- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

‘Angel’ flies away

The supernatural “Angel” goes into battle for the last time tonight, wrapping its fifth and final season at 9 on the WB.

Tonight’s episode finds Angel (David Boreanaz) prepping to face down the evil Circle of the Black Thorn.

“Angel” is a spinoff of the long-running “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” — which, itself, was spun from the modestly successful 1992 film starring Kristy Swanson.

Danson on Showtime

Ted Danson is set to star in a new Showtime feature exploring the sexual abuse scandal that last year roiled the U.S. Catholic Church, Reuters News Agency reports.

The “Cheers” and “Becker” star will play Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston lawyer who took on the local archdiocese as the attorney for some of the first victims of molestation who came forward.

The film, titled “Our Fathers,” also will feature Christopher Plummer as Cardinal Bernard Law and Brian Dennehy as Father Domenic “Spags” Spagnolia.

Production is slated to begin June 21 in Toronto and Boston. Dan Curtis is directing from Thomas Michael Donnelly’s adaptation of a book by David France.

First lady on Leno

First lady Laura Bush will say hello to the country this evening via Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show” stage.

The appearance marks Mrs. Bush’s second on the late-night mainstay.

Guests joining the first lady include comic Daniel Tosh and musician Everlast.

“The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” airs weeknights at 11:35 on NBC.

Props to ‘Joey’

A fledgling actor who finds himself headed West is giving NBC hope that its Thursday lineup won’t die without “Friends.”

NBC chief Jeff Zucker, making a bold pledge at the network’s upfront presentation to advertisers this week, touted the strength of “Joey,” the “Friends” spinoff that will move into its predecessor’s old 8 p.m. time slot, as a key reason for optimism.

Mr. Zucker also cited the enduring appeal of “ER” and the heat of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” to bolster his case.

To further prove his point, he gave potential ad buyers a full look at the “Joey” pilot.

It’s a move networks rarely make. NBC executives said the last time they gave such a peek at their product was to tout “The Cosby Show” in 1984 and “The Golden Girls” the following year.

Mr. Zucker stressed that NBC will have more ammo in its arsenal next season with 24 episodes of “Joey” on tap, compared with just 18 fresh installments of “Friends” this season.

“Joey” garnered more than a few laughs from many of the media buyers in the audience.

“It was much better than I thought,” Arthur Schreibman, executive vice president at Initiative Media, told Reuters. Mr. Schreibman said he had some reservations about the new sitcom because it was built around star Matt LeBlanc in contrast to the “Friends” ensemble format.

Fallon signs off

Jimmy Fallon is the latest graduate of that peculiar comedy school known as “Saturday Night Live.”

Mr. Fallon, who joined the sketch comedy show in 1998, signed off for the last time from his “Weekend Update” news desk on the season finale May 15.

It was no surprise to NBC executives.

“He had made it clear that he wanted to move on, and we wish him all the best,” Jeff Zucker, president of the NBC Universal Television Group, told Reuters News Agency.

“SNL” gave Mr. Fallon, 29, a fond send-off, with a long skit featuring one of his signature characters, a nasally voiced and obnoxious radio disc jockey.

Will the comic use the show as a springboard to movie fame — or, perhaps, misfortune?

For every Mike Myers or Eddie Murphy, there’s a Jim Breuer or (gasp) a Joe Piscopo who never parlayed his “SNL” gig into a significant career.

Mr. Fallon’s first post-“SNL” project is a co-starring role in the film “Taxi” with Queen Latifah. It is slated for release later this year.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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