- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Starz honors Spike

Today is director Spike Lee’s 50th birthday, and Starz InBlack is celebrating with a 24-hour marathon.

The network is showing six of the controversial but accomplished director’s films. Mr. Lee’s second film, “School Daze,” airs at noon. The 1988 musical drama stars Laurence Fishburne and Samuel L. Jackson. The 1994 semiautobiographical “Crooklyn” is on at 6 a.m. and 2:05 p.m. The 1999 film “Summer of Sam,” about the Son of Sam serial killings, airs tonight at 8, and “Bamboozled,” the 2000 satire about a modern minstrel show, airs at 9:35 a.m. and 5:40 p.m. “Bamboozled” is the only feature shown today in which Mr. Lee doesn’t also appear.

“Girl 6,” the 1996 film starring Theresa Randle as a phone-sex operator, began the marathon at midnight and concludes it at 10:30 tonight. It features a cameo from fellow director Quentin Tarantino, with whom Mr. Lee later famously feuded over the “Pulp Fiction” director’s use of the n-word.

Also showing is the PBS documentary Mr. Lee made about the founder of the Black Panthers, “A Huey P. Newton Story.” It’s on at 8 a.m. and 4:05 p.m.

Exclusive interview segments in which the director talks about his craft and his career as a writer, director, actor, producer, author and entrepreneur will be featured throughout the marathon. The movies and interview clips are available on Starz OnDemand through March 29.

‘Heroes’ makers sued

The freshman drama “Heroes” is doing well on NBC, but the network’s series about ordinary people who become superheroes finally may have hit a glitch.

Reuters news agency reports that two artists sued NBC Universal and the creators of “Heroes” in U.S. District Court last week, claiming their work had been wrongfully copied on the television show.

New York-based artists Clifton Mallery and his wife, Amnau Karam Eele, charged in a suit filed Thursday in Manhattan that “Heroes” creators based their plotline — about an artist who can paint the future — on a short story, a painting series and a short film the couple exhibited in 2004 and 2005.

A spokesman for NBC said the network believes the suit is without merit.

The artists said in the lawsuit that two people who identified themselves as writers from NBC’s “Crossing Jordan,” which also was developed by “Heroes” creator and executive producer Tim Kring, attended an April 2005 exhibition of their work at Hunter College in New York City. The two were believed to have taken copies of the couple’s work, the lawsuit says.

The artists said their work focused on an artist who paints the future and specifically paints the destruction of two landmark buildings in New York City. They claimed this was “strikingly similar” to the character of Isaac Mendez on “Heroes,” whose paintings of the future depict an explosion in New York City.

The serial thriller has been credited with helping boost NBC’s ratings this season.

TV crosswords

Merv Griffin, creator and producer of “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” is working on another brainy half-hour game show.

“Let’s Play Crosswords” has been cleared in 30 of the top 40 markets for its fall start in syndication, Reuters reports.

Mr. Griffin is a big fan of crossword puzzles. “My challenge was to translate this satisfying pursuit into an entertaining television game,” he says.

“Jeopardy!” meanwhile made history on Friday when it had its first-ever three-way tie.

The show’s three contestants all finished with $16,000 after each answered the final question correctly in the category Women of the 1930s, Associated Press reports. They identified Bonnie Parker of the famed Bonnie and Clyde crime duo as a woman who, as a waitress, once served one of the men who shot her.

Show emcee Alex Trebek said he never had seen anything like it in his 23 years of hosting.

The show contacted a mathematician who calculated the odds of such a three-way tie happening as one in 25 million.

The three contestants, Jamey Kirby of Gainesville, Fla., Anders Martinson of Union City, Calif., and Scott Weiss of Walkersville, Md., all were declared champions and faced each other again in a rematch that aired last night.

Compiled by Kelly Jane Torrance from staff and wire reports.

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