- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

‘Momma’ mia

“That ‘70s Show” star Wilmer Valderrama is the kind of courteous young man who still pulls the chair for his mother when they eat in public, Scripps Howard News Service reports.

So what’s he doing hosting “Yo Momma,” a new MTV put-down show in which participants compete by joking about their mothers — while the moms look on?

The smack-talking competition began airing yesterday and can be seen weeknights at 6 on the cable music channel. “Yo Momma,” which Mr. Valderrama helped create, pits two lippy contestants in a battle of verbal smack downs (“your momma’s so fat…”), as they trade insults back and forth with their moms present. Winners are chosen by Mr. Valderrama plus two other judges, and at the end of the week, there’s a “best of the best” face-off.

“Everybody knows this [trash-talking] culture has been around forever, but nobody takes it seriously,” Mr. Valderrama says. “I want people to see that it’s OK to [trash]-talk each other without taking it personally… It makes fun of the one thing that makes people fight.

“We know that nothing is sacred in comedy. In an odd, weird way, it’s building harmony. That’s what I like about this show. It shows a way to be passive about certain things.”

Mr. Valderrama’s mother has seen “Yo Momma,” and he even used other moms as a target group. “My mom loves it,” he says with a laugh. “Trust me. I was Fez for eight years (on ‘That ‘70s Show’). I have no shame.”

Calloway’s complaint

A.J. Calloway is biting the hand of the music that once fed him.

The former co-host of BET’s popular “106 & Park” music show blasts what he calls the destructive messages of many of the show’s most popular music videos, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Calloway co-hosted the show for five years with Free, whose given name is Marie Wright. Both left the show in July.

“I couldn’t watch my own show with my niece on my lap,” Mr. Calloway said last week at South Carolina State University as part of a Black Student Today panel. The discussion focused on the impact of hip-hop music.

“Pick your five favorite songs,” Mr. Calloway said. “Write down every word that’s in your favorite songs. Read it back to yourself and think about what that has put into your head.”

Mr. Calloway told the university audience he had vowed after facing racism while growing up in New Jersey that he would “never do anything against my race.”

“I felt like I was hurting us by doing what I was doing,” he said.

Astin reborn

When last we saw Sean Astin, he was gasping for his final unpoisoned breath on Fox’s “24.”

That series soon offed Mr. Astin’s counter-terrorist operative, but the actor may find life anew with a potential new gig on network television. He’s in negotiations to star in ABC’s pilot “The Guys,” a comedy about five dads who become friends when their children have a play date at the home of one of their small-fry peers, Reuters news agency reports.

Mr. Astin, famed for playing a hobbit in the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, is in theaters with “Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing & Charm School.” He next appears opposite Adam Sandler in “Click,” which opens June 23.

In other pilot-casting news, Lindsay Sloane of “The In-Laws” has landed the female lead opposite Nick Lachey in the CW pilot “She Said/He Said,” a romantic comedy told through male and female perspectives.

Paul Michael Glaser of “Starsky and Hutch” fame will co-star in Fox’s drama pilot “Faceless,” about a pair of hostage negotiators. Mr. Glaser, who has been working as a TV director in recent years, will play the powerful owner of a porn empire.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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