- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A stellar send-off

Before heading to the “Tonight Show,” Conan O’Brien ended his “Late Night” career on a high note, exiting the 12:35 a.m. NBC series with his biggest audience since January 2005.

According to Variety, the Feb. 20 installment of “Late Night” captured the show’s biggest audience since December 2006 in the prized 18-to-49 demographic — while also, for the first time, holding 100 percent of the “Tonight Show’s” lead-in for that age group.

The final “Late Night With Conan O’Brien” featured appearances by Will Ferrell, the White Stripes rock band and Mr. O’Brien’s former “Late Show” sidekick Andy Richter.

Mr. O’Brien is set to take on “Tonight Show” hosting duties June 1, with Mr. Richter serving as the show’s announcer.

“Late Night” returned last night, with “Saturday Night Live” alumnus Jimmy Fallon taking over as host.

‘Parents’ join ‘Nanny’

Cable’s Country Music Television has picked up eight episodes of a new series, “World’s Strictest Parents,” Multichannel.com reports.

The hourlong reality show follows unruly teenagers living with tough host parents who will try to reign them in.

The series is scheduled to premiere in April as a natural companion to CMT’s off-network acquisition, “Nanny 911,” which premieres in April. “Nanny” centers on child care workers’ attempts to deal with misbehaving youngsters.

Stars’ kin join CW

Katie Cassidy, daughter of David Cassidy, is the first female resident moving into the CW’s new “Melrose Place,” and Steven R. McQueen, grandson of Steve McQueen, has landed a lead on another CW pilot, “Vampire Diaries,” the Hollywood Reporter notes.

On “Melrose Place” Miss Cassidy, 22, who had a recurring role in the CW’s “Supernatural,” will play the sexy and stylish Ella Flynn, an up-and-coming publicist with a big career ahead of her.

The actress joins Michael Rady, who was cast as aspiring filmmaker Jonah Miller. David Guggenheim directs.

“Vampire Diaries” (from “Scream” and “Dawson’s Creek” creator Kevin Williamson) centers on Elena, a tragic young heroine who is the object of passion for two vampire brothers — one good, one evil — who are at war for her soul and the souls of her friends, family and other residents of the small town in which she resides.

Mr. McQueen will play Jeremy, Elena’s outcast younger brother.

The actor, 20, had a recurring role on the now defunct WB’s “Everwood.”

Heading East

NBC Universal’s syndication arm plans to move production for three of its shows — “The Jerry Springer Show,” “The Steve Wilkos Show” and “Maury” — to Connecticut starting next season, Broadcastingcable.com reports.

“Springer” and “Wilkos” currently are taped in Chicago, and “Maury” is based in New York.

Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell, who is offering NBC Universal considerable tax credits to make the move, said on Friday that the state and the media company are working on a deal to establish a television production studio in Stamford, says B&C, citing a report from the Chicago Tribune.

According to the newspaper, Mrs. Rell says the move would bring 150 to 200 jobs to Connecticut and an initial infrastructure investment of more than $3 million.

NBC Universal’s parent company, General Electric, is based in Fairfield, Conn. A spokesman for NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution declined to comment, B&C says.

New shows for ‘SNL’

Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson returns for his third “Saturday Night Live” hosting stint on Saturday, ushering in a new lineup of shows in March for the long-running comedy program.

Mr. Johnson, whose latest film, Disney’s “Race to Witch Mountain,” opens March 13, will be joined by musical guest Ray LaMontagne. The singer-songwriter’s latest release,”Gossip in the Grain,” debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard charts during its first week and was the top-selling album on iTunes in its first week of release.

The following week, March 14, “30 Rock” star and “SNL” alum Tracy Morgan returns to host his former series. “American Idol” and Grammy-winning singer Kelly Clarkson — whose latest CD, “All I Ever Wanted,” bows March 10 — will be the musical guest.

On tap tonight:

American Idol (8 p.m., Fox) — The 12 finalists take the stage to perform.

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

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