- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009

‘HSM 4’ for cable

The fourth installment of “High School Musical” will return the franchise to where it started: the Disney Channel, Variety reports.

“High School Musical 4,” complete with a new cast, is scheduled to begin production later this year and premiere on the cable channel in 2010.

Peter Barsocchini, who penned the first three installments, returns as screenwriter. The Disney Channel did not say whether Kenny Ortega would return as director.

“High School Musical 3: Senior Year,” which was directed by Mr. Ortega, took in nearly $250 million last year in worldwide theatrical release.

New series for Lee

Production begins this week on “Sandra’s Money Saving Meals,” Food Network’s new daytime cooking series hosted by Sandra Lee (“Semi-Homemade Cooking With Sandra Lee”).

According to thefuton critic.com, the new series - which features Miss Lee preparing recipes for every day of the week - will premiere at noon May 10.

Miss Lee also will share unique ideas for savvy supermarket shopping and proper pantry stocking while highlighting each meal’s cost per serving.

Since 2002, Miss Lee has written 16 cookbooks and a memoir, “Made From Scratch.”

DirecTV grows

Satellite TV giant DirecTV has maintained “strong” subscriber momentum this year, president and Chief Executive Officer Chase Carey said Tuesday.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecommunications Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., Mr. Carey also discussed a push by Time Warner and others to make more TV content available online, but only to multichannel TV subscribers, the Hollywood Reporter says.

“There are a lot of moving parts to get there,” Mr. Carey said, adding that DirecTV would like to position itself as a “gateway to the Web,” providing enhancements and an experience that is different from traditional TV.

Asked about the future of NFL Sunday Ticket, Mr. Carey called the exclusive football contract “a great franchise” and “unique” but emphasized that any renewal beyond 2010 would depend on price.

Likely return

CBS is close to giving a major commitment to the highest-rated comedy on television, “Two and a Half Men,” and to this season’s half-hour ratings surprise, “The Big Bang Theory.”

“Men,” in fact, is being eyed for three seasons, THR notes, while “Bang” is near a deal for two seasons - a terrific show of faith for a comedy considered a slow starter just last year.

Both shows are produced by Warner Bros. and co-created by Chuck Lorre.

“Bang” airs at 8 p.m. Mondays and has continued setting new series-high ratings this season, with the dominant “Men,” which stars Charlie Sheen, in the catbird seat at 9 p.m.

There also has been some discussion about whether the lineup might change in the fall given that a recent pairing of the shows resulted in “Bang” retaining an extremely large number of “Men” viewers, THR said.

On tap tonight:

Visions of Scotland (10, WETA-Channel 26) - An aerial tour of Scotland includes Edinburgh, the Scottish Highlands, Loch Ness, St. Andrews golf course, the Hebrides Islands and North Sea fishing ports.

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

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