of the fun. The magically inclined George (Will Arnett) tries to conjure some career buzz by going to jail and trying to break out. Meanwhile, George tries to bond with the incarcerated George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor, finally in a project worthy of him), who is more fatherly to his fellow inmates than to his son.

Executive producer — and show narrator — Ron Howard lords over the best show of the new season, one that deserves a wider audience.

Little House-apalooza

The Hallmark Channel gives “Little House on the Prairie” fans reason to be thankful this holiday season with a marathon of the show’s best episodes.

The daylong tribute starts at 1 p.m. Sunday and promises old favorites and memorable two-part episodes from the series’ nine-year run.

“Little House on the Prairie” starred Michael Landon as the kindhearted papa of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” books.

The marathon will be capped by “A Time to Remember,” a new Hallmark Channel special featuring Emmy winners Dana Delany and Doris Roberts. The actresses star as a feuding mother and daughter who find a way to reconcile during a Thanksgiving reunion.

MTV’s new newlyweds

Don’t look now, Jessica and Nick, but another too-pretty-for-their-own-good couple are hitting MTV.

The latest celebrity pairing to receive the MTV reality-show treatment is Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and actress Carmen Electra, according to Reuters News Agency.

Production has begun on “Til Death Do Us Part: Carmen & Dave,” a documentary miniseries that will follow the engaged pair as they plan their wedding, which is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles later this year. The show is scheduled to premiere in January.

Miss Electra did not wait for death to part her from her first husband, former NBA rebound machine Dennis Rodman.

“MTV has been given an unprecedented look into the personal and professional lives of Carmen Electra and Dave Navarro to reveal the behind-the-scenes process of putting on a wedding that might prove to be the most talked-about event of the year,” MTV-VH1 president of entertainment Brian Graden said in a statement.

The show will cover the planning of the wedding, the pair’s bachelor and bachelorette parties, a guest performance and the wedding itself, which will bring the series to a close.

Jane’s Addiction just wrapped a European tour in support of its latest album, “Strays,” which debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard 200 in August and has sold 335,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

‘Brothers’ make History

HBO’s World War II miniseries “Band of Brothers” will air on the History Channel in the second quarter of 2004 as part of a larger programing invasion centered on the 60th anniversary of D-Day, Reuters reports.

Oscar winner Tom Hanks co-directed “Band,” which originally aired in 2001.

The History Channel also licensed the rights to another war-related HBO documentary, “We Stand Alone Together.”

The deal for the 10-part Emmy-winning drama is part of HBO’s increasing efforts to boost alternate revenue streams. The premium cable channel sold its hit series “Sex and the City” into syndication last month. Yet it remains to be seen if racier content such as “City” will survive the transition to stricter cable channels.

“I think the exciting thing about this is that this property is about to have a phenomenal amount of exposure,” Scott Carlin, president of domestic distribution at HBO, told Reuters.

History Channel is available in 85 million homes — nearly three times as many as HBO.

Mr. Carlin also left open the possibility that other HBO miniseries, including “From the Earth to the Moon,” could also find a second window elsewhere on cable.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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