- The Washington Times - Friday, May 29, 2009

‘Museum’ to FX

FX has purchased the basic cable rights to “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian,” which debuted in the top spot at the box office over the long Memorial Day weekend, TVWeek.com says, citing a report from Daily Variety.

The basic cable network has signed a four-year movie-license deal with 20th Century Fox that calls for a rights fee of about 12 percent of the film’s domestic sales. The movie will air on FX in November 2011, the trade paper says.

To date, “Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian” has earned more than $70 million in North America.

MyNetwork’s new slate

MyNetworkTV plans to add a weekly night of games on Tuesdays to its 2009-10 television season with half-hour versions of “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?” and “Deal or No Deal.”

MyNetworkTV also will present back-to-back episodes of the action drama “The Unit” on Wednesdays.

Previously announced programs include a two-hour block of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” on Mondays, “My Thursday Night Movie” on Thursdays and “WWE Friday Night SmackDown” on Fridays.

Also planned is a 10th-anniversary celebration of “WWE Friday Night SmackDown.” Its season will kick off with a night of WWE action as part of MyNetwork’s special presentation, “Decade of SmackDown.” The special, airing Oct. 2, will showcase the program’s most memorable matches and moments over the past 10 years.

Other fall specials include the “2009 World Music Awards” and the “2009 World Magic Awards,” officials said. MyNetworkTV also will present its annual array of holiday films and specials throughout December, including the “2009 Hollywood Christmas Parade.”

Meanwhile, action-adventure and family-focused blockbusters will continue to air in prime time each Thursday under the network’s “My Thursday Night Movie” banner. The lineup of feature films includes “Courage Under Fire,” “Soul Food,” “Date Movie,” “Entrapment,” “The Girl Next Door” and “Just Married.”

‘Hung’ debut set

The new HBO comedy “Hung” may not be a hard sell for the premium cable channel’s adult viewers, but trying to describe its premise in a family-friendly newspaper certainly presents a challenge.

One hint: Think of the 1997 Oscar-nominated film “Boogie Nights” — and its main character, Dirk Diggler, who seems to have provided a hint of inspiration — and you’ll have an idea.

Premiering June 28, the show stars Thomas Jane as a down-on-his-luck high school basketball coach who decides to “exploit his best asset” to make a better life for himself. Directed by Oscar winner Alexander Payne (“Sideways,” “Election”), the premiere clocks in at 45 minutes, though subsequent episodes will be a half-hour, Zap2it.com reports.

Mr. Jane (“The Sweetest Thing,” “Boogie Nights,” “61*”) plays Ray Drecker, a former star athlete at a Detroit high school who’s now the coach of its sad-sack basketball team. His personal life isn’t any better. His wife (Anne Heche, “Men in Trees”) has left him for her dermatologist (Eddie Jemison, “Ocean’s Thirteen”), his house has just burned down, and his children (Sianoa Smit-McPhee and Charlie Saxton) are going to live with mom.

After attending a self-help seminar that urges him to find a “winning tool,” Ray has an epiphany and decides to change his fortunes. He gets help from Tanya (Jane Adams, “Little Children”), who attended the seminar and goes into business with him.

Another Schuller on TV

The son of “Hour of Power” televangelist Robert H. Schuller is launching his own show on AmericanLife TV after acquiring the network in a partnership with ComStar Media Fund LP.

Robert A. Schuller made the announcement Tuesday. The move follows a highly public split with his famous father late last year, Associated Press reports.

The younger Mr. Schuller says his new TV series will debut on AmericanLife this fall.

He will assume joint oversight of the network with ComStar President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Wyatt. The two did not disclose financial terms, AP said.

Mr. Wyatt describes AmericanLife as family-values programming without being an explicitly religious network.

‘Unsung’ returns

The lives, careers and tragedies of Supremes founding member Florence Ballad, singers Minnie Riperton and Melba Moore and the trio Shalamar will be the focus of Silver Spring-based TV One’s second installment of its critically acclaimed biography series, “Unsung,” Billboard notes.

The series — which focuses on nearly forgotten R&B artists — debuts at 8 p.m. June 7, coinciding with the start of Black Music Month. Miss Riperton will be featured in the first episode.

Miss Moore’s episode airs June 14, followed by Shalamar (June 21) and Miss Ballard (June 28). Among those interviewed for the various segments are the Supremes’ Mary Wilson, Shalamar’s Jody Watley and Miss Ballard’s sister Maxine Ballard.

Four more new episodes of “Unsung” are due in November, Billboard says.

The series debuted in fall 2008, chronicling the careers of DeBarge, Donny Hathaway, Phyllis Hyman and the Clark Sisters.

Weekend watch

Into the Storm (9 p.m. Sunday, HBO) — The cable biggie is back with another film about Winston Churchill — and it also has “storm” in the title. Like its 2002 predecessor (“The Gathering Storm,” with Albert Finney as Mr. Churchill), “Into the Storm” continues the network’s intimate portrait of the former British prime minister (this time portrayed by Brendan Gleeson) both professionally and personally during World War II — including the strain the war had on his longtime marriage to Clementine (played by Janet McTeer). Thaddeus O’Sullivan directs from the script by Hugh Whitemore, an Emmy-winner for “The Gathering Storm.”

2009 MTV Movie Awards (9 p.m. Sunday, MTV) — “Saturday Night Live’s” Andy Samberg hosts the 18th annual event from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif. Among the contenders: The Oscar-winning “Slumdog Millionaire” squares off against the teenybopper vampire smash “Twilight” for the best-movie prize as voted by fans.

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

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