- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003

Sundance’s ‘War’

The Sundance Channel turns its independent eye on life after the Taliban.

The U.S. television premiere of “Life After War” airs at 9 tonight on the cable channel.

“Life After War” focuses on Sarah Chayes, a former National Public Radio war correspondent and her involvement in Afghans for Civil Society, a non-governmental organization trying to bring about a democratic alternative to Afghanistan’s violent past.

The documentary follows Miss Chayes, who turned from an impartial observer to someone looking to directly aid in the country’s reconstruction. Miss Chayes’ previous NPR assignments include her reports from the Balkans, North Africa and the Middle East.

Bank on Black

Caustic comic and Silver Spring native Lewis Black, best known for his incendiary rants on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” will soon star as a high school principal in an ABC sitcom, Reuters News Agency reports.

The untitled project is envisioned as a workplace comedy “that happens to be in a high school,” writer/producer Victor Fresco told Reuters.

“Having Lewis as a high school principal allows him to do his thing, which is to be kind of frustrated and angry. But his heart is in the right place,” Mr. Fresco said.

“He’s frustrated and angry about the things we’d be frustrated and angry about if we were high school principals.”

Mr. Fresco, who also created Fox’s short-lived but critically adored comedy “Andy Richter Controls the Universe,” has another new television project in the works. He’s reuniting with Fox for “Related by Family,” a coming-of-age sitcom that aims to mine the humor in the lives of blended families.

‘Survivors’ sought

Zap2it.com

All you would-be Ruperts and Johnny Fairplays out there, now’s your chance to become one of the next group of 16 “Survivors.”

CBS has started taking applications for the ninth edition of the million-dollar game, which will air in fall 2004. Its location hasn’t been announced. Applications and further details are available online at CBS.com. The deadline for submissions is Jan. 27.

Anyone wishing to be part of the game must also submit a three-minute videotape explaining why he or she would make a good contestant. CBS will also hold open casting calls at some of its affiliates; details will be announced later.

It’s no surprise that CBS is continuing “Survivor” into its fifth TV season. The show helped touch off the reality-TV boom when it debuted in summer 2000 and consistently finishes in the Nielsen Top 10. The current edition of the game, “Survivor: Pearl Islands,” brings in about 20 million viewers a week. CBS will begin an all-star version of the game, featuring players from past shows, in February.

Nick’s sobering look

Nickelodeon takes a break from its child-friendly fare for a sobering look at AIDS in South Africa.

“Nick News with Linda Ellerbee: The Courage to Live: Kids, South Africa and AIDS,” airing tonight at 9 on the cable channel, will be broadcast commercial-free as part of today’s observance of World AIDS Day.

The new special looks at the horrifying disease from a child’s perspective. Miss Ellerbee travels to South Africa along with some American youngsters so each side can learn about the other.

“Despite the suffering, there is still strength and hope, and there are people doing things to make it better,” Miss Ellerbee said in a statement.

“Although the kids of South Africa may seem far away from us, the battle against AIDS is everyone’s fight. What happens in South Africa is our story as well as theirs.”

Miss Ellerbee will speak to a 15-year-old girl born with the HIV virus and visit a children’s home for orphaned children living with AIDS.

A report issued last week by the U.N. Children’s Fund said AIDS has orphaned more than 11 million children under age 15 in Africa alone, and those figures would only grow in time.

AIDS in China

Cinemax does its part for World AIDS Day with “To Live is Better Than to Die,” set to air tonight on the cable channel as well as on networks around the globe.

The documentary, by filmmaker Weijun Chen, premieres at 7. The film looks at the AIDS infection among rural Chinese citizens who sold their blood at the Chinese government’s suggestion a decade ago and subsequently became infected with the virus. The film follows one young couple and their children in Henan province, where 60 percent of those who heeded the government’s advice became infected.

“To Live” will be broadcast by 11 networks, including BBC/UK, YLE/Finnish TV, CBC/Canadian TV and channels in Holland, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Poland.

Spelling as Scrooge

Real life rich girl Tori Spelling will channel her inner Scrooge for a new holiday telepic.

The Associated Press reports the former “Beverly Hills, 90210” co-star plays a modern-day Scrooge in “A Carol Christmas,” airing Sunday on the Hallmark Channel.

“I’ve never played a mean-spirited person before, I’m always the good girl,” Miss Spelling told AP.

“I’ve always dreamt of doing a Christmas movie and being able to show my (future) kids. I think that’s so cool.”

The spoof of the Charles Dickens classic co-stars Gary Coleman, who plays the Ghost of Christmas Past.

The film isn’t all Miss Spelling has to be thankful for this holiday season.

She recently announced plans to marry actor Charlie Shanian.

The couple met last year during the production of “Maybe, Baby it’s You,” an L.A.-based production which the 34-year-old Mr. Shanian wrote.

Miss Spelling’s father is noted television producer Aaron Spelling, the man responsible for “Dynasty” and “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

The actress, 30, said she’s in the process of knitting a fuzzy scarf as a Christmas gift.

The best holiday gift she ever received, she said, was a homemade scrapbook from Mr. Shanian.

“Every page included beautiful hand-drawn pictures and reasons why he loved me. It was so touching and beautiful,” Miss Spelling said.

“I hold it close to my heart always and read it every time I feel down or need a smile.

“Feeling loved is the best gift of all.”

Second best is being an actress — and also having a father who’s a show business success.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.


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