- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2006

Madonna crossed out

NBC won’t show Madonna suspended from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns when the network airs a special featuring her recent Confessions tour, Reuters news agency reports.

After weeks of controversy, NBC announced it had revised the two-hour concert special, which airs Nov. 22, but did not discuss the changes.

An unnamed source told Reuters that the portion of the “Live to Tell” song — in which the Material Mom sings suspended from a giant cross and wearing a crown of thorns — will not be shown in the broadcast. Instead, cameras will cut to other shots or images while Madonna is on the cross. She steps away from the cross to finish the song.

The special was filmed at Wembley Stadium in London during the singer’s tour.

Madonna, an executive producer of the special, initially insisted that her appearance on the cross be included in the NBC special, but after complaints from Christian groups, a number of NBC affiliate stations expressed uneasiness to the network about carrying the broadcast if it included the cross imagery.

Madonna, who recently made headlines over her efforts to adopt an orphan from Malawi, has defended her mock crucifixion scene, saying it was not meant to be “anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous.”

Weeds’ sprouts finale

Showtime’s Emmy-nominated and always surprising “Weeds” wraps its second season at 10 tonight with several story lines hanging fire and the future of some key characters at stake.

The episode, titled “Yeah, Like Tomatoes,” focuses on the hot and heavy love affair between former foes Celia (Elizabeth Perkins) and Doug (Kevin Nealon) that suddenly has turned serious. Meanwhile, undercover DEA agent Peter’s (Martin Donovan) true colors emerge when he eavesdrops on a telephone conversation between his pot-dealing wife, Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker), and her business partner, Conrad (Romany Malco).

Race’ to the finish

The latest seasons of CBS’ venerable “The Amazing Race” and “Survivor” franchises will have their finales on consecutive Sundays in December, Zap2it.com reports.

The 10th season of “Amazing Race” will cross the finish line on Dec. 10 in a relatively restrained episode that will conclude in just one hour.

The following week, though, “Survivor: Cook Islands” will dedicate two hours to its last episode (8 to 10 p.m.) — but, as usual, the winner won’t be revealed until the final hour in a live special reuniting all the participants at CBS Television City in Los Angeles.

Hosted by Phil Keoghan, “Race” has snapped up four consecutive Emmy wins in the outstanding reality-competition category. CBS transplanted the series to Sundays this fall, and the latest season has averaged a solid 11.1 million viewers leading into “Cold Case,” Zap2it.com notes.

Times have been tough recently for “Survivor,” now in its 13th season. A wave of mostly negative press greeted the show’s decision to split this season’s tribes along racial lines. A second wave of bad press followed with the decision to integrate the tribes after just two episodes before the first social experiment made any impact.

That controversy failed to build upon the program’s already solid audience. Yet “Survivor” has still averaged nearly 16.7 million viewers this season, outdrawing its closet competitor, the ABC freshman hit “Ugly Betty.”

Nip/Tuck’ spins off

Rosie O’Donnell is on track to become a bona fide television star — and not just on “The View.”

The actress-talk-show hostess has confirmed she will star in a “Nip/Tuck” spinoff show, World Entertainment News Network reports.

Last week, Miss O’Donnell made a guest appearance on the FX drama as a lottery winner who sleeps with her plastic surgeon. The character turned out to be such a hit with fans, producers approached her about starring in her own show.

In the “Ask Ro” section of her Web site’s blog, a fan asks Miss O’Donnell, “Is it true ur in talks for a spinoff series starring as Dawn Budge?” In a post, Miss O’Donnell responded: “Talks r over. I said yes.”

Reportedly, the new series will be shot in New York City, so Miss O’Donnell can also continue her hosting duties on the ABC chat fest.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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