- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Billy Mays here

Discovery Channel is planning to honor the late infomercial giant Billy Mays - who died unexpectedly on Sunday - with a “Pitchmen” marathon and other programming Wednesday, Zap2it.com reports.

A marathon already was scheduled for the first 11 episodes, but now it will culminate in the show’s never-before-seen season finale at 10 p.m. The marathon begins at 11 a.m.

But wait, there’s more.

As an added bonus, tribute promos and never-before-aired moments will run throughout the day. A special slate honoring the beloved bearded adman, who died at his home in Tampa, Fla., also will be added to the season finale.

Not enough?

Discovery Channel also promises a special tribute show, but details have not been determined.

So far, no decision has been made regarding the second season of “Pitchmen,” the show that teamed Mr. Mays and Anthony “Sully” Sullivan as they went behind the scenes of infomercial product inventions and marketing.

Nick’s ‘ChinaToon’

As China seeks to boost its cartoon presence and play catch-up on Japan and “SpongeBob SquarePants,” Nickelodeon is planning its launch of “ChinaToon,” an hourlong branded programming block dedicated to showcasing original Chinese animation.

According to Variety, “ChinaToon” will bow Sunday on Nickelodeon Asia with two acclaimed animation series - Creative Power Entertaining Co.’s “Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” and Zhejiang Zhongnan Group Animation Video Co.’s “Magic Wonderland,” which will be broadcast to 13 territories across Asia.

“Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf” is an animated comedy created by Creative Power Entertaining Co. for youngsters 4 to 9 years old, while “Magic Wonderland” is an action adventure aimed at 5- to 12-year-olds.

Back-to-back ‘Jackie’

Showtime has scheduled a Fourth of July marathon featuring the first four episodes of its new series “Nurse Jackie.”

The episodes, airing Saturday are the pilot at 8 p.m., “Sweet-N-All” at 8:30, “Chicken Soup” at 9 and “School Nurse” at 9:30.

“Nurse Jackie” premiered June 8 as the highest-rated show in the premium cable network’s history and was renewed instantly for a second season, Multichannel.com notes.

A half-hour dark comedy, “Nurse Jackie” is at times wicked, heartbreaking and funny. Edie Falco (known best for her role as mob wife Carmela Soprano on HBO’s “The Sopranos”) stars as the title character, Jackie Peyton, a strong-willed and brilliant - but very flawed - emergency room nurse in a complicated New York City hospital. A lapsed Catholic with an occasional weakness for Vicodin and Adderall, Peyton keeps the hospital’s staff and patients in line by dispensing her own brand of justice.

New on Wisteria Lane

Like Edie Falco, another “Sopranos” alumna is moving on.

Drea de Matteo is moving to Wisteria Lane, Associated Press reports.

Aime Wolfe, the publicist for ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” confirmed that the Emmy-winning co-star of HBO’s “The Sopranos” will join the cast for the sixth season. EW.com quoted sources as saying Miss De Matteo - who played the ill-fated Adriana La Cerva on the mob drama - will portray an Italian matriarch married to a landscape designer.

Big news for ‘Hung’

The premiere of HBO’s newest comedy series, “Hung,” was seen by 2.8 million viewers, making it the network’s most-watched series debut in the past few years, the Hollywood Reporter says.

According to THR, “Hung” was the biggest premiere for the premium cable network since “John From Cincinnati,” which aired after the series finale of “The Sopranos.”

On board with ‘L&O’

After months of reportedly tense contract negotiations, Emmy winner Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni - stars of “Law & Order: SVU” - have agreed to return to the popular NBC crime drama for another season, People.com reports.

Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but both stars reportedly were earning $385,000 per episode before a new deal was struck.

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

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