- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

Weekends with D.L.

Comedy Central is inviting us to spend the weekend with D.L. Hughley in a 30-minute talk show starring the funnyman.

The cable network has picked up “Weekends at the D.L.,” ordering 39 episodes. The project will be hosted by the actor-comedian and executive produced by late-night talk-show veteran Robert Morton, who has worked with David Letterman since his earlier days at NBC.

Mr. Hughley’s show — which will be seen Friday through Sunday from 11 to 11:30 p.m. for 13 weeks beginning this summer — expands Comedy Central’s talk-show base to seven nights, Reuters News Agency reports. The show is being touted as a complement to the network’s Emmy-winning “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart,” which airs in the time slot Monday through Thursday.

The pilot for “Weekends,” titled “At the D.L.,” featured guests Tracy Morgan, Jenny McCarthy and Cedric the Entertainer. Upcoming shows will include a monologue by Mr. Hughley as well as pieces shot outside the studio.

“Weekends at the D.L.” is targeted to premiere in mid- or late summer, possibly by the end of July, said Lauren Corrao, vice president of original programing and head of development at Comedy Central.

Soup for you

The brusque New York chef who was lampooned on “Seinfeld” as the Soup Nazi plans to open a chain of takeout soup stands across North America — but customers shouldn’t expect the rude treatment that became a popular gag on the hit sitcom.

Chef Al Yeganeh (on whom the quirky character was based) and his partners have signed deals for 123 outlets so far, with the first slated to open in the New Jersey town of Ridgewood this summer, according to Associated Press. The group hopes to have 1,000 franchises at shopping-mall food courts and airports in the United States and Canada within seven years. It also plans to sell refrigerated soup in markets.

Signs will be posted in each of the Original Soup Man franchises, bearing chef Yeganeh’s strict rules for ordering, such as “Have your money ready” and “Move to the extreme left after ordering.” However, a company spokesman said workers will be prohibited from shouting, “No soup for you” at customers who disobey.

Mr. Yeganeh’s New York storefront eatery has been a tourist attraction since the 1995 “Seinfeld” episode in which Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer become frequent visitors to the Soup Nazi’s takeout restaurant before angering him and having their soup orders abruptly cut off.

“He is a typical high-strung chef,” and his manner was portrayed “pretty accurately” on “Seinfeld,” said Linda Gavin, Mr. Yeganeh’s operations manager. (He is so high-strung, in fact, that Mr. Yeganeh hung up on an AP reporter who had lined up an interview — before a single question was asked — then refused all further interview requests.)

The soup stands will bear Mr. Yeganeh’s Original Soup Man logo with his photo. For $10, customers will get 8 ounces of soup (the menu includes seafood bisque, chili and other, more exotic soups) plus bread, a drink, fresh fruit and a chocolate.

A ‘Dream’ denied

“American Dreams,” NBC’s endearing but ratings-challenged period drama, won’t be returning for a third season.

Network suits have given the pink slip to the ‘60’s-era show — which often has featured today’s pop sensations mimicking the musical stars of that decade — Reuters reports.

There was better news, however, for two ABC sitcoms. Both “According to Jim” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos” will return for another season.

“Jim” (starring Jim Belushi and Courtney Thorne-Smith) has had an uphill battle this season, its fourth, in its 9 p.m. Tuesday time slot opposite Fox’s breakout hit “House” and CBS’ “The Amazing Race” — yet it remains ABC’s highest-rated comedy.

The network’s pickup of “America’s Funniest Home Videos” continues the most recent winning streak for the 15-year-old series, which won its Sunday 7 p.m. slot among the prized 18-to-49 demographic for three of its past four telecasts.

The shows join several ABC pickups that were announced earlier, including “Alias,” “Boston Legal,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Lost” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” “Grey’s Anatomy,” the network’s hot midseason entry, is considered a given for a return next season.

Elsewhere on the dial, Fox is benching its midseason comedy “Life on a Stick,” at least for the first two weeks of the May sweeps — hardly an encouraging sign. The move follows last week’s strong showing for “Stacked” in the plum post-“American Idol” Wednesday time slot. The Pamela Anderson sitcom significantly outperformed “Stick,” the usual occupant of Wednesday’s 9:30 p.m. slot. For the next two weeks, Fox will air repeats of “That ‘70s Show” in the 8:30 p.m. berth once occupied by “Stacked.”

Nightmare revealed

The Discovery Times Channel takes viewers into the heart of one of the globe’s saddest regions with “Surviving Sudan.”

The special, premiering at 8 tonight, follows journalist Sorious Samura (last seen during the 2003 documentary “Surviving Hunger”) as he travels amongst Sudanese refugees. The United Nations has dubbed Sudan’s current conflict — in which the Janjaweed, a brutal militia, commit frequent raids against the populace — “the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.”

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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