- The Washington Times - Friday, November 20, 2009

Locklear of little help

The return of Heather Locklear to “Melrose Place” did little to improve the CW drama’s ratings, the New York Times reported Thursday.

A meager 1.5 million viewers tuned in to the show Tuesday, according to Nielsen’s estimates, though that was its largest audience in six weeks. On CBS, 20.2 million viewers watched “NCIS,” and the network easily won the night. ABC was runner-up with its science-fiction drama “V” (9.3 million), “The Forgotten” (7.7 million) and an hourlong “Dancing With the Stars” episode (15.9 million). NBC’s lineup was led by a 90-minute edition of “The Biggest Loser” (9.5 million), helping “The Jay Leno Show” (6.1 million), which earned its largest audience in three weeks. Fox was fourth.

Back to prime time

“My Name Is Earl” star Jason Lee is returning to episodic TV with the lead role in “Delta Blues,” a TNT pilot that’s being executive produced by George Clooney, the Hollywood Reporter says.

The hourlong “Blues,” from Mr. Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Pictures and Warner Horizon, centers on Dwight Hendricks (Mr. Lee), a Memphis police officer who lives with his mother and moonlights as an Elvis impersonator.

Mr. Lee earned several acting nominations for playing lovable hick Earl Hickey on “My Name Is Earl,” which ran for four seasons. He recently wrapped two films, Kevin Smith’s “A Couple of Dicks” and “Columbus Circle” from George Gallo and Kevin Pollak.

He also is set to reprise his role from “Alvin and the Chipmunks” with a cameo in the upcoming “Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.”

Oscars tap Hamilton

Hamish Hamilton has been selected to direct the 82nd Academy Awards telecast on March 7, show producers Bill Mechanic and Adam Shankman announced Wednesday.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Mr. Hamilton — who also is helming the Super Bowl XLIV halftime show on Feb. 7 — has directed the MTV Video Music Awards multiple times as well as live performances by artists including U2, Neil Diamond, Josh Groban and Christina Aguilera.

Weekend watch

Saturday

Food Network Thanksgiving specials (7 a.m. until noon) — Foodies, first-time Thanksgiving dinner preparers and those who procrastinate, take note: This is the final weekend before the big day, and cable’s Food Network is carving out a block of programming starring its favorite hosts to make sure you get everything right.

On the list: “Rachael Ray’s Thanksgiving in 60 II” (7 a.m.) offers Thanksgiving recipes from Spain, Italy, the Mediterranean and the United States. Paula Deen follows at 8 a.m. with “Paula’s Southern Thanksgiving,” featuring bacon-wrapped breadsticks, deep-fried turkey, oyster stuffing and a turducken (a partially deboned turkey stuffed with a deboned duck, which, in turn, is stuffed with a deboned chicken). At 9 a.m., chef Tyler Florence serves up his “Ultimate Thanksgiving” (highlights include oven-roasted turkey with caramelized onion and corn-bread stuffing, turkey gravy and whipped sweet potatoes with bananas and honey) followed by an “Ask Aida” program on comfort food (including cinnamon-roll bread pudding) at 9:30 a.m. Miss Ray returns at 10 a.m. with “30-Minute Meals (turkey cutlets with gravy, raw stuffing salad, walnut ice cream with maple-cream berries). At 10:30 a.m., “Secrets of a Restaurant Chef” host Anne Burrell explores the joys of succulent pork loin. “It’s a Neely Thanksgiving” (11 a.m.) whips up sausage-and-apple stuffing plus a smoked turkey with barbecue gravy. “Paula’s Home Cooking” polishes off the morning holiday block with a show on Thanksgiving leftovers.

Sunday

American Music Awards (8 p.m., ABC) — Unlike many awards shows, American Music Awards lets America’s record-buying public determine which stars will walk away with the prizes on Sunday night. Janet Jackson will open the show, and performers include Rihanna, Green Day, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Keith Urban, Lady Gaga, Eminem, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Jennifer Lopez, Black Eyed Peas, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Daughtry and Adam Lambert. Among the nominees: Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Kings of Leon, Darius Rucker, T.I., Eminem and the late Michael Jackson. Also scheduled: a performance from Whitney Houston. Airing live from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Unsung (8 p.m., TV One) — The celebrated series, which chronicles the lives of nearly forgotten R&B artists of the 1970s and ‘80s, wraps its second season with the rise and tragic journey of Zapp — including the murder-suicide of brothers and band mates Roger and Larry Troutman.

Written and compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports

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