- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

‘Blues’ clues

Think you know everything there is to know about “The Blues Brothers”?

Spike TV is here to set you straight.

The “channel for men” debuts its third “Unseen + Untold” installment tonight with a look at the 1980 comedy classic.

Jake and Elwood Blues — immortalized by Dan Aykroyd and the late John Belushi — will be seen in a brand-new light on “Unseen + Untold: The Blues Brothers,” airing at 9 p.m.

The show uses its access to the Universal Studio archives to dig up deleted scenes, original storyboards and footage of the Brothers opening for such acts as Steve Martin and the Grateful Dead before their movie hit it big. It also offers insight into some of Mr. Belushi’s off-screen antics — fueled in part by his drug addiction.

The special also previews “The Blues Brothers Revival,” the new stage show that is to premiere in Chicago March 17. The production is being produced by Mr. Aykroyd and Mr. Belushi’s widow, Judy Jacklin Pisano.

“Unseen + Untold” features chats with Mr. Aykroyd, Miss Pisano, Paul Shaffer and the film’s director, John Landis.

Atkins’ new ‘City’

Sharif Atkins is doing something few actors muster the courage to do: leave a high-profile series for a chance to shine on his own.

Mr. Atkins, a regular for the past three seasons on NBC’s ensemble drama “ER,” will co-star in the network’s drama pilot “Pearl City,” according to Reuters News Agency.

The new show follows a diverse team of detectives in metropolitan Honolulu.

Maybe the prospect of the on-location shoots changed his mind.

Mr. Atkins joined “ER” in 2001 as a recurring character, a medical student working his way through school on the Army’s ticket. He was upgraded to regular cast member status last season.

In other casting news: Dondre Whitfield has been slated for Fox’s drama pilot “Ricochet,” while D.J. Cotrona, the young star of Jerry Bruckheimer’s short-lived drama “Skin,” will star in the network’s drama pilot “Hollywood Division.”

“Ricochet” is described as a cop drama in the vein of “Memento.” Mr. Whitfield will play a second-generation police officer, a street-savvy, fast-talking charmer. The actor, whose series credits include NBC’s “Hidden Hills” and UPN’s “Girlfriends,” will next be seen in the features “Mr. 3000,” opposite Bernie Mac and Angela Bassett; and “Beauty Shop,” which stars Vivica A. Fox .

“Hollywood Division” is a cop drama about detectives working undercover at a Hollywood high school. Mr. Cotrona will play a police cadet sent undercover as a high school student to investigate a drug trafficking ring.

He drew the attention of the network’s casting executives with his role in “Skin,” playing the son of a porn-industry mogul (Ron Silver) who falls in love with the daughter of his father’s archenemy. The show, which debuted last fall, lasted just a few episodes before Fox pulled the plug.

Renewed ‘Passions’

Soap-opera fans will get a sixth season of “Passions,” NBC has announced.

The daytime series ranks as the second-most-popular daytime drama among women ages 18 to 34, according to the network.

The show follows the lives of four families: the Cranes, the Lopez-Fitzgeralds, the Bennetts and the Russells. The series also features a 300-year-old witch, Tabitha Lenox (Juliet Mills) — because no good soap should go without one.

Bravo’s ‘His & Hers’

Bravo, the cable network responsible for “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” is looking beyond the Fab Five for a potential addition to the makeover TV genre, Reuters News Agency reports.

The NBC-owned network has ordered an hourlong series pilot titled “His & Hers,” in which a couple has their bedroom and relationship reinvigorated by suggestions from their friends.

“Hers” represents one of several makeover-style series being considered as potential companions for “Queer,” which airs Tuesday evenings at 10, according to Bravo President Jeff Gaspin. “I would start [‘Hers’] at 9 p.m. and launch them elsewhere on the schedule,” Mr. Gaspin told Reuters.

“Hers” involves splitting up romantic partners to meet with their respective friends for a day devoted to shaking up their lifestyle.

In the pilot, now in production, a husband is tutored on the fine art of disrobing by a professional stripper. At the conclusion of each episode, the couple would be reunited to show off what they’ve learned.

Chappelle’s world

The District’s own Dave Chappelle starts the second season of his hit Comedy Central show tonight.

The premiere episode of “Chappelle’s Show,” airing at 10:30 p.m., features the lanky comic in a series of satirical sketches — political and otherwise. One skit, titled “Racial Draft,” promises a forum pondering the racial standing of such celebrities as Tiger Woods, Halle Berry, Mariah Carey and the Wu Tang Clan.

Future skits include a parody of Fox News, depicting how the network might have used its “fair and balanced” approach to cover the Civil War.

The 13-episode season will feature such musical guests as Erykah Badu, Cee-Lo, Common, DMX, Anthony Hamilton, L’il John, Ludacris, the Eastside Boyz and Timbaland.

Encore showings of “Chappelle’s Show” will air Saturday at 9 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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