- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2009

‘Southland’ axed

NBC has pulled the plug on “Southland” before the show’s second-season launch, Variety reports.

According to the trade publication, on Thursday Warner Bros. Television was told by the network that the series was being canceled. Neither the studio nor NBC would comment on why the show was halted, but insiders say the dark nature of the cop drama was a factor.

“Southland” had been set to bow in the Friday 9 p.m. slot on Oct. 23. “Dateline” is currently in that hour, and NBC has been content with its ratings. Last week, the long-running newsmagazine drew almost 8 million viewers, Variety said.

NBC said it will do its best to air the six second-season “Southland” episodes that have been shot and that the quality of the show wasn’t a factor in the decision.

“Southland” aired seven episodes the spring in the Thursday 10 p.m. slot after “ER” signed off in March. The show performed respectably at the outset but softened by the end of its run.

Art imitates life

They’ve been featured on countless talk shows and magazine covers as well as their own TLC program. Now Jon and Kate Gosselin are serving as the inspiration for Friday’s “Law & Order” episode.

The segment, titled “Reality Bites,” focuses on the star of “Larry Plus 10,” a “Jon & Kate Plus Eight”-type reality show about a dad raising 10 adopted special-needs children after his wife is killed, TVGuide.com says.

The episode spotlights the competition between two families — Larry Johnson’s and another clan comparable to that of “Octomom” Nadya Suleman — as they compete to get their own reality show when Larry’s wife is murdered.

Larry becomes a suspect in his wife’s slaying, but so does the Octomom-inspired character. “The babysitter is a suspect. One of the kids, who’s a teenager, is a suspect,” “L&O” executive producer Rene Balcer tells TVGuide.com. “The teenager’s friend is a suspect. We’ve got lots of suspects.”

Mr. Balcer says scenes highlighting “Larry Plus 10” were informed directly by reality shows, even down to wiring a house for sound and the “confessionals” that can be staples of such programs. Besides the whodunit aspect, Mr. Balcer says there’s the question of whether the episode will change people’s attitudes about TV-friendly families such as the Gosselins and Octomom.

“It may make, in some ways, both the producers and subjects of reality shows less sympathetic [to viewers],” he says. “Why would you want to subject your kids to that kind of intrusion?”

Monkey business

ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” nixed the planned use of a chimpanzee as a mock guest judge for Tuesday night’s show, just hours after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals protested, Variety reports.

The events began after “Dancing” host Tom Bergeron mentioned on Oct. 5 that there would be a chimp on the show’s Tuesday airing.

“That prompted PETA to contact executive producer Conrad Green first thing [Tuesday] morning with a plea that the chimp segment be canceled,” said Dan Mathews, PETA’s senior vice president.

Not wanting to be accused of monkeying around — even for the sake of bad puns such as that one — Mr. Green notified PETA on Tuesday afternoon that it was editing the chimp out of that night’s segment, Variety said.

“I do appreciate your point that showing a chimpanzee on our show may indirectly lead to other chimpanzees being ill-treated in the future,” Mr. Green reportedly wrote in an e-mail.

A spokesperson for “Dancing” producer, BBC Worldwide Prods., said, “Conrad constantly makes last-minute editorial decisions [and] changes, and we are pleased with the result of the Oct. 6 show.”

Although ABC promoted the chimp’s appearance Oct. 5, no mention of it was made the following night, Variety noted.

Dr. Phil sued

A former patient of Phil McGraw has filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the talk-show host, claiming she was sexually harassed, brainwashed and subject to fraud at the hands of the doctor and members of his staff.

According to FoxNews.com, plaintiff Shirley Dieu, 56, claimed she was “held against her will” in Mr. McGraw’s Hollywood production offices in 2007 after seeking therapy from the television personality. Miss Dieu also claims in the suit that she was “forced to be in the same room as a completely naked live man [employed by Mr. McGraw] while he exposed his entire naked body.”

Miss Dieu also claims she was “blocked by staff” when she tried to escape and the phone was disconnected when she attempted to call 911 — resulting in her suffering from “post traumatic syndrome.”

The complaint further states that Miss Dieu was also subjected to “brainwashing” while under Mr. McGraw’s care and “suffered public ridicule and humiliation” when she was forced to watch edited tapings depicting her.

That’s not where the claims end, Fox News reports. The plaintiff additionally claims she endured mental and physical abuse, was deprived of sleep and food during this time and was “touched inappropriately by different defendants” — one of which was Mr. McGraw, who, Miss Dieu claims, touched her left breast.

The lawsuit also accuses the defendants of fraudulently obtaining Miss Dieu’s signature on waiver/release forms by withholding certain pages of the document.

Miss Dieu is seeking unlimited general damages, punitive damages, exemplary damages and fees and court costs as a result of the “sustained serious personal injuries and mental anguish due to unethical and illegal practices.”

In a statement released to Eonline.com, Mr. McGraw’s representative said: “Ms. Dieu filed a claim with the Los Angeles Police Department some nine months after the incident, which was investigated and ultimately not pursued by the Los Angeles city attorney. All guests of the show are treated with dignity and respect and the show stands by the manner in which she was handled while participating on the show.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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