- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Bono, others on ‘Idol’

Ellen DeGeneres has hosted the Oscars, the Grammys and the Emmys. Now she’s adding one more spot to her resume: host of tonight’s “American Idol” charity event, airing from 8 to 10 on Fox, Reuters news agency reports.

“Idol Gives Back,” which began last night, will benefit relief programs for children and youth in extreme poverty. Bono, Pink and Gwen Stefani are among the stars slated to appear.

The event will feature performances from the “Idol” stage as well as from the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, where Miss DeGeneres will be based. It also will feature the results from last night’s sing-off — the usual drill that will send one of the remaining six finalists packing.

However, the super six still will get the chance to meet with Bono as he discusses One: The Campaign to Make Poverty History and how the audience can help. The “Idol” contestants also will perform “American Prayer,” a song written by Bono and Dave Stewart, one half of the ‘80s band Eurythmics, about the AIDS crisis in Africa.

Other participants include “American Idol” winners Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood; Celine Dion; Earth, Wind & Fire; Il Divo; Helena Bonham Carter; Keira Knightley; Hugh Grant; Josh Groban; Jack Black; Helen Mirren; Quincy Jones; and the other half of the Eurythmics, Annie Lennox.

Bacon takes ‘Chance’

Kevin Bacon (“Hollow Man”) will star in HBO’s Iraq war drama “Taking Chance,” Reuters reports.

The film will chronicle the real-life journey of Lt. Col. Michael Strobl (played by Mr. Bacon), who, as a volunteer military escort officer, accompanied the body of 19-year-old Marine Chance Phelps, killed in action in Iraq, back to his hometown of Dubois, Wyo., in spring 2004.

Mr. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran, wrote the short story “Taking Chance” while serving with the Marine Corps Combat Development Command in Quantico, Va., in April 2004. He retired from the Marine Corps this year.

He developed the screenplay with Oscar-nominated producer Ross Katz (“Lost in Translation”), who will make his directing debut on the project.

“Chance” is slated to start production this summer for a 2008 premiere on HBO.

Pfc. Phelps was killed April 9, 2004, by hostile fire in Al Anbar province, Iraq, and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with Combat Distinguishing Device.

Fox tops, NBC sinks

The news keeps getting worse for NBC, which set a low-water mark for prime-time viewership for the second straight week, Associated Press reports.

One week after the Peacock averaged 6.8 million viewers — its smallest in-season audience since at least 1987 and probably well before — the network sank to 6.2 million last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

However, NBC notes that TV viewership in general is lower, with all of the broadcast networks down 10 percent from last year over the past three weeks, and that the network has been airing several reruns to hoard original series episodes for the May ratings sweeps.

NBC had just three shows among Nielsen’s 30 most popular last week — two of them editions of the game show “Deal or No Deal.” None of the week’s top 16 shows was on NBC.

Fox won the prime-time ratings race, averaging 10.3 million viewers. CBS had 9.6 million, ABC 9.5 million and NBC 6.2 million. Following were the CW with 3 million and MyNetworkTV with 810,000.

For the week of April 16 through April 22, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 28.9 million; 2) “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 26.5 million; 3) “House,” Fox, 22.4 million; 4) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 21.1 million; and 5) “Dancing With the Stars” (Monday), ABC, 18.8 million.

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

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