- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 16, 2009

Taking on Disney

Simon Cowell, “American Idol’s” acerbic judge, is joining forces with supermodel Kate Moss and Sir Philip Green, a billionaire retailer, to create “a global entertainment super-company to rival Disney,” says the British newspaper the Daily Mail.

According to TVWeek.com, the plan would have the new company “own all the rights and content of the TV programmes Mr. Cowell produces, including ‘Britain’s Got Talent,’ ‘The X Factor’ and ‘America’s Got Talent,’ ” the Mail reports.

The company would be owned by Mr. Cowell and Mr. Green. They would hire Miss Moss for up to $80 million to handle branding and style for the new company, which the Mail says will “straddle show business and fashion.”

An unnamed source quoted in the Mail says the supermodel “will also be involved in finding and signing new bands and promoting them.”

Also discussed: Miss Moss developing her own singing career and starting a music label, TVWeek reports.

Carey’s got ‘Talent’

While we’re on the subject of Simon Cowell productions, pop diva Mariah Carey will perform on the first results show of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” the reality competition that her husband, Nick Cannon, hosts.

On the Aug. 5 broadcast, Miss Carey will serve up “Obsessed,” the first single from her new album, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” set for a Sept. 18 release, TVWeek.com reports.

Nice Ice on TBS

TBS is set to pick up a TV version of the 2005 Ice Cube feature “Are We There Yet?” Variety reported Wednesday.

Just like it did with the Tyler Perry comedies “House of Payne” and “Meet the Browns,” TBS initially will pick up 10 episodes of “Are We There Yet?” with an option for 90 more. The show is expected to launch in June 2010.

Ali LeRoi (“Everybody Hates Chris”) has signed on to write the sitcom.

Cube Vision will produce, while Debmar-Mercury, which distributes Mr. Perry’s sitcoms, is also the distributor behind “Are We There Yet?”

“We are confident that ‘Are We There Yet?’ will fit extremely well within TBS’ popular and diverse comedy lineup,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president and head of programming for TBS/TNT/TCM.

Rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube will join Matt Alvarez and Joe Roth as executive producers. Ice Cube, whose real name is O’Shea Jackson, is also expected to occasionally appear in the series - although not in the role he played in the movie and its sequel, “Are We Done Yet?”

Instead, Terry Crews, who earned raves as the father in “Everybody Hates Chris,” will reunite with Mr. LeRoi to star in the new show as Nick, a single man who starts dating a young divorcee with two kids.

In the 2005 movie, Nick takes the kids on a road trip to see their mother and winds up clashing with them the entire way.

“Terry Crews is the perfect person to replace me as Nick,” Ice Cube said. “His physical comedy is undeniable. … [And] no one runs a show like Ali. We are dedicated to creating the new template for family comedy.”

According to Variety, “Are We There Yet?” wound up at TBS after intense bidding, with cable networks such as USA Network and BET also in the running.

Ice Cube and Mr. Alvarez are no strangers to turning their films into TV properties, having also produced “Barbershop: The Series” and an animated version of “Friday.”

Debmar-Mercury, which is owned by Lionsgate, earlier received a 100-episode pickup for “House of Payne,” after an initial 10-segment order. TBS also has picked up 80 episodes of “Meet the Browns.”

“When we set out to expand on the television comedy model that Tyler Perry has turned into a runaway success at TBS, we knew we had to be in business with Ice Cube,” said Debmar-Mercury’s Mort Marcus.

Debmar-Mercury also recently partnered with Will Ferrell’s Gary Sanchez Prods. to sell a sitcom starring Jon Heder to Comedy Central under a similar model - a 10-episode pickup and option for an additional 90.

As for Mr. LeRoi, the Ice Cube project represents his first endeavor following the finale of the CW’s “Chris,” which earned critical raves during its four seasons on the air.

The original “Are We There Yet?” grossed more than $82 million at the box office.

” ‘Are We There Yet?’ was a hit family movie that transitions seamlessly into a television show,” Mr. Roth told Variety. “There is nothing quite like it currently on television.”

New on FX

FX is jumping into the animation pool, Entertainment Weekly reports.

The cable network has announced its order of six episodes of spy spoof “Archer” from Adam Reed, one of the creators of “Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021.”

The cartoon comedy takes place at ISIS “an international spy agency, where global crises are merely opportunities for its highly trained employees to confuse, undermine, betray and royally screw each other.”

Jon Benjamin (“Family Guy”) stars as super spy Sterling Archer (a.k.a. “Duchess” when he’s undercover). Joining him will be “Arrested Development’s” Jessica Walter as his mother/boss, Aisha Tyler (“Ghost Whisperer”) as his ex-girlfriend/co-spy Malory, Chris Parnell (“30 Rock”) as her new boyfriend, and Judy Greer (“Miss Guided”) as Malory’s secretary.

“Archer” premieres this fall on FX.

‘ET’: MJ not gay

Diane Dimond, a special correspondent for TV’s syndicated “Entertainment Tonight” who has been covering Michael Jackson for six years, says she never found any evidence that the late King of Pop was gay, TVWeek.com reports.

Miss Dimond was responding in a piece on the ET Web site to a new book - “Unmasked: The Final Years of Michael Jackson”- by Ian Halperin, in which Mr. Halperin raises questions about Mr. Jackson’s sexual orientation.

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

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