- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2006

Africa Channel bows

The world’s second-largest continent will have its own television network presence here in the District when the Africa Channel makes its local debut at 7 p.m. tomorrow on Comcast Digital Cable channel 678.

With more than 1,600 hours of television programming from Africa, all of it new to U.S. viewers, the network aims to “demystify Africa and its people.” The 24/7 commercially-supported station features programming in the areas of news, travel, lifestyle, music, reality, feature films, documentaries and more. It premiered in the U.S. last September.

At 9 p.m. tomorrow, the Africa Channel’s first original program airs. The Durban One World Music Festival was taped last year at King’s Park Stadium in Durban, South Africa. The concert features the music of Skwatta Kamp, the Batiste Family, Simphiwe Dana, Ernie Smith and Ruben Studdard, the 2003 winner of “American Idol.”

At 10 and 10:30 p.m. are the D.C. premieres of the station’s two most popular serialized dramas. “Generations” is Africa’s second-longest-running series. “Isidingo,” in Zulu “The Need,” is a gritty portrayal of people in conflict.

Other flagship series include “Big Brother Africa,” the only “Big Brother” franchise to include housemates from 12 different countries, “All You Need Is Love,” a reality series about finding love in modern Africa, and “Carte Blanche Africa,” an investigative newsmagazine. Original series created for the Africa Channel include “Conversations with Felicia,” hosted by author, entrepreneur and African TV icon Felicia Mabuza-Suttle, and “Africa Music,” a VJ-hosted music series.

Ebert’s fill-ins

Filmmaker Kevin Smith may be in a public feud with one movie critic, Joel Siegel of “Good Morning America,” but his disdain for the profession isn’t keeping him from becoming one himself.

Mr. Smith will serve as a guest film critic on “Ebert & Roeper,” the syndicated movie review show, Reuters reports.

He is filling in for Roger Ebert, who is recuperating from his June 16 cancer surgery. Mr. Ebert taped several shows before his operation, but complications have kept him away from his post longer than expected. The 64-year-old Chicago Sun-Times critic has had three previous cancer surgeries.

After Mr. Siegel walked out of Mr. Smith’s latest film, “Clerks II,” after 40 minutes, the filmmaker complained on his blog that “you’re paid to watch movies for a living and the only tasks required of you are to a) sit through said movies and b) write your thoughts about them before your deadline.”

The episode in which Mr. Smith joins Richard Roeper will air on Aug. 12. “Tonight Show” host Jay Leno fills in for Mr. Ebert on the Aug. 5 show.

Sesame’ stars

Some big names are making their way over to “Sesame Street” this summer.

Grammy Award-winner John Legend, Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx and Tony Award-winner Lilias White will appear on the long-running children’s television show in August.

Season 37 of “Sesame Street” premieres Aug. 14 with Mr. Legend as guest star. The R&B; singer and pianist will perform a song on the show.

Two days later, on Aug. 16, Mr. Foxx puts in an appearance. The actor and comedian can be seen in “Miami Vice,” which opened in theaters on Friday. On “Sesame Street,” Mr. Foxx confronts a Muppet fox named “Jamie Fox.”

On Aug. 17, Miss White, winner of a best actress in a musical Tony, plays a school teacher.

“Sesame Street” can be seen on four PBS stations in the D.C. area: MPT, WETA, WHUT, and Sprout.

Fox adds to newscast

Beginning tonight, WTTG-Fox 5 extends its popular hour-long 10 p.m. newscast by 30 minutes with a new format called “The Edge” hosted by anchor Brian Bolter at 11 p.m. The syndicated “Geraldo at Large” follows at 11:30 p.m.

• Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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