- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 5, 2005

New role for Dreyfus

Former “Seinfeld” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ comedy pilot “Old Christine” has been officially picked up by the Tiffany Network, the Reuters News Agency reports.

The actress will star as a divorced mom who tries to keep pace with everyone around her. CBS’ total order for the midseason entry stands at 13 episodes, including the pilot.

“Old Christine” joins another new female-centered comedy on CBS, the Jenna Elfman vehicle “Everything I Know About Men,” which also has a midseason order.

Back in early May, when the networks were firming up their series orders for next season, “Old Christine” was considered a strong contender for a midseason pickup.

However, a deal between CBS and producer Warner Bros. TV could not be sealed in time for the network’s May 18 “upfront” presentation to advertisers. Several key points were at issue, including the number of episodes ordered. A deal in principle was struck the day after CBS’ presentation, and it took two more weeks to iron out some minor factors.

Miss Louis-Dreyfus, best known for her Emmy-winning stint as Elaine on NBC’s long-running “Seinfeld,” had her own short-lived NBC series “Watching Ellie” during the 2002-2003 season. She most recently appeared on Fox’s “Arrested Development,” drawing big laughs as an unscrupulous attorney.

Second time around

Repeats of reality show stalwart “Survivor” are coming to the Outdoor Life Network. But will viewers care to see yesterday’s reality today?

OLN President Gavin Harvey told Associated Press that the series has the potential to transform the channel, which is best known for airing the annual Tour de France bicycle race.

Yet the syndication of “Survivor” will be a test case to show whether reality TV reruns can attract big audiences, when most of them are contests and the ending is already known.

OLN executives told AP that viewers may know the endings, but there is enough drama built into each “Survivor” episode to hold their attention. As such, the network hopes to reel in large numbers of viewers who already know the outcome of each “Survivor” — a ratings powerhouse for CBS since its debut five years ago — as well as attracting new viewers to the franchise.

Show creator Mark Burnett, in a recent telephone conference with reporters, said the deal represents an “incredible windfall for us to finally reach syndication.”

“Beyond the economic benefit, we feel it’s going to help … build more awareness for future seasons,” he said.

The “Survivor”-OLN deal is for “Survivor’s” first 10 seasons, which have completed production, with the option for OLN to acquire seasons 11 and 12.

“It seems very successful, but only 20 million out of 250 million people in this country have really seen it, so it really has a long way to go,” Mr. Burnett said. “A lot of people have never even seen it before.”

OLN will begin airing “Survivor,” starting with its first season in Boreno on July 24, the final day of the Tour de France. The network will air “Survivor” Monday through Thursday, and on weekends at 7 and 10 p.m.

Swan song for ‘Six’

“Six Feet Under,” HBO’s once critically adored drama, returns for its fifth and final season tonight in unfamiliar territory — a slot on the network’s Monday night lineup.

The series was once a jewel in HBO’s Sunday night crown, which also included “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.” But with “Sex” gone and “The Sopranos” on hiatus until next year, the network’s Sundays are now reserved for new comedy fare such as “Entourage” and “The Comeback” (with former “Friends” star Lisa Kudrow).

“SFU” fans have remained loyal, though most would concede that its last season … well, put the nail in the coffin of this black comedy about life and death at, the quirky Fisher family mortuary in Southern California. There was a noticeable dip in overall quality and in ratings as well.

Perhaps there’s a measure of redemption in the series’ final year.

At the end of last season, Nate (Peter Krause) and Brenda (Rachel Griffiths) decided to marry and start a family, while David (Michael C. Hall) and Keith (Mathew St. Patrick) also talked of settling down to have a child of their own.

Will they? And will the other loose ends fall into place?

Will flakey Claire (Lauren Ambrose) finally find her footing? Will Rico (Freddy Rodriguez) cope with life without Vanessa (Justina Machado)? Will the quickie marriage between Fisher family matriarch Ruth (Frances Conroy) to the secretive George (James Cromwell) survive? And will the deceased Nathaniel Fisher (Richard Jenkins) continue to haunt the family home and the funeral business he founded?

The answers will unfold, along with more than a few surprises, over the next 12 episodes.

The journey begins at 9 tonight on HBO.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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