- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Leno’s mea culpa

Some racy comics would spend every waking hour apologizing to those who were offended by their rants.

Jay Leno’s wholesome humor rarely falls into that category, and when it does, he’s quick to say he’s sorry — as he did after receiving a letter from a viewer about a recent sketch on NBC’s “Tonight” show that compared Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident to a 2003 videotaped shooting outside a Los Angeles courthouse.

Wendy Brogin, a friend of shooting victim Gerald Curry’s, wrote to Mr. Leno criticizing the recent sketch as offensive and asking him to “do the right thing relative to this matter.” Within days, Mr. Leno responded with a phone call that greatly impressed Miss Brogin, the Los Angeles Daily News reported Tuesday.

“He said, ‘Hello, Wendy, this is Jay Leno’,” Miss Brogin said. “‘I’m calling about the letter you wrote, and I want to apologize. I just want to let you know we make mistakes sometimes, and we don’t mean to hurt people.’”

It’s not unusual for Mr. Leno to make such calls, an NBC spokeswoman said.

In February, he contacted Thomas B. Mudd of Saginaw, Mich., to apologize for a mistake he had made in talking about Mr. Mudd’s great-grandfather, Dr. Samuel Mudd, who set John Wilkes Booth’s broken leg after Booth assassinated President Lincoln.

Mr. Curry, an attorney whose shooting has been fodder for several Leno jokes, said he appreciated the call to Miss Brogin but bears no ill will toward the late-night comic.

“I like Leno, so it doesn’t bother me,” Mr. Curry said. “I don’t take it personally, so I wasn’t upset with him. He’s just making fun, but I think this says a lot about him that he’d take the time to apologize.”

Curtains for ‘Joey’?

After moving “Joey” from Thursdays to Tuesdays to improve its sagging ratings, NBC is yanking the “Friends” spinoff from its new slot after just one airing.

This week, the network ran new back-to-back episodes of the reality series “Outrageous Television Moments” from 8-9 p.m.— moving “Outrageous” from Fridays to make room for the game show “Deal or No Deal.” NBC also plans to air “Outrageous” in the 8 p.m. slot this coming Tuesday. No return date has been scheduled for “Joey,” TVWeek.com reports.

On March 7, “Joey” scored its lowest ratings ever in the 18-to-49 demographic, a number that includes live plus same-day viewing, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Night move

TV Guide.com, citing a story in the New York Post, reports that ABC News is expected to announce this week that “Good Morning America” co-anchor Charles Gibson will co-anchor its “World News Tonight,” joining Elizabeth Vargas, while Bob Woodruff continues to recover from injuries he suffered in Iraq.

‘Heist’ sneak peek

NBC is teaming up with Microsoft to give viewers a chance to see its new drama “Heist” before its Wednesday debut, Reuters news agency reports.

MSN Video began offering a 16-minute sneak peak of the show on Tuesday that will be available until the show officially bows. MSN will stream the series’ first two episodes in their entirety after Wednesday’s premiere and after the March 29 broadcast.

“Heist,” directed by Doug Liman (“Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), revolves around a seasoned team of career criminals attempting one of the biggest robberies in history.

The sneak peek is a “condensed version of the pilot episode aimed at helping consumers understand the characters,” said Sharon Merle-Lieberman, senior director of marketing at NBC Agency, the network’s in-house advertising and promotions arm.

USA Network, NBC’s sibling channel, announced earlier this week that it was creating its own social networking site. Last week, corporate parent NBC Universal said it would acquire IVillage Inc., the women’s Web site company, for about $600 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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