- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

Back with a bang

The people with superpowers on “Heroes” are finding out that everything’s more complicated than the show’s slogan — “Save the cheerleader, save the world” — would suggest, notes Scripps Howard News Service, as more plot twists arrive when the series returns with a batch of new episodes beginning tonight at 9 on WRC-NBC4.

Malcolm McDowell turns up as the creepy Linderman, a character who may be the ultimate embodiment of “the ends justify the means.”

It’s a chilling episode in ways that won’t be spoiled here and, as usual, it will leave fans wanting to see the next episode immediately.

At the same time, “Heroes” slows down a little to allow the characters to react to sudden new events. The big question remains whether they can prevent New York City from being blown up.

Tonight’s episode picks up the story with the not-so-nice guy with the horn-rimmed glasses (Jack Coleman) and Matt Parkman (Greg Grunberg), who can read minds, being held prisoner by Thompson (Eric Roberts). There are other plot threads involving the self-healing cheerleader Claire (Hayden Panettiere), the flying politician Nathan (Adrian Pasdar) and the most heroic geek of our times, Hiro (Masi Oka)— who can transport himself and his friend through time and space. And the powerful villain Skylar (Zachary Quinto) is still causing trouble.

Brandy out, Sharon in

Brandy is being replaced by Sharon Osbourne as a judge on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” Associated Press reports.

Mrs. Osbourne, the 54-year-old wife-manager of rocker Ozzy Osbourne, will make her debut May 29, when the reality competition returns for its second season, NBC announced Thursday.

Mrs. Osbourne — who starred with her family in MTV’s reality series “The Osbournes” — will join returning judges David Hasselhoff and British media figure Piers Morgan. Jerry Springer is the new host of the $1 million-prize contest.

Brandy Norwood, 28, was involved in a Los Angeles freeway crash in December that killed a 38-year-old woman. Two wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against the actress-singer on behalf of the woman’s family.

Globes back to Sunday

The Golden Globe Awards will move back to Sunday night next year after two years of seeking refuge on Mondays — away from “Desperate Housewives” — reports Zap2it.com. The 2008 Golden Globes are scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 13.

The awards show has seen its ratings fortunes recover in the past couple of years after getting trounced by ABC’s then-rookie phenomenon in 2005. That year the Globes drew about 16.8 million viewers, a drop of nearly 10 million people from the 2004 show and the smallest audience for the show since NBC started airing it in 1996. Following that, NBC and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Globes, moved the awards to Mondays, where the audience figures have bounced back. The 2006 awards improved to 18.7 million viewers, and this year’s show topped 20 million.

Meanwhile, the hot streak of “Housewives” appears to be cooling. It’s still a top-10 show, drawing 17.5 million viewers per week, but that’s about 6 million fewer than were watching the series in its first season, notes Zap2it.com.

On tap tonight…

When it comes to ratings-challenged NBC, desperate times apparently call for desperate measures.

How else do you explain “The Real Wedding Crashers,” bowing at 10 p.m. on WRC-NBC4.

Produced by the same team behind MTV’s “Punk’d” (including “Punk’d” host Ashton Kutcher) the new reality series, “Crashers” gets its kicks by staging outlandish pranks that threaten to derail the nuptials and shock the assembled guests — such as a minister holding a conversation on his cell phone as the couple recite their vows at the altar and a police bust of groomsmen for smoking Cuban cigars … both during the ceremony and at the reception. The twist here, though, is that the bride and groom are actually in on the joke.

Could anyone really be that starved for attention? And do the rest of us really want to watch?

c Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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