- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 23, 2003

TV ‘Secrets’ revealed

Ever wonder why we just can’t stop watching television even though we know we should be reading or spending time with family and friends?

VH1 ventures a solid guess at 11 tonight with “VH1’s Super Secret TV Formulas.”

The new special explores the methods networks use to keep us coming back for more. The mixture of clips and commentary touches on topics such as “The Untouchable Hottie” — gorgeous gals such as “Gilligan’s Island’s” Ginger and “The Dukes of Hazzard’s” Daisy Duke who never date despite their looks. The show also explains “The Evil Twin,” one of the medium’s most rickety plot devices, in which an actor plays a dual character-and-evil-doppleganger role.

Our favorite could be “The Very Special Episode,” in which sitcom characters confront difficult issues accompanied by maudlin music and paint-by-number bromides.

A crop of familiar television stars, including “The Brady Bunch’s” Barry Williams and “Happy Days’ ” Marion Ross chime in on these and other tube archetypes.

Miller time

Comedian Dennis Miller, whose conservative rants have some wondering if he’ll test the political waters a la Arnold, drops by Fox’s “Boston Public” tonight.

The goateed quipster stars as Charlie Bixby, a new teacher at Winslow High whose workload is part of his community service for committing securities fraud. Liberal-leaning viewers have their fingers crossed that Mr. Bixby won’t be tackling any social studies lessons during Mr. Miller’s three-episode arc.

David E. Kelley’s “Boston Public” stars Chi McBride, Jeri Ryan and Michael Rapaport and airs at 9 Friday nights.

World music videos

Music videos can offer much more than Britney’s navel and J.Lo’s undulating lower half.

BET explores the beauty and cultural significance of world music with “Putumayo 10th Anniversary Special.” Hosted by African star Angelique Kidjo, the hourlong program airs at 1 p.m., 9 p.m. and midnight today.

Putumayo began aggressively promoting world music in the early ‘90s and has sold nearly 10 million albums during that stretch. The label takes an unconventional approach to marketing, reaching out to cafes, museums and book stores to spread its sounds. Putumayo artists have teamed with Bonnie Raitt and the Neville Brothers, among other major artists.

The special’s videos range in subject matter from serious protest songs to simple lullabies hailing from Cuba to Central Africa. Some of the artists featured, we learn, were jailed for expressing themselves in song.

Britney does ABC

Professional sex kitten Britney Spears will star in a new prime-time special next month to coincide with her upcoming album.

“Britney Spears: In the Zone” features a live performance by the 21-year-old pop princess at New York City’s Gotham Hall as well as behind-the-scenes peeks at her personal life.

Let’s hope for the rating’s board’s sake we won’t see any impromptu costume fittings.

The performance footage will include songs from her Nov. 18 release, “In the Zone,” plus her established hits.

ABC promises the special will feature Miss Spears “in a variety of incarnations that are sexy, Gothic, romantic and truly eye-popping.”

What did you expect? Tasteful, mature and sophisticated?

The special will air at 8 p.m. Nov. 17.

Goldblum, NBC unite

Jeff Goldblum is reuniting with NBC for a new series to be built around the lanky actor.

Mr. Goldblum, who starred in the network’s two-hour movie/backdoor pilot “War Stories” earlier this year, has inked a talent deal to appear in a new series project targeted for fall 2004, Reuters News Agency reports.

“Whatever role Jeff Goldblum has inhabited — a leading or supporting [one] — he always pops,” NBC President of Prime Time Development Kevin Reilly told Reuters. “He’s got that unique quality of being offbeat and, at the same time, approachable and likable, which makes him perfect to build a show around.”

Mr. Goldblum, whose feature credits include the blockbusters “Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day” and “The Fly,” was seen recently in the offbeat comedy “Igby Goes Down.” He is currently filming Wes Anderson’s feature “The Life Aquatic” and will be seen next in Showtime’s “Spinning Boris.”

‘Grownups’ announced

Faye Dunaway, Peter Fonda, Blythe Danner, Jack Palance and Peter Riegert will star in “Back When We Were Grownups,” a Hallmark Hall of Fame original movie for CBS based on the Anne Tyler novel, Reuters reports.

Ron Underwood has been tapped to direct the film, which also will feature Lone Skye, Betsy Brandt, Stacy Edwards and Blake Lindsley.

“Grownups” centers on 53-year-old Rebecca Davitch (Miss Danner), a single mother, grandmother and proprietor of the family business who begins questioning everything about her life. She ponders about what her life might have been if she hadn’t left college and abandoned her high school sweetheart at 20 to marry a divorced man who already had a large family to support. Worse, the divorced man dies in a car accident, leaving her a widow six years later with four daughters — one of her own (Miss Skye) and three stepdaughters (Miss Brandt, Miss Edwards and Miss Lindsley) — and an aging uncle-in-law (Mr. Palance) who needs care.

Miss Dunaway will play the stepdaughters’ self-absorbed biological mother.

“Grownups” marks the third novel by Miss Tyler to be adapted by Hallmark Hall of Fame, following “Breathing Lessons” in 1994 and “Saint Maybe,” which starred Miss Danner, in 1998.

Mr. Underwood most recently directed the feature “Stealing Sinatra” with David Arquette and William H. Macy and episodes of USA Network’s “Monk.”

J.Lo TV

The woman known to too many tabloids as J.Lo is coming to a television set near you.

The actress-dancer-diva has signed on with Universal Domestic Television to co-produce a daytime talk show under her shingle Nuyorican Productions, according to E! Online.

Miss Lopez will make occasional appearances on the hourlong show, which features her sister, radio and television personality Lynda Lopez, as one of the daily hosts.

Using “The View” as its model, the show features a similar chatty multihost format, though it’s crafted to appeal to a younger demographic of women.

The four hosts (the other three have yet to be cast) will be “likable, intriguing, opinionated and representative of a diverse group of viewers,” according to Lisa Hackner, executive vice president of programming and development at Universal Domestic Television.

By Universal’s description, the show serves as a “one-stop source for the very latest on pop culture, news, lifestyle, celebrities, beauty and fashion” and features relevant celebrity guests who have insight into the day’s topics.

The as-yet-untitled show is scheduled to hit the small screen in syndication next September.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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