- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 25, 2004

Miller time

Dennis Miller is voting for George W. Bush this fall, and he doesn’t mind everyone knowing it.

That alone separates the comic from most political analysts, and it’s one way CNBC’s new “Dennis Miller” show promises to offer a genuine alternative to political news.

“I’m putting it out front so people can shoot the show through that prism,” Mr. Miller said during a phone press conference last week. “With [ABCs] Peter Jennings, over the course of the next year he’ll tell me in a million ways he’s liberal, but there will be subtle poker tells [that he isnt]. It seems more ethical to me to announce what you are.”

The new show, debuting at 9 tonight, promises a break from hard-news feeds.

Mr. Miller quickly shot down any notion that he’s in the same league as Dan Rather and company.

“I don’t have the vaguest pretension of journalistic ethics. I’m a comedian,” he said.

The new show will feature the wickedly urbane host riffing on the day’s main story, then providing a news roundup not dissimilar to his old “Saturday Night Live” Weekend Update bit. The show also will feature high-profile guests, like tonight’s appearance by California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The presidential elections will be fair game for months, Mr. Miller said, particularly when a candidate like former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean lets loose with the kind of primordial yelp he unleashed in Iowa.

“It’s over, isn’t it?” he said of Mr. Dean’s election hopes. “It’s a good reminder that in the 24-hour news cycle, it can all go away in one Fred Flintstone moment. ? Short of pulling his pants down, he couldn’t do anything less presidential.”

Much has been written of the comic’s rightish tilt of late, particularly following the September 11 attacks.

He doesn’t deny the shift.

“Right now, I’m liberal on many things but conservative on the defense of our country,” Mr. Miller said in clarification.

He may now enter inside the Beltway — via his California studio — but he contends that, at the end of the day, he’s just an entertainer.

“If I can show an insight into [a political guest], that’s fine. But I wanna make the show entertaining,” Mr. Miller said.

Stern’s domain

The self-proclaimed King of All Media is expanding his empire.

Shock jock Howard Stern will host a prime-time special this spring for ABC, according to the New York Post.

The hourlong interview program could pave the way for similar specials, the newspaper adds.

Sources say Mr. Stern already has more than a few possible victims, er, guests, in mind for the broadcast.

Mr. Stern, 50, has had a spotty career on television. His long-running E! television show routinely scores well for the cable channel, but his CBS Saturday night series a few years back didn’t.

The radio personality’s on-air interviews brim with naughty questions and sexually explicit material, but they also probe far deeper than the standard Leno or Letterman exchange. If he can control his libido long enough to squeak by ABC’s censors, the results could be intriguing.

Mr. Stern’s other television projects include a cartoon depicting his turbulent high school years for Spike TV and a pilot for WB, starring comedian Robert Schimmel, based on the comic’s real-life dramas.

Common Sense prevails

CBS’ new drama “Joan of Arcadia” scored big in the Common Sense Media first annual awards.

Common Sense Media is devoted to giving parents, teachers and youngsters information about the values inherent in various media.

The group’s awards, presented last week, honored achievements in movies, music, television, video games, books and the Internet. It also recognized shows it considered negative.

“The award winners prove you can make great media for kids and families without relying on gratuitous violence, lurid language or over-the-top commercialism to attract an audience,” Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, said in a statement.

The charming “Finding Nemo” won for best film, and singer Avril Lavigne scored with a best musician honor.

By contrast, Common Sense Media also awarded Golden Garbage Cans to media producers who created products with the most egregious content aimed at young minds. One of those dishonors went to the Fox network for its prime-time programming, particularly with such programs as “Temptation Island” and the short-lived “Skin.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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