- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Jimmy to follow Oscar

Hoping to build the audience for its late-night franchise, ABC has ordered a special “Jimmy Kimmel Live” to lead out of the Oscars in February, MediaWeek.com reports.

It’s the second year in a row that ABC has given the choice slot to its late-night comic.

It worked last year, when the former “The Man Show” host drew 4 million viewers. Week to week, Mr. Kimmel remains far behind the competition on NBC and CBS, but the show — seen at midnight Monday through Friday — is averaging 1.8 million viewers, up 14 percent from last year, when it had an average of 1.5 million viewers per night.

Mr. Kimmel also is hosting ABC’s upcoming game show “Set for Life.”

Crossing the pond

More news from ABC: The alphabet network has given the green light to the drama pilot “Football Wives,” based on Britain’s popular prime-time soap “Footballers’ Wives,” Hollywood Reporter notes.

“House” producer and “X-Men” director Bryan Singer is involved and may direct the project, which centers on women whose lives are transformed when they marry NFL superstars. The original series, which ran on ITV for five seasons, was set in the world of soccer. It airs on this side of the Atlantic on cable’s BBC America.

The gift of TV

Studios have made it easy to please that television addict on your list this holiday season. The past few weeks have seen a plethora of TV on DVD releases, with some series becoming available on disc for the first time.

One of the most notable is the first season of “Mission: Impossible.” The seven-disc set, retailing for $55, has all 28 episodes from its 1966-67 inaugural season. The spy series starred Steven Hill, Barbara Bain and Martin Landau. Those who like the recent films might want to see where the franchise began.

A more recent show that has made its way to DVD this season is “Criminal Minds.” The drama, which centers on cases solved by FBI profilers, has been steadily picking up viewers this year in its second season. The first season was just as good. It’s worth watching just to see Emmy winner Mandy Patinkin work, but the rest of the talented cast make up one of TV’s best ensembles. The six-disc set (priced at $65) includes commentary, deleted scenes and featurettes.

If these don’t strike your fancy, gift givers can delight die-hard “24” fans with the fifth season of one of television’s highest-rated dramas before the sixth season begins Jan. 14. Season five, out this month in a seven-disc set for $60, also features a special treat: an exclusive, shot-for-DVD prequel that bridges the gap between seasons five and six.

One of this year’s biggest movies began on television. The Kazakh TV reporter in “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” was one of the three characters Sacha Baron Cohen brought to life in his hilarious series “Da Ali G Show,” seen on HBO. Both seasons are available in a special collectors box called “Da Compleet Seereez” for $50. Besides Borat, Mr. Baron Cohen plays Ali G, a white rapper wannabe, and Bruno, a homosexual Austrian fashion reporter. All three characters interview unsuspecting Americans for laughs. The set features unseen sequences, including an interview Ali G conducted with linguist-agitator Noam Chomsky and commentary tracks.

Need more ideas? There’s plenty of TV on DVD — as well as feature films — included on Cinemattractions’ list of the 50 best DVDs of 2006.

The first and only nationally syndicated DVD review television show — seen locally on WJLA-ABC7 Saturdays at 5 p.m. — has made its gift guide available on its Web site, www.cinemattractions.com.

Co-hosts Angie Lawing and Chris Hartman offer excellent ideas for the hard-to-buy-for recipient.

For the seniors on your list, for example, the hosts suggest “The History Channel Ultimate Collections: World War II” and “Wordplay,” the acclaimed indie documentary about New York Times crossword puzzle editor Will Shortz and his loyal fan base.

Holiday watch

Seasonal fare on TV tonight:

• National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, 10 p.m. TBS. The Griswold family’s plans for a festive holiday crash and burn with Chevy Chase at the helm as the clan’s patriarch in this 1989 comedy.

• Season for Miracles, 11 p.m. Hallmark Channel. A homeless family experiences a miracle thanks to a protective aunt (Carla Gugino) and the help of an angel (Patty Duke).

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

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