- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 18, 2007

Waters in mainstream

What does it say about the state of cable television when someone like notorious film director John Waters starts doing a series?

“It’s just my mustache clawing itself into the (public’s) consciousness even more,” Mr. Waters, 60, host of the true-crime anthology “Til Death Do Us Part” (premiering at 10 tonight on Court TV), tells Scripps Howard News Service. “It’s like Pamela Anderson’s (breasts). It gets work on its own.”

When the Baltimore-born auteur made the theatrical movie “Serial Mom” in 1994, he tried to get Court TV involved in the production and promotional efforts. But “they were a little too new, a little too young,” he says. “They were probably a little nervous about getting involved with me then.”

But that’s no longer the case.

Court TV is now a different animal altogether. No longer is it just a channel for court cases.

On “Death,” Mr. Waters is a Rod Serling-like character, referred to as “The Groom Reaper.” He’s a master of ceremonies who introduces and ends each week’s dramatization. The series focuses on spousal murders — starting from when the couple met, to their wedding to the point it all went wrong.

“These aren’t celebrity murders or things you have read about in the news,” Mr. Waters says. “These are normal people, like the people watching it at home.”

The ‘Dancing’ begins

ABC’s “Dancing With The Stars” is back on a new day and time (premiering tonight at 8) with 11 new celebrities vying for the show’s grand prize — a trophy —and bragging rights, notes Scripps Howard News Service.

This season’s cast:

• Laila Ali, a professional boxer and daughter of sports legend Muhammad Ali.

• Billy Ray Cyrus, country singer and co-star of the Disney Channel’s hit series “Hannah Montana.”

• Clyde Drexler, named one of the 50 greatest players in NBA history.

• Joey Fatone, former member of the boy band ‘NSYNC.

• Shandi Finnessey, Miss USA in 2004 and a former game-show co-host.

• Leeza Gibbons, former host of “Entertainment Tonight,” “Extra” and her self-titled daytime talk show, “Leeza.”

• Heather Mills, animal-rights activist and estranged wife of Paul McCartney.

• Apolo Anton Ohno, two-time Olympic gold-medal winner.

• John Ratzenberger, former star of “Cheers.”

• Paulina Porizkova, professional model and former face of Estee Lauder.

• Ian Ziering, one of the stars of the hit TV series, “Beverly Hills 90210.”

Burnett suing ‘Guy’

Carol Burnett has filed a $2 million copyright infringement lawsuit against 20th Century Fox, claiming her cleaning woman character was portrayed on the animated series “Family Guy.”

According to Associated Press, the U.S. District Court lawsuit, which was filed Thursday, said the Fox show didn’t have the 73-year-old comedian’s permission to include her cleaning woman character, Charwoman, in an April 2006 episode.

The episode shows Charwoman as a porno-shop maid, and it uses what the lawsuit called an “altered version” of Miss Burnett’s theme music. The characters in the show also perform Miss Burnett’s signature ear tug, the lawsuit said.

Besides copyright infringement, Miss Burnett claims 20th Century Fox violated her publicity rights. The studio said it was surprised by the lawsuit over what amounted to about an 18-second scene.

” ‘Family Guy,’ like ‘The Carol Burnett Show,’ is famous for its pop culture parodies and satirical jabs at celebrities. We are surprised that Ms. Burnett, who has made a career of spoofing others on television, would go so far as to sue ‘Family Guy’ for a simple bit of comedy,” said 20th Century Fox Television spokesman Chris Alexander.

Duchovny returns

David Duchovny, who starred as special agent Fox Mulder in “The X-Files” (1993 to 2002) will return to television in a new Showtime comedy about a self-destructive writer, AP reports.

The 46-year-old actor will play Hank, a novelist whose “obsession with truth-telling and self-destructive behavior — drinks, drugs and relationships — are both destroying and enriching his career,” the cable network announced Thursday. Hank’s issues complicate his relationships with his 13-year-old daughter (played by Madeleine Martin) and an ex-girlfriend (Natascha McElhone).

The new series, as yet untitled, will premiere in August, said Showtime Networks Inc.

• Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from wire reports

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