- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2005

Early start online

The new WB series “Supernatural” will premiere online before it airs on television, another sign of broadcast TV’s increasingly aggressive promotional schemes, Associated Press reports.

Yahoo! users can now stream the first episode through the show’s Tuesday premiere on the WB, according to the network and the Internet company.

“Supernatural” focuses on two brothers who encounter evil forces while searching for their missing father.

“You have to scream really loud and really compel the audience to choose your show over the array of other shows being presented to them at the same time,” WB Entertainment President David Janollari says of the show’s Web stream on Yahoo!

“You have to find nontraditional ways to reach the audience,” Mr. Janollari says.

Double duty for Bates

Kathy Bates is taking on double duty for her new project, “Ambulance Girl,” a made-for-cable film airing Monday at 9 p.m. on Lifetime.

“I just didn’t want to let anyone else get their mitts on it,” Miss Bates says in an interview with Associated Press.

“I knew what I wanted to do with it. I didn’t want anyone else telling me what to do,” adds the Oscar-winning actress, who both stars in and directs the film.

“Ambulance Girl” is no girl, however. She’s a mature woman — and a real person named Jane Stern, who with her husband, Michael, chronicles American culture through books, radio and television.

The Lifetime film is an adaptation of Miss Stern’s “Ambulance Girl: How I Saved Myself by Becoming an EMT,” her 2003 memoir about how becoming a volunteer emergency medical technician gave her the confidence to salvage her marriage and emotional health.

Trevor Walton, Lifetime’s vice president of original movies, says Miss Bates’ casting was ideal because she “knows how to produce pathos and humor all in the same breath.

“It’s a really sort of compelling, sad, difficult tale, but it’s also imbued with humor,” Mr. Walton says.

Miss Bates is no newcomer to directing. She earned an Emmy nomination for the A&E; movie “Dash and Lilly,” and an episode of HBO’s “Six Feet Under” brought her a Directors Guild of America nomination. She’s also helmed episodes of “NYPD Blue” and “Everwood.”

“Ambulance Girl” is her first foray into being both director and star. However, Miss Bates is quick to mention the “tremendous amount of help” she received from the producers and crew, particularly cinematographer Jean Lepine.

Directing oneself, she notes, is definitely “the whole kit and caboodle.”

Reba returns

Country music superstar-turned-actress Reba McEntire has ended a salary dispute with 20th Century Fox TV that had halted production on her eponymous WB sitcom, Variety reports.

“Reba,” which is produced by 20th Century Fox TV and stars the singer as a divorced Texas soccer mom, had encountered filming delays as far back as February of last year — partially due to some last-minute no-shows on the part of Miss McEntire, who explained her absence as a “family emergency” back home in Oklahoma.

At the time, industry trade publications speculated that the entertainer — reportedly disgruntled with her salary — may have used the “family emergency” as a ploy to negotiate a raise.

Miss McEntire’s publicist could not be reached for comment Friday, and neither the star nor the network would comment on the new contract.

“Reba,” one of the WB’s top-rated shows, is now entering its fifth season. Barring any more snags, the show is expected to finish taping before its scheduled Sept. 16 premiere.

Compiled by Thomas Walter from Web and wire reports.

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