- The Washington Times - Friday, May 22, 2009

First choice: Oprah

Before deciding to put Jay Leno in prime time, NBC offered its 8 p.m. slot to Oprah Winfrey, TVWeek.com reports.

Jeff Zucker, NBC Universal’s chief executive officer, also said the notion of Miss Winfrey having a nightly show in prime time wasn’t new.

The network talked to Miss Winfrey about two years ago, Mr. Zucker said. She passed but said she might have considered it earlier in her career, he said during a meeting with representatives from network affiliates. NBC also discussed an 8 p.m. show with David Letterman when the “Late Show” host’s contract was coming up at CBS.

Mr. Zucker added that he plans to share a memo from 1981 in which research was done on moving “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson to 10 p.m.

The studio executive also said now is the right time for Mr. Leno’s move into prime time.

“The Tonight Show” has often beat out NBC’s 10 p.m. shows in the ratings, especially with reruns. Mr. Leno, meanwhile, is expected to do original shows 46 weeks a year.

Simon’s ex attacked

Terri Seymour, former girlfriend of “American Idol” judge Simon Cowell and a correspondent for TV’s syndicated entertainment show “Extra,” was assaulted outside the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles after “A.I.’s” season finale Tuesday night, Entertainment Weekly reports.

According to the Los Angeles Police Department, a 33-year-old woman named Janice Thibodeaux approached Miss Seymour and asked if she were Mr. Cowell’s ex. When Miss Seymour replied yes, Miss Thibodeaux — a 200-pound woman who later claimed she was acting in the name of justice for “Idol” judge Paula Abdul — attacked Miss Seymour by grabbing her neck and attempting to choke her, E! Online reports.

Officers reacted quickly, taking Miss Thibodeaux into custody and booking her on felony battery.

Miss Thibodeaux, who claims she had a ticket to be in the audience Tuesday night but instead opted to confront Miss Seymour over a perceived slight she felt Miss Abdul suffered at the hands of Mr. Cowell, was being held on $52,703 bail.

“I wasn’t cool with Simon Cowell choking Paula Abdul on the show last week and with her crying-out ‘Help’ as he did so,” Miss Thibodeaux told RadarOnline.com after she was locked up. “Nobody said anything about that, so I wanted to confront him about it because that is not appropriate behavior, is it?”

Miss Seymour, 34, declined medical treatment at the scene.

‘A.I.’s‘ smaller draw

The “American Idol” finale drew its smallest audience since 2004 as an estimated 28.8 million viewers tuned in Wednesday to watch underdog Kris Allen beat Adam Lambert, the Fox network said Thursday.

The singing competition broadcast on News Corp.’s Fox network remains the most-watched TV show in the United States despite a decline in ratings over the last two years, Reuters news agency notes.

Mrs. G. demanding boss

Kate Gosselin may be losing the title of “America’s favorite mom.”

The now infamous mother from TLC’s reality show “Jon & Kate Plus 8” once fired 40 staffers in three months, the New York Daily News reports, citing a story in Us Weekly.

Nurse Angela Krall, who cared for the TV sextuplets as infants, told Us that the easily angered Mrs. Gosselin fired the nurses and nurses aides just before Miss Krall was hired.

In 2005, Associated Press reported that a pre-limelight Mrs. Gosselin had petitioned the state to extend payments for Miss Krall. Miss Krall was paid initially by Medicaid, which provides some assistance to premature babies.

Yet even though Mrs. Gosselin praised Miss Krall in the same story, Miss Krall also said that “demanding” signs detailing rules were posted in each room and that Mrs. Gosselin once fired a woman on the spot for using the kitchen sink — not the bathroom sink — to wash her hands. “Kate flipped,” Miss Krall says. “She thought it was cross-contamination.”

Such behavior reportedly has prevented a close relationship between Mrs. Gosselin and her father, the Rev. Kenton Kreider. When his parishioners donated cribs to the growing family, Mrs. Gosselin reportedly rejected them because they didn’t all match.

Perhaps the biggest surprise is that Mrs. Gosselin has spent 21 out of the past 30 days on the road at paid speaking engagements after news broke last week that she might leave her husband, Jon. Meanwhile, Mr. Gosselin, who has been in the media recently for reportedly philandering with another woman, has been home with the children.

Season 5 of “Jon & Kate Plus 8” premieres Monday at 9 p.m. on TLC.

Open in French

TV5 Monde USA will provide viewers with daily coverage from the 2009 French Open beginning next week, Multichannel.com reports.

The premium French-language service has reached a sublicensing deal with the Tennis Channel for French-language broadcast rights in the U.S. to cover the event.

Under the deal, TV5 Monde will air four hours of coverage, encompassing two matches, between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Sunday through June 4. Full terms, however, were not disclosed.

The agreement marks the first time TV5 Monde will provide coverage of the Grand Slam event to its American audience on a daily basis.

Tennis Channel, which holds the cable rights to the event, also extends rights to ESPN2 for the famed red-clay courts of Paris’ Roland Garros stadium. NBC is the tournament’s broadcast partner.

‘GMA’ concerts begin

The rock trio Green Day is the opening act in the “Good Morning America” Summer Concert Series in New York City’s Central Park today (7 to 9 a.m., WJLA-ABC7).

Other performers slated for the series include the Jonas Brothers (June 12), Kelly Clarkson (July 31) and Kenny Chesney (Aug. 14).

Also this weekend:

Investigating History: Billy the Kid (Friday, 11 p.m., History Channel) — Billy the Kid (born Henry McCarty) was the Old West’s most infamous desperado, yet little is known about his short life and, more important, his death at age 21. So, New Mexico has reopened the investigation into his crimes and mysterious death in 1881.

Kung Fu Panda (Saturday, 8 p.m., HBO) — A portly panda (voiced by Jack Black in this 2008 Oscar-nominated animated film) becomes an unlikely kung-fu fighting guardian. The voices of Dustin Hoffman, Angelina Jolie, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu also are featured. Directed by John Stevenson and Mark Osborne.

National Memorial Day Concert (Sunday, 8 p.m., WETA-Channel 26 and WMPT-Channel 22) — Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna host the annual tribute to America’s military personnel, which features appearances by former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell; “CSI” star Laurence Fishburne, actresses Katie Holmes and Dianne Wiest; Season 5 “American Idol” runner-up Katharine McPhee; and country music star Trace Adkins.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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