- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Posey gets ‘Frank’

Indie actress Parker Posey is setting her sights on the small screen.

The talented actress has landed a lead role in the two-hour pilot for “Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein,” a new USA Network series, Reuters News Agency reports.

The show marks the actress’s first regular TV gig.

Miss Posey (“A Mighty Wind”) will play a police detective in this update of the horror classic, scheduled to begin production in Toronto in May.

The pilot will be written by Mr. Koontz and directed by Marcus Nispel (of the recent “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” remake). USA hasn’t committed to additional episodes yet, but the total order likely would not exceed 13 hours.

“Frankenstein” is expected to debut in the fall.

The lumbering monster also will be seen in May’s “Van Helsing,” a feature film starring Hugh Jackman as fiction’s famed vampire hunter.

Harsh reality

Out-of-work actors nationwide better get used to reality television. The ratings tell us these programs aren’t going away anytime soon.

Reality shows dominated the Nielsen ratings last week, Associated Press reports. The scripted programs beaten by the reality shows, though, primarily offered reruns during the latest ratings period — a small consolation to the army of waiters and wannabe actors hustling around Los Angeles hoping for a break.

The four most popular programs were reality shows, led by two editions of Fox’s unstoppable “American Idol.” With 26.7 million viewers, the show last week had its largest audience ever for a Tuesday broadcast, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Two Mark Burnett productions, CBS’ “Survivor: All Stars” and NBC’s “The Apprentice,” came next.

After the games, the most-watched program offered a more sober form of reality. CBS’ “60 Minutes,” featuring an interview with former terrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke, was seen by 16.2 million people. That’s 1.3 million more than the average “60 Minutes” telecast this season.

ABC took another ratings hit during the week as its “Stephen King’s Kingdom Hospital” attracted just 7.1 million viewers. Those figures are still better than the premiere of another ABC drama, “The D.A.,” which had 6.9 million viewers Friday.

Another newcomer, the CBS comedy “The Stones,” had a lackluster premiere, drawing just 7.1 million viewers.

CBS won the week, averaging 11 million viewers (7.2 rating, 12 share). NBC had 10.6 million (7.1, 12). Fox had 10.3 million (6.3, 10) but won among the coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic. ABC had 8.4 million viewers (5.5, 9), UPN 3.4 million (2.3, 4), the WB 3.1 million (2.1, 3) and Pax TV 1 million (0.7, 1).

A ratings point represents 1.08 million households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 108.4 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of March 15 through 21, the top five shows, their networks and their viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 26.7 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 22.9 million; “Survivor: All Stars,” CBS, 19 million; “The Apprentice,” NBC, 17.5 million; and “60 Minutes,” CBS, 16.2 million.

Priestley’s ‘Calling’

Former “Beverly Hills, 90210” heartthrob Jason Priestley returns to television tonight as the newest member of Fox’s “Tru Calling” cast.

The actor will play a new forensic attendant who keeps running into our paranormal heroine.

Eliza Dushku stars as Tru, a woman who wakes up one day with the ability to relive the previous day and, possibly, save the life of someone who died during that 24-hour span.

The show airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays on Fox. Tonight’s episode finds Tru dealing with a visit from her estranged father.

History’s six-pack

The History Channel is wading deeper into the original-programming pool with six new series slotted for the 2004-05 season, Reuters reports.

Among the new shows is “Wild West Tech,” a look at the inventions that transformed the Old West. Keith Carradine (Wild Bill Hickok in HBO’s “Deadwood”) will host the 10-part series.

Others slated to debut: “Investigating History,” which challenges historical facts with new evidence; “The Tech Effect,” an investigation of such key historical moments as the Hiroshima bombing; “Command Decisions,” which allows viewers to second-guess historic decisions; “Decisive Battles,” a re-creation of military clashes; and “Digging for the Truth,” an archaeology showcase shot in high definition.

History also will premiere HBO’s “Band of Brothers” April 11. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks served as executive producers of the miniseries — based on the book by historian Stephen Ambrose — which originally aired on HBO in 2001. The 10-hour World War II epic will air over nine consecutive nights with a two-hour finale and also will air weekly beginning April 26.

Returning History Channel series for the upcoming TV season include “Mail Call,” “Modern Marvels,” “Tactical to Practical” and “Deep Sea Detectives.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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