- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Comedy shuffle

ABC is shuffling its comedy deck, adding a Thursday-night sitcom block to the mix.

According to Variety, the Alphabet network will launch “In the Motherhood” on Thursdays at 8 p.m. starting March 26. The half-hour sitcom will be paired with another 30-minute comedy, “Samantha Who?”

ABC also plans to move “Scrubs” to Wednesdays at 8 p.m. starting March 18 and pair it with a new laugher, “Better Off Ted.”

The Thursday block will displace “Ugly Betty,” which the network says will return after “Motherhood” and “Samantha” complete their runs.

“Samantha” had been airing on Monday nights, but the network has opted to stick with two-hour editions of “The Bachelor,” displacing the acclaimed series, which stars Christina Applegate and is in its second year.

The new scheduling scenario puts ABC’s two female-centered sitcoms in front of “Grey’s Anatomy” on Thursdays, and its more male-oriented comedies before “Lost.” It also means “Samantha” will go up against NBC’s new Amy Poehler comedy, while “Motherhood” will face off against the Peacock Network’s “My Name Is Earl.”

“Scrubs,” meanwhile - formerly on NBC and now on rival ABC - will battle CBS’ “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” while “Ted” is up against CBS’ “Gary Unmarried.”

Delay could cost PBS

PBS tells Associated Press that delaying the digital TV transition for four months would cost public broadcasters $22 million.

The Public Broadcasting System’s chief, Paula A. Kerger, wants lawmakers to keep that in mind as they consider legislation to delay the switch from Feb. 17 to June.

PBS stations - which locally include WETA-Channel 26, WMPT-Channel 22 and WHUT-Channel 32 - will face additional power costs and in some cases make new arrangements for sending over-the-air TV signals after mid-February, Miss Kerger said. The switch-over date was meant to end the analog, or over-the-air, television signals.

Miss Kerger also says she hopes legislators will put money aside for PBS if they go forward with the delay.

Al-Jazeera for tots

Qatar, home to the pan-Arab television news network Al-Jazeera, says it has launched what it describes as the first Arabic channel for preschool children, Agence France-Presse reports.

Baraem, which means buds in Arabic, started broadcasting free to air 10 days ago and says it offers its target audience - 3 to 6 years old - a range of educational and cultural programs.

The channel is managed by Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel, which was launched not quite 3 1/2 ago and is aimed at children between ages 7 and 15.

“Baraem, unique among some 550 channels in the Arab world, addresses preschool-aged children, their parents and their teachers, with the ambition of contributing to the formation of the identity of the Arab child,” says Mahmud Bouneb, who heads Al-Jazeera Children’s Channel.

“The aim is to gradually increase our production to affirm the Arab identity of the channel, as with Al-Jazeera Children, which at its launch produced only 30 percent of the programs, but now produces 60 percent,” Mr. Bouneb adds. “Our channel produces or co-produces in Malaysia, Britain, France, Canada and Arab countries, including Qatar.”

Baraem is funded by the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, a public body created and headed by Sheika Mozah Bint Nasser al-Missned, wife of Qatar’s emir.

Qatar also owns Al-Jazeera news channel, which has changed the face of Arab television journalism since its launch in 1996 with hard-hitting reporting on Middle Eastern conflicts and debates.

T.O. goes cable

On the heels of SpikeTV announcing its Dallas Cowboys competition series with Michael Irvin, fellow MTV Networks channel VH1 is getting into business with Terrell Owens.

VH1 will air a docusoap reality series following the Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, his best friends and publicists as they enjoy the NFL off-season.

The series is untitled and will launch in the summer. Evan Prager and Jesse Ignjatovic are executive producers of the series for Den of Thieves.

Flav’s new show

Rapper and reality star Flavor Flav and filmmaker Deon Taylor will spin off their BET movie “Nite Tales” into a half-hour weekend anthology horror series.

According to MediaWeek. com, it will feature Flavor Flav in a role similar to the Crypt Keeper from HBO’s 1990s hit “Tales From the Crypt.” Described as “30-minute tales of irony and twists, “Tales” originated with the BET movie, which aired on Halloween and is set for DVD release Feb. 3 by BET, Paramount and Deon Taylor Enterprises, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

On tap tonight …

The Colbert Report (11:30, Comedy Central). Music legend and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame musician Paul McCartney will be Stephen Colbert’s guest. This is Mr. McCartney’s first and only scheduled U.S. late-night appearance in support of the new album “Electric Arguments,” released under the Fireman alias used by Mr. McCartney and producer-musician Youth.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from wire and Web reports

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