- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 21, 2004

Regis and Ben

“Live with Regis … and Ben?”

Ben Affleck will be warming Kelly Ripa’s chair today as guest co-host for the syndicated talker “Live with Regis and Kelly,” the Associated Press reports.

Mr. Affleck, whose new film “Jersey Girl” opens Friday, is taking over for Miss Ripa while the busy host/actress takes a much needed vacation.

The man who might have been Mr. Jennifer Lopez is known for his Philbin impersonation, and the AP reports he’ll compete in a “Reege-off” this morning during a taped segment with “Saturday Night Live” mimic Darrell Hammond.

“Live with Regis and Kelly” airs weekdays at 9 on WJLA-TV (Channel 7).

King-sized drop

ABC’s new Stephen King miniseries is suffering from a nightmarish ratings slide.

“Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” is hemorrhaging viewers after just three weeks on the air, Reuters News Agency reports.

Preliminary data from Nielsen Media Research showed “Kingdom Hospital” down 16 percent in total viewers and about 19 percent among adults ages 18 to 49 in its 10 p.m. Wednesday slot from a week earlier.

The drama series debuted strongly two weeks ago but has since nose-dived in the ratings. ABC had hoped the show could help its lackluster season end on a bright note.

“Hospital” drew 7.14 million average total viewers last Wednesday, landing it in third place for the hour. Among adults ages 18 to 49, the demographic most prized by advertisers, the show drew a 3.0 rating, second in the period. Each ratings point represents 1 percent of homes with television sets.

Over at UPN, the news was equally disappointing about its new video game-centric sitcom.

“Game Over,” featuring the voices of Lucy Liu and Patrick Warburton, lost nearly 14 percent of its total viewership in the 8 p.m. slot from its debut a week earlier.

The show, prime time’s first fully computer-animated series, follows a family of video game superheroes.

Spike beams up ‘Nine’

Spike TV is expanding its “Star Trek” universe with the addition of the franchise’s “Deep Space Nine” series.

The “channel for men” will trumpet its new acquisition with a week-long marathon starting April 5. The network will air nine “DS9” episodes daily from noon to 9 p.m. The show then will move into its regular scheduled time slot — weeknights at 7 beginning April 12. The space show, which debuted in 1993 and ran for seven seasons, stars Avery Brooks as Captain Benjamin Sisko and Colm Meaney as chief of operations Miles O’Brien.

Spike TV currently broadcasts episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” weeknights at 7 and weekdays at 2. each Tuesday through Friday.

‘CSI’ in NYC

Start spreading the news: The next “CSI” spinoff will feature Gary Sinise heading up the Big Apple’s crime fighting division.

The upcoming “CSI: New York” will be spun off from an upcoming “CSI: Miami” episode to air in May.

The Emmy Award-winning actor and Oscar-nominee (“Forrest Gump,” “Apollo 13”) will play Det. Rick Calucci in the new show, set to debut in the fall.

Stewart stays

No matter who serves in the Oval Office over the next four years, Jon Stewart will be there to mock him every step of the way.

The host of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” signed on for four more years with Comedy Central, extending his popular faux news show through 2008.

The comedian’s contract was set to expire at year’s end.

“A lot of people like to get out when their show’s still going well,” Mr. Stewart said in a statement. “This gives me the opportunity to beat this thing into the ground.”

Mr. Stewart came aboard “The Daily Show” in 1999 when Craig Kilborn opted out for his own late night talk show on CBS. The transition proved far smoother than Comedy Central could have imagined. Mr. Stewart’s self-effacing shtick seemed a refreshing counterbalance to Mr. Kilborn’s smug mug, and the former’s erudite take on the news improved the show’s cachet among viewers.

For now, “The Daily Show” roasts both political parties via its “Indecision 2004” campaign. This summer, Mr. Stewart and the gang will travel to Boston to cover the Democratic National Convention, then tackle the New York-based Republican National Convention.

“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” features “news” correspondents Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Ed Helms and Samantha Bee.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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