- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 21, 2005

‘MNF’ reunion

ABC is inviting some old friends back to wish “Monday Night Football” a fond farewell.

Former “MNF” broadcasters “Dandy” Don Meredith and Frank Gifford will return Monday for the network’s last show, Reuters news agency reports.

Neither Mr. Meredith nor Mr. Gifford, who were part of a three-man broadcasting team with the late Howard Cosell, will be in the studio when the New York Jets play host to the New England Patriots at 9 p.m. Monday. They will, however, appearin taped segments that will air at the opening of the game.

Mr. Gifford, a former New York Giants star who worked on “Monday Night Football” from 1971-97, contributed to a retrospective on the show’s 500th program. However, Mr. Meredith — part of the original on-air team with Mr. Cosell and Keith Jackson — has continually declined to come out of retirement.

“Don Meredith hasn’t been seen much on TV since he left ‘Monday Night Football’ at the end of the 1984 season,” said Norby Williamson, executive vice president for studio and remote production at ESPN/ABC Sports.

It was Mr. Gifford who persuaded his longtime friend, a former Dallas Cowboys quarterback, to contribute to the final broadcast. Fred Gaudelli, executive producer of “Monday Night Football,” said that although Mr. Meredith wasn’t able to attend the game because of family commitments in New Mexico, he did agree to tape a segment.

“Monday Night Football” is moving to ESPN in the fall after 36 years on ABC.

Monday’s final broadcast promises some classic football clips, including a few “Are You Ready for Some Football?” highlights.

The football broadcast will change somewhat when it makes the shift to the cable realm. Though the signature music will remain the same, ESPN will introduce during the Super Bowl a new on-air look for “MNF.” Also, only Al Michaels will remain from the two-man booth; John Madden will move to NBC to become an analyst for “Sunday Night Football.”

‘24’ goes Broadway

Fox’s “24” is turning to the Great White Way to flesh out its already big cast for the upcoming season.

Tony winner Stephen Spinella and two-time Tony nominee Jayne Atkinson have joined the action-drama for its fifth season, Associated Press reports.

The four-hour, two-part season premiere of “24,” which stars Kiefer Sutherland as U.S. counterterrorist agent Jack Bauer, will air at 8 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 16.

Miss Atkinson, who received Tony nominations for “The Rainmaker” and “Enchanted April,” will play homeland security official Karen Hayes; Mr. Spinella, who won a Tony for “Angels in America,” will play Miles, Hayes’ subordinate.

Jean Smart, Connie Britton, Sean Astin, Peter Weller and JoBeth Williams also will be featured in the new season.

The just-released “24: The Complete Fourth Season” DVD set includes a short prequel to the upcoming season.

Graham gets company

Actor James Patrick Stuart of CBS’ “Still Standing” will join Heather Graham in her upcoming ABC sitcom, Reuters news agency reports.

The new comedy, “Emily’s Reasons Why Not,” debuts Jan. 9.

Miss Graham, best known for her work in “Boogie Nights” and “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me,” will play a young single woman with a great publishing job who is navigating the New York dating scene.

Mr. Stuart, who joins the cast as a highly paid business consultant brought in to boost the company’s bottom line, immediately rubs her the wrong way.

Mr. Stuart’s series credits also include Fox’s short-lived “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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