- The Washington Times - Monday, April 2, 2007

Bennett visits “Idol’

The remaining nine finalists on “American Idol” get help from one of music’s best tonight when the great Tony Bennett drops by to mentor the wannabe stars as they tackle pop standards and American classics. The show, airing live on Fox, starts at 8 p.m.

Mr. Bennett returns tomorrow evening to perform live on the results show, beginning at 9.

The legendary crooner, who turns 81 in August, is one of a handful of artists to have new albums charting from the 1950s through the 1990s and beyond. His hits include “Because of You,” “Rags to Riches” “Cold, Cold Heart” and his signature song, “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Mr. Bennett has recorded more than 100 albums and has sold more than 50 million records worldwide. The winner of 14 Grammys (including three this year), he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award and is a Kennedy Center Honoree. In February, his latest CD, “Tony Bennett Duets: An American Classic,” received the Grammy for best traditional pop vocal album.

USA takes five

USA Network’s original series “Monk” and “Psych” have proved successful, so the cable network is forging ahead with five projects for the 2007-08 season, Reuters news agency reports.

The projects are:

• American Girl, the story of a woman whose life is transformed after she gets shot in a robbery. Suddenly fearless, she finds herself needing to face danger to escape her daily routine.

• Family Values, which focuses on a team of FBI agents on an undercover assignment in the suburbs. The “teenage kids” are actually young-looking agents in their 20s … and the loving mom and dad are ex-lovers. Written by David Titcher ( 2004’s “Around the World in 80 Days”), the new show will have both dramatic and comedic elements, Variety reports.

• The Negotiator (working title), a new series from producer Donald DeLine (“The Italian Job”) which centers on a suddenly-out-of-work crisis negotiator who decides to apply his life-and-death problem-solving skills to a new job as a relationship counselor in New York.

• The Oldest Rookie, a series about a 43-year-old man who decides he wants a new challenge and switches careers to become a police officer.

• Spying in High Heels, the tale of a fashion-obsessed woman who realizes that her passion makes her a great detective — helping her discern telltale shapes, colors and patterns. She decides to open a detective agency with her best friend, operating out of her stepfather’s hair salon.

On tap tonight

WETA-Channel 26 will air “So Much So Fast,” a documentary about Stephen Heywood — a remarkable young man who had Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) but would not be deterred from living a full life.

The film, from Academy Award-nominated directors Steven Ascher and Jeanne Jordan, will be shown at 10 p.m. as part of PBS’ “Frontline” series.

Mr. Heywood was 29 when he learned in December 1998 that he had the neurodegenerative disease, which causes paralysis by killing nerve cells that control movement. After diagnosis, the average life expectancy is two to five years. Mr. Heywood lived eight years, until November. He married, had a child and rebuilt two homes even as he was slowly losing control of his body.

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

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