- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A bigger ‘Valley’

“The Big Valley” is headed to a much bigger screen.

The 1960s television Western that starred Barbara Stanwyck is being adapted into an independent feature, Variety reports.

According to the trade publication, the plot borrows elements from the show’s pilot and several episodes.

Roles have not been cast.

In the show, Miss Stanwyck played the widowed matriarch of the wealthy Barkley family living in 19th-century Stockton, Calif.

The series, which ran from 1964 to 1969 on ABC, also starred Richard Long, Peter Breck and Charles Briles, and launched the careers of Linda Evans and Lee Majors.

Pre-production on “The Big Valley” is expected to begin in January, with filming to take place in April in Michigan and New Mexico, Variety says.

Show and tell

Showtime has slated a six-episode run for “Live Nude Comedy,” a half-hour mix of stand-up comedy and modern-day burlesque.

Shannon Elizabeth (“American Pie”) will host the weekly series, which bows Thursday at midnight. The program positions itself as an old-school variety show with a 21st-century sensibility, Variety notes.

A typical episode will open with an audience-participation sketch featuring Miss Elizabeth, followed by each week’s two comedians alternating with two dancers.

Comedians Sam Tripoli and Ian Edwards will appear in the first episode, with upcoming comics to include Andy Dick and Whitney Cummings. Dakota Ferreiro and Tonya Kay will dance in the premiere, Variety says.

‘Revelation’ coming

In other Showtime news, the premium cable channel is developing “Revelation,” a religion-themed drama from David Janollari and “Dirty Sexy Money” creator Craig Wright.

According to Variety, the hourlong project revolves around an unconventional minister who moves to a Texas church with his two teens after his wife suddenly dies.

Mr. Wright was once a minister himself and plans to rely on his base of knowledge to tackle issues of religion, faith and spirituality.

CBS TV Studios is behind the drama.

The project represents a reunion for Mr. Janollari and Showtime Entertainment President Bob Greenblatt, who ran the Greenblatt/Janollari Studio in the late 1990s and early 2000s before returning to the executive ranks.

Among the Greenblatt/Janollari series was “Six Feet Under,” on which Mr. Wright served as a writer.

Mr. Wright’s other credits include “Brothers and Sisters” and “Lost.”

Demand expands

Comcast announced that 17 new cable channels are joining its On Demand Online initiative, Broadcastingcable.com reports. The announcement came Tuesday, the same day the cable provider inked a deal with CBS, the first broadcaster to join the service as part of the TV Everywhere initiative.

The new partners include A&E Television Networks (A&E, History) Scripps Networks (Food Network, DIY Network, HGTV), Rainbow Media (AMC, WE tv) BBC America and sister division Comcast Entertainment Group (E!, Style Network, G4).

The new channels join the Turner Networks (HBO, TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network), CBS and Starz as part of Comcast’s trial, which will roll out in approximately 5,000 households in the coming weeks, B&C said.

Nielsens: HBO shines

Much to its relief, HBO finally has discovered life after “The Sopranos,” “Six Feet Under” and “Sex and the City.”

The pay cable network, which has struggled to replace those signature series, had a strong week with some new hits. The vampire series “True Blood,” in its second season, had a series high of 3.9 million viewers on Sunday, Associated Press reports, citing data from Nielsen Media Research. Add in on-demand viewing, DVR viewing and extra showings, and the average episode of the series is being seen by 10.8 million viewers this season, Nielsen said.

That’s a substantial hit in HBO’s world. The network is generally available in a little more than a quarter of the nation’s homes with television. Only three broadcast shows last week - two airings of “America’s Got Talent” on NBC and an “NCIS” rerun on CBS - got more than 10 million viewers.

The HBO comedy “Hung” had 3.6 million viewers on Sunday for its second episode, up 29 percent from its premiere, AP notes. It is considered a very strong sign for a series to gain viewers from a premiere, which draws more of the curious viewers.

“Entourage” also had 3.4 million viewers for its sixth-season premiere Sunday, its biggest audience in more than two years, when it had the advantage of “The Sopranos” as a lead-in.

Meanwhile, it was another slow summer week for broadcasters. “America’s Got Talent” has clearly established itself as the summer’s most popular new series, while CBS’ strong drama reruns enabled the network to comfortably win the week. Another special on Michael Jackson’s death was ABC’s most popular show of the week.

Overall, CBS averaged 6.5 million viewers for the week, beating second-place NBC’s 4.8 million viewers. Fox had 4.4 million, ABC 4.3 million, My Network TV 1.5 million, the CW 880,000 and Ion Television 600,000.

Among the Spanish-language networks, Univision led with 3.2 million viewers. Telemundo had 1.1 million, TeleFutura 950,000 and Azteca 190,000.

For the week of July 6-12, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships were: 1) “America’s Got Talent” (Wednesday), NBC, 11.91 million; 2) “NCIS,” CBS, 11 million; 3) “America’s Got Talent,” (Tuesday), NBC, 10.57 million; 4) “Two and a Half Men,” CBS, 9.41 million; 5) “The Mentalist” (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), CBS, 9.25 million; 6) “60 Minutes,” CBS, 8.77 million; 7) “CSI: Miami,” CBS, 8.76 million; 8) “Primetime: Family Secrets,” ABC, 8.66 million; 9) “The Big Bang Theory,” CBS, 8.34 million; and 10) “The Mentalist” (Tuesday, 10 p.m.), CBS, 8.26 million.

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

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