- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

Papal history

The History Channel remembers Pope John Paul II with a special on how a pope is chosen.

“History Now: Holy Secrets: Electing a Pope,” airing at 9 tonight, examines the history of the papacy and looks ahead at the process of selecting a new pontiff.

Roker ‘Empowers’

NBC’s Al Roker puts away the weather maps this weekend to discuss a serious problem facing parents and children.

“Empowering Parents” finds Mr. Roker examining what happens when parents realize their child has difficulty reading.

The special, part of PBS’ Reading Rockets project to help youngsters improve their reading skills, will be seen Sunday at 5 p.m. Another special, “Becoming Bilingual,” hosted by Oscar winner Rita Moreno, follows at 5:30 p.m.

“Becoming Bilingual” follows non-English-speaking students who learn the language while attending schools in Arlington, Chicago and El Paso, Texas.

Write of passage

A pair of veteran sitcom scribes have signed with HBO’s production arm to pen two new comedy projects, Reuters News Agency reports.

David Isaacs and Ken Levine, best known for their work on “M*A*S*H,” “Cheers” and “Frasier,” will write the script for a new project starring British-born Iranian funnyman Omid Djalili plus another unnamed comedy pilot.

HBO Independent Prods. will produce the Djalili project for Fox and the second Isaacs-Levine comedy, which will be seen on HBO.

Mr. Djalili, best-known to U.S. audiences for his co-starring role on NBC’s “Whoopi” with Whoopi Goldberg, already had a development deal with the Fox network. He selected Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Levine after reading material from a number of writers.

“For us, it’s such a great head start to have a lead that you know is very funny and relatable,” Mr. Isaacs told Reuters. Mr. Isaacs and Mr. Levine are mulling over several concepts for the second project.

The writing partners met as Army reservists in Fort Carson, Colo., and have been working together for 33 years. They got their start on “The Jeffersons” and went on to collect five Emmy nominations for scripts on “M*A*S*H,” “Cheers” and “Frasier.”

The duo also created and executive-produced “Almost Perfect,” the 1995 CBS sitcom with Robin Schiff.

Desperate’ measures

Gather five women in swimsuits — most of whom are pushing 40 or have passed that watershed age — for a photo shoot and then sit back and watch the sparks fly.

Staffers from Vanity Fair say that’s exactly what happened when the magazine invited the lovely stars of ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” for a cover shoot. The ensuing mayhem caused by the actresses is recalled in the magazine’s May issue, Associated Press reports.

The magazine’s cover proclaims, “You wouldn’t believe what it took just to get this photo.” Details of the catfight, including the demands made by the stars of the hit show, follow inside.

Among the juiciest tidbits: Actress Marcia Cross apparently became quite cross when Golden Globe winner Teri Hatcher was given A-list treatment over the other actresses, the Chicago Sun-Times reported yesterday.

The redheaded Miss Cross began breathing fire when she saw Miss Hatcher standing next to her in the center of the shot, according to AP. Miss Cross grabbed her bathrobe and stormed off, spewing expletives at the ABC representative, AP reported.

In the magazine’s foldout cover, which hits newsstands Tuesday, the center position belongs to Nicollette Sheridan, who’s flanked by Miss Hatcher and Miss Cross with Eva Longoria and Felicity Huffman posed beneath them on a chaise.

Reality squabbling

TBS is looking for a few good Hatfields and McCoys.

“Loser Leaves Town,” an upcoming TBS reality show, will feature two feuding families ready to end their fighting ways, AP reports.

The cable channel is promising cold, hard cash — $50,000, to be precise —for anyone who can help locate a pair of squabbling kinfolk for the series. “Loser” is being produced by Nash Entertainment, which previously gave us “Outback Jack” and “For Love or Money.”

The clans chosen for “Loser” will each receive $100,000, but the loser has to agree to move, a TBS spokeswoman said.

An air date has not been announced.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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