- The Washington Times - Monday, April 14, 2008

Papal visit on EWTN

Cable’s EWTN Global Catholic Network will provide live coverage of every event in Pope Benedict XVI’s historic U.S. trip, from the time his plane lands until he departs the country, officials told Multichannel.com on Friday.

The coverage will be seen and heard on EWTN’s television, radio and Internet platforms.

The live coverage, which begins tomorrow and continues through Sunday, will be provided by EWTN News Director Raymond Arroyo, who reportedly has anchored more papal events than anyone in the industry, says Multichannel.com. He obtained the only English-language interview with the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger that’s in existence today.

In addition to live shows, EWTN’s continuing coverage will include three specials: “Benedictus XVI: Papa Joseph Ratzinger,” a documentary offering a close look at Cardinal Ratzinger in the period following the death of Pope John Paul II; “Pope Benedict XVI: My Vatican,” a documentary on the life of the pope; and a segment of the series “Defenders of Faith in Word and Deed” in which EWTN host the Rev. Charles Connor focuses on the many ways in which the current pope has been a defender of the faith.

Mr. Arroyo, who also is a New York Times best-selling author, will be joined in live coverage and commentary of the pope’s trip by author the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus and Knights of Columbus Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.

Gumbel exits NFL net

After two years of calling games for the NFL Network, Bryant Gumbel is leaving the football field.

The network announced late Friday that Mr. Gumbel wouldn’t be back for a third season for the channel’s eight-game package. The network declined to comment about possible reasons for his departure, which apparently was a mutual decision, the Hollywood Reporter said.

The choice of Mr. Gumbel as the network’s first play-by-play announcer raised eyebrows in 2006, when the channel tapped him and analyst Cris Collinsworth as their broadcast team for the Thursday night and Saturday night games late in the season. Mr. Gumbel had never done football play-by-play before, although the former “Today” show host had a long resume in broadcasting.

Mr. Gumbel’s day job is as host of the Emmy-winning “Real Sports” on HBO.

The NFL Network said Mr. Collinsworth would remain as the analyst and that it would start working on finding a new play-by-play announcer before the package begins in November.

‘Secrets’ slashed

The secret talents of celebrities will remain hidden. CBS is axing its new reality show “Secret Talents of the Stars” after only one episode.

The first airing Wednesday had former “Star Trek” actor George Takei singing “On the Road Again.” Just 4.6 million people tuned in — and thousands tuned out as the hour continued, Associated Press reported.

The reality show also had Clint Black doing stand-up comedy and Mya tap-dancing. Danny Bonaduce is among the celebrities who will keep their secret talents to themselves.

CBS officials say news programming is expected as a temporary replacement, AP said.

‘Ben-Hur’ to ride again

David Wyler is dusting off the family chariot to remake “Ben-Hur.”

Mr. Wyler, whose father, William, helmed the Oscar-winning 1959 feature starring Charlton Heston, is producing the new version as a miniseries with Alchemy TV, Variety reports.

Christian Duguay (“Coco Chanel,” “Human Trafficking”) will helm the $30 million project, which will begin production later this year.

The announcement of the upcoming series was made at the MIPTV conference — an annual event for co-producing, buying, selling, financing and distributing entertainment content — just days after the April 5 passing of Mr. Heston, who won the best-actor Academy Award for his portrayal of the prince who becomes a slave only to regain his freedom in time for the film’s memorable chariot race sequence.

“We’ve got a joke that this is the family business,” the younger Mr. Wyler told Variety. “In my mind, this is dedicated to my dad and Chuck. We think it’s a great way to keep his memory alive.”

Alchemy already has sold the miniseries to Spain, Germany and Canada, and Mr. Wyler is in negotiations with two networks and a cable channel for the U.S. rights. The new version will be based more specifically on the 1907 Lew Wallace source novel than either the 1959 version or an earlier 1925 adaptation.

Mr. Wyler is looking to skew the lead role of Judah Ben-Hur younger, perhaps in his mid-20s. The new version also likely will downplay the religious aspects of the source material, Variety said.

On tap tonight …

CMT Awards ( 8 p.m. CMT): Billy Ray and Miley Cyrus — the hottest father-daughter duo on the planet right now — host the 2008 honors airing live from Nashville, Tenn. Brad Paisley and Sugarland lead the list of nominees, with four apiece.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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