- The Washington Times - Friday, June 12, 2009

PM scolds Ramsay

Foul-mouthed British chef Gordon Ramsay has been rebuked by Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who said the celebrity reflected “a new form of low life” for insulting a high-profile female television reporter.

Mr. Ramsay sparked the latest row on Saturday when he showed a food-fair audience a photo of a nude woman on all fours, with multiple breasts and a pig’s face. He then said the image was of Australian television journalist Tracy Grimshaw, Reuters news agency reports.

Miss Grimshaw, who had interviewed Mr. Ramsay the previous night on her national current-affairs program, hit back by describing Mr. Ramsay as an “arrogant narcissist” and “bully.” Mr. Rudd backed Miss Grimshaw on Tuesday.

“All I could describe his remarks as reflecting is a new form of low life. I just think that’s off, and offensive. Good on Tracy Grimshaw for coming out and giving him a left upper cut,” Mr. Rudd told Australian radio.

Mr. Ramsay, the star of reality programs such as Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Kitchen Nightmares” — where his hot temper and foul language are showcased frequently along with his cooking expertise — is no stranger to controversy Down Under.

In 2008, he prompted a flood of complaints and a parliamentary review of broadcasting guidelines after an episode of “Kitchen Nightmares” in which he used a four-letter expletive more than 80 times in 40 minutes, Reuters said.

After the episode in early 2008, Parliament told the television networks to review the way they rate programs and how they consider coarse language.

A first for Dave

For the first time in their seven nights of head-to-head battle, CBS’ “Late Show With David Letterman” has topped NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” in the overnights, with the Peacock network entry continuing to trend downward since its big bow on June 1, Variety reports.

However, NBC has long said that Mr. O’Brien’s performance on “Tonight” should be judged over a span of years and not days. The network also predicts Mr. O’Brien will be the late-night leader when Nielsen releases demographic ratings that are key to setting advertising rates. From a public-relations standpoint, though, it can’t be good for NBC to lose in any ratings category in an hour it has ruled for years, Variety notes.

It also didn’t help “Tonight” that NBC on Tuesday aired live hockey — not entertainment programming — in prime time for the first time in Mr. O’Brien’s short tenure as host. The Stanley Cup Finals game did pretty well in the ratings, but it may have disrupted some viewing patterns. NBC’s West Coast stations aired local programming from 8 to 11 p.m.

‘Diva’ gets a date

Lifetime will premiere its new dramedy “Drop Dead Diva” on July 12, airing it in a Sunday prime-time block with “Army Wives,” Variety says.

Newcomer Brooke Elliott stars in “Diva,” which centers on a superficial model who dies, only to see her soul re-emerge in the body of a plus-size lawyer with smarts. The supporting cast includes Margaret Cho.

“Diva,” which will air at 9 p.m. Sundays, will lead into 10 p.m. airings of “Army Wives.” The series will feature guest appearances by Elliott Gould, Tim Gunn, Sharon Lawrence, Kathy Najimi, Rosie O’Donnell, Teri Polo and Chuck Woolery.

Brides top WE

WE TV bridal programming played bigger than ever Sunday.

The sixth-season bow of “Bridezillas” and the sophomore debut of “Amazing Wedding Cakes” were the most-watched and highest-rating premieres for either series, MediaWeek.com reports.

According to Nielsen Media Research, Sunday’s 9 p.m. installment of “Bridezillas” attracted 1.2 million total viewers. The show delivered 377,000 women age 18 to 49 and 335,000 women 25 to 54.

As for “Wedding Cakes,” its season premiere was served up to 1.1 million viewers, Nielsen said.

MLB reality

MLB Network has ordered a reality series following the goings-on in the Philadelphia Phillies bullpen. The program is a first for the network, which predominantly programs studio shows, clip shows, feature documentaries and live and classic games.

The new series, called “The Pen,” will be narrated by MLB Network analyst and former Phillies pitcher Mitch Williams and will follow the action in the Phillies bullpen from spring training through the All-Star Break.

The first of six episodes kicks off Sunday at 9 p.m., Broadcastingcable.com reports.

The network had cameras and microphones installed in Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park bullpen to capture footage, and one of the producers suited up as a catcher, with a camera attached to his mask to get footage during spring training.

“The Pen” will follow players on everything from fishing trips and children’s baseball games to the post-World Series visit to the White House. It also will address the death of Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas, who died unexpectedly of a heart attack April 13 at Nationals Park.

It’s ‘Hammertime’

Once known as cable’s network for the performing arts, A&E adds yet another reality show to its roster (which already includes “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” “Intervention,” “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” and “Tattoo Highway”) with Sunday night’s 10 p.m. premiere of “Hammertime,” starring ‘90s rap star-turned-minister MC Hammer and his brood of six.

A&E is rolling out the show’s debut with a splashy Web site featuring several of Hammer’s top videos — from “U Can’t Touch This” to “Too Legit to Quit” — an interactive game and recipes from Stephanie Burrell, his wife of 23 years. Web-site visitors also may enter to win a VIP trip for two to see Hammer (born Stanley Kirk Burrell) in concert in Las Vegas.

Also this weekend:

The Mom Show (10 a.m. today, WeTV) — Series premiere. Show hosts Laurie Gelman and Catherine Marion are joined by an audience of real moms and their youngsters as they dish up a fresh, frank and funny take on the world of motherhood. The show promises a no-holds-barred approach on a wide range of topics — including parenting, fashion, marriage and men.

True Blood (9 p.m. Sunday HBO) — Back for season two, the sensual and ghoulish series begins with a shocking murder outside Merlotte’s that has Bon Temps reeling. Meanwhile, Sookie’s (Anna Paquin) relationship with Bill (Stephen Moyer) is tested when she learns of his siring of Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) and of his involvement in her uncle’s death.

Written and compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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