- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 3, 2006

A ‘Diff’rent’ world

“Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout?” That laugh line became a lifelong noose for Gary Coleman as a childhood sensation on NBC’s popular sitcom “Diff’rent Strokes.” His was a showbiz career that strangled him, then discarded him, before he was out of his teens, notes Associated Press. Now, a new made-for-TV film, “Behind the Camera: The Unauthorized Story of ‘Diff’rent Strokes’” revisits the comedy hit (1978-1986) and the personal tragedies it spawned, which, of course, weren’t limited to Mr. Coleman.

The movie, airing at 8 tonight on NBC, offers a better-than-average chronicle of Hollywood’s pitfalls. It not only takes viewers behind the scenes but also follows Mr. Coleman and his co-stars Todd Bridges and Dana Plato in the years after the series went off the air as their personal lives spiraled downward.

Mr. Coleman and Mr. Bridges participated in the project and appear on-camera for interviews woven through the drama. Bobb’e J. Thompson (“The Tracy Morgan Show”) stars as the young Gary Coleman, Shedrack Anderson III plays Mr. Bridges and Brittney Irvin is the tragic Miss Plato.

Scorsese’s a critic

Martin Scorsese has faced his share of critics in his long tenure as one of America’s greatest directors. Now he’s going to become one.

Mr. Scorsese has been hired as a film critic for a satellite TV service after complaining about their movie review system, World Entertainment News Network reports.

The “Raging Bull” director will write a monthly column for On DirecTV, a magazine and program guide for DirecTV subscribers. Mr. Scorsese will offer critiques of overlooked films on the satellite service. Executives at the company came up with the idea when Mr. Scorsese, himself a DirecTV subscriber, wrote to the firm to suggest changes in the movie review system.

Telethon continues

One Labor Day tradition, the annual Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon, will air live from Las Vegas through 6 p.m. today on WDCW-TV Channel 50 (formerly the WB)..

The show has been held in Las Vegas for 21 of its 40 years. Last year it raised $54.9 million for muscular dystrophy research, an 8 percent drop from a year earlier, mainly blamed on the shock of Hurricane Katrina. The goal each year is to raise one dollar more than the year before, AP reports.

This year’s lineup features many performers who have regular shows on the Strip, such as superstar Celine Dion, magician Lance Burton, singer Clint Holmes and comics Rita Rudner and George Wallace. Other participants include Larry King, William Shatner, Donald Trump and the Goo Goo Dolls.

Mr. Lewis, 80 — who has battled pulmonary fibrosis, a lung ailment, since 2000 and had a mild heart attack in June — now lives in Las Vegas.

Murder They Wrote’

Crime writers like to create mysteries. But can they solve them?

That’s a question Court TV aims to answer this fall with its new series “America’s Crime Writers Investigate: Murder They Wrote.” The show premieres Nov. 13 at 10 p.m., Cynopsis reports.

In each hourlong episode, a novelist talks about a real-life case he or she finds intriguing. The show will feature documentary footage and first-person accounts along with the author’s insights.

Crime writers James Ellroy, Faye Kellerman, Jonathan Kellerman, Michael Connelly and Lisa Scottoline are scheduled to appear on the first season.

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

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