- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Curtin call

Emmy winner Jane Curtin is headed back to the sitcom world.

The “Saturday Night Live” alumna, who most recently starred in NBC’s long-running “3rd Rock From the Sun,” has joined ABC’s comedy pilot “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,” Reuters news agency reports.

Jayma Mays stars as an innocent girl struggling to survive in the corporate world, and Miss Curtin will play her assistant — a character described as a feared and respected secretary.

Miss Curtin’s sitcom breakthrough came with the 1980s comedy “Kate & Allie,” for which she won two Emmys. She also appeared on the short-lived series “Crumbs.”

Bochco’s back

One of television’s busiest producers is back, and he sure could use a hit.

Steven Bochco, the man behind “Hill Street Blues” and “NYPD Blue,” will rejoin FX to develop a supernatural thriller with family elements, Reuters reports.

Sounds like CW’s “Supernatural” to us, but we’ll give the storied producer the benefit of the doubt.

Mr. Bochco first teamed with FX for “Over There,” a critically hailed look at the current Iraq War that failed to enlist enough viewers for survival. He will co-write the untitled project with another “Over There” alumnus, Joel Fields, executive producer on Courteney Cox’s current FX series, “Dirt.”

Mills’ smooth moves

Heather Mills proved a graceful dancer during Monday’s season premiere of “Dancing With the Stars” despite concerns that her artificial leg might trip her up.

The appearance by the soon-to-be ex-Mrs. Paul McCartney proved a curious highlight to the return of the ABC hit, Associated Press reports.

The dancing contest, returning for its fourth season, has been a big hit, but the presence of Miss Mills — a 39-year-old activist and one of 11 celebrity contestants — is adding a new level of interest and curiosity this go-around.

In case any in the audience didn’t know about Miss Mills’ prosthesis, host Tom Bergeron wasted no time at the top of the show reminding them that contenders included “our first performer with an artificial limb.”

Miss Mills, who performed next to last on the live two-hour broadcast, offered a graceful fox trot with her partner Jonathan Roberts. The routine even included a kick with her artificial left leg.

The couple got a warm reception from the panel of three judges.

“You’ve got more guts than Rambo,” said Bruno Tonioli, who went on to criticize not her legs but her top half — her arms — during the performance.

Miss Mills, who lost the lower part of her left leg in a traffic accident 14 years ago, told viewers she hoped her appearance would inspire others with disabilities.

“A little kid sitting there who’s just lost a limb — I hope they’re gonna go, ‘Oh, I can,’ ” she said.

Fox rules ratings roost

During a week of experimenting for TV networks, both ABC and Fox took advantage of strong lead-ins to entice viewers into watching something they otherwise might have missed.

ABC’s new “October Road,” a drama about a novelist who returns to his hometown to face the people he burned in print, reached nearly 14 million viewers last week for its premiere, Associated Press reports, citing data released yesterday by Nielsen Media Research. Many undoubtedly were people who hung on after watching “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Similarly, Fox placed ” ‘Til Death” directly after the “American Idol” results show last week, and the freshman comedy recorded its first top 10 finish. ” ‘Til Death” had more than double the audience it had been averaging this year.

On the other hand, don’t go booking any anniversary parties for Fox’s “Wedding Bells.” It dropped to 5.7 million viewers for its premiere in a Friday time slot last week.

For the week, Fox led the way with an average of 11.4 million viewers. With help from the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, CBS had 10.7 million viewers, and NBC averaged 8.3 million. Following were ABC with 7.9 million, the CW with 3.1 million and the I network with 650,000.

For the week of March 12 through 18, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 29.8 million; 2) “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 26.1 million; 3) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 22.6 million; 4) “Deal or No Deal” (Monday), NBC, 16.7 million; and 5) “Cold Case,” CBS, 15 million.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff and wire reports.

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