- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 13, 2004

Skip soapish ‘Shore’

Perhaps, like summer, Fox had planned on having “North Shore” air only as long as the season itself.

That would be roughly three months, give or take a week or so.

But judging from tonight’s yawner of a debut (at 9 on Fox), most viewers won’t stick around until then.

How or why this show ever got green-lighted is beyond comprehension, other than offering its cast and crew the chance to frolic amid its gorgeous Hawaii setting.

Long story short: “North Shore’s” beautiful babes and handsome hunks get lots of time to preen, but its plot lines are as weighty as a puff of smoke.

All those involved with this fiasco probably know this. As proof positive, only a blank screen appeared in the slot where the credits were supposed to roll at the end of the review tape; as if to disavow any association whatsoever.

The goings-on center around the shallow lives of a bunch of twentysomethings (save middle-age hotel owner James Remar, apparently revisiting his role as playboy hotel owner Richard Wright on “Sex and the City”) at the Grand Waimea luxury resort in Oahu along Hawaii’s North Shore. At the story’s crux are hotel manager Jason Matthews (Kristoffer Polaha) and newly-hired director of guest services Nicole Booth (Brooke Burns of “Baywatch”), former star-crossed lovers who are reunited after a nasty breakup when the latter suddenly takes the job at Mr. Polaha’s hotel.

Lurking about as second bananas are waitress/budding entrepreneur MJ Bevans (Nikki DeLoach); Chris Remsen (Jay Kenneth Johnson), who runs an adventure company that caters to Waimea guests; bartender Frankie Seau (Jason Momoa, also of “Baywatch” fame) and lifeguard/wannabe famed surfer Gabriel Miller (Corey Sevier) — who in tonight’s episode finds himself in a legal wrangle when an underage teen tartlet accuses him of sexual assault.

Aside from that mess, the remainder of the hour is devoted to MJ scowling at Nicole for breaking up with Jason, Nicole transforming (with the help of a local body shop) a silver Lamborghini into a red one for a demanding hotel guest, and Jason engaged in a one-night stand with a beautiful and closeted lesbian tennis pro. (Didn’t we see this same plot earlier this year on Showtime’s “The L Word”?)

Oh, yeah: There’s also a confession from Nicole to Jason — along with another secret — about why she suddenly broke off their romance at the show’s end. By that time, though, you probably won’t care.

‘Heir’ of denial

It’s impossible to expect a documentary on convicted spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg shot by their granddaughter to be either “fair” or “balanced.”

The best reason to watch “Heir to an Execution,” debuting at 8 tonight on HBO, is to see a family forever stained by the couple’s treasonous behavior.

What’s missing is any sense of guilt or shame from the surviving family members, including granddaughter Ivy Meeropol. They certainly still despise the government of that era, and given the Red-scare tactics on full display during the 1950s, some suspicion is warranted.

The heart of the film finds Miss Meeropol, a first-time documentarian, quizzing family members over their memories of the executed couple. Yet “Heir to an Execution” finds its legs whenever the subjects assert their pride, eager to speak of the Rosenbergs’ courage in the face of death and dishonor. Each is depicted as kind, smart and utterly loyal to one another, no matter the consequences.

Miss Meeropol lacks the sort of artistic vision to raise “Heir” to a cinematic level. Too many scenes drag on, as if we’re being forced to watch home movies only immediate members of the family could tolerate.

The film doesn’t try to vindicate its subjects. Instead, it comes to admit they were guilty of something, just not necessarily what the government said at the time.

Little attempt is made to justify turning against their own country, a land that allowed them to thrive in the aftermath of the Great Depression. Nor do the family members consider the ramification of the couple’s actions, as if sharing atomic bomb secrets with the Soviet Union was merely a harmless extension of their hard-left views.

“Heir to an Execution” emerges as a portrait of denial, capturing a family so steeped in ideology that they cannot see how history has deemed the Communist party for which their loved ones gave their lives.

Joey’ cuts ties

‘Joey’ already has lost a new friend after shedding five of his old ones.

The fall’s biggest spinoff is set to undergo some fine-tuning before its season debut on NBC, Reuters News Agency reports.

The new show, featuring Matt LeBlanc continuing his “Friends” role as the dim-witted Joey Tribbiani, will cut Ashley Scott from its current cast. The show’s producers will redevelop the character of Joey’s sexy new neighbor.

Her scenes will be reshot once the creators of the series, Shana Goldberg-Meehan and Scott Silveri, tweak the concept for the character and recast it.

In a rare move, the pilot for “Joey” was screened in full to advertisers at the network’s upfront presentation last month to warm reviews. The pilot scored high marks in its audience testing with one exception — Miss Scott’s character, sources said.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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