- The Washington Times - Monday, March 6, 2006

Oscar’s dull finish

The day after the Oscars ceremony proved a long one for those nominees who went home empty-handed. The night also proved a downer for ABC, which watched its ratings drop 8 percent from the previous year’s telecast, hosted by Chris Rock, and become the second-lowest tally since 1987, according to the L.A. Times, citing figures from Nielsen Media Research. The lowest figures stemmed from the 2003 ceremony, held against the breakout of the war in Iraq. It averaged 33 million viewers.

In the 18-to-49 age demographic, the Oscars drew a 13.9 rating, also down 8 percent compared with the previous year’s show.

ABC said yesterday that 76.6 million viewers saw at least a portion of the 3 hour telecast.

Sunday’s Oscars were anything but predictable, however, as the racial drama “Crash” stole the momentum, and best-picture Oscar, from the critical favorite, “Brokeback Mountain.” The homosexual Western love story did earn an Oscar for its director, Ang Lee.

The improv family

First, major sitcoms began ditching the laugh track. Now some shows, such as ABC’s new series “Sons & Daughters,” are doing away with scripts.

Somebody’s been watching HBO.

“S&D;” is nowhere near as brilliant as that network’s improv comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” but it’s funnier than your standard sitcom — and edgier to boot. If you object to heaping helpings of adult humor, however, please look elsewhere.

“S&D;” follows Cameron (Fred Goss from “Significant Others”) as a flummoxed family man trying to make sense of life. He has a passel of siblings, all of whom exert dysfunctional pressure on him, and a stepfather (“Barney Miller’s” Max Gail) who may or may not be leaving Cameron’s mother (Dee Wallace) after 25 years of marriage.

The humor in tonight’s debut episode involves the news leak of the possible split, but it might be better to focus on the dry performances — not only of Mr. Goss, but also the erstwhile Wojciehowicz and Miss Wallace of “E.T.” fame. She’s anything but your ordinary grandma type, and her complex role bears watching.

Some of the new show’s bits seem designed to shock or titillate, but others zing as intended.

“Sons & Daughters” premieres at 9 tonight on ABC.

‘Charmed’ life no more

The girls of “Charmed” won’t be packing their bags for the CW after all.

The WB series, in its ninth season, has been canceled, and its final original episode will air May 21, E! Online reports.

The supernatural series, starring Alyssa Milano, Rose McGowan and Holly Marie Combs as sister witches Phoebe, Paige and Piper Halliwell, is one of the WB’s longest-running.

The cast wasn’t caught off-guard by the news.

Miss McGowan told E! Online TV columnist Kristin Veitch last month that the end appeared near. When asked if there might be another season, Miss McGowan replied: “My contract’s done. Other contracts are done, so no. You know, the show’s been on forever. It has achieved so many milestones. It’s the longest-running female show in history.”

The Halliwell sisters’ fate had been up in the air since the WB and UPN networks announced they were shutting down to form the CW this fall.

The new network hasn’t officially announced its fall lineup, but shows such as UPN’s “America’s Next Top Model,” “Veronica Mars” and “Everybody Hates Chris” along with the WB’s “Gilmore Girls” and “Smallville” appear favorites to make the switch.

“Charmed” executive producer Brad Kern expected the ax might fall, so he wrote this year’s season finale as a series wrap.

“It’s been a [heck] of a run, but all good things must come to an end,” Mr. Kern told E! Online.

About 3.9 million viewers have been tuning in this season to watch Miss Milano, Miss Combs and Miss McGowan battle the forces of darkness. Those numbers aren’t calamitous, but the show’s advanced age and production costs made it expendable.

TVGuide.com reports that Brian Krause, who plays Piper’s husband, says guardian angel Leo is expected to materialize for the final episode. One character viewers shouldn’t expect back in the coven is Shannen Doherty.

The actress played Prue Halliwell — another sister — who was killed off after three seasons amid reports that the erstwhile “Beverly Hills, 90210” star was a witch behind the scenes.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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