- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Report: Two leaving ‘Grey’s’

“Grey’s Anatomy” cast member James Pickens Jr. says the medical drama will be saying goodbye to Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight.

Mr. Pickens, who plays Dr. Richard Webber on the ABC series, told Us Weekly magazine that Heigl and Knight are leaving.

Mr. Pickens says he wishes Heigl “nothing but the best,” the magazine reported online Tuesday. He says his other co-star, Mr. Knight, wants to pursue other “career paths.”

Publicists for Mr. Knight and for series creator Shonda Rhimes declined comment, Associated Press reports. Requests for comment from Heigl’s publicist and ABC were not immediately returned.

Miss Heigl, who plays Dr. Izzie Stevens, starred in the films “Knocked Up” and “27 Dresses,” and has another movie, “The Ugly Truth,” coming out.

Obama tops ‘Idol’

Even after his election and inauguration, President Obama still can draw a crowd in prime time.

Early estimates suggest that Mr. Obama’s first presidential press conference Monday night was watched by more people than the recent season premiere of Fox’s “American Idol,” the Hollywood Reporter says. Final ratings data was expected Tuesday evening.

The president’s conference attracted roughly 38 million viewers - and that doesn’t include the cable-news networks such as CNN and Fox News, which tend to draw audiences competitive with the broadcast networks.

The eighth-season premiere of “Idol” was seen by 30.1 million viewers. Of course, “Idol” aired on one network, while Mr. Obama’s press conference aired on at least eight.

Big-event speeches in recent years have included former President George W. Bush’s Iraq War address in January 2007 (27.5 million) and his speech commemorating the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (23.9 million).

USA net on a roll

USA Network continues to steamroll through the winter months, nailing down seven of the top-10 most-watched programs on ad-supported cable last week on the way to its fifth straight prime-time ratings win, MediaWeek.com reports.

According to Nielsen live-plus-same-day ratings data, USA averaged 3.3 million total viewers in the week ending Feb. 8, posting big numbers with its triad of original series (“Monk,” “Burn Notice” and “Psych”).

On Friday night, the latest installment of “Monk” drew 5.6 million total viewers in the 9 p.m. time slot, securing the lead as ad-supported cable’s most-watched program during the seven-day period, MediaWeek said. Also delivering big for USA were “Burn Notice,” with 5.2 million viewers Thursday night at 10, and “Psych,” which drew 4.4 million in the post-Monk slot.

“Burn Notice” also delivered the week’s largest concentration of adults - 2.7 million - in the 25-to-54 demographic.

Rosie’s Lifetime film

Lifetime has signed Emmy Award winner Rosie O’Donnell to star in the network’s original movie, “America.”

Based on E.R. Frank’s book of the same name, the movie - which debuts on the network Feb. 28 - follows the journey of the 17-year-old title character as he navigates the foster care system. Miss O’Donnell, who also serves as executive producer, plays a therapist who gives America the support to deal with his troubled past and find the courage to survive against all odds.

The movie also stars Emmy Award-winning actress Ruby Dee, Multichannel.com reports.

O’Neill sitcom set

Ed O’Neill is returning to a comedy series.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the “Married With Children” alum has been tapped to star in the ABC half-hour pilot “An American Family,” which also has cast Eric Stonestreet.

The plot revolves around three families: a traditional one; another that includes a 60-year-old man (Mr. O’Neill) who becomes a stepfather after marrying a Latina (Sofia Vergara) who is 30 years his junior; and the third, a gay couple (Mr. Stonestreet and Jesse Tyler Ferguson) who have adopted a Vietnamese baby.

After his starring turn on Fox’s “Married,” Mr. O’Neill did a string of dramas, most recently HBO’s “John From Cincinnati.”

On tap tonight…

Looking for Lincoln (9 p.m., WETA-Channel 26 and WMPT-Channel 22) - Harvard University scholar and author Henry Louis Gates Jr. separates facts from myths surrounding Abraham Lincoln, including the 16th president’s views on race. Also featured: Lincoln historian and author Doris Kearns Goodwin (“Team of Rivals”).

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

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