- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Colbert’s riff rift

A battle royal is expected on tonight’s edition of “The Colbert Report” (11:30 on Comedy Central), but the brouhaha doesn’t stem from politics.

Host Stephen Colbert has accepted a counter-counter challenge from indie rock group the Decemberists that includes an on-air guitar duel with band member Chris Funk.

How come?

The trouble began brewing Nov. 29 when Mr. Colbert used the debut of his “Look Who’s Riding My Coattails Now” segment to denounce the band for running a contest that invited college students to create their own animation for the backdrop of the band’s latest video. Mr. Colbert had a recurring segment in his news-show parody in which he let viewers animate the backdrop while he flashed around a “Star Wars” light saber.

“Let’s see how they perform their trademark brand of hyper-literate prog-rock when I’m slicing off their legs at the knee,” Mr. Colbert declared.

The Decemberists, whose latest album “The Crane Wife” has received rave reviews, responded with a counter-counter challenge.

If nothing more, viewers who tune in for tonight’s musical showdown are promised “guitar mayhem and pyrotechnics” — and the band is already gearing up for the challenge.

“I’m going to dust off my white high-top Reeboks, slide on my stirrup pants, and chug a two-liter of Mountain Dew,” Mr. Funk told Pitchforkmedia.com when asked about his training regimen for the face-off.

Prisoner’ due

“The Prisoner,” the 1960s science-fiction series that attracted a cultlike following, is getting a 21st-century makeover.

AMC announced yesterday that it’s remaking the classic British import in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Granada production company and Sky One network. The cable channel will begin production in the spring and hopes to air the first episode in January 2008.

Patrick McGoohan created, produced, wrote, directed and starred in the title role of the series. Earlier this year, it ranked 10th in Uncut magazine’s list of films, books, music and TV shows that changed the world and was the highest-ranked TV program on the list.

The new series will be written by Bill Gallagher (of British series “Conviction” and “Clocking Off”). While taking liberties with the original, the new “Prisoner’s” story will be similar: A man finds himself inexplicably trapped inthe Village, with no memory of how he arrived. Number Six, as he’s known, discovers that its inhabitants are identified by number instead of by name, have no memory of a prior existence or outside civilization and are under constant surveillance by a repressive authority.

Victory for ‘NCIS’

The criminal investigators at “NCIS” have solved their biggest case yet: They’ve figured out how to top the ratings.

The CBS series was the most-watched show last week for the first time in its four-year history, Associated Press reports.

With 17.4 million viewers last week, it was a modest victory, given that more traditionally popular series were in reruns, according to data provided by NielsenMedia Research.

Meanwhile, the 16.4 million people who watched Sunday’s two-hour finale of “Survivor: Cook Islands” was the smallest-ever finale audience for the CBS reality show, now in its 13th edition.

In other ratings news, ABC yanked the Taye Diggs drama “Day Break” and the game show “Show Me the Money” from its schedule after poor performances last week. Ted Danson should be worried, too. His comedy “Help Me Help You” finished No. 91 in the ratings last week, with an audience of only 3.5 million people, Nielsen said.

Overall, CBS won the week with an average of 12.3 million. NBC had 9.1 million, followed by Fox with 7.4 million, ABC with 7.2 million and the CW with 2.5 million.

For the week of Dec. 11 to 17, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “NCIS,” CBS, 17.3 million; “Deal or No Deal” (Monday), NBC,16.7 million; “Survivor: Cook Island Finale,” CBS, 16.4 million; “House,” Fox, 16.1 million; and “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 16 million.

Holiday watch

Seasonal fare on TV tonight:

• “A Christmas Carol,” 8 p.m. TNT: “Star Trek: The Next Generation’s” Patrick Stewart steps out of character as Captain Jean-Luc Picard to star as Ebenezer Scrooge in this acclaimed yet darker version of the Charles Dickens classic. Oscar-winner Joel Grey co-stars as the Ghost of Christmas past, and rugged Dominic West (HBO’s “The Wire”) plays Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.



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