- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sciorra’s new ‘Law’

Annabella Sciorra, who earned an Emmy-nomination as Tony Soprano’s mistress on “The Sopranos,” will star opposite Chris Noth on NBC’s retooled “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” Reuters News Agency reports.

In the show’s fifth season next fall, the actors will alternate with “Criminal Intent’s” current series stars, Vincent D’Onofrio and Kathryn Erbe, with each pair fronting 11 of the 22 episodes. Miss Sciorra will play Detective Carolyn Barek, the partner of Detective Mike Logan (Mr. Noth).

Rene Balcer, the series’ executive producer, described Miss Sciorra’s character as “a brilliant criminal profiler who ascended from the hardscrabble streets of Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill to the highest ranks of the NYPD and beyond, spending two post-9/11 years with the FBI.”

Miss Sciorra begins filming her first episode of “Criminal Intent” today .

The actress recently guest-starred in the pilot of executive producer Dick Wolf’s short-lived “Law & Order: Trial by Jury.”

Her movie credits include “Cop Land,” “What Dreams May Come” and the upcoming “Find Me Guilty.”

Maher’s latest tiff

Bill Maher is in the hot seat — again — taking heat for remarks he made about the men and women of the U.S. armed forces — again.

One of his latest bits has drawn the ire of Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican, who dubbed the comic’s comments on the May 13 segment of HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” potentially treasonous, Associated Press reports.

During the broadcast, Mr. Maher highlighted the fact that the Army missed its April recruiting goal by 42 percent.

“More people joined the Michael Jackson fan club,” Mr. Maher said. “We’ve done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit, and now we need warm bodies.”

Army Reserve Pfc. England was accused of abusing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

“I think it borders on treason,” Mr. Bachus told AP. “In treason, one definition is to undermine the effort or national security of our country.”

In a statement released this week, Mr. Maher defended his support for the American armed forces.

“Anyone who knows anything about my views and has watched my show knows that I have nothing but the highest regard for the men and women serving this country around the world,” Mr. Maher said.

Some would argue that he has a funny way of showing it.

It’s not the first time Mr. Maher’s comments have raised eyebrows. Numerous TV stations pulled his previous show, “Politically Incorrect,” in September 2001 after he argued that terrorists weren’t cowards when they slammed airplanes into the World Trade Center and that American fighter pilots were far from courageous for lobbing cruise missiles at enemy targets. Mr. Maher later apologized.

Mr. Bachus said he was appalled after watching a rerun of the show shortly after returning from a visit to Germany, where he met with a paralyzed American soldier in the hospital. He has since written to Time Warner, HBO’s parent company.

“I don’t want [Maher] prosecuted,” Mr. Bachus says. “I want him off the air.”

Raymond,’ CBS on top

In a positive sign for network TV as its traditional season nears its end, three scripted series drew more than 30 million viewers last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

The list, released yesterday, was topped by “Everybody Loves Raymond,” the CBS sitcom that drew its biggest audience ever for its May 16 finale. Just under 33 million people watched Ray Barone’s brief brush with death.

Also on CBS, the two-hour season finale of television’s most popular scripted show, “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” was watched by 30.7 million people, reported Associated Press citing data from Nielsen. The episode was directed by series fan Quentin Tarantino.

ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” saw its season-ending cliffhanger reach 30.6 million people. It was the biggest audience for a season-ending episode by a freshman drama since NBC’s “ER” a decade ago. “ER” is still kicking, by the way, and was seen by 18.8 million people who tuned in for star Noah Wyle’s swan song on Thursday night.

There was more good news for ABC. Helped by the “Desperate Housewives” lead-in, “Grey’s Anatomy” — the network’s mid-season replacement — also had a series-best performance to date with 22.2 million people watching on Sunday.

Thanks to “Raymond” and “CSI,” CBS dominated the week, averaging 14.1 million viewers per show and narrowly edging Fox in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic. Fox had 10.2 million viewers overall, ABC had 9.9 million, NBC had 8.8 million, the WB had 3.7 million, UPN had 3.5 million and Pax TV had 540,000.

For the week of May 16 through 22, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “Everybody Loves Raymond,” CBS, 32.9 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 30.7 million; “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 30.6 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 27.9 million; and “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 25 million.

Hastert speaks

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will appear on the “Nightly Business Report” this evening during the first of a two-part interview.

The Illinois Republican will be quizzed Darren Gersh, the show’s Washington bureau chief at 6:30 p.m. on WETA-TV.

Now in its 27th year, the “Nightly Business Report” is seen on more than 225 PBS stations.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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