Friday, August 22, 2008

‘Supernanny’ spinoff

ABC is moving forward with plans for its male-based “Supernanny” spinoff, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The network will air an episode of “Supermanny” as a backdoor pilot in the fall. The spinoff’s format will remain similar to the original, with a child-development expert lending a family in crisis some tough-love guidance. However, instead of professional nanny Jo Frost leading the living room intervention, gruff Chicago child therapist Mike Ruggles will step in.

“With a guy, he can connect with dads in a different kind of way,” said Nick Emmerson, the show’s executive producer. “It’s really powerful stuff.”

Mr. Ruggles’ approach to diffusing family disputes will differ somewhat as well. He encourages parents to learn how to play with their children and get to know them.

“It feels different to have a guy come in to work with your kids,” Mr. Emmerson said. “A woman has a woman’s touch, and people are more accepting and ready for her advice. We had to find the right person who has real authority and a gentle touch as well.”

The project is from Ricochet Television, which also produces “Supernanny.” ABC plans to air the episode as a special in the new “Supernanny” time period, Fridays at 9 p.m., THR says.

New series for Lloyd

Christopher Lloyd, who played scatterbrained genius Dr. Emmett Brown in the “Back to the Future” films, will take a more magical turn on the Sci Fi Channel.

The three-time Emmy winner will play an elf on the network’s upcoming miniseries “Mirabilis,” reports.

The four-hour fantasy adventure miniseries is set in a magical, distant land fueled by the all-powerful sorcery-grade metal known as bloodsteel. As the substance starts to dwindle, the evil warlord Dragon Eye wreaks havoc to control all resources, but is faced by opposition in the form of four ordinary citizens brought here by an ancient prophecy.

Mr. Lloyd, 69, will play Tesselink, a respected senior elf and accomplished master of bloodsteel sorcery.

Besides “Back to the Future,” the actor is also known for his role as the wacky Reverend Jim Ignatowski on “Taxi.”

Let the food games begin

It was only a matter of time.

The Food Network is getting into the competitive eating genre with a new series tentatively titled “Eat the Clock,” the Hollywood Reporter said.

The show, from Pie Town Prods. (“Rachael Ray’s Tasty Travels”), is described as a cross between an eating competition and “The Amazing Race.” Two teams of contestants rush to various Los Angeles eateries and gorge themselves in face-stuffing challenges.

Competitive eating has been edging toward becoming a trend on cable during the past year, with G4’s new gonzo eating show “Hurl” and Spike TV airing a series of Major League Eating events. ESPN also airs competitive eating events like Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.

Weekend highlights


20/20 (10 p.m., ABC) — Elizabeth Vargas reports on the high rate of infant mortality in Memphis, Tenn.

Life (6:45 p.m. Starz East) — In this touching and funny period dramedy, Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence star as bickering friends sentenced to life in the big house for a Depression-era crime they didn’t commit. The late Bernie Mac co-stars as a gay inmate in this 1999 film. Ted Demme directs.


Planet Tales (5:30 p.m., WETA-Channel 26) — In this installment, the BBC’s “Horizon” series joins a major trek to a remote plateau in Argentina to unearth the real Jurassic Park. Many scientists believe this incredible site could be the most significant dinosaur find ever: a complete snapshot of life in the Middle Jurassic, the most mysterious period in the story of the dinosaurs.


Olympic Summer Games 2008 (7 p.m., NBC) — Closing ceremony for the 2008 Games in Beijing.

Roughing It: Mongolia (10:30 p.m., WHUT-Channel 32) In this travel documentary, two twentysomething filmmakers — Keith Ochwat, a former Alexandria resident who works for a California assemblyman in Sacramento, and Christopher Rufo, a 2006 graduate of Georgetown University who is now in China working on a documentary about a Chinese Muslim baseball team — explore the culture and people of the east-central Asian nation. Among their adventures: joining in with Tuvan throat singers, challenging an Olympic wrestler to a match, traveling by horse to meet nomadic reindeer hunters and enjoying tea with Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar. Says Mr. Ochwat, the show’s host: “While searching for the reindeer herders, our horse guide got lost. We ended up spending the night huddled together without shelter, in the snow, at 10 degrees below zero.”

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

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