- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 23, 2004

TKO for ‘Contender’?

Has NBC thrown in the towel on reality boxing for 2004? The network’s upcoming show, “The Contender,” may not throw its first punch until midseason.

The series from DreamWorks TV and producer Mark Burnett is slated to premiere in November, but Reuters News Agency reports that NBC is considering pushing that date into January.

Sources said the rationale is that the move would put distance between the series and Fox’s “The Next Great Champ,” which got to the air first but has drawn weak ratings.

NBC declined comment last week.

Beltway drama beckons

Fox, the network that brought us “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “The O.C.,” is again setting its dramatic sights on the District.

The network has picked up an untitled drama about a Midwestern family that moves to the nation’s capital when the mother wins a seat in the Senate, Reuters News Agency reports.

Multigenerational drama is a hot genre at Fox thanks to the strong appeal of shows like “The O.C.”

“What we like so much about this project is that it not only captures the youthful voice but also taps into adult story lines,” Jennifer Nicholson-Salke, senior vice president of drama development at Fox’s sibling studio, 20th Century Fox Television, told Reuters. “It’s a great way to do a family show with the backdrop of politics.”

We can hear the dialogue now: “Mom, I am so not going to that stuffy fund-raiser for the RNC.”

The new drama comes from writer-producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts, who have worked on such series as Fox’s “Wonderfalls,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” and “John Doe” and the WB Network/UPN’s “Roswell.”

Emmy ‘Development’

Sunday’s Emmy Award telecast confirmed for viewers what critics have been saying for the past year — Fox’s “Arrested Development” is a hoot.

But will winning an Emmy make a difference for the low-rated show?

The Fox comedy was an instant smash with critics, but it ranked No. 108 among all prime-time series in its freshman season with an average audience of about 6 million viewers, Reuters News Agency reports.

In the past, the spotlight of Emmy wins helped turn such Nielsen underachievers as “All in the Family,” “Hill Street Blues” and “Cheers” into legends of the small screen. But “Development” is fighting for its life in a very different television landscape, where the average viewer has no fewer than 70 channels to chose from, among myriad other entertainment options.

“Hopefully, (these wins) will bring more exposure and a bigger audience and let more people find out about it,” said Mitchell Hurwitz, a sitcom veteran who created and executive produces “Development” for Imagine TV and 20th Century Fox TV.

In addition to best comedy, the show nabbed the trophies for comedy series writing, for the Hurwitz-penned pilot episode, and for comedy series direction for the pilot helmed by brothers Joe and Anthony Russo.

“Development” chronicles the comic plight of a wealthy Orange County, Calif. clan whose patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) has been sent to prison for financial misdeeds at the family’s real estate development business.

The show employs a nonlinear storytelling style and does not feature a laugh track, setting it apart from standard network fare.

Urban on tour

Keith Urban’s new album only came out this week, but it has already spawned a chart-topping track. Now, CMT viewers can catch Mr. Urban as he sets out on his first headlining tour to support “Be Here,” the new album released earlier this week.

The one-hour special features footage of Mr. Urban cutting the new CD and playing the songs live for the first time onstage. The program also details the singer’s Australian roots and rise to fame.

Mr. Urban’s 2000 music debut established him as one of the genre’s most promising singers. The self-titled disc featured three Top 5 hits, including the No. 1 song “But for the Grace of God.” The singer won the Country Music Association’s (CMA) Horizon Award in 2001, as well as the Top New Male Vocalist Award at the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards (ACM).

“Keith Urban: The Road to ‘Be Here’ ” premieres at 11 p.m. tonight on CMT.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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