- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

Donkey visits ‘Pride’

Eddie Murphy revisits his wildly popular Donkey character from the “Shrek” franchise on tonight’s “Father of the Pride” on NBC.

The show, a computerized creation much like the “Shrek” films, follows a family of lions who work in Las Vegas for a digitized version of Siegfried and Roy.

“Father of the Pride” earned mixed reviews out of the gate, yet drew hefty ratings in its first few weeks. The show airs Tuesday evenings at 9.

‘Rodney’s‘ turn

Isn’t it about time stand-up comic Rodney Carrington got his own sitcom?

Who is Rodney Carrington, you say? Well, we didn’t know either until we screened “Rodney,” ABC’s new family-based sitcom built around the husky funnyman.

“Rodney,” part two of the Midwestern humor brigade started by the WB’s “Blue Collar TV,” is a marked improvement over that show’s vapid sketch comedy. Its Wal-Mart jokes are actually funny.

Still, that doesn’t mean that “Rodney” is TiVo worthy — at least not yet.

Tonight’s series debut, airing at 9:30, finds Mr. Carrington as — who else? — Rodney, an Oklahoma working stiff who quits his job at the Fiberglas plant with the hope of finding something better.

He’d love to be a stand-up comic, but the Okie circuit isn’t exactly the Catskills. And his wife Trina (Jennifer Aspen) is fed up with his festering dream — especially when he turns down a foreman’s position because it might interfere with future gigs.

It doesn’t help that Trina’s dad (Mac Davis, long time, no see) constantly berates Rodney and offers him a job at his used car dealership to keep him permanently under his thumb.

“Rodney” seems an adroit match for ABC’s mild-mannered Tuesday, a lineup of familiar-feeling sitcoms that are more agreeable than gut-busting.

Mr. Carrington’s gentle way around a joke helps, and he also seems well-suited for the show’s dramatic moments.

Digital push

The government wants the nation to gradually move toward digital television without leaving owners of “traditional” TV sets behind.

Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, is pushing for up to $1 billion in aid to ensure that consumers aren’t left in the dark when TV stations begin broadcasting only new, crisp digital signals, Reuters News Agency reports citing draft legislation obtained on Sunday.

Mr. McCain’s measure would require broadcasters to air only digital television signals by 2009, a five-year stretch that would enable viewers who rely on traditional sets to buy a device that would convert digital back into a format they could watch.

The government is eager to get its hands on the airwaves that broadcasters now use because they will likely auction it for commercial wireless services, a move which could rake in billions of dollars, according to some estimates.

Under the measure, the $1 billion would come from the auction proceeds.

Moving the broadcasters off the old spectrum would also free up airwaves for public safety officials. Poor communications proved problematic during the September 11 attacks, the report noted.

Current law only requires broadcasters to give up their current airwaves by 2007, or when 85 percent of the nation can receive the new digital signals, whichever comes later.

Media experts generally agree those numbers aren’t realistic, and say it will take several years more for this to happen.

Many stations already broadcast both digital and analog signals, but few Americans own digital televisions, which are substantially more expensive than traditional sets.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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