- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

This just in …

Hootie & the Blowfish frontman Darius Rucker drops by “The View” today (11 a.m., WJLA-ABC7) to perform selections from his debut country music CD, “Learn to Live,” along with tunes that made him a star with the band.

He’ll also offer a clip from the CMT seriesInvitation Only: Darius Rucker,” debuting Friday at 11 p.m. on the cable network.

TW, Comcast team

Time Warner Inc. and Comcast Corp. are pushing ahead with a plan to make big cable network shows available online to existing cable subscribers shortly after their first airing, the Hollywood Reporter says.

On Wednesday, the two industry titans unveiled a set of guiding principles for what TW has dubbed TV Everywhere and announced a national technical trial of what Comcast will name its On Demand Online service, starting with 5,000 customers in July.

The nonexclusive service is free of additional charges to Comcast subscribers and will start with such TW programming as TNT’s “The Closer” and TBS’ “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne,” with other networks expected to be added later. TW Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Bewkes said the idea is to allow consumers to watch their favorite shows on any screen - be it a TV or device screen - on demand, with networks’ and distributors’ Web sites being possible access locations.

Mr. Bewkes and Comcast Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Brian L. Roberts signaled that they don’t plan to provide an option for consumers to subscribe to the Web offering only without also having a cable video contract. “We don’t know the answer to that [and will let things unfold],” Mr. Bewkes told THR.

While some have called the initiative a defensive move, Mr. Bewkes said it will stack up well compared to other digital video services. “This is offensive,” potentially increasing ratings and ad sales and giving consumers more options, he said.

“It’s like iTunes, but better, because you get it for free” as long as you are a cable subscriber. He also said Hulu and YouTube would be dwarfed by the online views if TV’s entire multichannel universe adopts TV Everywhere. In that case, “this will be by far the highest video watched in the U.S. - past Hulu and YouTube,” Mr. Bewkes said. “This will be the biggest story in VOD and Internet video.”

Green lights for 8

MTV has given the go-ahead to eight projects for series development with executive producers including Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, Mark Burnett and Seth Meyers, while also signing teen star Emma Roberts to a first-look production deal for TV.

According to Variety, Mr. Foxx, whose on-screen career launched with the 1990s Fox hit “In Living Color,” hopes to deliver a 21st-century descendant of that program with an untitled sketch-comedy show, working with partners Marcus King and Jaime Rucker King as well as executive producers Fax Bahr and Adam Small.

The cable network also commissioned a pilot for an untitled reality show featuring Audrina Patridge (“The Hills”) of which “Survivor” guru Mr. Burnett is executive producer. Meanwhile, “Saturday Night Live” head writer Mr. Meyers and colleague Mike Shoemaker are shepherding “The Awesomes,” an animated half-hour about a bumbling superhero team. Lorne Michaels is executive producer through Broadway Video.

MTV also moved into development a project from co-creators David Katzenberg (son of Jeffrey) and Seth Grahame-Smith titled “Hard Times.” The coming-of-age offering essentially spins HBO’s “Hung” story line by giving a certain anatomical gift to an unpopular 15-year-old. David Katzenberg directed the pilot.

MTV also is pondering a reinvention of the ‘80s film “Teen Wolf” in series format, with a greater emphasis on romance, horror and werewolf mythology.

Other series in development include “Warren the Ape,” a parody of celebrity comeback shows starring a puppet; “Patito Feo,” an adaptation of an Argentine drama licensed from Televisa that focuses on a small-town Mexican girl who is thrust into Los Angeles; and a series starring Adrienne Bailon (“The Cheetah Girls”) as a former teenage pop star who tries to start over on her own.

As for Miss Roberts (“Hotel for Dogs”), she and manager and producing partner David Sweeney will create and produce projects for MTV through her Bossy Boots Productions, Variety says.

Martin’s new plans

Martin Lawrence is having a busy TV-development season, with his production company, Runteldat, fielding a couple of comedy projects, the Hollywood Reporter says.

At Fox, Mr. Lawrence is behind an animated comedy - which is being penned by Rodney Barnes - that is based on the comic’s experiences growing up in the Washington-Maryland area.

The Fox animated half-hour, which is being produced by 20th Century Fox TV, will follow the misadventures of 13-year-old Martin as he comes of age in the nation’s capital.

Mr. Lawrence - a graduate of Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt - quickly connected with Mr. Barnes, who also grew up in Maryland. Mr. Barnes was a co-executive producer of ” ‘Til Death,” “Everybody Hates Chris” and the animated series “The Boondocks.”

At Starz, Mr. Lawrence has a single-camera interracial family show based on the comedy of Gary Owen, the only white man to host BET’s “ComicView.” Both projects have script commitments, THR says.

The interracial comedy project for Starz is about a white guy from a trailer park who marries a well-to-do black woman. It is inspired by Mr. Owen’s real-life experience and stems from Runteldat’s stand-up series for Starz, “Martin Lawrence Presents 1st Amendment Stand-up,” which has featured Mr. Owen.

Additionally, Mr. Lawrence is developing a multicamera family comedy set at a funeral home that is expected to be taken out to other networks.

Gosselin’s gal on TV?

Just days after announcing divorce plans on their hit cable series “Jon & Kate Plus 8” comes word that Jon Gosselin’s girlfriend Deanna Hummel may be joining the TLC family, Zap2it.com reported Wednesday.

According to the New York Daily News, Miss Hummel, 23, will show her face when new episodes resume on Aug. 3. However, a spokesperson for TLC would only say, “We have no specific plans for future episodes.”

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



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