- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 10, 2006

Holiday watch

On tonight:

The Year Without a Santa Claus, 9 p.m. NBC: John Goodman stars as a disgruntled Santa who opts to take a year off from delivering gifts — but his spirit is rejuvenated with the help of a young man. Eddie Griffin (“Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo,” “Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo”), Harvey Fierstein, Delta Burke, Carol Kane and Michael McKean co-star.

A Christmas Wedding, 9 p.m. Lifetime: Trite comedy about a couple, Ben and Emily (Eric Mabius from ABC’s “Ugly Betty” and Sarah Paulson of NBC’s “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip”) who meet on Christmas Day and decide to wed two years later. However, chaos threatens to overtake the nuptials when the bride’s demanding boss (Dean Cain of NBC’s “Las Vegas”) calls her in to work and her fiance must plan every wedding detail — including the selection of the bridesmaid dresses. Only on Lifetime.

Brand new design

Laura Bennett, a finalist on the third season of Bravo’s “Project Runway,” has welcomed her sixth child, a boy named Finn, a Bravo spokeswoman confirmed.

The boy was born Dec. 1 in Manhattan to Miss Bennett, an architect, and her husband, Peter Shelton, who runs a design firm, Bravo’s Bonita Lynch tells AP. He weighed 8 pounds, Miss Lynch says.

Known for her glamorous evening wear, Miss Bennett, 43, discovered she was pregnant while shooting the fashion reality show.

Jeffrey Sebelia, who was often the poster designer for bad behavior on “Runway,” won the show’s most recent edition. Miss Bennett had accused him of outsourcing the construction of his designs for New York Fashion Week, but he was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Rating diversity

The National Latino Media Council and the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition each have noted improvement by the major networks in demonstrating greater ethnic diversity, but maintain it’s time for greater progress, notes TVGuide.com.

“I don’t want to wait 10 years until we’re close on television to the 15 percent of the population we are in the U.S.,” Alex Nogales, an official with the National Latino Media Council, tells Associated Press.

The council has been working together with groups including the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition and American Indians in Film & TV since 1999 to increase minority hiring and representation in the broadcast TV industry.

Karen K. Narasaki, chairwoman of the Asian Pacific American coalition, said there has been “marginal progress,” as all four networks increased the number of starring roles for Asian-American actors in series. In one case, however, that meant going from one role to two.

“We’re still far from where we need to be,” she said, with far too many all-white shows or shows that by dint of their setting should have Asian-American characters but don’t.

Increasing their ranks is crucial to creating more minority characters, she said. She noted the cast diversity on ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” created and produced by a black woman, Shonda Rhimes.

Mr. Nogales lauded ABC, a network he said “finally got it” and has Hispanic characters in its most popular shows, including “Desperate Housewives” and the freshman hit “Ugly Betty.” As a result, he said, the network is winning over more Hispanic viewers.

In annual “report cards,” ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are graded in areas including their hiring of minority actors, writers and directors, development of programs with ethnic diversity and overall commitment to diversity issues. This year, for shows airing from fall 2005 to fall 2006, the National Latino Media Coalition gave ABC the highest overall grade, A-minus, followed by a B-plus for CBS and a B each for NBC and Fox. The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition gave NBC, ABC and Fox a C-plus each, while CBS earned a C.

In the coalition’s first report card, in 2000, the networks received mostly Ds.

There was yet again a sharp slap from Americans Indians in film & TV: The virtual absence of any American Indians on-screen or in the industry earned a flurry of Fs and Ds, with just a handful of higher grades.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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