- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

All aboard for ‘Soul’

“Soul Train’s” Don Cornelius will get the star treatment tonight when TV Land honors the long-running dance party.

The third annual “TV Land Awards: A Celebration of Classic TV,” airing on both TV Land and Nick at Nite, also will recognize two long-running sitcoms, “The Bob Newhart Show” and “The Carol Burnett Show.”

Mr. Cornelius told Associated Press he was awed by the dazzling tribute, taped last weekend for tonight’s 9 p.m. broadcast.

“I thought I had kind of seen it all in these three decades, but it was a little more than I ever expected as a tribute,” said Mr. Cornelius, who will be honored with TV Land’s pop-culture award.

“I’m almost used to seeing flashbacks of some of the more memorable things that we’ve presented on ‘Soul Train,’” he said. “I was prepared for that emotionally. I was not prepared for seeing live flashbacks of people that I love.”

Among those singing Mr. Cornelius’ praises were Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, Little Richard, Mya and Ashanti.

The trendsetting “Soul Train” is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year, making it the longest-running syndicated show currently on television. Its cavalcade of talents has included such luminaries as Marvin Gaye and the Jackson Five — and it still draws top new acts.

The show also has spawned two awards telecasts, “The Soul Train Awards” and “The Lady of Soul Awards.”

Yet Mr. Cornelius isn’t resting on those laurels. He’s pushing to create a “Soul Train” cable channel.

“Every day, we get closer and closer to see that become a reality,” Mr. Cornelius says.

‘Jake’ in free fall

Not even the best time slot can guarantee a new show’s success.

ABC’s semi-ambitious “Jake in Progress” debuted in the “Desperate Housewives” time slot Sunday, a plum placement preceded by the network’s successful “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Yet the John Stamos comedy managed just 14 million viewers for the first of its back-to-back episodes that night, just a tad more than half of what “Housewives” draws and nearly 5 million fewer than its “Extreme Makeover” lead-in, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research.

With “Jake’s” shaky start, ABC fell to fourth place in the weekly standings.

Things weren’t much better for NBC, whose new, highly anticipated boxing series, “The Contender,” was seen by 8.9 million people in a 10 p.m. Thursday showcase — roughly half what “ER” does in the same time slot.

On Sunday, “The Contender’s” audience of 6.7 million was barely more than a third of what Ty Pennington drew to redo that home on ABC.

Likewise, no one was laughing for the debut of Kelsey Grammer’s “Sketch Show” on Fox, which had one of that network’s smallest audiences.

CBS won the week, averaging 12.5 million viewers in prime time. Fox was second with 11.1 million and easily won among the 18- to 49-year-old demographic. NBC had 9.6 million , ABC 8.5 million , UPN 3 million , the WB 2.6 million and Pax TV 580,000.

For the week of March 7 through 13, the top five shows and their networks and viewerships were: “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 29.4 million; “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 27.7 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 26.9 million; “American Idol” (Monday), Fox, 23.9 million; “Without a Trace,” CBS, 23.3 million.

Donald Sutherland on TV

Emmy and Golden Globe winner Donald Sutherland, father of “24’s” Kiefer Sutherland, has been tapped to star opposite Oscar winner Geena Davis in ABC’s drama pilot “Commander in Chief,” Reuters notes.

The show casts Miss Davis as the first female president of the United States. Mr. Sutherland will play the speaker of the House.

The veteran actor won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the HBO telefilm “Citizen X” (1995) and another Golden Globe for HBO’s 2002 miniseries “Path to War.”

He recently appeared in the TNT miniseries “Salem’s Lot” and the 2003 film “The Italian Job.”

Miss Davis won the best-supporting-actress Oscar for her work in the 1988 film “The Accidental Tourist.”

Daltrey’s fish tale

The Who’s Roger Daltrey is going under the sea for a new television project.

The rock icon is joining the WB Network’s untitled mermaid drama pilot, Reuters News Agency reports.

The pilot stars Australian-born newcomer Nathalie Kelley as a mermaid who tries life on land in Miami. Mr. Daltrey will play the antagonist on the show.

The singer is no stranger to acting. He made his screen debut in the title role of “Tommy,” Ken Russell’s 1975 adaptation of The Who’s rock opera, and has appeared in dozens of movies and TV projects, mostly in his native Britain.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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