- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009

HBO taps Pacino

Oscar winner Al Pacino is set to star in an HBO telepic about right-to-die champion Dr. Jack Kevorkian, Variety reports.

Baltimore-born filmmaker Barry Levinson will direct.

According to Variety, the film will revolve around Dr. Kevorkian’s construction of a death machine and his first assisted suicide in the early 1990s and the resulting media frenzy.

Dr. Kevorkian was convicted of second-degree murder in 1999 as a result of his involvement in an assisted suicide that was videotaped and later shown on TV. He was released from prison in 2007.

‘Snapped’s‘ 100th

“Snapped,” Oxygen’s true-crime documentary series, returns for its seventh season June 4 with milestone episode No. 100: the tale of Susan Grund and her murdered district attorney husband.

The hit series expanded to hourlong segments during the current season. Total viewers are up 13 percent - to 634,000 from 561,000 - for the reality series, seen Thursday evenings at 10, NBC Universal-owned Oxygen tells Multichannel.com.

The “Snapped” episodes center on women who snap and are accused of murder. The show recaps the story and talks to many of the principals, including the woman at the center of the drama - like Mrs. Grund.

In the 100th episode, “Snapped” viewers will meet Mrs. Grund, the town socialite in tiny Peru, Ind. When her husband is found murdered in their home, all eyes are on her and her past.

Did she have a motive to murder her husband, and what in her past led detectives to suspect her? The sensational scenario also inspired a 1996 TV movie, “Vows of Deception,” starring Cheryl Ladd.

More information about “Snapped,” including Webisodes from past episodes, is available by visiting www.oxygen.com.

‘Idol’ voting scandal?

Thought you’d heard the last word on “American Idol” now that the season is over?

Not quite.

“A.I.” runner-up Adam Lambert told ABC News Radio on Wednesday that media reports suggesting he may have lost the competition because “Idol” sponsor AT&T provided free text-messaging services - along with lessons on casting blocks of votes - to fans of the winner Kris Allen are much ado about nothing.

Block voting or “power dialing” allows individuals to cast multiple votes at one time, either phone voice or by text message. It is prohibited under “American Idol’ rules.

However, many of Mr. Lambert’s fans, known as Glamberts, think the rules were broken. Since Mr. Allen’s announcement as the winner on May 20, many have flooded online forums with messages contending vote irregularities, ABCNews.com reported Wednesday.

One fan is even circulating an Internet petition to get Fox Broadcasting, which produces “Idol,” to release its full voting results. On the May 20 finale, show host Ryan Seacreast announced that nearly 100 million votes had been cast.

No cause for ‘Glee’

“Glee,” the highly touted new Fox drama which previewed after the May 19 performance final of “American Idol,” got off to a soft start, MediaWeek.com reports.

The show - which is slated to follow the network’s “So You Think You Can Dance” this fall in the 9 p.m. slot - attracted 9.62 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data. “Glee” - which centers on an optimistic teacher who challenges the ragtag performers of a high school glee club - placed third in the hour in total viewers (behind the season finales of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and CBS’ “The Mentalist”), and second in the advertiser-sought18-to-49-year-olds demographic.

On paper that sounds promising. However, “Glee’s” audience retention out of “Idol” viewers (23.93 million at 8 p.m.) was just 40 percent overall and 45 percent among adults 18-to-49, MediaWeek says.

Lithgow joins ‘Dexter’

Emmy and Tony winner John Lithgow is joining the cast of Showtime’s drama “Dexter,” the premium cable network said Wednesday.

Mr. Lithgow will appear in all 12 episodes of the show’s upcoming fourth season, playing Walter Simmons, Miami’s latest serial killer and Dexter Morgan’s (Michael C. Hall) new nemesis.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Simmons is described as an unassuming, mild-mannered suburbanite who has been living a dual life as one of America’s most prolific and deadliest serial killers, dubbed the “Trinity Killer” because of his proclivity to kill in threes. After being tracked by F.B.I. Special Agent Frank Lundy (Keith Carradine), he relocates to Miami, where Dexter Morgan is brought on to assist in the investigation and becomes fascinated with “Trinity’s” skills.

Season four of “Dexter” premieres Sept. 27.

‘CSI’ sued

A Southern California couple is suing “CSI”writer and producer Sarah Goldfinger, claiming that two characters on the show were modeled after them.

Real estate agents Melinda and Scott Tamkin are suing Miss Goldfinger for defamation and invasion of privacy, says TVGuide.com, citing a story from Associated Press. The Tamkins are seeking $6 million in damages, claiming that the episode hurt their business. In 2005, the writer nearly bought a house from a client of the couple’s but pulled out while the deal was in escrow, on amicable terms.

In the “CSI” episode in question, a Las Vegas real estate agent named Melinda dies mysteriously. Her husband Scott - a mortgage broker, drinker and fan of pornography - is a suspect in her death.

The Tamkins’ suit claims that Miss Goldfinger cast actors who looked like them, and that an original draft of the screenplay used their last name. The “CSI” couple’s last name was actually Tucker - a change that the Tamkins say was last-minute.

‘Oprah Effect’ probed

CNBC has ordered a documentary exploring the influence of daytime talk show queen Oprah Winfrey, Broadcastingcable.com reports.

Dubbed “The Oprah Effect,” the documentary will look at the power and influence Miss Winfrey holds, particularly when a product or service is mentioned on her television show or in her magazine.

According to B&C, “The Oprah Effect” will speak to businesses that have been featured on her show, and how the appearances helped them become successful.

CNBC anchor Carl Quintanilla will host the special, airing tonight at 9 p.m.

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

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