- The Washington Times - Friday, March 27, 2009

Ru’s ‘Race’ renewed

“RuPaul’s Drag Race” has turned out to be anything but a drag for Logo.

The MTV-owned cable network has ordered a second season of the drag-queen-competition reality series, TVWeek.com reported Wednesday. The show’s first-season finale aired Monday.

Although Logo isn’t officially rated by Nielsen yet, “Drag Race” has proved to be a major buzz magnet for the network, drawing glowing profiles in Entertainment Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. Sister network VH1 has been repeating the show, with new viewers tuning in for a sampling.

New show for Krause

Peter Krause and Maura Tierney are jumping back into prime time with starring roles on NBC’s pilot “Parenthood.”

Mr. Krause, known best for his role as Nate Fisher in HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” is in negotiations along with Miss Tierney to play versions of the characters portrayed by Steve Martin and Dianne Wiest in the original “Parenthood” film from 1989.

TV veteran Craig T. Nelson and Dax Shepard are in negotiations, and Mae Whitman and Sarah Ramos are set to co-star in the pilot, says the Hollywood Reporter.

“Parenthood,” from “Friday Night Lights” creator Jason Katims, revolves around adult siblings, the Bravermans.

Seen most recently on ABC’s short-lived “Dirty Sexy Money,” Mr. Krause will play Adam Braverman, a married man with two children who is a lunatic beneath the surface. Miss Ramos will play his good-girl daughter.

Miss Tierney, a veteran of NBC’s “ER” will play his sister, Sarah Braverman, a single mother. Miss Whitman will play her rebellious 16-year-old daughter, and Mr. Shepard will play the youngest Braverman, a slacker.

Mr. Nelson will play their father, a Vietnam vet-turned-actor/hippie. Ron Howard, who directed the original movie, is serving as executive producer along with Brian Grazer and Mr. Katims.

‘Ladies’ night

It’s doubtful that the new HBO drama, “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency,” will return the cable behemoth to its former glory days when its Sunday-night lineup ruled the airwaves.

But it sure is fun to watch and may even build up a following along the way.

Nearly a year before its prime-time premiere (Sunday evening at 8), the seven-episode series suddenly found itself thrust in the spotlight due to the untimely death of Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella (“The English Patient”), who championed the project, directed the first episode and penned its screenplay along with Richard Curtis.

Adapted from the popular book series by Scotsman Alexander McCall Smith, “Ladies” — filmed on location in Botswana — chronicles the day-to-day life of Mma Precious Ramotswe (brought to life by Grammy-winning neo-soul vocalist Jill Scott), the first woman in Botswanna to become a gumshoe. Villains and dangerous situations are a constant. Yet buoyed by her intuition (plus a hefty windfall in the form of livestock from her late father), she takes on and overcomes the risks.

Sunday’s premiere mostly tells the back story of Ramotswe — from her childhood days of honing her craft to her escape from an abusive husband (“Match Point’s” Colin Salmon) and her purchase of the old post office, which is gradually transformed into her headquarters.

It’s slow going at first, until the agency gets its first client: the well-off Happy (Bongeka Mpongwana), who is suspicious that the old man (Tony winner John Kani) who showed up at her door claiming to be her long-lost father is a fake.

Not surprisingly, other cases soon follow, and we’re also introduced to the cast of characters that make up Ramotswe’s inner circle. They include Mma Makutsi (“Dreamgirls’” Anika Noni Rose), Ramotswe’s high-strung yet devoted secretary; and Lucian Msamati as her loyal suitor J.L.B. Matekoni.

The two-hour premiere also has guest stars aplenty — including David Oyelowo (“The Last King of Scotland”) and Idris Elba (HBO’s “The Wire”).

Yet it’s the radiant and multitalented Miss Scott who commands center stage, breathing warmth and strength into an already beloved character. She sings. She writes. And now she’s an actress, too.

Who knew?

Also this weekend:

The Biggest Chinese Restaurant in the World: Episode 3 (Tonight at 8, Sundance Channel) — The third episode of this four-part documentary series about Changsha’s West Lake Restaurant — believed to be the largest eatery in the world — offers a look inside a longevity banquet and a public celebration of a parent’s landmark birthday.

Elvis Lives: The 25th Anniversary Concert (Saturday at 6:30 p.m., MPT-Channel 22) — Through the magic of modern technology, Elvis Presley is reunited with his original TCB band and backup singers for this unique concert special from 2003, nearly 25 years after his death.

Desperate Housewives — (Sunday at 10 p.m., WJLA-ABC7) — Thanks to a later start time, viewers who are curious about “The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency” and its star-studded cast can check out the entire episode before moving on to the latest happenings involving the ladies of Wisteria Lane. Last week’s installment created a cliffhanger for die-hard fans who wonder whether it’s really the end for Edie Britt (Nicollette Sheridan, who earlier this year said she was leaving the hit show), the victim of a “shocking” accident. What about the sinister Dave (Neal McDonough)? Will his deadly intentions be discovered? Finally, there’s also the catfight between Gaby (Eva Longoria Parker) and Susan (Teri Hatcher). Is it a minor tiff — or will it end their long friendship?

Sunday Best (Sunday at 8 p.m., BET) — Gospel music lovers can get their praise on as the acclaimed series continues itssearchh for the next great gospel star.

Written and compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse

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