- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 19, 2004

‘Monk’s‘ cure

Tonight’s season finale of “Monk,” titled “Mr. Monk Takes His Medicine,” promises a funny change of pace that demonstrates why Emmy winner Tony Shalhoub has garnered acclaim for his performance as the obsessive-compulsive detective.

Because tonight, he’s no longer obsessive-compulsive.

The right drug is found to lift Monk’s cloud of neuroses.

But it turns him into sort of a jerk, a guy who tools around town in a convertible, wearing an aloha shirt and referring to himself as “the Monk.”

How will this “cure” affect his ability to solve crimes?

Could it be worse than the disease?

Find out tonight at 10 on USA.

More than a game

A new HBO Sports documentary, “Nine Innings From Ground Zero,” shows how baseball provided a needed distraction after the September 11 terror attacks.

The film correlates the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks and the recovery effort at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Narrated by Liev Schreiber, it will air Sept. 14 at 10 p.m. on the cable network.

“Nine Innings From Ground Zero” includes an assortment of photos, footage and interviews. Those interviewed include former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, President Bush, Yankees manager Joe Torre and Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

“This film truly demonstrates the character of our city and illustrates the healing and solidarity we found through the great sport of baseball after the events of September 11,” New York City Sports Commissioner Kenneth J. Podziba said in a statement.

Smits heading ‘West’?

Jimmy Smits may soon be prowling “The West Wing.”

His representatives have confirmed that the Emmy-winning actor is in talks to join the Emmy-winning drama next season, as a rival — and, according to the trades — a potential successor to Martin Sheen’s President Jed Bartlet, E! Online reports.

Although “West Wing” distributor Warner Bros. declined to comment on the addition of Mr. Smits, his character is said to be an ambitious Houston congressman with eyes always on a bigger, possibly oval-shaped, office.

While “The West Wing” remains an industry darling — snagging 12 Emmy nominations this year, including one for best drama — this season has been dogged by declining ratings and bad reviews. The show averaged just 11.8 million viewers in 2003-04, down from 13.5 million in 2002-03 and 17.2 million in 2001-02.

Critics complain that the series has lost its spark, especially since creator Aaron Sorkin was forced out last year.

A big-name actor such as Mr. Smits, however, would presumably give a jolt to the series. And with Mr. Sheen’s high salary, coupled with Bartlet nearing the end of his second term, it makes sense that a new commander in chief could be coming soon.

Mr. Smits, who shot to fame on NBC’s “L.A. Law,” is credited with helping boost ratings on “NYPD Blue” when David Caruso left the police drama in 1994.

The 49-year-old actor turned in his “Blue” badge six years ago and has been concentrating on film and theater. He recently starred in a New York production of Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing” and the Broadway play “Anna in the Tropics.”

Kid-free ‘Pride’

When NBC’s new CGI animated series “Father of the Pride” premieres on Aug. 31, don’t keep the kiddies up to watch it, Scripps Howard News Service advises.

The show, based on the behind-the-scenes life of the white tigers that performed in the “Siegfried & Roy” act in Las Vegas, is not for children. “This was a show that was created and designed and in every respect made for an 18 to 49 year-old audience,” insists Jeffrey Katzenberg, the show’s creator and executive producer. “It’s not a children’s show. NBC schedules this show at 9 o’clock at night, very specifically to ensure that the viewing audience — particularly parents — not be confused. This is not a show for children.”

“Pride’s” voice talent includes John Goodman (the dad), Cheryl Hines (the mom) and 82-year-old Carl Reiner as the patriarchal headliner.

Though the real Siegfried and Roy are not in the show, they do read every script, Mr. Katzenberg says. And some of the ideas for the series have actually come from them.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Christian Toto from Web and wire reports.

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