- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2005

‘Mystery’ revived

The Hallmark Channel’s revamped “Mystery Wheel” concept gets its first spin tonight.

The channel is banking on a trio of familiar faces —Lea Thompson, Kellie Martin and John Larroquette — to draw viewers into its weekly mystery slot inspired by revolving programming of the past.

Hallmark has enlisted one of the talents who helped create some of those classic shows to develop the new series. Two of the three movie-length shows, “McBride” and “Jane Doe,” come from Dean Hargrove, who previously created “Columbo” and “McCloud” among other mysteries.

First up is “Mystery Woman,” starring Miss Martin and Clarence Williams III, which premieres at 9 tonight. Miss Martin (“ER,” “Life Goes On”) revisits the photographer character she originally played in the network’s previous TV film who solve crimes with the help of texts found in her uncle’s mystery bookstore.

“McBride,” which debuts next Friday, stars Mr. Larroquette as a cop-turned-attorney who cracks tough cases with his ability to flash back to the scene of any crime.

The third spoke in the wheel, Miss Thompson’s “Jane Doe,” finds the “Back to the Future” actress co-starring with Joe Penny as a soccer mom with a knack for solving puzzles as the National Security Agency’s secret operative.

Claymate makeover

Even dedicated Claymates — the term for Clay Aiken fanatics — could stand a style tweak or two.

Lifetime’s “Head 2 Toe,” starring District native Tanika Ray, starts its new season tomorrow by making over a pair of Mr. Aiken’s biggest fans.

The show airs at 11:30 a.m.

“Head 2 Toe” lets two women, either family members or longtime pals, help each other undergo a style and makeup transformation.

The makeover subjects this time, both married to men stationed overseas in Iraq, will get a belated Christmas gift when they meet their favorite singer by show’s end.

NBC’s new ‘book’

NBC is taking the passion for Mel Gibson’s blockbuster film last year to heart. But “The Passion of the Christ” supporters may not like the results.

The network has given a cast-contingent pickup to a darkly comedic one-hour drama about an Episcopalian minister who converses with a hip Jesus on matters like prescription painkillers and church politics, Reuters reports.

The pilot was written on spec by “Titus” co-creator Jack Kenny. NBC took the rare step of buying his finished script even though it was not developed through the network’s traditional process.

Mr. Kenny and his writing partner, Brian Hargrove, created and shepherded the Christopher Titus comedy “Titus,” which ran from 2000-2002 on Fox.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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