- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

New to view on DVD

Two respected TV series, along with a second round of antics by celebrity pranksters, arrive today on DVD.

“Taxi: The First Complete Season” reunites us with Louie, Latka and company back in the series’ heyday. The three-disc package, which includes the show’s initial 22 episodes, retails at $38.99.

The sitcom, an ABC mainstay from 1978-1983, helped jump-start several careers — including those of Tony Danza, Danny DeVito and the late Andy Kaufman, whose loony Latka brought his peculiar comic sensibilities to a national stage.

Also out: “The Wire: The Complete First Season,” which enables those unfamiliar with HBO’s crackerjack cop drama to get a taste of how it all began. The set lists for $99.98.

Finally there’s “Punk’d: The Complete Second Season,” highlighted by deleted scenes and a commentary track by its star, Ashton Kutcher.

The second season featured appearances by Beyonce, Hilary Duff, Usher and Missy Elliott. The set retails for $26.99.

Chenoweth ‘Wings’ it

Tony-winner Kristin Chenoweth is trying her luck on television again.

The petite powerhouse has landed a major recurring role on NBC’s “The West Wing,” Reuters News Agency reports.

This season, Miss Chenoweth will play a media consultant on the four-time Emmy-winning series from John Wells Prods. and Warner Bros. TV. She has an option to return next season if the show comes back.

The actress starred, ever so briefly, in her own sitcom in 2001 called “Kristin.”

Miss Chenoweth, who wrapped her turn as Glinda the Good Witch in the Broadway musical “Wicked” in July, is filming Columbia Pictures’ “Bewitched” opposite Nicole Kidman. She also is attached to star in the indie feature “Asphalt Beach” for director Peter Spears and will lend her voice to the Walt Disney Co.’s animated feature “Rapunzel Unbraided.”

Miss Chenoweth, whose next solo album comes out in the spring, recently wrapped MGM’s “The Pink Panther.”

Lee gets real

Tommy Lee has a gorgeous ex-wife, a rock star past and a tapestry of tattoos. He’s a reality TV natural.

The former Motley Crue rocker, a high school dropout, plunged into life as a University of Nebraska student Thursday for reality TV, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Lee mingled with fellow Cornhuskers for an NBC show in which he’ll take classes in chemistry, literature and the history of rock ‘n’ roll.

Coeds, beware.

Flanked by production crews and cameras, Mr. Lee purchased books and Nebraska apparel at the university bookstore, while a mass of onlookers strained for a glimpse.

“It’s like a big circus,” student Paul Penke told AP.

The superstar drummer even tried out for the Nebraska marching band.

NBC spokeswoman Susan Ross said the network hopes to get six episodes worth of footage for a series set to air next summer. Mr. Lee, who turned 42 Oct. 3, will have a tutor and live off-campus.

The musician told the Lincoln Journal Star he was looking forward to “a little music, some education, some partying and the whole college experience.” Asked why Lincoln was chosen, Mr. Lee responded: “Because it rules, man.”

Not everyone is pleased.

“Why Tommy Lee?” asked Bob Moyer, executive director of the Family Violence Council.

Mr. Lee spent about four months in jail after pleading no contest to kicking his then-wife, actress Pamela Anderson, in February 1998. And though school officials have said the show is a way for potential students to learn about the university, using Mr. Lee to get that message out is causing some trepidation even among administrators.

“I hope that turns out to be the right judgment,” Chancellor Harvey Perlman wrote in an e-mail to the faculty “I am tempted to say something like, ‘If it doesn’t work you can vote me off the island,’ but I’ve already used that line. All I can say is join me in keeping your fingers crossed.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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