- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Kudrow’s ‘Comeback’

Lisa Kudrow hasn’t been out of the public eye long enough for any post-“Friends” move to be considered a comeback.

So watching her spoof an aging sitcom diva on HBO’s new comedy series “The Comeback” is a curious affair.

The comedy, which debuts at 9:30 p.m. Sunday, tries to work on a number of levels, from reality-TV satire to spoof of the vain television industry.

There HBO goes again, trying to bring us complex television.

Sadly, it only partially succeeds.

Miss Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish could be any actress on the wrong side of 40. We watch her attempt a comeback on a lame sitcom centered around a group of young, nubile women while the producers keep scaling down Valerie’s part for the sake of ratings. Watching her role shrink from the sassy older girl of the group to the antiquated Aunt Sassy is the first episode’s emotional peak.

Part of the show is transmitted as if it were reality TV, as Valerie submits to 24-hour-a-day camera surveillance for a series within a series about her return to the screen.

It’s all brought together by co-creators Michael Patrick King (“Sex and the City”) and Miss Kudrow, who co-wrote the pilot and helped forge this “Comeback.”

What’s missing so far is laughter. You’ll smirk and maybe smile a few times, but the show lacks the kind of humor that made “Sex and the City” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” such unbridled smashes.

The reality-spoofing business is already yesterday’s news, a case of the media eating itself at record speed, so what “The Comeback” reveals is hardly novel. Also, audiences may be tiring of shows giving us yet another peek behind the showbiz curtain. Navel-gazing fascinates the left coast, but the rest of the country might not be so intrigued.

A better comedy bet remains “Entourage,” which returns for its new season at 9 p.m., right before “The Comeback.”

Vince (Adrian Grenier) and his posse are back in L.A. after shooting an independent film, but the actor’s street cred is threatened by the chance to star in the new Aquaman movie.

It’s easy money, and it could help Vince pay for the mansion he’s got his eye on. But he wants suit approval — and doesn’t want to look foolish, no matter how many zeroes are in his contract.

The gang may have gone away for a spell, but the vibe among the four pals hasn’t changed a bit. With “Entourage,” HBO finally has its male alternative to “Sex and the City.” (Sorry, “The Mind of the Married Man” didn’t cut it.)

The aging Drama, the fading star played to perfection by Kevin Dillon, remains the comic crackerjack here. There’s nothing sadder than a former TV star, or so the show tells us, but Drama’s ability to keep hope alive makes his sad-sack the best reason to tune in.

‘Idol,’ ‘Lost’ rule ratings

Fox and ABC wrapped bittersweet ratings victories last week as they watched two of their biggest hits take final bows.

The finales of both Fox’s “American Idol” and ABC’s “Lost” drew more than 50 million viewers combined last week, Associated Press reports.

An estimated 30.3 million people saw Carrie Underwood beat Bo Bice on Fox’s two-hour “Idol” finish, according to Nielsen Media Research, while “Lost” garnered 20.7 viewers during the same time slot.

We won’t see numbers like that again soon, as the summer rerun season now kicks into gear.

Fox easily won the week, averaging 12.5 million viewers (7.5 rating, 13 share). CBS had 9.4 million viewers (6.4, 11), NBC had 7.8 million (5.2, 9), ABC had 7.2 million (4.7, 8), UPN had 2.8 million (1.9, 3), the WB had 2.5 million (1.7, 3) and Pax TV had 520,000 viewers (0.4, 1).

A ratings point represents 1.096 million households, or 1 percent of the nation’s estimated 109.6 million TV homes. The share is the percentage of in-use televisions tuned to a given show.

For the week of May. 23 through 29, the top 5 shows, their networks and viewerships: “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 30.3 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 28.1 million; “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 21.2 million; “Lost,” ABC, 20.7 million; “House,” Fox, 19.5 million.

Spacey gets real

He has gone from winning two Oscars to starring in his own reality show. Boy, that Bobby Darin biopic sure left a mark on Kevin Spacey.

The “American Beauty” actor is set to play a showbiz mentor to a group of interns on an eight-part reality series on TLC, Associated Press reports.

Slated to premiere this fall, “Going Hollywood” promises to go beyond the velvet rope and document the business of being an A-list celebrity.

“The Hollywood featured in ‘Going Hollywood’ is a place few have seen and is a refreshing take on what we all believe constitutes ‘celebrity,’” says David Abraham, TLC executive vice president and general manager. “Beyond the glamorous premieres and jet-set travel is a world where grit, ambition and, above all, hard work are the stuff that dreams are made of,” Mr. Abraham told AP.

Mr. Spacey will be joined by legendary movie producer Robert Evans (“Chinatown”) and rapper-actor Method Man. During each hourlong episode, the interns will be featured working for Mr. Spacey’s Trigger Street Productions, the Robert Evans Co. and Method Man Enterprises.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff, Web and wire reports.

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