- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 19, 2006

Back with ‘Break’

After leaving fans of Fox’s hit show “Prison Break” on the edge of their couches for more than three months, the prison drama returns with an episode sure to satisfy and infuriate fans and newcomers alike. The drama picks up right where we left Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) and his quartet of convicts-turned-escape artists. With Michael’s brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) in the infirmary, the group is less than one window away from freedom but the elaborate plan is impeded by a newly installed steel pipe. With no chance of breaking it, the group must decide whether to find another way out or call it quits and attempt a return trip through the water pipe, a trip that will almost ensure Lincoln’s execution.

While things in Fox River Penitentiary aren’t going smoothly, the same can’t be said for the judicial efforts on the outside. Michael’s one-time girlfriend and lawyer, Veronica Donovan (Robin Tunney) is granted a last-minute hearing with the judge, while Sara Tancredi (Sarah Wayne Callies), the prison doctor, attempts a clemency plea to her governor/father. Their efforts could be in vain since they’re battling a corrupt vice president who will flex every political muscle in order to see Lincoln six feet under.

Much like its new Monday night partner, “24,” the clock is ticking at Fox River. Does Michael have a last-minute trick up his sleeve or will all his efforts come to an electrifying end?

“Prison Break” airs at 8 p.m. tonight on Fox.

Kaplan warms to Ice

Count former “Welcome Back, Kotter” creator-star Gabe Kaplan as a booster for the movie version of his 1970s-era sitcom.

The film, set to star Ice Cube in the title role, has “the perfect guy” to play the role, Mr. Kaplan tells “Access Hollywood.”

“He has shown what kind of crossover appeal he has,” Mr. Kaplan told the news show, according to the Associated Press.

In the TV original, Mr. Kaplan portrayed compassionate teacher Gabe Kotter, who returns to his former Brooklyn high school to teach a new generation of troublemakers, including John Travolta’s Vinnie Barbarino.

That formula will be updated in Ice Cube’s version, which Mr. Kaplan feels “will totally be acceptable. I think that the setting is going to be in South Central L.A. He is going to be just like how I was in Brooklyn.”

Besides starring as the young teacher, Ice Cube, 36, will also produce the movie, Bob Weinstein, co-president of the Weinstein Company, said last week. No other casting or release date has been announced.

When “Access” asked Mr. Kaplan to flesh out the cast, the 60-year-old joked, “Well, I think Snoop Dogg will play Horshack, Vanilla Ice would play Barbarino … I don’t know.”

Diversifying humor

The Cartoon Network is about to get a boost of diversity.

The newest show planned for the channel’s Adult Swim programming block features five corporate crimefighters — all extreme racial stereotypes — out to save the world from bigotry, one broad or sneaky joke at a time, the Reuters news agency reports.

“Minoriteam” happily straddles what many will no doubt consider the thick white line between racial and racist. And its characters couldn’t be more perfect, or perfectly odious: Team leader Dr. Wang, the wheelchair-bound Asian with the computerlike brain; Fasto, the jive-talking black superspeedster with a constant eye on the ladies; El Jefe, the sombrero-topped Spanish speaker whose secret weapon is his leaf blower; Jewcano, whose religious rage allows him to conjure up volcanoes; and Nonstop, the turban-wearing guy who has been shot so many times in his years as a convenience store clerk that his skin is lined with lead.

Their archenemy, of course, is White Shadow, who meets with his “minions” — including Racist Frankenstein, the Corporate Ladder and Standardized Test — in a Washington Monument-shaped glass tower to plot world domination. In the premiere, White Power is alarmed by the growing power of black-owned businesses and launches Operation Blackout to counter the scourge.

Creators and executive producers Adam de la Pena (who also wrote the script), Todd James and Peter Girardi put no small amount of thought into this show, so its red-eyed late-night viewers will be forced to pay attention to catch all the jokes.

• Compiled by Thomas Walter and Christian Toto from wire reports.

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