- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 4, 2007

‘Spidey 3’ sneak peek

With great power comes … great marketability. Or so NBC and the makers of “Spider-Man 3” are hoping.

Fans of NBC’s “Heroes” will be able to geek out even more than usual tonight when Columbia Pictures offers up a new, 60-second clip from “Spider-Man 3,” reports Zap2it.com.

The second sequel of the blockbuster movie franchise is due in theaters May 4.

The bigger catch, though, will debut online after tonight’s “Heroes” episode (airing at 9), which will conclude the current story arc and leave viewers with a cliffhanger for the final five episodes at season’s end. Following the broadcast, NBC.com will offer a 7 -minute scene from “Spider-Man 3” that concludes with a cliffhanger of its own. The clip also will be the first high-definition stream on the network’s Web site.

Tonight’s “Heroes” will provide viewers with the first look at the mysterious Linderman and Hiro (Masi Oka) possibly taking a dark turn in his effort to acquire the samurai sword he covets.

Cliff in, Vinny out

A mailman is replacing a hit man on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

John Ratzenberger, who played Cliff Claven on “Cheers,” will step in for Vincent Pastore, who quit after one week of training, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Ratzenberger, 59, had previously turned down an offer to join the cast for the 10-week dance competition because of a scheduling conflict, ABC said Friday.

Mr. Pastore, who played a tough-guy mobster on HBO’s “The Sopranos,” said he didn’t realize how physically demanding the show would be for him.

“We’re sad that Vincent felt he was unable to continue in the competition, as he would have been great on the show,” executive producer Conrad Green said Friday. “‘Dancing With the Stars’ is physically demanding, and it pays to know your limits. We respect his decision.”

The new cast also includes Olympic skater Apolo Anton Ohno, boxer Laila Ali, former ‘N Sync member Joey Fatone, country singer-actor Billy Ray Cyrus and Paul McCartney’s estranged wife, Heather Mills.

“Dancing With the Stars” returns March 19.

Strong debut

After a strong launch leading out of “American Idol” last week, Fox has ordered four more episodes of the popular quiz show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” reports MediaWeek.com.

Hosted by Jeff Foxworthy, the program posted surprisingly strong numbers in its first half-hour installment on Tuesday night, drawing 26.6 million viewers in the 18 to 49 demographic, which ranks the show as the highest-rated series premiere on any network in more than five years. On Wednesday, the program’s second half-hour installment drew 23.4 million viewers in the same age group, retaining 82 percent of its Idol lead-in on the night.

On Thursday, the show expanded to an hour following “Idol’s” conclusion at 9 p.m. The four additional episodes also will run 60 minutes. But after this week’s 9 p.m. broadcast, the program will move to 8 p.m., where it will be followed by “Family Guy” and “American Dad,” through April 19, said MediaWeek.com.

Pulling questions from fifth-grade textbooks, “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” is produced by Mark Burnett Prods., in association with Zoo Prods.

Cavemen’ may evolve

Those Geico “cavemen” shouldn’t be so upset after all — they may get their own television series.

ABC said Friday it had ordered a pilot for a comedy, tentatively titled “Cavemen,” that features the characters used in a series of ads by the insurance company.

In the ads, cavemen appear insulted by a Geico pitchman’s claim that the company’s Web site is so easy to use that “even a caveman can do it.”

According to Associated Press, the potential series — one of 14 pilots that will be produced by Touchstone Television this spring — features the cavemen as they “struggle with prejudice on a daily basis as they strive to live the lives of normal thirty-somethings in 2007 Atlanta.”

The advertising copywriter who helped create the “cavemen” ads is writing the pilot, the studio said. However, a pilot order is no guarantee a show will make it on the air; in fact, the majority of pilots don’t make it that far.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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