- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 30, 2004

A night at the opera

WETA-TV (Channel 26) isn’t ringing in the new year with lip-syncing divas or the band du jour.

The local PBS affiliate is presenting a more traditional alternative — the Washington National Opera’s version of “Die Fledermaus.”

Famed tenor Placido Domingo, along with soprano Virginia Tola and the American Ballet Theatre’s Ethan Stiefel and Gillian Murphy, star in the Johann Strauss Jr. operetta, airing at 8:30 tonight.

The production was taped before a live audience earlier this year at DAR Constitution Hall in the District.

Foxx on Fox

Before “Collateral” and before “Ray,” comic actor Jamie Foxx starred as a small-time crook on the run in “Bait.”

The 2000 film, directed by Antoine Fuqua (who also directed Denzel Washington to an Oscar win for 2001’s “Training Day”), gets a prime-time slot at 8 tonight on Fox.

“Bait” failed to make a dent either with critics or at the box office, but Mr. Foxx’s natural appeal can shine through even the clunkiest material, as he proved in this year’s cookie-cutter comedy “Breakin’ All the Rules.”

Mr. Foxx recently made Golden Globe history by earning nominations for three projects in a single year. The Foreign Press Association honored him for his work in “Ray,” “Collateral” and “Redemption,” a made-for TV film based on the life of reformed gang leader Stan “Tookie” Williams.

“Bait” co-stars Jamie Kennedy, who soon will be seen in “Son of the Mask,” the sequel to the 1994 film starring Jim Carrey.

‘Dynasty’ revisited

ABC benches its new hit “Desperate Housewives” Sunday to revisit its prime-time blockbuster of yesteryear with “Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure,” premiering at 9 p.m.

The made-for-TV movie focuses on the behind-the-scenes doings of the long-running prime-time soap (1981-89), which celebrated the excesses of the ‘80s.

The movie begins in 1980 with ABC executives deciding to develop a tale of the rich and troubled Carrington clan after noting the success of “Dallas” on rival network CBS. Their first concept? A drama called “Fort Worth.”

But the husband-and-wife producing team of Esther and Richard Shapiro (played by Pamela Reed and Ritchie Singer) have other ideas. They hitch their star to executive producer Aaron Spelling (Nicholas Hammond), and Richard decides on “Dynasty” as the new show’s name.

“Dynasty” is a go, but deep divisions simmer over character development. After dismal ratings, network suits order the show’s creators to make the homosexual Steven Carrington (Rel Hunt playing actor Al Corley) straight — much to the chagrin of Mr. Corley — and B-movie British actress Joan Collins (Alice Krige) is added to the cast.

From there, the made-for-TV flick mainly concentrates on off-camera gossip and bickering among the stars (the difficult Miss Collins, in one scene, forces a cliffhanger for the series in an effort to get more money), and the real-life success of “Dynasty” gets lost amid the muck. The movie does, however, manage to squeeze in a few highlights of the series’ run — including the 1984 addition of film heartthrob Rock Hudson in a recurring role (as Daniel Reece) before AIDS forced his withdrawal. Mr. Hudson died the next year.

“Dynasty: The Making of a Guilty Pleasure” has numerous missteps, among them the horrible wig on Melora Hardin as actress Linda Evans (who portrayed Krystle Carrington).

It isn’t Shakespeare. But neither was the original series.

Latina Lifetime

Stand-up comic Debi Gutierrez is bringing her decidedly Latin perspectives to Lifetime.

The network has inked Miss Gutierrez to a comedy series based on her real-life story as a mother who raises three children with the help of both her husband and ex-husband, Reuters News Agency reports.

The project marks Miss Gutierrez’s second turn as the star of a comedy pilot. In 2001, she top-lined a half-hour pilot for NBC about a no-nonsense Latino mom juggling family and career.

Miss Gutierrez has appeared in various specials for Lifetime and Showtime. She’s also been a contributor to the New Faces showcases at the Just for Laughs comedy festival in Montreal and at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, Colo.

The new pilot, written by Sally Lapiduss (CBS’ “The Nanny”), is part of an ambitious development slate that Lifetime outlined this year. The network is looking to produce four to six pilots in 2005.

Baio’s back in charge

Welcome back, Chachi.

Scott Baio, best known for his roles on “Happy Days” and, later, on “Charles in Charge,” will star in an NBC sitcom pilot, Reuters reports.

The former teen heartthrob will play a fortysomething who turns his life upside down after he moves in with a guy in his 20s.

The 43-year-old actor’s last small-screen project was CBS’ “Diagnosis: Murder.” On the big screen, he most recently co-starred in “SuperBabies: Baby Geniuses 2.”

Mr. Baio’s next project has already received a script commitment from the network. Emmy-winning writer-producer Jace Richdale (“The Simpsons”) will serve as an executive producer.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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