- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 11, 2009

‘Idol’ king seals deal

Kris Allen, this year’s “American Idol” winner, has signed a record deal with 19 Recordings. His music will be licensed by Jive Records, Zap2it.com reports.

The album is slated for a late fall release.

Currently, Mr. Allen’s “No Boundaries” ranks 23rd on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts.

All of the “Idol” finalists are preparing for their 50-city tour this summer, which kicks off next month in Portland, Ore., and concludes Sept. 15 in Manchester, N.H.

The tour stops at the Verizon Center on Aug. 4.

ABC sets fall slate

ABC will pace its fall launch over the first few weeks of the season, relying on “Dancing With the Stars” to get things rolling, Daily Variety reports.

The Alphabet network kicks off the first official night of the 2009-10 season, Sept. 21, with its normal Monday schedule: the two-hour premiere of its hit series “Dancing With the Stars” and the return of midseason newcomer “Castle.”

The following night (Sept. 22), a second two-hour “Dancing” will lead into the launch of the freshman series “The Forgotten.” The regular 8 p.m. entry, “Shark Tank,” will bow the following week (Sept. 29) when “Dancing” settles into its usual 9 p.m. results show hour.

A one-time “Dancing” results show will air Sept. 23, leading into the premieres of the comedies “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town.” ABC’s other two sitcoms for Wednesdays, “Hank” and “The Middle,” will bow in the 8 p.m. hour Sept. 30. (A premiere date for the Wednesday 10 p.m. drama, “Eastwick,” has not been determined, Variety says.)

The heavily promoted new thriller “Flash Forward” bows on Thursday of premiere week, Sept. 24, leading into the season premiere of “Grey’s Anatomy” at 9 p.m. “Private Practice” hasn’t yet been given a firm launch date.

ABC’s Sunday-night schedule begins Sept. 27 with a two-hour “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” at 7, followed by “Desperate Housewives” at 9. “America’s Funniest Home Videos” is back at 7 p.m. Oct. 4, as “Home Edition” slides back into its 8 p.m. spot. ABC’s 10 p.m. entry, “Brothers and Sisters,” is still awaiting an air date.

Meanwhile, ABC will wait until Oct. 9 to get things rolling on Fridays, when “Ugly Betty” returns with a two-hour season premiere. “Supernanny” is back at 8 p.m. Oct. 16, when “Ugly Betty” moves to its normal 9 p.m. slot.

The network’s “20/20” officially kicks off its season Sept. 11.

‘Star’ piping hot

The fifth season of “The Next Food Network Star” got off to a hot start Sunday.

The reality show, which follows aspiring chefs and ultimately awards the winner his or her own series on the Food Network, bested all series premieres in the Food Network’s history with 2.2 million total viewers - up 16 percent over the season four opener, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

Including encore airings, total viewership for the episode was 4.5 million, up 22 percent from season four’s premiere, with 2.3 million in the advertiser-friendly 18-to-49 demographic tuning in.

The median age of viewers for the network has lowered significantly in recent years, and an increase in younger viewers helped to push the premiere to a new record, the network notes.

The series has maintained its momentum since last season’s finale, which had the largest audience of any telecast in Food Network history with 4 million viewers, THR said.

However, last season’s winner, Aaron McCargo Jr., has seen low ratings for his own show, “Big Daddy’s House,” in keeping with the trend of generally small viewership and short runs for past “Next Food Network Star” winners.

Back to ‘Futurama’

In another case of an animated prime-time series resurrected from the dead, 20th Century Fox TV plans to produce 26 new episodes of “Futurama.”

Comedy Central will begin airing the new episodes in mid-2010, Variety reports. Voice actors Billy West (who voiced Philip Fry in the original show), Katey Sagal (Leela) and John DiMaggio (Bender) all have signed on to return.

Created by Matt Groening and David X. Cohen, “Futurama” originally aired on Fox from 1999 to 2003.

20th Century Fox TV later produced four new “Futurama” segments for DVD, which first spurred talk of a series revival. However, it took Comedy Central to seal the deal. The cable network acquired the rights to all 72 off-network episodes of the show, as well as the DVD episodes, in January 2008.

Since then, both 20th and Comedy Central have been kicking around ways to make a “Futurama” order make financial sense for the studio and network.

As part of the deal, 20th still has an option to license the new episodes’ original runs to a broadcast network (such as Fox). If the show does go to broadcast, Comedy Central’s license fee will be reduced.

“It’s a deal we’re all happy with,” David Bernath, Comedy Central’s senior vice president for programming, tells Variety. “It’s a bigger win for us promotionally if we wind up going first. … But if we wind up in second position, then the economics work out for us as well.”

Comedy Central’s “Futurama” rights run well into the next decade, which is why the network was so invested in the production of new episodes, Mr. Bernath said.

20th Century Fox TV has called shows back from the grave before: “Family Guy” returned thanks to that show’s strong DVD sales. And although not nearly as dead and buried as “Family Guy” and “Futurama,” the studio’s “King of the Hill” was also canceled and then resurrected by Fox at least twice in its life span.

“Futurama” follows the tale of Fry, a pizza delivery boy who is accidentally frozen - before waking up 1,000 years later. He befriends one-eyed alien Leela, as well as cranky robot Bender.

‘Adams’ wins again

HBO’s “John Adams” picked up the grand jury prize and best drama trophy at the 2009 Banff World Television Awards in Toronto on Monday night.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Emmy-winning period drama also grabbed the best miniseries prize on Sunday, the first night of the Banffs.

Other Banff winners include “Curse of the Mona Lisa,” from Britain’s Channel 4, the winner for best documentary; and “Rescue Toya!” from Japanese broadcaster NHK, which earned the best interactive award.

ABC’s “Lost” won the Banff Award for best series/serial program.

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

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