Monday, May 31, 2004

First-class Grant

“Everybody wants to be Cary Grant, even I want to be Cary Grant,” so said the movie icon celebrated tonight by cable’s TCM .

“Cary Grant: A Class Apart,” debuting at 8 p.m., packs plenty of movie clips with remembrances from the actor’s ex-wives and a number of co-stars (including Martin Landau). The film examines Mr. Grant’s appeal through such films as “The Philadelphia Story” and “Bringing Up Baby.” It also recalls his work with director Alfred Hitchcock, with whom he collaborated on “Notorious,” “Suspicion” “To Catch a Thief” and “North by Northwest.”

The impossibly suave Mr. Grant (born Archibald Leach) began his professional life as an acrobat. He later proved he could walk a tightrope between dramatic and comedy roles like few others could.

Brand new view

Nearly three years after the Taliban regime fell, Afghanistan has an entertainment channel to call its own, Reuters News Agency reports.

Using a mobile antenna positioned on a hill overlooking the capital, the broadcast range of “Afghan TV” station only covers Kabul city, but its owner, Ahmad Shah Afghanzai, hopes to widen its range across the country.

“Within a year we hope to be watched all over the country through a satellite station,” he told Reuters.

Mr. Afghanzai, a 34-year-old businessman, has invested $200,000 in the nascent private operation, and needs nearly $3 million to expand it to cover the whole of the country.

“Hopefully, with the help of others, we can achieve this. We are not charging viewers and plan to run advertisements to cover the costs,” he said.

The fledgling station airs mostly Indian and Western songs as well as films for nearly 16 hours each day.

“It’s really fun to watch,” Timoor, a Kabul resident, said of the new channel. “You have girls and boys dancing and singing … It is a totally new phenomenon when you compare it with government-controlled TV.”

State-owned Kabul TV is currently the only Afghan channel on air.

Television, cinema and music were banned by the Taliban, a hardline Islamic movement that imposed a strict interpretation of sharia law.

A U.S.-led military campaign, aided by local Afghan ground forces, overthrew the Taliban in late 2001, more than five years after it rose to power.

Information and Culture Minister Sayed Makhdoom Raheen said President Hamid Karzai’s government had no intention of censoring the new channel, so long as its broadcasts did not contravene Islamic law and Afghan culture.

Summer ‘Eye’-ful

Bravo’s Fab Five return tonight for a second season of metrosexual mayhem.

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” airing at 10 p.m., will feature the usual string of clueless fellas this time around, as well as one homosexual man — who, according to the network, “didn’t get the memo.”

Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez return to share style and living tips. Tonight’s installment features fraternal twins sharing a two-bedroom home in Queens, N.Y.

D.C.’s ‘Best’ quest

In network circles, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery … and it sure does save time in those dreaded idea meetings.

With that in mind, Fox will be auditioning reality show contestants in the District today for “The Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best.”

The show needs a few good entrepreneurs, both men and women, willing to follow in the footsteps of Sir Richard Branson, the network’s answer to Donald Trump.

The auditions will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Buffalo Billiards on 19th Street NW. Contestants should be at least 21-years-old and bring a valid photo ID.

The forthcoming “Billionaire” finds Mr. Branson, the global adventurer/chairman of Virgin Atlantic Airways, sending a group of players on a worldwide tour to test their mettle. The contestants, or apprentices, will relive some of Mr. Branson’s own personal adventures as part of the show.

“The Billionaire” comes from Bunim-Murray Productions, the creators of “The Real World,” “Road Rules” and “The Simple Life.”

Those showing up today won’t immediately know whether they made the cut, so stay tuned.

And anyone who misses the open call can surf over to to find instructions on submitting auditions via videotape.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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