- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 19, 2004

A Hendrix experience

The Biography Channel turns its eye on ‘60s rock icon Jimi Hendrix for an evening sure to bring some hazy memories back into focus.

“Biography: Jimi Hendrix,” airing at 9 tonight on the cable channel, highlights one of the world’s best guitarists during his short, brilliant career.

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Mr. Hendrix doubted his own talents and was shy at times, yet he would come to embody the hedonistic excesses of the era. The Seattle-born guitar slinger, who once opened for the Monkees to near universal boos, died at 27 from an accidental overdose in 1970.

Tonight’s special features interviews with guitarist Pernell Alexander, a childhood friend of Mr. Hendrix; musicians Juma Sultan and Eric Burdon; and the late Noel Redding, a bassist with Mr. Hendrix’s band, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.

New ‘Wing’ takes flight

TV veteran John Wells (“ER”) insists it isn’t time for a regime change in NBC’s Wednesday 9 p.m. time slot.

For the past six years, “The West Wing” has ruled that roost, garnering Emmys and critical kisses along the way.

Now, as the show enters its seventh season amid declining ratings, Mr. Wells promises this year on NBC won’t be its last.

“You can look at their schedule and see that losing a show of ‘The West Wing’s‘ quality … would be a very bad thing for them,” says Mr. Wells, who took over as the show’s executive producer when creator Aaron Sorkin left after the 2002/2003 season.

“In the end, I’m very certain I’ll be on NBC again next year,” he told reporters during a conference call last week to promote “Wing.”

The show’s opener, airing at 9 tonight, finds the Bartlet administration still wrangling with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That story line will give way to “Wing’s” first election campaign, allowing high profile guest stars (Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda) to join the show as presidential candidates.

Looking back at last season, Mr. Wells says the show missed much of the humor that was its hallmark in the pre-September 11 days.

“The general situation of the country has not felt … humorous no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on,” he says.

Mr. Wells admits, however, that taking over for Mr. Sorkin — credited with the program’s juicy dialogue and political savvy — taxed his talents.

“It’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever tried to do,” he says. “No one tried to talk Aaron into staying more than I did.”

Sponsor bails on ‘Lady’

Cable’s TBS premiered “He’s a Lady” Monday evening, despite an 11th-hour retreat by the reality show’s principal sponsor.

S.C. Johnson, the Racine, Wis. manufacturer of such household staples as Ziploc, Pledge and Windex, severed its ties to the program.

“We assessed the show, and we will not sponsor it,” said S.C. Johnson spokeswoman Margie Mandli, who offered no further explanation.

However, the American Family Association, a conservative group in Tupelo, Miss., lobbied S.C. Johnson to withdraw, reports Cox News Service. “Grown men should be men and not women,” said Randy Sharp, director of special projects at the association. “It is disgusting.”

On “He’s a Lady,” TBS used an elaborate ruse to recruit candidates who were initially told they were competing for the title of “All-American Man.” Once onboard, producers then explained the true objective of the contest was for the men to transform themselves into women — which includes wearing makeup, donning high heels and undergoing wax treatments to remove excess hair.

S.C. Johnson’s sponsorship included both commercials and product placement. TBS spokesman Sal Petruzzi dismissed concerns about the show’s content.

“In the spirit of ‘Tootsie,’ ‘He’s a Lady’ takes a lighthearted and comedic look at how gender roles in our society affect our everyday lives,” Mr. Petruzzi said.

‘Mac’ sidelined

Fox has temporarily halted production on “The Bernie Mac Show,” a move prompted by the star’s busy schedule, TV Guide Online reports.

According to Variety magazine, Mr. Mac — who spent the summer shooting two films, including “Mr. 3000,” before returning to his series — was simply wiped out.

The hiatus means the show won’t return Nov. 3 as scheduled, notes TV Guide.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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