- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Life after ‘Friends’

Looks like “Friends” star David Schwimmer doesn’t have to worry about filling his schedule once his NBC sitcom ends in May.

The man who may forever be known as Ross will direct and executive-produce NBC’s comedy pilot “Nevermind Nirvana,” Reuters News Agency reports.

“Nevermind Nirvana” centers on the interracial relationship between an east Indian man (Kal Penn) and his white fiancee (Judy Greer) and their dealings with his family. Also cast is comedian Shaun Majumder, who will play the brother of the groom-to-be.

Mr. Schwimmer also will direct the NBC comedy pilot “Home & Hardware,” starring “American Pie” cutup Alyson Hannigan.

The actor also is filming the independent feature “Duane Hopwood.”

In other pilot news, Emmy winner Kim Delaney is in final negotiations to star in CBS’ drama pilot “Sudbury.”

The drama centers on the trials and tribulations of two sisters, both witches. Miss Delaney will play one of the sisters.

She recently reprised her Emmy-winning role on “NYPD Blue” and previously set out on her own in both CBS‘“CSI: Miami” and ABC’s quickly canceled drama “Philly.”

Meanwhile, several other stars are turning their attentions to the small screen for next fall.

Lauren Holly (“Picket Fences,” “Dumb and Dumber”) has joined CBS’ untitled bounty-hunters drama pilot. Bill Pullman (“Independence Day”) is in negotiations and Natascha McElhone (“Ronin”) is set to star in NBC’s two-hour pilot “Revelations.” And hip-hop artist GQ (born Gregory Qaiyum) has been cast to star opposite Franky G in the Fox drama pilot “Johnny Zero.”

The bounty-hunters project revolves around a father (Robert Forster) and his two sons, who earn a living as bounty hunters. Miss Holly will play the father’s girlfriend, who also works for the bounty hunters’ team.

“Revelations” follows a group’s efforts to forestall the apocalypse.

“Johnny Zero” centers on an ex-con with a notorious street rep (Franky G) who struggles to become legit and becomes a private investigator.

GQ, who first drew attention with the off-Broadway play “The Bomb-itty of Errors,” will play his partner. He most recently directed and starred in Showtime’s “Just Another Story.”

Shiny new ‘Shield’

FX’s signature series, “The Shield,” returns to active duty tonight, along with celebrated star Michael Chiklis.

The Emmy-winning actor portrays LAPD detective Vic Mackey, a ferocious cop whose antics push the bounds of both the law and what cable TV can offer.

At the end of season two, Mackey had robbed the Armenian mob. Now he and his police cronies are trying to steer clear of their own department’s investigative unit while the angry Armenian mob seeks retribution.

FX’s “The Shield” airs at 10 p.m.

Fox’s ‘Up’ and comer?

Fox’s new midseason sitcom “Cracking Up” couldn’t come with a better pedigree. It stars “Rushmore’s” Jason Schwartzman and go-to scene stealer Molly Shannon, and bears the mark of writer-creator Mike White (“Freaks and Geeks”).

That “Cracking Up” doesn’t measure up to our expectations is undeniable, but so, too, is that it’s already better than “Whoopi” and half a dozen other shows on the dial.

The sitcom debuts tonight at 9:30 on Fox.

“Cracking Up” finds Mr. Schwartzman playing Ben, a kindhearted psychology major who moves into the home of a local couple to help them cope with their difficult younger son (Nathan Norton). Of course, the family itself needs therapy, not the fairly normal child swimming in a sea of neurosis. The older son (Jake Sandwig) is an obsessive-compulsive closeted homosexual, the daughter (Caitlin Wachs) is a naive sex kitten — and their father (Christopher McDonald) is a duplicitous smoothie.

Our soused matriarch (Miss Shannon) might be the least sane of them all, giving the “Saturday Night Live” graduate plenty of room to roam.

The show apes “Rushmore’s” kitschy music tastes but never builds to the comic boil the clever plot seems to promise. Future episodes, though, may right this wrong.

Blair on King

Disgraced former New York Times journalist Jayson Blair has stared down NBC’s Katie Couric, but now he faces the softball barrage only Larry King can deliver.

“Larry King Live” invites the ex-journalist onto the talk show at 9 tonight to discuss Mr. Blair’s new book, “Burning Down My Master’s House: My Life at the New York Times.”

Mr. Blair’s series of fabricated stories at the Old Gray Lady led to the resignation of top editors Howell Raines and Gerald Boyd. The former reporter will attempt to explain his actions to Mr. King’s audience while citing his bouts with manic depression and substance abuse.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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