- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 25, 2008

BET plans inaugural ball

A second Viacom Inc. cable network is planning its own ball for President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, TVWeek.com reports.

BET Networks will join with America’s Promise Alliance, the nonprofit organization set up by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his wife, Alma, to host an inaugural ball scheduled for Jan. 20 in the District.

Viacom’s MTV earlier announced it would hold its first inaugural ball in 16 years.

The BET ball will be the first for the cable network. Besides supporting America’s Promise, it will support the District’s Dunbar High School and Duke Ellington School of the Arts.

BET also will air an hourlong special during the ball called “Yes We Will. BET’s Inaugural Celebration,” which will include some live shots from the ball along with taped footage of inauguration-related events.

Meanwhile, the cable network also is hosting its second annual BET Honors Jan. 17 in the District. Actress Gabrielle Union will host the event this year, with honorees including Mary J. Blige, Tyler Perry, choreographer Judith Jamison, Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Rep. James E. Clyburn, South Carolina Democrat. That event will air Feb. 9 on BET.

Entertainment for the ball is still being finalized. While some tickets to the event will be offered to BET viewers, the price will be $500 per ticket. Jeanine Liburd, BET’s executive vice president, said BET will provide some tickets to local high school students and give away some as prizes.

‘Runway’ suit stays put

The “Project Runway” dispute will remain in state court.

A district court judge ruled Tuesday that the case surrounding the future of the hit reality show will be tried in New York State Supreme Court. In October, Lifetime had asked that the case be moved to federal court.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network was not named as a defendant in the original breach-of-contract suit, filed by NBC Universal against “Project Runway” producer the Weinstein Company in April when the latter made a surprise announcement that it was moving its hit show from NBC Universal’s Bravo to Lifetime.

Richard Sullivan, judge for the U.S. District Court, Southern District, of New York, wrote in Tuesday’s ruling that Lifetime “first sought to intervene in the state court action” in July.

“Lifetime chose to delay its intervention in the state court action for strategic considerations,” Judge Sullivan wrote. “While Lifetime was perfectly entitled to adopt a strategy of waiting on the sidelines until it felt its position was strengthened by the recordation of its interests, it cannot now, having been unfavorably impacted by the state court’s ruling, avoid the consequences of its strategic decision.”

In a statement, NBC Universal said: “NBC Universal is pleased that the federal court has rejected Lifetime’s untimely procedural maneuvering to get NBC U’s ‘Project Runway’ case out of state court, where it has always belonged and will now rightfully return.”

Lifetime in November filed suit in Manhattan federal court against NBC Universal and Bravo Media, claiming Lifetime holds the copyrights to the show through its deal with TWC.

Said Lifetime: “While we believe that NBC U’s lawsuit should have remained in the federal court, we will press our copyright claims through our independent lawsuit against NBC U in the federal court, and if necessary, in the NBC U suit in New York State court. We look forward to this entire matter being resolved in an expeditious manner and remain hopeful that, in the end, Lifetime will be home to ‘Project Runway.’ ”

‘Rotten’ show in works

Current Media has inked a deal with Rotten Tomatoes to create a series based on the movie-review Web site, the Hollywood Reporter says.

According to THR, “The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current” - a half-hour series that will air on the network and at Current.com and RottenTomatoes.com - will feature movie news and information and also give viewers the chance to participate in and influence the content of the series via both sites. For example, at Current.com, viewers will be able to upload, comment on and vote on their favorite movies and movie-related news.

The series, which does not have a premiere date, also will include Rotten Tomatoes’ Tomatometer, which measures the percentage of positive critics’ reviews a movie receives.

The series is part of Current’s drive to continue developing “participatory media,” says David Neuman, president of programming.

The series will “reinvent movie reviews on TV,” Mr. Neuman says. “These are film reviews for the audience and by the audience. ‘The Rotten Tomatoes Show on Current’ will be as much a collaborative process as Rotten Tomatoes.”

In the saddle

Feature-film heavyweight producers Jerry Bruckheimer (“Pirates of the Caribbean”) and Michael Bay (“Transformers”) will serve as executive producers for the new HBO drama “Cocaine Cowboys” if the project is greenlighted, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Inspired by Billy Corben’s 2006 documentary, “Cowboys” chronicles the early days of cocaine trafficking in Miami.

Holiday watch

Yule Log (8 a.m., DC 50) - Gather the family ‘round the TV hearth and ignite seasonal cheer with this faux holiday favorite. Continues through noon.

White Christmas (noon, ABC Family) - Danny Kaye and Bing Crosby star as song-and-dance men who team with a sister act (Vera Ellen and Rosemary Clooney) for a holiday show to save a financially troubled Vermont inn run by their former Army commander. Music by Irving Berlin - who also penned the score for “Holiday Inn,” the predecessor of this 1954 film.

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

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