- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 24, 2004

‘Around’ Oscar time

“WETA Around Town” tackles a subject on the minds of many movie lovers — who should go home Sunday with a golden statuette?

“Who Should Win: An Around Town Oscar Special,” airing at 9 tonight on WETA (Channel 26), breaks down the nominated films and actors gearing up for Sunday’s Academy Awards telecast. Host Robert Aubry Davis and fellow critics will spend the hourlong special judging artistic merits versus the realities of Oscar voting patterns. The show will be repeated Sunday at 7 p.m., just in time for Oscar’s red carpet to be unrolled.

Reality, BET style

Black Entertainment Television isn’t letting the reality series bandwagon roll on by.

The network’s own “College Hill” continues tonight, a show which follows the adventures of eight students at Southern University, a historically black college in Baton Rouge, La. Everything today’s students face in the black-college experience is up for grabs on “Hill,” which careens from grading woes to “off the hook” campus parties.

The program airs at 9 and 11:30 tonight, and at 9 p.m. Saturday.

Hung up on Hung

Winning on “American Idol” isn’t everything. Just ask William Hung.

Who’s William Hung? He’s just about the worst singer you can imagine — which is what endeared him to so many viewers of the Fox reality show.

He may have been voted off the show, but the 20-year-old college student has been offered a $25,000 recording-and-video contract from Fuse Network and Koch Entertainment, according to E! Online.

“I think his 15 [minutes] can be 24,” Marc Juris, a cable TV executive with Fuse, told E!

If all goes according to plan, Mr. Hung will sign by next week. The album — more like a five- or six-song mini-album — will be on sale three weeks after that.

In the past month, Mr. Hung has been parodied by Jimmy Fallon on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live,” invited to croon on Ellen DeGeneres’ daytime talk show and anointed as a halftime performer at his hometown University of California-Berkeley campus. Mr. Hung studies civil engineering at Berkeley.

An online petition calling on “Idol” producers to return him to the competition boasts more than 85,000 virtual signatures. A Monday “Idol” special, “Uncut, Uncensored and Untalented,” promotes itself in the very image of the dancing, singing Mr. Hung. The network won’t say how involved Mr. Hung will be with that episode. But don’t think “Idol” producers will miss a chance to milk the young man’s fleeting fame.

“Obviously, all you need to do [to get famous] is a really bad version of ‘She Bangs,’” Melissa De La Cruz, co-author of the 2003 self-explanatory tome “How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less,” told E! Online.

Mr. Hung butchered Ricky Martin’s hit song on the Jan. 27 “Idol” telecast, prompting resident meanie Simon Cowell to wail: “You can’t sing. You can’t dance. So what do you want me to say?”

How was Mr. Cowell to foresee the groundswell of affection headed Mr. Hung’s way?

Besides, to Mr. Hung’s legion of supporters, Mr. Cowell’s assessment simply missed the point.

He was “so sweet and humble about the whole thing that he just touched a nerve with people who had no professional training but just did their best and had no regrets,” Mr. Juris says.

The other Hanks

The next generation of the Hanks family is coming to a television near you.

Colin Hanks, son of Oscar winner Tom Hanks, will play the lead in ABC’s untitled comedy pilot about a young reporter who makes waves at a respected magazine, Reuters News Agency reports.

The project is based on columnist Joel Stein’s experience as the youngest reporter ever at Time magazine. Mr. Stein is writing the script.

The younger Mr. Hanks’ feature credits include “Orange County” and “Get Over It.” On television, he was seen on the series “Roswell.” He next appears in the ensemble indie comedy “Standing Still.”

In other comedy pilot pickup news, Fox has ordered “Spellbound” and “Sweden, Ohio,” while UPN has given the go-ahead to “The Bad Girl’s Guide.”

“Spellbound” centers on a modern-day male witch who falls in love with a mortal woman, creating family turmoil.

“Sweden” involves an Ohio teenager whose life turns around when a sexy female Swedish exchange student moves in with his family. Darn the luck. It was originally developed at the WB Network, which swapped it for Fox’s “Prodigy.”

“Bad Girl’s Guide” is based on Cameron Tuttle’s book “The Bad Girl’s Guide to Getting What You Want,” a how-to guide on career, friendship and romance.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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