- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

Irwin’s final stand

Steve Irwin displays his boyish, breathless zest, his nerve and know-how in the company of wild animals and, most important, his love and respect for them.

It’s a winning formula, which helps explain Mr. Irwin’s reign as “the Crocodile Hunter,” the world’s favorite animal expert and conservationist. And it’s there in full measure on “Ocean’s Deadliest,” a 90-minute documentary that will be simulcast Sunday at 8 p.m. on Discovery Channel and Animal Planet, Associated Press says.

The show’s tragic subtext — that Mr. Irwin died during filming last fall — is, of course, essentially unaddressed, which is as it should be. A 30-minute tribute featuring Mr. Irwin’s widow, Terri, along with family, friends and never-before-seen footage of Mr. Irwin in his wildlife element follows at 9:30 p.m.

Still, during “Ocean’s Deadliest,” Mr. Irwin’s fatal sting from a stingray’s barb is never far from the viewer’s mind. (You will, no doubt, shudder when Mr. Irwin, standing in the water with a 6-foot-long poisonous sea snake, dodges the creature’s hair-trigger strike, then gamely observes, “Lucky he didn’t have his mouth open there, or Stev-o could’ve taken a bit of a hit.”)

Mr. Irwin is joined in his native Australia by oceanographer and adventurer Philippe Cousteau (grandson of the famous oceanographer Jacques Cousteau) as they explore the waters between the Gold Coast and the Great Barrier Reef. Mr. Cousteau narrates the program. Together they locate — and introduce viewers to — venomous fish, great white sharks and enormous saltwater crocodiles, each of which is billed as the deadliest this or that.

Bottom line: You wouldn’t want to mix it up with any of them. Which makes you feel glad (and amazed) that someone like Mr. Irwin loved giving these fascinating creatures the close-up they deserve.

“We are so lucky, we are so honored to be in its presence,” Mr. Irwin declares when speaking of a sea snake.

Watching “Ocean’s Deadliest,” viewers will likely feel, one more time, the same thing about Mr. Irwin.

‘Grey’s‘ verbal dust-up

“Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl wasn’t pleased with fellow cast mate Isaiah Washington’s comments after Monday’s Golden Globe Awards.

During an interview in the pressroom after the show’s best-drama win, Mr. Washington — who, ironically, played a homosexual man breaking up with his male lover in Spike Lee’s 1996 feature, “Get On the Bus” — denied his involvement in a heated on-set incident in October in which he reportedly used a homophobic slur, AP reports.

“No, I did not call [co-star] T.R. (Knight) a faggot,” Mr. Washington said. “Never happened, never happened.”

His comments have left Miss Heigl seething.

“He needs to just not speak in public. Period,” Miss Heigl told “Access Hollywood” at a Golden Globe after-party. “I’m sorry, that did not need to be said. I’m not OK with it.”

She called the comments “hurtful,” characterizing the incident as one that should be handled privately among the show’s cast and crew. “I don’t think (Mr. Washington) means it the way he comes off,” said Miss Heigl, who was born in the District and grew up in Connecticut. “But T.R. is my best friend. … I will use every ounce of energy I have to take you down if you hurt his feelings.”

Mr. Knight, who admitted he was homosexual soon after the October fracas, appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” Tuesday to discuss the original incident and Mr. Washington’s recent comments.

“He referred to me as a faggot. Everyone heard it,” Mr. Knight said of the October squabble.

The incident has prompted the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) to demand an apology from Mr. Washington.

PBS series shaping up

PBS has announced nine of the 11 films that will air as part of the much-anticipated “America at a Crossroads” series scheduled to begin April 15 and continue through April 20.

“America at a Crossroads” is a series of documentaries developed by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting that explores the challenges confronting the world after September 11, including the war on terrorism; the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan; the experience of American troops; the struggle for balance within the Islamic world and Muslim life in America; and perspectives on America’s role globally.

Originally conceived in part as an effort to bring some ideological balance to public television’s documentary programming, the series includes “Warriors,” a profile of U.S. Army soldiers in Iraq produced by Karl Zinsmeister, President Bush’s current top domestic policy adviser, and his wife, Ann Zinsmeister. Mr. Zinsmeister was tapped for the White House post after completing his work on the documentary.

“The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom” features former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle — one of the principal neoconservative proponents of regime change in Iraq — arguing the case for an assertively internationalist foreign policy.

Also included in the lineup are: “Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaeda,” “Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience,” “Gangs of Iraq,” “Europe’s 9/11,” “The Face of Muslims in America,” “Faith Without Fear” and “A Different Jihad: Indonesia’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam.”

Journalist Robert MacNeil will host the series.

Weekend watch

“Monk,” USA Network’s acclaimed series with Emmy-winner Tony Shalhoub as a detective with obsessive-compulsive disorder returns for its sixth season at 9 tonight. “Psych,” a lighthearted crime drama about a police consultant who pretends to be psychic, follows at 10 p.m.

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

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