- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dutton tale inspires

Baltimore native Charles S. Dutton is set to star in “From Jail to Yale … Serving Time on Stage,” a one-man play to benefit the Actors Hall of Fame Foundation’s new dramatic-arts education program for at-risk students, the Hollywood Reporter says.

HBO is the presenting sponsor of the event, which takes place Oct. 7 at the Freud Playhouse at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

“Serving Time” is based on Mr. Dutton’s real-life story. While incarcerated as a youth, he found a book of plays that ignited his passion for theater. Within seven years, he had graduated from college, was accepted on scholarship to the Yale School of Drama and was then off to Broadway, where he received his first Tony nomination. Mr. Dutton also starred in Fox’s “Roc” (1991-94).

The actor’s story is the inspiration for the new dramatic-arts education curriculum, which is targeting 1 million at-risk students in elementary and secondary schools across the country during the next four years. The free program includes teaching activities, lesson plans, acting and writing workshop exercises and interactive online video, THR notes.

Season 3 for Engvall

TBS is bringing “The Bill Engvall Show” back for a third season.

According to Multichannel.com, cable’s “very funny” network will produce 10 more installments of the show, which stars Mr. Engvall as family counselor Billy Pearson, who doesn’t always manage the relationships with his own family — wife Susan (Nancy Travis), sons Bryan (Sklyer Gisondo) and Trent (Graham Patrick Martin) and daughter Lauren (Jennifer Lawrence) — or best friend Paul (“Saturday Night Live” alum Tim Meadows) very well.

“Engvall,” cable’s top-rated original sitcom, averaged 2.3 million viewers during its sophomore season and is set to return with fresh episodes in summer 2009. In December, the network will present two special installments in time for the holidays.

HBO’s Web venture

HBOlab, an experimental offshoot of the cable powerhouse focused on online programming, is launching a Web video series featuring a cast of the Internet’s most popular entertainers, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Jessica Rose, star of the Web sensation “lonelygirl15,” will be joined with top YouTube talent, including the video bloggers known as sxePhil and KevJumba, for the scripted comedy “Hooking Up.”

Set to premiere Oct. 1, the 10-episode series will be distributed on top video portals such as YouTube and MySpace as well as a destination site, hookingupshow.com.

“Hooking” puts its Internet all-stars to work acting as students at a fictional university where the populace spends most of its time e-mailing, instant-messaging and Twittering, but always seems to be miscommunicating.

Hookingupshow.com will be supplemented with social-networking capabilities, and the series’ characters will have their own Facebook pages.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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