- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2008

Emmy finalists named

In an effort to curb leaks and rumors surrounding the Emmy Awards online, the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Friday released its top 10 finalists in the best-comedy and best-drama-series categories for this year’s Emmys, BroadcastingCable.com notes.

To narrow the list down to the top five, the academy held blue-ribbon screenings, conducted over the weekend , with the results of those votes combined with the votes from members to determine the top shows.

The top 10 comedy series up for consideration are: “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO), “Entourage” (HBO), “Family Guy” (Fox), “Flight of the Conchords” (HBO), “The Office” (NBC), “Pushing Daisies” (ABC), “30 Rock” (NBC), “Two and a Half Men” (CBS), “Ugly Betty” (ABC) and “Weeds” (Showtime).

The top 10 drama series are: “Boston Legal” (ABC), “Damages” (FX), “Dexter” (Showtime), “Friday Night Lights” (NBC), “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC), “House” (Fox), “Lost” (ABC), “Mad Men” (AMC), “The Tudors” (Showtime) and “The Wire” (HBO).

Ozzy, Missus return

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne - who pioneered the comedy-reality format with their landmark MTV series - are headed back to television, this time with a weekly variety show, TVWeek.com says.

“American Idol” producer FremantleMedia North America is behind the project, which already has been pitched to multiple broadcast networks, according to two sources familiar with the idea. All four major networks have expressed strong interest in the project, making it likely it will end up with a home shortly.

FMNA landed the rights to do the Osbourne show in large part because of its relationship with Mrs. Osbourne, who is a judge on the company’s “America’s Got Talent.”

In addition to Mr. and Mrs. Osbourne, offspring Kelly and Jack will participate in the show in some capacity, TVWeek says. The foursome became massive celebrities in 2002, soon after their MTV series bowed.

Details of the project are being kept under wraps until the show is sold. However, it’s unlikely the Osbournes’ project would simply aim to re-create the bad comedy sketches and elaborate production numbers that characterized “Sonny and Cher” or the many other variety hours of the 1960s and ‘70s.

Instead, it’s expected to borrow heavily from international variety formats that have worked well in recent years, from Univision’s Spanish-language “Sabado Gigante” to Germany’s “Wanna Bet?” - meaning viewers can expect elements of comedy, musical performance and competition-style games.

‘Baby’ boom

The Wednesday night debut of NBC’s “The Baby Borrowers” burst the network’s run of disappointing summer series premieres, the Hollywood Reporter says. The reality-show-as-life-lesson series was NBC’s best freshman series debut in months and garnered the network’s highest non-sports rating in its time period since January.

“Baby” (7.8 million viewers) clocked in with a solid second-place finish at 9 p.m., just behind Fox’s night-topping “So You Think You Can Dance” (8.2 million).

Plus, “Baby” also grew 11 percent its second half. “Deal or No Deal” (6.6 million viewers) served as lead-in, and a stable “Celebrity Circus” (5.7 million) followed, with “Circus” winning its 10 p.m. period.

This week, instead of shifting “Baby” to 8 p.m. as planned, NBC said Thursday that it will keep the show in the more competitive 9 p.m. hour and use last week’s episode as a repeat lead-in.

Goldblum in, Noth out

Jeff Goldblum is set to replace Chris Noth next season on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” Variety reports.

Like Mr. Noth, Mr. Goldblum will be seen in half of the series’ episodes; discussions are ongoing with Vincent D’Onofrio to continue headlining the other half.

Mr. Noth joined the show in 2005, when Mr. D’Onofrio opted to reduce his workload.

It’s the second exit from the franchise for Mr. Noth, who is reprising his role as Mr. Big on the big screen for “Sex and the City: The Movie.” Mr. Noth originated the character of Mike Logan on the show’s mothership, “Law & Order,” in 1990 before leaving in 1995. He later resurrected the character for the telepic “Exiled: A Law & Order Movie” and then again for “Criminal Intent.”

TV credits for Mr. Goldblum, a star of two films in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, include the recent short-lived NBC drama “Raines.” He also appeared in the Starz movie “Pittsburgh” and in an episode of that cable network’s “Head Case” series.

Production on “Criminal Intent” is still scheduled to start by the end of the summer for a fall return.

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

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