- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

Green goes online

Tom Green once wrote, directed and starred in his own big-screen movie and called Drew Barrymore his bride.

The marriage soon went kaput, and it’s been three years since MTV axed Mr. Green’s show. Now the funnyman is hoping to resuscitate his career via the Web.

According to Associated Press, ManiaTV.com will begin hosting a live weekly call-in show, titled (what else?) “Tom Green Live,” with the comedian broadcasting the show from his living room in the Hollywood Hills.

“It seemed like the ultimate playground for someone like me,” said Mr. Green, who began his career on public access TV. “I’ve always enjoyed doing goofy experimental stuff that sometimes was too weird to put on a TV show but was fun artistically.”

“Tom Green Live” (premiering June 15) will be broadcast and archived on both Denver-based ManiaTV.com and Mr. Green’s Web site (www.tomgreen.com).

For Mr. Green, who reportedly signed a deal to do 50 hourlong episodes for an undisclosed fee, the show is an extension of the wacky videos he posts on his Web site — including such stunts as blindfolding a fan and letting the fan post a video blog about it.

Mr. Green will host the show from his old MTV desk set in front of his fireplace. He quipped that he might end up interviewing his cleaning lady and landscaper.

“I doubt we’ll get anybody good. It’s in my living room. How rinky-dink is that?” he said.

Richard Ayoub, ManiaTV’s vice president of programming, said Mr. Green is being given “complete and total creative control.”

“We have no standards and practices,” Mr. Ayoub told AP. “He is going to be completely uncensored. That’s what we can give him that MTV never could.”

However, giving Mr. Green free rein may give some pause. “Freddy Got Fingered,” his 2001 feature, could have used a bit of censorship, at least of the creative sort. The film flopped with both critics and fans and began his current career descent.

‘GMA’s‘ bad timing

Now that Katie Couric’s departure from NBC’s “Today” has thrown TV’s early morning shows into a state of flux, comes word that Ben Sherwood — executive director of ABC’s “Good Morning America” — is leaving the program.

According to Reuters news agency, Mr. Sherwood last week told ABC News president David Westin that he wanted to leave “GMA” at the end of September for family reasons.

Just how his decision will impact GMA is anyone’s guess. Since taking over in April 2004, Mr. Sherwood and GMA have mounted a strong challenge to the dominance of “Today.” In the spring of 2005, “Today,” barely eked out a win over GMA, with a mere 40,000 more viewers. But the venerable NBC show has pulled far ahead within the past year.

Miss Couric’s exit and Mr. Sherwood’s pending move are among several key changes that may influence the future of TV news shows. Come September, Miss Couric (whose two-month “Today” swan song finally ended May 31) will begin hosting “The CBS Evening News.”

Meanwhile, Meredith Vieira, a co-host on ABC’s “The View,” will replace her as co-anchor on “Today” this fall — and longtime GMA co-host Charles Gibson is stepping down from that job to anchor ABC’s “World News Tonight.”

Too soon for tsunami?

The cries of “too early” are again being heard, but not in response to upcoming films about September 11.

The uproar is coming from some survivors of the 2004 South Asian tsunami, who say a planned cable miniseries will do little more than open fresh wounds from the disaster, AP reports.

“Why are they doing this? We can’t believe it,” tour guide Sawitree Kulmat told The Nation newspaper. “It’s too early … What about the people who lost their families?”

However, HBO and British Broadcasting Corp. say their “Tsunami” miniseries is a compelling story of courage. Filming began last month in Phuket and Khao Lak, the Thai areas hit hardest by the waves that killed more than 216,000 people in 12 countries. The cast includes Oscar-nominated actors Tim Roth, Sophie Okonedo and Toni Collette, HBO said.

The BBC said the film, set to air on HBO and BBC2 later this year, would look beyond the disaster and, instead, center on issues arising from its aftermath. Moreover, local governments, the BBC said, are supportive of the project.

“We are fully conscious of the sensitivities of survivors and the imperative to handle the issue with compassion and insight,” the BBC said in a statement.

Scores of Asian artists have used the disaster to inspire works, including short films and a Thai comic book. The Thai Culture Ministry even organized an art exhibit last year in Phuket, a popular tourist resort.

Still, some survivors say the miniseries goes too far and were particularly angered by advertisements seeking people to work as extras, with some playing corpses.

“Some of the fliers had pictures of the tsunami,” said Robert Reynolds, director of a charity supporting children affected by the tsunami. “On the bottom, it said ‘victims needed.’ It was pretty tasteless.”

‘March’ to Hallmark

The Hallmark Channel will usher in the 2006 holiday season with a gaggle of emperor penguins.

The cable channel has purchased the rights to air the Oscar-winning documentary “March of the Penguins” on American television this winter.

The box office smash followed the precarious life cycle of penguins living through a typical Antarctic winter.

The film, directed by Luc Jacquet, earned $77 million in the U.S., a veritable king’s ransom for a documentary feature.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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