Sunday, October 10, 2004

‘Wanda Does’ it all

Former District resident Wanda Sykes doesn’t mind a little hard work.

The feisty comic has starred in her own sitcom, popped up in films (“Down to Earth”) and appeared on HBO’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “Inside the NFL.”

Talk about range.

Now the tart-tongued funny girl is starring in a new Comedy Central vehicle that promises to make her work even harder at everything — from limousine driving to short-order cooking.

“Wanda Does It,” airing Tuesdays at 10:30 p.m. on the cable network, lets Miss Sykes attempt to take on interesting jobs each week. The reality show chronicles her stabs at being a wedding photographer, a women’s professional basketball coach and even a call girl among other jobs.

The show has its added benefits.

Miss Sykes is now a licensed repo agent in California, thanks to the experience she received in one segment. During the episode, she used her new skills to repossess a car.

“It was my favorite job,” she told Scripps Howard News Service. “There was a little bit of danger involved.”

Miss Sykes got into stand-up comedy full time after a five-year stint as a contracting specialist in the federal government. Prior to that, she worked a series of odd jobs — including a turn as the salad bar girl at a family restaurant.

Not all of Miss Sykes’ jobs have been memorable.

The 40-year-old performer starred in her first sitcom, “Wanda At Large,” earlier this year on Fox. The series lasted less than a year; a frustrating experience for her, she says.

“I learned that you are pretty much at the mercy of the network,” says Miss Sykes, who also co-wrote the show’s material.

Aside from TV, Miss Sykes has been busy in other areas.

She’s headlining the “Cotton T-shirt Tour,” a stand-up laugh fest that’s traveling from coast-to-coast this fall. And on the big screen, she’s finished a role in the comedy “Monster-in-Law,” which also stars Jennifer Lopez and Jane Fonda.

“I’m working all the time,” Miss Sykes says, “and I’m not complaining.”

TV job inequality

A new report on acting jobs completed by the Screen Actors Guild provides dismal news for minority actors, Associated Press reports.

Hollywood acting roles for Hispanics fell 10.5 percent and Asians saw their performances drop 2.1 percent last year, according to the study released Thursday.

The survey showed that jobs for all SAG members fell by 1.6 percent in 2003. The data also found that women got 38 percent of all roles, and white performers received more than 73 percent of roles.

The study was conducted by producers as part of a contract with the union.

SAG president Melissa Gilbert told the Los Angeles Times that studios seem to be reluctant to diversify casts.

“I would be loath to label it as racism, as much as I would be willing to label it playing safe,” she told the paper. “The longtime assumption that everybody wants to be blue-eyed, blond-haired and trim still persists.”

Black actors secured 15.3 percent of all acting jobs, the most of any minority group but their overall roles also fell about 3 percent. American Indians saw a slight rise in their screen and television roles, although they account for less than 1 percent of overall performances.

‘Tourist’ season

Alexandra Pelosi is getting a handle on this politics business.

She sure had a bird’s-eye view, as the daughter of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Now the young filmmaker’s second political documentary, “Diary of a Political Tourist,” is airing at 8 tonight on HBO.

“Diary” covers the 2004 Democratic primary contests, a heated skirmish led —for a while — by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean.

Miss Pelosi’s previous film, “Journeys with George,” documented her days trailing then-Gov. George W. Bush during his 2000 run for the presidency.

Vying for Craig’s slot

CBS’ merry-go-round of potential Craig Kilborn replacements for “The Late, Late Show” continues tonight as the youngest potential host tries out for the gig.

Damien Fahey, the 24-year-old host of MTV’s “Total Request Live” or “TRL” to the show’s faithful, sits in the big chair at 12:35 a.m.

Last week, “Loveline” humorist Adam Carolla and actor-comedian Tom Arnold kept Mr. Kilborn’s seat warm.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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