- The Washington Times - Monday, July 27, 2009

New ‘Jay’ taking shape

Details are emerging about NBC’s upcoming “The Jay Leno Show,” including a new director for the host as he moves into prime time.

According to Variety, Liz Plonka, formerly of “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” has been tapped to serve as director of Mr. Leno’s show, which premieres Sept. 14.

Meanwhile, NBC confirmed that Mr. Leno’s “Tonight Show” band leader, Kevin Eubanks, will be continuing on “Jay Leno” as the show’s music director. But John Melendez, who had served as the late night star’s “Tonight Show” announcer since 2004, will no longer serve in that capacity. Instead, he will join a staff of 19 writers for “The Jay Leno Show.”

Miss Plonka replaces Ellen Brown, who directed Mr. Leno on “Tonight” for his entire 17-year run. Miss Plonka was brought in to help give the show a new and different feel from “Tonight,” Variety said.

“She is an accomplished director and is a perfect fit for the new show,” executive producer Debbie Vickers told the trade publication.

Miss Plonka, though, is no stranger to Mr. Leno, having filled in on occasion as the “Tonight Show” director. Her other recent credits include “Mind of Mencia,” “Talkshow With Spike Feresten” and “The Showbiz Show With David Spade.”

As for other credits on “Leno,” Larry Goitia will serve as supervising producer, while Mr. Leno, Jack Coen and Stephanie Ross are producers. Mr. Coen also will supervise the monologue writing, Variety said.

Also last week, NBC took the wraps off the Web site for “The Jay Leno Show,” which will include a weekly video starring Mr. Leno as well as blogs and clips from his “Tonight Show” tenure.

Dave tops Conan

In somewhat-related late-night fodder, based on final national ratings for the week of July 13, CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” topped NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien” in total viewers for the second consecutive week, says MediaWeek.com, citing ratings from Nielsen Media Research.

Mr. Letterman averaged 3.45 million viewers — up by 17 percent from the year-ago week. Mr. O’Brien — who replaced Mr. Leno as “Tonight” host on June 1 — dipped to 2.71 million, a loss of a hefty 37 percent from Mr. Leno’s stint as host one year earlier.

Comparably, this is the first time “Letterman” has delivered more viewers than “The Tonight Show” for two weeks in a row since the Nagano Olympics in February 1998. “Conan,” in contrast, delivered its smallest audience since the premiere of “The Late Show With David Letterman” in August 1993.

Demographically, dominant “Conan” continues to build among adults 18-34. But “Letterman” has narrowed the gap elsewhere as the new “Tonight Show” host continues to lose steam.

TBS wants more ‘Payne’

TBS announced on Thursday that it will film an additional 20 episodes of its top-rated original comedy series “House of Payne,” Multichannel.com reports.

The new order for the series, created by actor/playwright Tyler Perry and distributed by production company Debmar-Mercury, will bring the number of episodes to 172 since the sitcom premiered in 2006. The series — which follows a multigenerational black family living under one roof — is among the top-viewed original cable sitcoms, averaging 3 million viewers over 20 new episodes this year. That’s second only to the 3.5 million viewers watching the “Payne” spinoff comedy series, “Meet the Browns,” also on TBS. The two shows are also television’s most-watched series among blacks ages 18 to 34 in 2009, notes Multichannel.com.

Teen newscast set

Channel One Network says it will team up with CBS News to produce its daily newscast for teens, Associated Press reports.

Starting this fall, CBS News Productions will co-produce “Channel One News,” which reaches about 6 million middle- and high-school students nationally each school day. Each 12-minute broadcast will originate from a newly designed set at CBS News headquarters in Manhattan, where the “Channel One News” production unit will be based.

Founded in 1989, Channel One was acquired two years ago by Alloy Media and Marketing. Its on-camera alumni include Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling.

Barry doc to air

Former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, who always seems to be in the news, will make headlines again next month when a documentary about the resilient politician airs on HBO.

“The Nine Lives of Marion Barry,” seen last month at the Silverdocs Documentary Film Festival in Silver Spring, premieres at 9 p.m. Aug. 10 on the premium cable channel.

The documentary, from filmmakers Dana Flor and Toby Oppenheimer, recounts Mr. Barry’s rise from poverty to civil rights champion and four-time mayor of the nation’s capital along with his fall from that office and political rebirth as a member of the District Council.

More, Bushnell on Web

Meredith Corp. and its lifestyle magazine More have teamed up with Candace Bushnell, creator of HBO’s “Sex and the City” and NBC’s “Lipstick Jungle,” on a new Web series, MediaWeek.com says.

Written by Miss Bushnell and produced by director Ellen Gittelsohn (“Roseanne,” “Designing Women”), “The Broadroom” will take a humorous look at workplace issues facing women.

Cast members include Jennie Garth from “Beverly Hills, 90210”; and Talia Balsam from AMC’s Emmy-winning “Mad Men.” Four episodes are scheduled to air starting in September, MediaWeek says.

As part of the deal, Miss Bushnell will pen columns for the September and October issues of More, a lifestyle magazine geared toward women 40 and older.

More editor Lesley Jane Seymour said she hopes the series will become the “next ‘Lipstick Jungle.’”

Original online video has had its share of recession-related challenges. For “The Broadroom,” however, Meredith has enlisted Maybelline as a sponsor. The series is part of a nine-month, multiplatform campaign for the cosmetic brand’s new Color Sensational Lip Color lipstick line and also includes print and Web ads in More, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Real Girls Media — Meredith’s women-aimed network of Web sites.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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