- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006

Crime shake-ups

“CSI: NY” has become the latest crime procedural show to announce a new face.

Claire Forlani has signed on to play the investigative team’s new medical examiner, Dr. Peyton Driscoll, E! Online reports.

Miss Forlani replaces Vanessa Ferlito, whose Detective Aiden Burn was killed off last season. Squad leader Mac Taylor, played by Gary Sinise, was devastated by her murder, but he’ll likely be cheered up this season. Miss Forlani is set to become his love interest.

The 34-year-old British actress is no stranger to dabbling in the medical profession. She played a doctor in “Meet Joe Black,” the film in which Brad Pitt was a charming Grim Reaper.

She most recently appeared in an episode of the TNT summer anthology series “Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King,” in which she played a newlywed in London on the honeymoon from hell.

“CSI: NY’s” — and Miss Forlani’s — season premiere is Sept. 20. The third CSI franchise also stars Melina Kanakaredes, Hill Harper and Eddie Cahill.

The Law & Order trio is also undergoing a face-lift before the fall season begins, in addition to a schedule shake-up. (The original moves to Friday nights, “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” will air before “Law & Order: SVU” on Tuesdays.)

On the original L&O;, former “CSI: Miami” regular Alana de la Garza joins the season 17 cast as Assistant District Attorney Connie Rubirosa, Executive ADA Jack McCoy’s latest gorgeous partner, and Milena Govich (who starred in the short-lived L&O; spin-off “Conviction”) replaces Dennis Farina as the partner of Jesse L. Martin’s Detective Ed Green.

“Gladiator” queen Connie Nielsen will fill in for new mother Mariska Hargitay for a string of episodes on “Law & Order: SVU.” On “L&O;: CI,” Courtney B. Vance and Jamey Sheridan left after five seasons, and Annabella Sciorra left after only one. Julianne Nicholson (also from “Conviction”) will play Chris Noth’s partner; Eric Bogosian will head up the Major Case Squad; and Theresa Randle is the new assistant district attorney.

‘24’ within 24

Don’t want to miss an episode of the real-time television thriller “24”? You’ll be happy to hear that episodes of the Fox show will be available on your computer — fittingly, within 24 hours of their broadcast.

Associated Press reports that Fox will expand a platform already used to sell video games to let consumers buy movies and television shows that they can download for computer playback and transfer to devices running Microsoft’s Windows Media Player.

Movies available in October include “X-Men: The Last Stand,” “The Omen” and “Thank You for Smoking.” They will be available through Fox’s Direct2Drive service at the same time they’re released on DVD.

Direct2Drive also will make available Fox’s “Prison Break” and FX’s “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” within 24 hours of each episode’s broadcast.

Movies will sell for about $20 and TV shows for $1.99 an episode. More programming will be added later.

Apple’s ITunes Music Store already sells many television shows, including “24” and others from Fox, for $1.99 each, but those can be played only on the company’s IPod devices or through its ITunes software on a computer.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

Rome’ on DVD

One of HBO’s most critically acclaimed series makes its debut today on DVD. “Rome: The Complete First Season” is available in a lavish six-disc set.

The first season of the brutal and bloody series, which shows how the Roman Republic became the Roman Empire, spans the eight years from 52 B.C. to 44 B.C. As the series begins, Gaius Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds) is making his way back to Rome after eight years of war and the conquest of Gaul. Despite the general’s victories, trouble awaits him back in the great city. His old friend and leader of the Senate, Pompey Magnus (Kenneth Cranham), has been turned against him by the ruling class, who feel threatened by Caesar’s return.

Kevin McKidd is Lucius Vorenus, and Ray Stevenson is Titus Pullo, two very different soldiers who are friends nonetheless.

Stealing the show is Polly Walker, who was nominated for a best-actress Golden Globe as Atia, Caesar’s self-serving niece and one of TV’s best villains.

We all know how this story ends. But you’ve never seen Roman history quite this way before; the Golden Globe-nominated best drama is not for the squeamish or the prudish.

The HBO-BBC production is sumptuous. The Italian sets make up the largest standing set in the world. These first 12 episodes cost $100 million to make.

Indeed, the show was so expensive to produce that executives apparently have decided its second season will be its last. That season is slated to premiere in January 2007 on HBO. Until then, fans can enjoy the impressive extras on this new DVD set, which include shot-by-shot looks at how the show is made, actor commentaries, and a character guide to help viewers figure out all the twisted relationships.

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