- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

On a roll

“Frasier’s” Kelsey Grammar is directing the latest chapter of his professional life.

The sitcom star is slated to go behind the camera to shoot the CBS comedy pilot “My Ex-Life,” which revolves around the lives of two divorced couples, Reuters news agency reports.

Tom Cavanagh, whose “Love Monkey” series recently crashed and burned on the network, will co-star along with Gillian Vigman (“MadTV”).

Mr. Grammar, a four-time Emmy winner for his title role on NBC’s “Frasier,” directed about three dozen episodes of that long-running sitcom. He also earned a Director’s Guild of America nomination for directing the series’ “Merry Christmas, Mrs. Moskowitz,” which aired in 1998. Last year, he helmed the pilot for CBS’ comedy series “Out of Practice.”

Next, Mr. Grammar will step in front of the camera — and into a furry suit — to star as the Marvel Comics hero the Beast in “X-Men 3: The Last Stand.” The latest installment of the X-Men film franchise, co-starring Hugh Jackman and Halle Berry, arrives in theaters May 26.

Still Waters

Leave it to John Waters to tap into the darker side of matrimony.

The eccentric Baltimore-born filmmaker is teaming with Court TV to develop “‘Til Death Do Us Part,” a new series about tragic marriages, Associated Press reports.

The show, which does not have a start date, will dramatize the events of a marriage in which one spouse eventually kills the other. Mr. Waters will star as “the groom reaper,” appearing as an unexpected guest at the couple’s wedding, then guiding viewers through the story as the relationship disintegrates.

Court TV General Manager Marc Juris told Associated Press that Mr. Waters is expecting some fringe benefits from the role. “He hates going to weddings,” Mr. Juris said, “and figures by doing this show he’ll never get invited to weddings.”

Mr. Waters’ most recent stint at directing was the 2004 feature “A Dirty Shame.” He is best known for counterculture movies such as “Pink Flamingos” and “Female Trouble.”

Tasty new ‘Soup’

E! Entertainment’s “The Soup” offers a delicious stew of reality- and talk-show snippets.

Now the channel is teaming with the viral-video Web site www.YouTube.com to create a new broadband offering that takes the “Soup” approach online, Reuters reports.

The new Web channel will be called Cybersmack and will offer a compilation of user-generated video clips that satirize pop culture. It begins tomorrow with a contest, awarding a $25,000 prize for the best Cybersmack clip.

E! will spread the word on the new channel with help from YouTube.com, which has eclipsed several Internet giants (including Yahoo and Google) in the viral-video category by delivering 30 million videos per day.

YouTube.com will provide multiple links to the E! venture on its home page and exhibit clips of other E! programming.

The partnership is the latest example of how YouTube is attempting to forge links with established media players even as some conglomerates have clamped down on the site for hosting copyright-infringing material. Though NBC Universal and CBS Corp. have forced the site to dump illegal footage, other brands — including MTV2 and Dimension Films — have joined forces with YouTube to help promote their offerings.

“We see this partnership as a sort of mash-up between the E! Television viewing audience and the YouTube community, bringing the two together to promote compelling TV shows through entertaining short clips,” YouTube co-founder and chief executive Chad Hurley said.

In January, E! introduced the Vine (at) E! Online, a broadband mix of original content and recycled fare from the network’s programs, including “E! News” and “Live From the Red Carpet.” Cybersmack will be part of Vine.

“The Soup,” the re-imagined take on E!’s long-running “Talk Soup” program, stars Joel McHale and airs Friday evenings at 10.

Pitt stop at PBS

Brad Pitt is many things: actor, heartthob, dad-to-be — and now, apparently, an authority on architecture.

Who knew?

This summer, he’ll share his love of architecture by narrating “Design: E2,” a PBS series about environmentally friendly architecture, AP reports. The program is slated to air in June.

“His involvement will allow us to educate more viewers than we had ever hoped about the importance of green building,” Karena Albers, the show’s executive producer, said of Mr. Pitt.

The six-part series will focus on worldwide efforts to build environmentally friendly structures through sustainable architecture and design.

Mr. Pitt was last seen on film in “Mr. & Mrs. Smith,” with girlfriend Angelina Jolie. The two are expecting their first child later this year.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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