- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 26, 2007

‘Money’ matters

Like its provocative title, ABC’s “Dirty Sexy Money” has all three elements — at least in its series premiere — bubbling in the mix.

The question, though, is whether the highly touted hourlong drama (premiering at 10 tonight) can rise above the sensationalism and sustain viewers over the long haul.

The “Dynasty”-like prime-time soap — which, like that long-running ABC series from the 1980s, centers on a privileged, well-heeled clan — has an A-list cast headed by Peter Krause (known best as the lovable, compassionate slacker Nate Fisher on HBO’s “Six Feet Under”), acting vet Donald Sutherland (last seen on ABC in the failed “Commander in Chief”) and two-time Oscar nominee Jill Clayburgh (sporting an all-too-noticeable face-lift) and even more A-list cameos in tonight’s opener. (Look for actor-director Peter Bogdanovich and former CBS news anchor Dan Rather, among others.)

There also are well-framed scenes of the show’s New York setting and crisp, snappy dialogue — all of which helps this well-worn tale of the haves vs. the have-nots.

In this case, the haves are the megarich Darling family, headed by patriarch Tripp Darling (Mr. Sutherland). The ever-handsome Mr. Krause is Nick George, a pro-bono lawyer whose deceased father devoted his life (and sacrificed his own family) to attend to the Darlings’ legal matters as their attorney.

The series, which uses voice-over narration by Mr. Krause, opens with Nick surveying the wreckage of the helicopter crash that killed his dad. It quickly fast-forwards to the funeral, where we meet the self-absorbed Darlings as they enter the church to pay their respects.

Along with Mr. Sutherland and Miss Clayburgh as his wife, Letitia, the misfit clan includes William Baldwin as the Darlings’ politician son, Patrick, who’s in a secret relationship with his transsexual girlfriend (played by real-life transsexual Candis Cayne); his brother Brian (Glenn Fitzgerald), a mean-spirited minister with a deep secret; an oddball, attention-seeking brother, Jeremy (Seth Gabel); older sister Karen (Natalie Zea), who has a history with Nick; and younger sister Juliet, a Paris Hilton-like waif who craves the spotlight.

While tonight’s premiere primarily introduces us to the characters, it also focuses on Nick’s new job as the Darlings’ attorney — a role he initially rejects but is enticed into thanks to the lucrative salary and perks dangled by Tripp. Part of the fun in watching future episodes surely will be seeing whether Nick allows his job to be all-consuming, as his father did.

Interest also has been sparked in revealing a few Darling family skeletons. But actor-turned-director Peter Horton (who starred as Gary Shepard on the ABC drama “Thirtysomething”) has shown his hand early on — so much so that we already know what’s coming and could practically write the script.

Unfortunately, this may turn out to be “Dirty Sexy Money’s” Achilles’ heel, a cruel fate for a show filled with so much promise.

Eagles set for CMAs

The Eagles will make their first-ever awards-show performance at “The 41st Annual CMA Awards,” airing live Nov. 7 on ABC from the Sommet Center in Nashville, Tenn.

NFL tops Nielsens

The top five shows in prime time for the week of Sept. 17 through 23, along with their networks and viewerships were: 1) NFL Football: Dallas at Chicago, NBC, 19 million; 2) “Survivor: China,” CBS, 15.3 million; 3) “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” CBS, 14 million; 4) “Sunday Night Pre-Kick Show,” NBC, 13.8 million; and 5) “Cold Case,” CBS, 12.7 million.

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

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