- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 9, 2003

Thomason rolls dice

Actress Marsha Thomason understands the tacky allure of a place like Las Vegas.

No, it’s not just the city’s ability to give anyone a gambler’s chance for riches, or the glitzy spectacles arranged on a daily basis. She says Las Vegas “doesn’t pretend to be something it isn’t.”

“It’s based on debauchery,” Miss Thomason said.

That could be a key reason why the freshman drama “Las Vegas” has earned solid ratings in its first few weeks. The NBC show centers on a security squad which keeps a Vegas casino running smoothly while busting any would-be cheats. James Caan stars as the head of casino security. The show airs Monday evenings at 9.

Miss Thomason doesn’t sound nearly as calculating over the phone as she does as her character, Neesa Holt — a pit boss dubbed the “Ice Queen.”

The British actress good-naturedly disputes that label.

“I don’t think she is an ice queen,” Miss Thomason said. “It’s all about business. It’s the nature of being the pit boss.”

She promised viewers will soon discover Neesa’s vulnerable side.

“You’ll get to see a bit more of her … in the next few episodes,” Miss Thomason said.

The actress is already getting to know her fellow cast members, particularly Mr. Caan, who plays the omnipresent Big Ed Deline.

“I adore Jimmy Caan,” she cooed. Her favorite Mr. Caan story has her dropping by his trailer while his makeup was being applied. She walked in to find the 60-something actor rapping Run DMC’s “It’s Tricky.” She quickly joined him to rap the subsequent verses.

Still, working on a slick show like “Las Vegas” means more than rubbing elbows with legendary actors. She also routinely endures a shot she calls “the whoosh” — those adrenaline-fueled set pieces where the camera flashes through the casino to simulate its fever pitch.

“Every single person has to freeze and hold for a while, for a minute, and then, action,” she said, adding no one wants to be the person who blows the shot.

Miss Thomason worked regularly in British television before coming stateside. The biggest change, she said, is a matter of scale.

“Here, there are so many more people involved in the shows. Even the sound stages and sets dwarf their British counterparts.”

That proved especially true during her time shooting “The Haunted Mansion,” an upcoming comedy thriller starring Eddie Murphy, Miss Thomason adds.

She wouldn’t mind returning to her native England for future projects but she understands the choice may not be hers.

“I’d like to go back and forth, but I’ll go where the work takes me,” she said.

‘Rules’ top sans Ritter

Reuters News Agency

Tears flowed, the laugh track was turned off and a record number of viewers tuned in as the ABC comedy “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter” returned to prime time last Tuesday with the death of its star, John Ritter, written into the story line.

The question now is: Where will the show go from here?

The first episode without Mr. Ritter, who died on September 11 as the sitcom entered its second season, drew nearly 21 million viewers, an all-time high for the series that made the one-hour special the most-watched show on TV Tuesday night.

The big tune-in also gave ABC a welcome November “sweeps” boost to two other marquee sitcoms— third-year series “According to Jim” and sophomore show “Less Than Perfect.” Both scored their highest viewership to date, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It remains unclear, however, whether the Walt Disney Co.-owned network can still count on “8 Simple Rules” as a cornerstone of efforts to rebuild its prime-time schedule this season.

Hits and misses

Hollywood Reporter

Despite a shaky ratings performance, UPN has given its freshman sci-fi drama “Jake 2.0” a full-season pickup, while the WB Network gave a back-nine order to its new high school drama “One Tree Hill,” which has picked up speed after a slow start.

Viacom Prods.’ “Jake 2.0” has struggled in the post-“Enterprise” slot, but the critically-acclaimed show has been on a rebound lately, following a dip during the baseball post-season.

Meanwhile, the WB Network pulled the plug on the much-hyped action-drama “Tarzan” last week after it failed to find an audience on Sunday nights, TV Guide Online reports.

A network rep says original episodes of the show will continue to air during November sweeps, after which former Calvin Klein underwear and jeans model Travis Fimmel and his six-pack abs will go “on hiatus.”

‘Partridge’ redux

E! Online

Beware, Osbournes. The Partridge Family, TV’s first, if fictitious, family of rock, is coming back.

Twice.

“The Partridge Family,” the 1970s family sitcom that spawned the same-named chart-topping pop act, will be revived in a pair of planned series for VH1, the cable network confirmed Friday.

The first show is to chronicle the casting of the new show, la reality-TV’s “Making of the Band,” which has offered inside-the-factory glimpses at fledgling pop and hip-hop outfits.

The second new “Partridge” show will be like the old “Partridge” show, except updated.

“Wow,” said Brian Forster, who played Chris Partridge on the original 1970-74 series, upon learning of VH1’s plans. “Maybe I’ll be working again.”

Officially, it’s been 33 years since ABC introduced the Partridge clan, comprised of single-mom Shirley (Shirley Jones) and her five children: teen-idol Keith (David Cassidy, Miss Jones’ real-life stepson); keyboardist Laurie (future “L.A. Law” litigator Susan Dey); wisecracking bass player Danny (Danny Bonaduce); tambourine specialist Tracy (Suzanne Crough); and drummer boy Chris (Jeremy Gelbwaks for the first season, with Mr. Forster taking the sticks in seasons two through four).

Comic Dave Madden played the Partridges’ somewhat-swingin’ single manager, Reuben Kincaid.A used 1957 Chevrolet appeared as the Partridges’ psychedelic tour bus.

Nocturnal Madonna

Madonna will visit “Late Night with David Letterman” tomorrow to promote her second children’s book, “Mr. Peabody’s Apples,” TV Guide Online reports. Madonna’s first book, “The English Roses,” was published earlier this fall.

The book series could come in handy for the popular late-night host who became a first-time dad with the birth of his son Harry Joseph Letterman on Nov. 3. The program airs weeknights at 11:30 on CBS.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.


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