- The Washington Times - Monday, June 6, 2005

Critics’ choice

One is a ratings hit, and the other has struggled to attract viewers, but now “Desperate Housewives” and “Arrested Development” have something in common.

Both shows are contenders for program-of-the-year honors for the 2005 Television Critics Awards.

ABC’s “Housewives” and “Lost,” the network’s other freshman hit, will take on Fox’s “Arrested,” Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” and HBO’s “Deadwood” for the coveted honor. “Housewives” and “Lost” also are nominated for outstanding new program along with Fox’s “House, M.D.” UPN’s “Veronica Mars” and FX’s “Rescue Me.”

“Housewives” and “Lost” — which, combined, received nine nominations — helped ABC capture the most nominations of any network, 11. (“Nightline” earned the other two.) Fox, led by “Arrested” and “House, M.D.” was second, with eight nods, followed by HBO with seven, PBS with five and CBS with four, Zap2it.com reports.

Nominees for the TCA’s Heritage Award, which recognizes a program for having a lasting impact on popular culture, are “Nightline,” PBS’ “Frontline” and “Sesame Street,” CBS’ “M*A*S*H” and NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”

Newsmen Tom Brokaw and Bill Moyers, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, comedian Bob Newhart and producer Aaron Spelling are vying for the group’s career achievement award.

The awards will be presented July 23.

Sopranos’ return set

It has been a year since the last original episode of “The Sopranos” premiered, but fans of the HBO hit will have to wait another nine months for new shows to begin.

HBO says the sixth, and probably final, season of the Emmy-winning mob drama will debut in March 2006, two years after the start of season five and 21 months after that season’s finale, which aired June 6, 2004. The new season has been in production for a little more than a month, Zap2it.com reports.

Creator David Chase said the gap between episodes will be mirrored in the show, with the action picking up about two years after the death of Adriana (Drea de Matteo) and the raid on New York mob boss Johnny Sack’s (Vincent Curatola) home that nearly ensnared Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini).

HBO ran teasers for the new season during its broadcast of the miniseries “Empire Falls” on May 28 and has since confirmed “The Sopranos’” return to several media outlets, though no specific date has been set.

Meanwhile, the cable network began airing reruns of season five on Sunday. The DVD package for the most recent season, which won the show’s first Emmy for outstanding drama series, hits stores next week.

New CEO at BET

Debra Lee, former president and chief operating officer of Black Entertainment Television, will succeed founder Robert Johnson as chief executive officer, effective immediately. The network announced that Miss Lee also will assume the role of chairman following Mr. Johnson’s official retirement in January.

“I could not have chosen a better chief executive and outstanding leader to succeed me at BET than Debra Lee,” Mr. Johnson told MediaWeek.

Miss Lee has been with the District-based BET for 19 years, serving first as the network’s vice president and general counsel in 1986. Long viewed as Mr. Johnson’s second in command, she became the network’s president and COO in 1996.

Mr. Johnson sold BET to Viacom for $3 billion in 2000, yet the network remains an autonomous entity, separate from Viacom’s other TV and cable holdings, which include MTV Networks, CBS, UPN and Showtime.

Deep’ impact

Wouldn’t you know it?

Less than a week after Vanity Fair magazine identified former FBI official W. Mark Felt as “Deep Throat” comes word of a film about the legendary snitch in the Watergate scandal that led to President Nixon’s resignation some 30 years ago.

Court TV reportedly is in the early stages of developing a made-for-cable movie about Mr. Felt, TVGuide.com reported yesterday. No word yet about casting, a film title or when it will air.

‘Eye’ on Sox

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” once Bravo’s highest-rated show, will attempt to revive its rapidly diminishing ratings with tonight’s makeover of the Boston Red Sox.

The Fab Five (Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Felicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez) will offer a crash course on style, decorating and grooming to World Series champs Johnny Damon, Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar and Tim Wakefield.

“Eye” airs at 10 p.m.

Compiled by R. Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports.

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