- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Boomer nation

Baby boomers, the generation that never wanted to grow old, will soon be the country’s elder statesmen, and the largest elder generation in America’s history. Tonight, they get their day in the sun with the PBS retrospective, “The Boomer Century: 1946-2046,” airing at 9 on WETA-Channel 26.

Although criticized by some for its lack of diversity (a baby boomer turns 60 every eight seconds, a figure that, no doubt, includes a broad spectrum of people), the show nonetheless provides eye-opening and insightful commentary by filmmakers Oliver Stone and Rob Reiner, author and feminist Erica Jong, civil rights pioneer Julian Bond, futurist Alvin Toffler, healthy aging doctor Andrew Weil, political analyst David Gergen, satirist Lewis Black, playwright Eve Ensler, White House spokesman Tony Snow and many more.

It’s a trip down memory lane, but the show also casts an eye toward the future as participants join host Ken Dychtwald in offering fresh perspectives on a number of lifestyle trends, health, aging and other topics.

Clinton parodied

Comedy Central’s “South Park” gets political tonight as 2008 presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, makes a campaign stop on the animated series.

It’s not really the former first lady, of course, so expect plenty of parody.

Here’s the setup: Cartman suspects his school’s new Muslim student is behind a terrorist threat as the town prepares for Sen. Clinton’s campaign rally. Cartman then takes matters into his own hands by interrogating the suspect. Uh-oh.

The fun begins at 10 p.m.

Onion takes on CNN

The fake news industry got a big boost this week when the Onion announced it’s starting a fake news network.

The weekly parody publication has inaugurated the Onion News Network — ONN — a 24-hour video newscast, Variety reports.

“Our competitors are MSNBC and CNN,” said Onion President Sean Mills, distancing the new network from the fake news genre explored by Comedy Central and “Saturday Night Live.”

“Those are parody shows, and this is serious news,” he said. “There’s no studio audience, and no one’s in on the joke. What we are trying to create is a broadcast-quality newscast on the Internet.”

Yesterday ONN began releasing segments on theonion.com. Unlike Viacom, which demanded that clips from “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show” be taken down from YouTube, the Onion will encourage fans to disseminate ad-supported clips around the Web.

The newscast marks a long, circuitous route to video that included numerous offers to do TV, at least one TV pilot and “The Onion Movie,” a feature film project financed by Regency, which started shooting in 2003 but was never released. Mr. Mills said the Onion is no longer associated with that project.

Clips from the newscast will be available as free podcasts on ITunes, and the Onion is discussing content partnerships with YouTube, Joost, MySpace and TiVo in which they’ll split the ad revenue.

The Onion’s offering will be ad-supported. The clips begin with a “brought to you by” message and are followed by an ad created to be consistent with the tongue-in-cheek sensibility of the newscast. Dewars, Hyundai, Red Stripe and a competitor, MSNBC.com, are among the first sponsors.

Can’t stop ‘Dancing’

Last week made clear America’s tastes in prime-time entertainment: dancing, singing and canoodling doctors.

Fox’s two “American Idol” episodes held their customary spot at the top of the Nielsen Media Research rankings, joined by the revival of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” which started its fourth season with nearly 22 million viewers — its best-ever series premiere. ABC’s hit “Grey’s Anatomy” was the only other TV series to attract more than 20 million viewers last week, AP reports.

For the week, CBS averaged 11.4 million viewers, Fox had 11.2 million and ABC had 9 million. Following were NBC with 7.4 million, the CW with 3.1 million, My Network TV with 940,000 and the i network with 730,000.

For the week of March 19 through 25, the top five shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1. “American Idol” (Tuesday), Fox, 29.9 million; 2. “American Idol” (Wednesday), Fox, 27 million; 3. “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 22.3 million; 4. “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 21 million; and 5. “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 17.6 million.

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

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