- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 13, 2008

Diva antics over Brit

Britney Spears’ upcoming cameo on the March 24 episode of “How I Met Your Mother” has already claimed its first victim, TVGuide.com reports.

A “Mother” insider told the Web site that Alicia Silverstone — who was slated to appear in a multiepisode arc as Ted’s (played by Josh Radnor) dermatologist-lover — has dropped out and will be replaced by Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs”).

Meanwhile, the Web site Pink Is the New Blog reports that Miss Silverstone bowed out because her reps (understandably) feared she would be overshadowed by Miss Spears — who, according to TV Guide, will play an assistant to the dermatologist now being portrayed by Miss Chalke.

As a result, TV Guide says “Mother” bosses Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have re-conceived the female doctor character. Originally slated to appear in multiple episodes, she’ll be in just one — mostly because that’s all Miss Chalke’s schedule will allow.

Smithsonian in D.C.

The Smithsonian Channel is finally available to some cable subscribers here in the organization’s hometown.

The channel, a joint venture between the Smithsonian Institution and Showtime Networks, announced this week that RCN is adding it to its expanding high-definition lineup. With the addition of RCN, the Smithsonian Channel reaches 22.5 million households nationwide. Comcast, however, does not carry the channel in the District.

MTV’s ‘Idol’ wannabes

MTV has given the go-ahead to a pair of new series, “Rock the Cradle” and “Celebrity Pop Idol,” both variations on “American Idol,” Variety reports.

Also,“America’s Best Dance Crew,” the MTV series from “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, got a second-season pickup from the network.

The common denominator of the three series, says Brian Graden, president of entertainment for the music channels of MTV Networks, is that “their goal is to get our viewers to participate in the world of music.”

The premise of “Rock the Cradle,” premiering April 3, is that the children of well-known entertainers will compete against one another. So far, those performing include the offspring of Olivia Newton-John, Kenny Loggins, M.C. Hammer, Eddie Money and Dee Snider.

“Celebrity Pop Idol” is the working title of a series that will gather eight of what MTV calls “music-celebrity mentors.” Each mentor will choose an amateur performer or group to work with, some of them selected from videos posted online.

Over the course of the eight hourlong episodes, the performers will face off, with an elimination each week until a winner emerges. MTV hasn’t picked the celebrities yet, and the series doesn’t kick off until fall.

For the second season of “Randy Jackson Presents: America’s Best Dance Crew,” viewers will get the chance to participate by going online at dance.mtv.com to vote for their favorites. The crews with the most votes will end up doing their thing on the air. The new season begins this summer.

New life for ‘Saint’

A new, contemporary version of “The Saint,” based on Leslie Charteris’ books, may be marching back to prime time with James Purefoy (HBO’s “Rome”) in talks to star as international thief Simon Templar, says Entertainment Weekly, citing a story by the Hollywood Reporter. The books originally were adapted in the 1960s into a British TV series, which starred Roger Moore, and into a 1997 movie starring Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue.

Baltimore-born filmmaker Barry Levinson (“Avalon,” “Wag the Dog”) is directing the two-hour pilot telepic, which will be produced independently and shopped to networks. Writer Jorge Zamacona (“Homicide: Life on the Street”) is the creator of the new series and wrote the pilot script. Producers Tom Fontana (“Homicide”) and William J. MacDonald are also involved, as is Mr. Moore and his son Geoffrey Moore.

This just in

TMZ.com reports that Mariah Carey will be the musical guest on “Saturday Night Live” this week after Janet Jackson dropped out because of the flu.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse and Kelly Jane Torrance from staff, wire and Web reports.

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