- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 23, 2006

Dunkleman’s regrets

Brian Dunkleman is finally asking himself the question everyone was asking four years ago — “Why did I quit ‘American Idol?’ ”

Mr. Dunkleman can’t help but wonder if he might have been a star on the rise, just like Ryan Seacrest, if he hadn’t quit as the Fox show’s co-host after its first season, Associated Press reports.

“I wanted to be a performer, not someone who introduced other performers,” Mr. Dunkleman tells “Inside Edition” in an interview that aired Wednesday. So he walked away from the hit reality show after its debut season in 2002.

Since then, Mr. Seacrest has become a practically ubiquitous hosting presence, including sharing top billing with New Year’s icon Dick Clark on this year’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” show.

Mr. Dunkleman has gone on to appear in a handful of TV shows such as “NYPD Blue” and “Miss Match” and to appear regularly at Los Angeles comedy clubs.

“I do stand-up every week in L.A. at the Laugh Factory and the Improv,” he says.

He also wonders about what might have been.

“It was my decision,” he says. “I’m not saying it was a good decision because, obviously, with the success of the show, it’s a difficult decision to think back on and think I did the right thing.”

He adds that the nature of the show helped spur his decision.

“I quite honestly had a very difficult time with how cruel the show was. It really affected me,” he says.

Some might say fate has been even crueler to him.

Gill’s new gig

It’s only natural to pair country crooner Vince Gill with the Grand Ole Opry, but his newest gig gives a wrinkle to that combination.

The singer is expected to host a new television special next month dubbed “The Grand Ole Opry at Carnegie Hall,” AP reports.

The two-hour show March 12 on the Great American Country cable network will feature performances by Mr. Gill, Brad Paisley, Alison Krauss, Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Trace Adkins and others.

It captures a Grand Ole Opry show presented at New York’s Carnegie Hall in November — the first time the radio program had visited the hall in 44 years. It was part of the Opry’s 80th anniversary celebration last year.

The first broadcast of the Grand Ole Opry, then called the WSM Barn Dance, was Nov. 28, 1925. It is the longest continuously running radio show in the country.

America’s top six

American networks are shipping six of their best TV shows overseas to compete in the 46th annual Monte Carlo Television Festival, Reuters news agency reports.

The nominated shows are determined by the Producers’ Guild of America and will compete with series from around the world at the summer event. The U.S. nominees for drama are “24,” “Lost” and “Six Feet Under.” The three comedies up for the festival’s consideration are “Arrested Development,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Entourage.”

The winner in each category will be announced at the Festival’s Golden Nymph Awards ceremony on July 1. A jury of international judges — writers, producers, directors and actors — will select the winners. The festival is scheduled to run June 26-July 1.

‘Monk’s‘ new friend

USA Network has found a quirky companion for its critical darling “Monk.”

The cable network has picked up 11 episodes of the one-hour dramedy “Psych” for a total of 13 hours, including the two-hour pilot, Reuters reports.

Like “Monk,” “Psych” features an unlikely detective. The series centers on Shawn Spencer (James Roday), an amateur sleuth who cons the police into believing he has psychic powers that help him solve crimes. With the reluctant assistance of his best friend (“The West Wing’s” Dule Hill), he has no choice but to get to work on complicated cases. Corbin Bernsen co-stars as Shawn’s police officer father.

“Psych,” written by Steve Franks, is tentatively slated to premiere July 7 in “Monk’s” 10 p.m. Friday slot.

After airing at 10 p.m. for four seasons, “Monk” — beginning its fifth season this summer — will move up an hour to 9 p.m. as a lead-in to “Psych.”

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

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