- The Washington Times - Friday, January 9, 2009

‘Wives’ on track

TLC is gearing up a new reality show tracking the spouses of NASCAR drivers.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cable network has ordered a docusoap series titled “NASCAR Wives,” starring women with surnames familiar to racing fans.

The cable network will air an hour of the series as a special Jan. 24 with a lead-in from its most-watched annual event, the Miss America pageant. A full season, including an undisclosed number of episodes, will follow in the spring, THR says.

The concept mixes racing with the wives genre peppering cable prime time, from Lifetime’s drama “Army Wives” to Bravo’s reality show “The Real Housewives of Orange County.”

“Viewers turn to TLC for an insider’s view into uncommon lives, and ‘NASCAR Wives’ will give an unprecedented look at what happens on and off the track,” TLC President Eileen O’Neill said. “NASCAR is a remarkable and respected brand to partner with, and we look forward to exploring both the heart and adrenaline that keeps its fans coming back for more.”

Lest the concept seem too male-skewing for a female-skewing genre, Miss O’Neill points out that 40 percent of NASCAR fans are women.

Participants include DeLana Harvick (wife of Kevin, who has 11 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins); Shana Mayfield (wife of Jeremy, a 15-year Sprint Cup veteran); Kelley Earnhardt (sister of Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver); and Angie Skinner (wife of Mike, who competes in NASCAR’s top three national series).

New ‘Cops’ on A&E

In other reality show news, A&E has expanded its slate of ghost-and-goblin-themed nonfiction series, greenlighting “Paranormal Cops,” Variety reports.

The series follows a team of Chicago-area police officers who work normal beats by day while investigating out-of-the-ordinary mysteries at night.

“Cops” is produced by North South Productions and designed to complement A&E’s returning series “Paranormal State,” Variety notes.

All that glitters

Scaled back by the writers strike last year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s awards gala returns in all its glory, airing live from the Beverly Hilton Hotel Sunday evening at 8 on NBC.

Leading the movie nominees are “Doubt,” “Frost/Nixon” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” with five nominations each.

Frank Langella and Brad Pitt are nominated for their performances in “Frost/Nixon” and “Button,” respectively, and the late Heath Ledger is nominated for “The Dark Knight” - the hit film’s sole nod.

Glenn Close, Ricky Gervais and Jake Gyllenhaal are among those bringing their star power to the ceremony. The three actors will serve as presenters at the 66th annual event, where they will be joined by previously announced presenters Salma Hayek, Drew Barrymore, Sacha Baron Cohen, Jennifer Lopez, Amy Poehler, Simon Baker, Aaron Eckhart, Laurence Fishburne, Blake Lively and Seth Rogen.

The Golden Globe Awards honor the best in television and film in 25 categories. Steven Spielberg will receive this year’s Cecil B. DeMille Award for his contributions to entertainment.

For a full list of nominees, go to www.goldenglobes.org.

Also on tap this weekend:

Friday

• Ultimate Super Heroes, Ultimate Super Villains, Ultimate Super Vixens (6 p.m., Bravo) - The three-part series from 2005 returns for an encore. According to Bravo, more than 50 experts, ranging from comic book creators to filmmakers and producers and to the actors who brought these characters to life, were consulted for the formation of the top 20 countdown lists in each category. Adam West, who portrayed Batman in the hit ‘60s TV series, is the narrator.

Saturday

• Helvetica (11:30 p.m., WETA-Channel 26) - PBS’ consistently intriguing “Independent Lens” brand is back with another acclaimed documentary in “Helvetica,” which chronicles the vast influence a sleek typeface has had on graphic design worldwide. Narrated by Oscar nominee Terrence Howard.

Sunday

• 24 (8 p.m., Fox) - The Emmy-winning drama returns for its seventh season premiere.

• Big Love (8 p.m., HBO) - Here’s one of the last remaining chances to catch up with the past happenings on “Big Love” before the premium cable series about a maverick polygamist sect begins its third season on Jan. 18. HBO rolls out five back-to-back episodes from season two: “Kingdom Come,” “Circle the Wagons,” “The Happiest Girl,” “Take Me As I Am” and “Oh, Pioneers.” Bill Paxton, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Chloe Sevigny, Ginnifer Goodwin and Harry Dean Stanton star.

• Written and compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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