- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Latino doc set

Following last year’s successful “Black in America” documentary series, CNN will turn its cameras on America’s Latino population with the two-part documentary series “Latino in America” premiering in October.

According to Multichannel.com, CNN, which also will revisit black Americans in July with “Black in America 2,” hopes to use the “In America” franchise to draw more attention to the struggles and triumphs of diverse groups, according to Mark Nelson, vice president and senior executive producer for CNN Productions.

“The ‘In America’ brand strand gives us the opportunity to look at groups of people in America that have been misreported or in some cases neglected” by the media, Mr. Nelson said.

Hosted by CNN personality and “Black in America” host Soledad O’Brien, “Latino in America” will focus on the growing U.S. Hispanic population and the pertinent issues it faces.

“We found out with ‘Black in America’ that many people who watched were not only black, but Hispanic as well,” Mr. Nelson said. “This is the fastest-growing minority group in America today, but we don’t understand how really diverse this group is. The show focuses on how Latinos are changing America and how America is changing Latinos.”

The first part of the series will explore the lives of people across the country who share the surname Garcia, the eighth most popular family name in America. The second part focuses on how four areas are meeting the challenges of disparities, immigration and discrimination in terms of language, education, citizenship and cultural identity.

Celebrities such as Edward James Olmos, Eva Longoria Parker, Jesse Garcia and Lupe Ontiveros also will be featured in the documentary. Mr. Nelson said CNN will create a Spanish-language version of “Latino in America,” although it’s unclear when and where that version will be aired.

On the “Black in America 2” front, Mr. Nelson said the network will look to continue the dialogue started with last year’s inaugural “Black in America” series, which drew 13 million viewers. The first “Black in America 2” segment, “Today’s Pioneers,” will debut July 22, and the second part, “Tomorrow’s Leaders,” will air the following evening.

“What we heard was that viewers wanted more solutions,” Mr. Nelson said. “We’ve got an economy that is sick, and it usually affects the have-nots more than the haves. But in spite of the economy, there are remarkable things that are happening out there; there are people who are taking it upon themselves to make changes, and we want to show how that’s happening.”

A third special, “CNN & Essence: Reclaiming the Dream,” will be tied to the black women’s magazine’s Essence Music Festival July 3 through 5 in New Orleans.

As part of the “Black in America 2” rollout, Mr. Nelson said CNN will launch a dedicated Web site (www.cnn.com/blackin america) for the franchise in June.

He also said the “In America” franchise may be expanded in the future to focus on other multicultural communities.

“We’re in the business of weighing the important issues of our time and the fascinating people and stories that impact those issues - that includes other cultural and ethnic groups,” Mr. Nelson said.

Star may settle

Kiefer Sutherland and the reported victim of a head-butting incident have resolved their differences, clearing the way for an assault charge against the actor to be dismissed, People.com reports.

Mr. Sutherland apologized to fashion designer Jack McCollough, who had claimed the “24” star broke his nose in a scuffle at a New York nightclub May 5.

“I am sorry about what happened that night and sincerely regret that Mr. McCollough was injured,” Mr. Sutherland said in a joint statement released to the Associated Press.

Mr. McCollough said in the statement: “I appreciate Mr. Sutherland’s statement and wish him well,” according to AP.

The resolution of their differences increases the chances that the Manhattan district attorney will ask the judge to drop the case. Mr. Sutherland, 42, was charged with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. The actor’s next scheduled court is June 22.

However, Mr. Sutherland, who’s serving a five-year probation for a second conviction of driving while intoxicated, may not be off the hook with Los Angeles prosecutors, who have stated their intention to review the New York case as a possible probation violation and possible jail time.

“We have requested the incident report from NYPD, and we will assess the situation when we have all the available information,” Los Angeles City Attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan told People.

Farrah 2 in works

Farrah Fawcett’s longtime partner, Ryan O’Neal, says they’re filming more footage for a follow-up to “Farrah’s Story,” the May 15 documentary on NBC that chronicled the “Charlie’s Angels” star’s fight with cancer and premiered to nearly 9 million viewers.

“We haven’t stopped filming,”Mr. O’Neal told Entertainment Weekly in a telephone interview, “and we’re going to make a second installment on her life.”

Mr. O’Neal, along with Miss Fawcett’s best friend and documentary collaborator Alana Stewart, added that Miss Fawcett watched the documentary at home and was revived by it.

“When we began watching it [May 15], she had [a] very low pulse,” Mr. O’Neal said in an interview with “Today” show co-host Meredith Vieira. Mr. O’Neal says Miss Fawcett’s pulse grew stronger during the airing until it was fully normal.

“It kept going up and up and up,” Mr. O’Neal said. “It was wonderful. … We’re going to have to show her one of her films every night.”

Mea culpa

“So You Think You Can Dance” judge Nigel Lythgoe has issued an apology for remarks made during last week’s season premiere that same-sex ballroom couple Misha Belfer and Mitch Kiber “probably alienate a lot of our audience.”

During his critique, he also told them, “I’d like to see you both dancing with a girl. … You never know, you might enjoy it, too,” Entertainment Weekly reports.

However, after the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation took notice, Mr. Lythgoe said he regrets the “poor word choices,” adding, “I am not homophobic and it was extremely upsetting for me to be classed as such.

“I have been forthright and consistent with my opinion, as a judge, that professional male dancers should move with strength and agility - like Gene Kelly and Rudolph Nureyev,” he continued. “I now realize how this could be misconstrued.

“I have been a dancer, and involved in the dance world, for nearly 50 years. Professionally and personally, I believe the sexual orientation of an auditioner or contestant is irrelevant,” Mr. Lythgoe said. “All that said, the fact that I have unintentionally upset people is distressing to me, and it is obvious I have made mistakes that I must learn from. I trust that my humor will be more sensitive and mindful moving forward.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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