- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 11, 2004

Barker’s benevolence

At the end of every “The Price is Right” telecast, host Bob Barker implores viewers to get their pets spayed or neutered.

The silver-haired host is putting his money where his heart is.

Mr. Barker has donated $1 million to the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law for an animal-rights-law endowment, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Barker, who has hosted the game show for more than three decades, has long fought on behalf of animal rights. He said he hoped the endowment would encourage more law students to get involved in protecting animals.

“Animal exploitation happens throughout this country and elsewhere,” Mr. Barker said. “Animals need all the protection we can give them.”

The Bob Barker Endowment Fund for the Study of Animal Rights Law will pay for teaching, research, seminars and lectures. The effort will be led by UCLA professor Taimie Bryant, who teaches a course in animal law.

UPN’s thumbs up

UPN doesn’t get the ratings numbers of its entrenched network peers, but its executives are still pretty pleased about its two biggest fall shows.

The network gave both “Veronica Mars” and “Kevin Hill” full-season pickups, Reuters News Agency reports.

Though neither series sprinted out of the gate, “Kevin Hill,” starring Taye Diggs, and “Veronica Mars,” starring Kristen Bell, received some of the best reviews for this season’s new shows.

Take that, “Listen Up,” “Dr. Vegas” and “Father of the Pride.”

“Mars” (2.7 million, 1.7 rating/5 share among adults 18 to 34) has slowly but steadily inched up in the ratings since its premiere.

“Kevin Hill” (3.7 million, 1.7/5), which benefits from a strong lead-in, “America’s Next Top Model,” has significantly improved UPN’s performance in the Wednesday 9 p.m. slot.

CBS is doing some crowing of its own, specifically about its rapidly expanding “CSI” franchise.

CBS has made the full-season pickup for the new “CSI: NY” official, ordering 10 additional episodes of the freshman crime drama.

“CSI: NY,” from Jerry Bruckheimer TV, Alliance Atlantis and CBS Productions, has significantly improved CBS’ fortunes Wednesday night, regularly topping the 10 p.m. hour among adults 18 to 49 against strong competition that includes NBC’s veteran drama “Law & Order” and ABC’s reality show “Wife Swap.”

“CSI: NY,” starring Gary Sinise and Melina Kanakaredes, is the first freshman series to receive a full-season pickup from CBS. The aforementioned “Dr. Vegas” has been yanked off the schedule, while the network’s third new drama, the critically praised but low-rated “Clubhouse,” starring Dean Cain, has received an order for two additional scripts and is moving to Saturday this week.

Madsen’s sporting turn

The co-star of the “Kill Bill” films is heading to ESPN to anchor its new dramatic series.

Michael Madsen has become the latest actor to join the ensemble cast of “Tilt,” Reuters News Agency reports.

The series, which debuts at 9 p.m. Jan. 13, centers on the fictitious World Poker Championships in Las Vegas and examines the drama of high-stakes gambling as well as the lives of the professional gamblers away from the table.

Mr. Madsen will play Don Everest, aka “the Matador,” who is considered the top player and most influential man in Vegas gaming.

The veteran actor immediately becomes the most recognizable face in the cast, which also includes Eddie Cibrian and Chris Bauer.

Mr. Madsen’s film credits include “Die Another Day,” “Reservoir Dogs” and “Thelma and Louise.”

On the TV side, Mr. Madsen recently appeared in the USA Network telefilm “Frankenstein.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports

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