- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

‘Chief’ impeached

“Commander in Chief,” ABC’s much balleyhooed series with Oscar winner Geena Davis as America’s first female president, is officially kaput, Reuters news agency reports.

The show got off to a promising start in the ratings last fall, then steadily lost ground, even after returning this spring from an 11-week hiatus with a less competitive time slot and a renewed promotional push. In its most recent telecast last month, “Commander” averaged a meager 6.5 million viewers, ranking 64th among all prime-time shows that week.

However, ABC Entertainment President Stephen McPherson left open the possibility of bringing back “Commander” sometime next season in the form of a two-hour TV movie.

In other ratings news, CBS ruled last week with an average 13.2 million viewers, while Fox drew 10.8 million viewers and hit the three-month mark as the leader among young adults. NBC had 10 million viewers and ABC 8.7 million, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. Following were the WB with 3 million viewers, UPN with 2.98 million and the I network (formerly Pax TV) with 380,000.

For the week of May 8 through 14, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 28.8 million; “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 27.8 million; “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 27 million; “House, M.D.,” Fox, 24.2 million; and “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 22.5 million;

HBO pic draws warning

The Army is warning soldiers and their families that a new film about an Iraq war medical unit may trigger mental health problems for some who view it.

According to Associated Press, Army brass sent a cautionary warning to military medical personnel about the upcoming HBO documentary “Baghdad ER,” which gives a graphic view of the Iraq war through the eyes of trauma doctors and nurses, even filming during an amputation.

Yet, despite many disturbing scenes, filmmaker Jon Alpert says the film actually has been toned down.

“Some of the real raw scenes were just a little bit too brutal. My first two days there, I witnessed four amputations,” Mr. Alpert says.

A private screening was held in the District on Monday, and the hourlong film will air Sunday at 8 p.m. on the premium cable channel. Nationwide, it will be shown at 22 U.S. military installations, but military medical officers are concerned that it may spark adverse reactions among those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Army surgeon general, Lt. Gen. Kevin Kiley, last week issued a memo warning that the film may prompt flashbacks or nightmares among some veterans. “It’s gritty, it’s graphic at times, and those who have a loved one deployed or may have lost a loved one might find certain scenes to be such that it might be something they would want to be careful about in viewing,” says Army spokesman Paul Boyce.

The film records two months at the 86th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq, where medical teams treat those injured by improvised explosive devices. Filmmakers Alpert and Matthew O’Neill were given access to the hospital, and the result, Mr. Alpert says, “is a very patriotic film.”

“It shows the true consequences of war. Americans haven’t had the chance to be able to see some of the consequences. It shows the heroism of the soldiers, and you can’t understand the heroism of the doctors and soldiers unless you see the horror that they face every day,” he adds.

CBS eyes fall

CBS is hoping to sustain its winning ways this fall by top-loading its lineup with stars.

The Tiffany Network’s new fall lineup includes shows headlined by the likes of James Woods, Stanley Tucci, Ray Liotta, Oscar-nominee Virginia Madsen (“Sideways”) and Joe Pantoliano, reports Reuters news agency.

Among the new CBS dramas are: “Shark,”a legal drama starring Mr. Woods and Jeri Ryan (Fox’s “The O.C.” and “Boston Public”); “Jericho,” a post-nuclear-disaster tale starring Skeet Ulrich; “Smith,” starring Mr. Liotta and Miss Madsen as career criminals; “Waterfront,” which stars Mr. Pantoliano as the ethically challenged mayor of Providence, R.I.; and an untitled project featuring Mr. Tucci as a brilliant but unpredictable surgeon.

On the comedy side, the ensemble project dubbed “The Class” and an untitled relationship show made the cut. Also, midseason entries “The Unit” and “The New Adventures of Old Christine” have been picked up for a second season, along with the freshman drama “Close to Home.”

Meanwhile, after reaching a deal with star Kevin James, CBS is bringing back “The King of Queens” for a ninth season. The blue-collar comedy has been given a 13-episode midseason order to accommodate the star’s feature commitments.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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