- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 9, 2006

Final ‘Development’

Despite critical acclaim, an Emmy victory and a core of loyal fans, Fox is pulling the plug on “Arrested Development,” which tonight will air its final episode about the dysfunctional Bluth clan.

It’s bowing out with a bang. Fox will air something of a mini-marathon, with four back-to-back episodes beginning at 8 p.m.

There may, however, be good news ahead: In recent weeks, both ABC and premium cable’s Showtime have expressed interest in picking up the show, and the latter seems especially keen on making a deal, notes northjersey.com.

At the recent television critics press tour, Showtime Entertainment President Robert Greenblatt said his network was in talks with Twentieth Television about bringing “Arrested” to Showtime.

“I’ve loved it since it first appeared,” Mr. Greenblatt said. “About a year ago at a [Hollywood Radio and Television Society] luncheon, they asked me … if I could take one show from another network, what would it be? My answer was ‘Arrested Development.’ I always thought it was probably a better fit on a cable network than on a broadcast network.”

He’s probably right. HBO comedies like “The Larry Sanders Show” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” couldn’t have survived on network TV. Success is measured differently on pay cable.

“If only a small fraction of the loyal audience that’s on Fox came to Showtime, it would be one of our highest-rated shows,” Mr. Greenblatt said, adding that “I think the show is only worth continuing if Mitch Hurwitz was at the helm running it. I think he’s the genius behind it. And he hasn’t yet come to that decision to continue the show.”

Let the games begin

Expect the usual pageantry when NBC’s “Olympics Opening Ceremonies” kicks off two weeks of winter games in Turin, Italy, tonight at 8.

The stakes are high. Olympic officials are counting on big numbers, with an estimated 2 billion viewers expected to tune in worldwide.

“NBC Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams will co-host tonight’s coverage, instead of “Today’s” Katie Couric, TVWeek.com announced Monday. Mr. Williams’ co-host for the kickoff extravaganza will be Bob Costas, who split hosting duties with Miss Couric during the opening ceremonies in Sydney, Australia; Salt Lake City; and Athens.

The switch was attributed to Miss Couric’s travel schedule for “Today.” On Monday, she was in Rome, followed by visits to Florence and Milan. Her schedule prevented her from being in Turin in time to rehearse for the opening ceremony broadcast, whereas Mr. Williams began anchoring “Nightly News” from there on Tuesday.

An NBC News spokeswoman rebuffed any suggestion that Miss Couric’s change of assignment has anything to do with CBS’ high-profile courtship of her to anchor its “CBS Evening News” after her $14 million-plus-per-year NBC contract expires in May.

“It is simply a scheduling thing. That’s all it is,” the NBC News spokeswoman said, adding that it was decided that it was more important for Miss Couric to travel for “Today,” which will be dedicated to Olympics coverage from Turin next week and the week of Feb. 20.

“She was fine with it. We were fine with it,” the spokeswoman said about the break from Costas-Couric tradition.

In case you missed it …

WETA-TV (Channel 26) will rebroadcast the two-hour finale of “African American Lives” (Sunday at 11 a.m.), PBS’ thought-provoking two-part series on nine persons — most of them famous (including Oprah Winfrey, Chris Tucker, pastor T.D. Jakes, Whoopi Goldberg and Quincy Jones) — who embark on a journey to discover their individual family histories and heritage.

During the finale (titled “Searching for Our Names/Beyond the Middle Passage”), program host and narrator Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., will learn several stunning facts about his own ancestry. Another participant is shocked to learn that one of his ancestors from the Civil War era, although a soldier, was neither black nor fighting for the Union Army.

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

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