- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 4, 2004

Second cup-a ‘Joe’

NBC is hoping viewers can’t get enough of average Joes striking out with All-American beauties.

Hence, the network’s “Average Joe: Hawaii,” debuting at 10 tonight — just a few short weeks after the first edition wrapped.

This time, the object of desire is Larissa Meek, a 25-year-old artist, model and former Miss Missouri USA.

Like the first outing, “Average Joe” casts a single beauty into what the producers claim is a “Bachelorette” type show. What they don’t tell her is that the men who will vie for her heart aren’t exactly Chippendales material. They’re doughy, a little nerdy and, well, exceedingly average in the looks department.

No wonder the first installment did so well. Every couch potato in the nation could identify with the less-than-Fabio crowd.

The formula for the new edition, taped before the first round of shows aired, once more has the beauty choosing from 18 “Joes.”

A peek at this season’s “Joes” indicates that goatees are the go-to look for the Joe on the go.

Of course, the producers have a few tricks up their sleeves. Once again, a bevy of brawny fellas will be introduced into the dating pool to give Miss Meek the chance to skip the average zeroes and get with a beefy hero. That’s what the original installment’s heroine Melana Scantlin did, even though she appeared to have great chemistry with one of the Joes. Maybe they should call the show “Average Rejection.”

MTV in Iraq

The network that gave us “Punk’d” and “The Osbournes” is taking a serious turn.

MTV News correspondent Gideon Yago, who previously traveled to Kuwait to report on how the war was affecting young people there, is now sharing his experiences with the youth in Baghdad, the Associated Press reports.

“Diary of Gideon in Iraq” is scheduled to premiere at 10:30 p.m. Jan. 14 on the cable music channel.

The special chronicles Mr. Yago’s two-week trip to Baghdad, in which he interviewed young Iraqis and talked to American soldiers still stationed there.

“This trip will allow MTV News to finish what we started back in March,” Mr. Yago said last week. “We’re eager to give our audience an in-depth look at what it’s like for these young Iraqis to grow up in the middle of this conflict, in an intimate way that really brings the full story to light.”

Bias watchers beware. The network desperately craves young viewers who are less likely to embrace a positive look at the war’s fallout, as older viewers might.

Main’ attraction

Cable’s Comedy Central presents an underseen gem tonight with the kind of cast most directors would kill to assemble.

The 2000 film “State and Main,” written and directed by gifted playwright David Mamet, tracks what happens when a film crew slips into a sleepy Vermont hamlet hoping for a painless shoot. The sly slap at the movie industry stars Alec Baldwin as an egotistical actor with a weakness for too-young women and Sarah Jessica Parker as a starlet who suddenly refuses to do nude scenes. On hand are old pros William H. Macy, Patti LuPone and Charles Durning, along with rising stars Philip Seymour Hoffman and Julia Stiles.

Don’t expect belly laughs — just a slick, well-written peek at Hollywood inanities.

The film airs at 7:30 p.m.

Syndication glut

A bevy of sitcoms are heading into the syndication market in the coming months, but they’ll get a rude greeting from the veteran shows already grabbing viewers.

A report on the sitcom market from New York-based consulting firm Katz Television points to more than a dozen comedies that will enter syndication during the next few seasons, Reuters News Agency reports. Shows like “Yes, Dear,” “The Bernie Mac Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle” will be competing for slots with veteran reruns that show no signs of fading. Think “Seinfeld,” “Frasier” and “Everybody Loves Raymond.”

This is bad news for sitcom producers and profit participants who usually count on raking in mega-bucks when their shows enter syndication, which is generally after four years.

Other shows coming on stream through the 2006 season include “Girlfriends,” “Grounded for Life,” “My Wife and Kids,” “Reba,” “According to Jim,” “Scrubs,” “Still Standing,” “What I Like About You,” “George Lopez,” “Half & Half” and “Good Morning, Miami,” according to data from both Katz and the Los Angeles-based October Moon Television. HBO’s “Sex and the City” is also entering its off-network cycle.

It’s hard to imagine any programmer declaring, “forget ‘Friends,’ gimme ‘Good Morning, Miami.’”

The 2006 season will be pivotal for the business, with “Seinfeld” going into a third cycle and both “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Friends” going into its second cycle, said Bill Carroll, vice president/director of communications at Katz.

“The way it’s shaping up in that particular year is that stations that are involved in off-network programming will have to make some significant decisions about renewals and new acquisitions,” Mr. Carroll told Reuters.

Added October Moon chief Chuck Larsen: “The fact is that most off-network sitcoms do a single cycle in syndication and then move on. It’s very unusual to have this many sitcoms getting such healthy numbers. So if you have four classic sitcoms going through the renewal stage, they will certainly eat up shelf space and so make it more difficult for new shows to work their way onto the air.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.


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