- The Washington Times - Monday, January 19, 2004

Spade ‘Rules’

It’s official: King of smarm David Spade is a bona fide cast member of ABC’s “8 Simple Rules,” formerly known as “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.”

The former “Saturday Night Live” comic guest-starred on three episodes of the sitcom this season as the nephew of Katey Sagal’s character.

Should the show get extended for a third season, the cast will have Mr. Spade to kick around for a full year.

Mr. Spade’s barbed wit, which dulls appreciably on the big screen (see, or rather don’t see, “Joe Dirt” or “Black Sheep”), proved a reliably snarky presence on the long-running “Just Shoot Me,” which was canceled unceremoniously last summer.

The producers of “8 Simple Rules” have been shuffling the cast all season long following star John Ritter’s death in September. “Rockford Files” alum James Garner already has been added as the family’s grandfather.

McEnroe’s new racket

CNBC cannot be serious.

Former tennis great John McEnroe, never a shrinking violet on the court, will join the news network’s blooming prime-time lineup, according to Associated Press.

The ex-athlete’s talk show will air at 10 p.m., directly after comedian Dennis Miller’s new talk show, premiering this month.

The combative Mr. McEnroe has proved to be an adept broadcaster with wide-ranging interests, said CNBC President Pamela Thomas-Graham.

“He’s a rebel in many ways,” she told AP. “I think that’s fun for our viewers. A lot of our viewers are entrepreneurs, and they like that rebellious attitude in him.”

Mr. McEnroe will keep all his broadcast commitments as a tennis commentator, and CNBC may telecast his shows on location from the sites of tennis tournaments to accommodate him, she said.

Mr. McEnroe isn’t a stranger to television. He hosted the short-lived ABC game show “The Chair” in 2002.

Struggling CNBC, whose fortunes nose-dived about the same time as the stock market, is trying to revive its prime-time lineup. CNBC runs business-oriented programming during the day but seeks a wider audience at night. It hasn’t had a signature nighttime program since Geraldo Rivera left for the Fox News Channel in 2001.

CNBC’s hourlong general newscast, with John Siegenthaler replacing Brian Williams, will air at 8 p.m., followed by Mr. Miller and Mr. McEnroe. Current prime-time shows “The Capital Report” and “Kudlow & Cramer” will be shown earlier in the day.

‘Wire’ gets a jolt

HBO’s sleeper series “The Wire” will get a transfusion of creative juices in the upcoming season with two heralded crime writers coming aboard.

Dennis Lehane (“Mystic River”) and Richard Price (“Clockers”) will help pen the show’s third season, which begins shooting in April.

The show already has crime novelist George Pelecanos (“Soul Circus”) in the fold.

The Baltimore-based crime series doesn’t get nearly the ink that “The Sopranos,” “Sex and the City” or even the ill-fated “K Street” have earned, but critics routinely trip over themselves to praise it.

New episodes should be ready for air by late summer.

The show’s writing staff already includes creator and executive producer David Simon, a crime author himself (“Homicide,” “The Corner”).

“The Wire’s” first season captured the national drug war as seen through the lens of a West Baltimore housing project. Last season focused on a longshoremen’s union struggling to survive in a new economic landscape. This year, “The Wire” explores a city’s underground drug economy and how the local politicians address the situation.

“Look for election-year politics to play an important part in the events that unfold,” Mr. Simon said in a statement released by HBO.

“The Wire” stars returning actors Dominic West, Sonja Sohn, Lance Reddick and Wendell Pierce.

Super return

The Men of Steel are back together.

Christopher Reeve, who memorably donned Superman’s blue tights in four feature films, will return to “Smallville” in April to counsel young Clark Kent (Tom Welling), AP reports.

Mr. Reeve appeared on the WB series last season as Dr. Swann, a brilliant scientist who gave the show’s teen-age Clark (Mr. Welling) insight into his future as Superman.

The first episode featuring Mr. Reeve was one of the highest-rated for the series.

The 51-year-old actor was paralyzed from the neck down in a 1995 horseback-riding accident. Since then, he has worked tirelessly as an advocate for paralysis research and has voiced optimism he will walk again.

“Smallville” airs Wednesday evenings at 8.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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