- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

Grace suit proceeds

A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that claims CNN’s Nancy Grace pushed the mother of a missing toddler to suicide through aggressive questioning, Associated Press reports.

CNN and Miss Grace argued the wrongful death lawsuit brought by Melinda Duckett’s family would “severely chill” journalists’ coverage of missing-persons cases. However, U.S. District Judge William Terrell Hodges on Thursday denied their motion to dismiss the lawsuit.

Miss Duckett, 21, was on Miss Grace’s show after her son Trenton went missing from her apartment in August 2006. Miss Grace grilled the woman, accusing her of hiding something because Miss Duckett did not take a lie-detector test and answered vaguely regarding her whereabouts.

Miss Duckett fatally shot herself before the network aired the pre-taped interview.

The family claims Miss Grace’s intense questioning caused severe emotional distress that led to the suicide. The lawsuit also claims that the decision to air the interview after Miss Duckett’s suicide caused the family to suffer severe emotional distress and media and public harassment. The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial, unspecified damages of more than $15,000 and punitive damages.

“There is more information out there to be gleaned,” family attorney Jay Paul Deratany said. “If Melinda had any information, Nancy Grace stopped the investigation in its track.” Police have said Miss Duckett is the only suspect in her son’s disappearance.

Messages left Friday for an attorney representing Miss Grace and CNN were not immediately returned, AP said.

Show gratis for Gunn

Tim Gunn apparently participated in the first season of “Project Runway” pro bono, realitytvworld.com says.

During testimony before the New York State Supreme Court, Weinstein Co. co-chairman and “Project Runway” producer Harvey Weinstein revealed that Mr. Gunn was not paid for his role in the show’s first season, the New York Daily News reported Wednesday.

Mr. Gunn was compensated for the show’s second season, but it’s not as though he broke the bank. He received just $2,500 per episode, the Daily News reported, citing court testimony.” The program’s second season consisted of 14 episodes — meaning Mr. Gunn made about $35,000 for the season.

A District native, Mr.Gunn, 55, was employed as chairman of the fashion-design department at Parsons the New School for Design in New York City during the first three seasons of “Runway.” He left that position to work as chief creative officer for Liz Claiborne Inc. before the show’s fourth season.

Mr. Weinstein’s testimony was presented as part of the lawsuit Bravo’s NBC Universal parent company filed in response to the Weinstein Co.’s surprise five-year deal to bring “Project Runway” to Lifetime beginning with the reality series’ sixth season.

From ‘World’ to ‘Dish’

The Style Network is looking to cook up its own version of E! Entertainment Television’s “The Soup” and has tapped Danielle Fishel as head chef.

According to Zap2it.com, the former “Boy Meets World” star will host a show called “The Dish,” which will present a weekly look at what made news in the worlds of fashion, beauty and pop culture. It’s scheduled to premiere Aug. 16.

“The Dish” will be executive produced by Edward Boyd and K.P. Anderson, who developed “The Soup” for Style’s sister network, E! Miss Fishel, 27, played Topanga on ABC’s “Boy Meets World” from 1993-2000. Other credits include “National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze” and guest spots on “Nikki” and “Yes, Dear.”

Short takes

• FX will run a marathon of the first season of its Emmy-nominated series “Damages” on Saturday, TVWeek.com reports. All 13 episodes from the shows first season will be broadcast starting at 7 a.m.

• Columbia, Md.-based Retirement Living Television will host a town hall meeting Thursday in Wilmington, N.C., targeting seniors with information on the early digital transition market there, Multichannel.com says. Wilmington, the nation’s 135th-largest TV market, according to Nielsen, has been chosen by the Federal Communications Commission to convert from analog to digital broadcasting ahead of the rest of the country: Sept. 9 rather than Feb. 17, Multichannel.com reports.

• Billy Dee Williams — best-known for his film roles in “Brian’s Song,” “Lady Sings the Blues” and as Lando Calrissian in the “Star Wars” franchise — will visit the Oceanside Wellness Center during the second season of ABC’s “Private Practice,” TVGuide.com reports. In what’s being described as “a very moving role,” the 71-year-old actor plays a patient of Taye Diggs’ Dr. Sam Bennett.

On tap tonight

How’d That Get on My Plate? (8:30 p.m., Food Network). It’s all about honey as show host Sunny Anderson explores myriad recipes — from soup to nuts — made from the naturally sweet and sticky concoction.

Compiled by Robyn_Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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