- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Fox, Kelley ink pact

Fox has given a “put pilot commitment” to a legal comedy from “Boston Legal” creator David E. Kelley, according to MediaWeek.com.

Written by Steve Baldikoski and Bryan Behar, most recently co-executive producers on CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” the untitled project revolves around a group of sequestered jurors in a high-profile trial. The team’s earlier writing credits include “8 Simple Rules” and “Andy Richter Controls the Universe.”

Mr. Kelley will oversee writing on the series, from 20th Century Fox TV, and be an executive producer along with manager Marty Adelstein, MediaWeek.com reports.

Eye of the beholder

Maxim.com, the online arm of Maxim magazine, has come forth with a list of “Television’s Least Appealing Ladies,” the Detroit Free Press reports.

The Top 10, counting down to the not-so-coveted No. 1 spot, are:

No. 10: Christiane Amanpour, CNN; No. 9: Pam Grier, “The L Word”; No. 8: America Ferrera, “Ugly Betty”; No. 7: Peggy Hill, “King of the Hill”; No. 6: Fran Drescher, “Living With Fran”; No. 5: Jerri Blank, “Strangers With Candy”; No. 4: Tina Yothers, “Celebrity Fit Club 4”; No. 3: Tina Fey, “30 Rock”; No. 2: Robin Weigert as Calamity Jane, “Deadwood” and No. 1: Nancy Grace, CNN Headline News.

Dr. Phil must pay

Unhappy customers who sued “Dr. Phil” McGraw over his now discontinued Shape Up! diet plan have reached a $10.5 million settlement agreement with the TV psychologist, an attorney for the plaintiffs said.

The lawsuit, filed in 2004 on behalf of three disappointed consumers, claimed Mr. McGraw defrauded fans with his yearlong venture into the diet-supplement business, making false statements about the pills. Mr. McGraw has denied the claims and admitted no wrongdoing or misrepresentation in the settlement, the Denver Post reports, citing a story from Associated Press.

Henry H. Rossbacher, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said thousands of eligible customers nationwide will be able to choose either replacement products or a small cash reward as part of the settlement. It wasn’t clear immediately how much each person could receive. Mr. Rossbacher said a fund would be set up with $6 million in Nutrilite vitamins and $4.5 million in cash. Insurance will cover the costs of the settlement, and Mr. McGraw will have no personal obligation to contribute to the fund, Mr. Rossbacher added.

Attempts to leave a phone message at the office of Mr. McGraw’s lawyer, Gregory Phillips, were unsuccessful.

The portly Mr. McGraw, 56, jumped into the lucrative weight-loss market in mid-2003 with a campaign that included advice books, a prime-time special with Katie Couric on obesity and dieting, and his Shape Up! With Dr. Phil McGraw products.

Shape Up! shakes, bars and multivitamins made by Irving, Texas-based CSA Nutraceuticals were sold in supermarkets, Target and Wal-Mart stores and elsewhere. The plan called for 22 pills daily at $120 a month. CSA Nutraceuticals agreed to stop making the supplements in early 2004 as it faced a Federal Trade Commission investigation into false-advertising concerns.

Premieres aid ratings

CBS was TV’s most-watched network in prime time during last week’s fall premieres, Reuters news agency reports. However, with more people tuning in overall than this time last year, every network had cause to celebrate.

Led by the crime dramas “CSI,” “CSI: Miami” and “Without a Trace,” CBS drew an average of just over 13 million viewers a night, up 2 percent from 2005. ABC’s 12.3 million viewers put that network in second place.

Nevertheless, ABC scored the week’s No. 1 show with the premiere of the hospital drama “Grey’s Anatomy,” which pulled in 25 million viewers on its Thursday-night premiere, beating “CSI’s” 23 million.

ABC’s hit comedy “Desperate Housewives” helped the network claim the No. 1 spot among 18-to-49-year-old viewers during its third-season premiere on Sunday. That young demographic is the prime audience for advertisers who believe people in that age group spend more money on products that are promoted on TV.

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

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