- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Chaplin, take two

Turner Classic Movies serves up an original dish tonight, examining the greatest star of the silent screen.

“Charlie: The Life and Art of Charles Chaplin” examines the artist’s work and features interviews with Woody Allen, Johnny Depp, Martin Scorsese and Robert Downey Jr., who brilliantly portrayed him on-screen in an Oscar-nominated performance.

The special, airing at 8 p.m., will be followed by the 1921 feature “The Kid,” one of Mr. Chaplin’s classic screen comedies, at 10:15.

Super’ renewal

That ol’ Regis magic has ABC under his spell once more.

The network will pick up Regis Philbin’s “Super Millionaire” game show for another limited run during the May sweeps, Reuters News Agency reports.

The ageless talk-show host is becoming a valuable pinch hitter, coming off the bench in ABC’s crunch time — and the refurbished “Millionaire” enjoyed a solid run during the February sweeps.

In its first telecasts last week, the quiz show with a $10 million grand prize ranked as ABC’s top program for the night in total viewers and adults ages 18 to 49 — a showing that dramatically improved ABC’s track record this season in its time periods.

King’s ‘Hospital’ DOA

Stephen King has been infiltrating our nightmares for quite some time via his books and movie adaptations, but only in recent years has he turned his full attention to the small screen.

The prolific author is the guiding light behind “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital,” a new horror series debuting at 9 p.m. on ABC. The series assumes its regular 10 p.m. slot next Wednesday.

Based on the Danish miniseries “Riget” (“The Kingdom”), the new 15-hour miniseries follows the eerie machinations of a hospital built on some rather creepy grounds. There’s nothing new with that plot thread, nor will many of the assembled scares here offer fresh goose bumps.

The uneven cast, led by Ed Begley Jr. and former Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy, can’t resuscitate these ghoulishly familiar plot points. A key story line in the introductory installment echoes the near-death accident Mr. King endured in 1999. Here, “Dynasty’s” Jack Coleman plays a famous painter who gets clipped by a drugged-up van driver.

Mr. King’s recent television offerings, “Carrie” (2002) and “The Shining” (1997), couldn’t match their cinematic predecessors. Come June, TNT serves up a new “Salem’s Lot,” giving him the chance to one-up the original 1979 miniseries.

Let’s root for that one because the initial peek at “Hospital” makes it clear that Mr. King’s small-screen losing streak, unfortunately, is continuing.

Tracking the ‘Beast’

Next week, veteran journalist Linda Ellerbee tackles new terrain with a journey into the belly of the news beast, Reuters News Agency reports.

The new documentary “Feeding the Beast: The 24-Hour News Revolution” examines how television news has evolved since the advent of what Ted Turner alternately called News Channel and Cable News Network on the day CNN was born in 1980.

The 90-minute documentary, airing March 11 on cable’s Trio channel, details how the round-the-clock revolution has changed the way TV news is gathered, presented and marketed.

Miss Ellerbee, a trailblazer for women in broadcast news in the 1970s and ‘80s, has the professional perspective to tell the story.

She was part of NBC’s initial response to CNN when she co-anchored the “NBC News Overnight” newscast, which ran weeknights from 1:30 to 2:30 a.m. from July 1982 through December 1983.

One aspect of 24-hour news that surprised Miss Ellerbee was how the landscape has become all talking heads, all the time.

Her interest in the documentary took root while she was watching the intense media coverage of the recent Iraq war. She figured the news networks themselves were ripe for documentary treatment from her New York-based Lucky Duck Productions banner.

“Beast” isn’t shy about pointing out the journalistic deficiencies of 24-hour news networks, but Miss Ellerbee lets others pass judgment on the changes she documents.

“Nobody is more analytical or critical than the people who work in it,” Miss Ellerbee says. “They’re well aware of its shortcomings, and the good ones try every day to overcome them.”

On the plus side, Miss Ellerbee adds that she has only “the highest regard” for the work done at CNN, MSNBC and the Fox News Channel.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.



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