- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 28, 2009

‘Family’ matters

Fans of “Family Guy” are chortling about Microsoft Corp.’s belated discovery that a “Family Guy” special might not jibe with the software giant’s corporate image.

On Monday, Microsoft said it’s pulling out as sponsor of a “Family Guy” variety show, just two weeks after announcing its sole sponsorship of the special, “Family Guy Presents: Seth & Alex’s Almost Live Comedy Show,” scheduled to air Nov. 8, Associated Press reports.

The Fox special apparently follows in the racy tradition of the animated “Family Guy” series - just as any fan of the show would expect. The special includes “typical ‘Family Guy’-style jokes, including riffs on deaf people, the Holocaust, feminine hygiene and incest,” said Variety, which first reported Microsoft’s exit.

The special stars “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane, who voices many of the characters, and Alex Borstein, who furnishes the voice of Peter Griffin’s wife, Lois.

In the original announcement, the half-hour special was billed as a half-hour with no commercial breaks that blends “unique Windows 7-branded programming” seamlessly with “original animation, live-action performances of ‘Family Guy’s‘ most memorable musical numbers, comedy sketches and surprise celebrity guests.”

Microsoft had originally touted the “subversive and unique humor” of the show’s co-hosts.

But apparently, it was all too subversive and unique for Microsoft. After reviewing an early version of the special, the company said that it had decided the variety show’s content “was not a fit with the Windows brand.”

In its statement, Microsoft hastened to add there are no hard feelings. The company said it continues to have “a good partnership” with Mr. MacFarlane, Miss Borstein and the network, and is “working with them in other areas.”

Fox plans to air the show, which was taped Oct. 16, as scheduled, with a new, as-yet-undisclosed integrated sponsoring partner. The network had no comment on Microsoft’s defection, AP said.

Kudrow to ‘Cougar’

It’s not an actual” Friends reunion,” but we’ll take it: Lisa Kudrow has signed on to guest star opposite Courteney Cox on “Cougar Town,” an ABC spokesperson tells Entertainment Weekly.

“She’ll play a dermatologist that my character can’t stop going to even though [she’s] mean to me,” Miss Cox told tvguidemagazine.com.

The Cox-Kudrow reunion episode will shoot next month and air in early 2010, EW says.

Extended ‘Treatment’

“In Treatment” will return for a third season, the Hollywood Reporter notes.

HBO has renewed the half-hour Emmy-nominated drama series for another cycle, which will begin production in New York in early 2010 for a premiere later in the year.

Star Gabriel Byrne is set to return as Dr. Paul Weston, with casting on the other roles expected to begin shortly, THR says.

Crying foul

A former writer for “Late Night with David Letterman” says she left the program in part because she was uncomfortable with a work environment in which several female employees benefited from sexual relationships with high-ranking males on the show, the Hollywood Reporter says.

Nell Scovell, a veteran TV writer who wrote for Mr. Letterman while he was on NBC during the 1980s, writes on VanityFair.com that “sexual politics” was a “major part” of why she walked away from her dream job after less than a year.

“Did I believe these female staffers were benefiting professionally from their personal relationships?” Miss Scovell writes. “Yes. Did that make me feel demeaned? Completely.”

But she stops short of confirming direct knowledge of any sexual relationship Mr. Letterman had, saying only that she was “aware of rumors” at the time of an unspecified romances between the host and female staffers. She adds that while Mr. Letterman never hit on her, the “extra attention” he paid her was even noticed by another writer on the program.

Miss Scovell writes that she never spoke of the “sexual politics” at “Letterman” until now but nearly told the host why she was leaving at the time, THR said.

“On my last day at ‘Late Night,’ Dave summoned me to his office and pressed me on why I was quitting the show. I considered telling him the truth, but with Dave’s rumored mistress within earshot, I balked.”

In the article, Miss Scovell lays responsibility for the hostile work environment on the traditionally male-dominated world of late-night TV writers; she identifies herself as the second-ever female writer hired by Mr. Letterman.

Miss Scovell created the ABC series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch,” and has written for series including “Monk,” “Murphy Brown” and “Coach.”

Baseball a hit

A coast-to-coast baseball playoff series involving New York and Los Angeles almost - but not quite - enabled Fox to loosen CBS’ stranglehold on the prime-time television-ratings lead.

The final game of the Yankees-Angels American League Championship Series was seen by 15.5 million people on Sunday, the Nielsen Co. said. Four games of the Yankees-Angels series on Fox were ranked among Nielsen’s top 25 shows for the week, but of the 12 scripted shows in the top 25, nine of them were on CBS.

“NCIS” was again television’s most popular show for the week, Nielsen said.

CBS averaged 10.7 million viewers for the week. Fox had 10.3 million and won handily among the 18-to-49-year-old demographic. ABC had 9.1 million viewers, NBC had 7.2 million, the CW had 2 million and ION Television had 880,000.

NBC’s “Nightly News” topped the evening newscasts with an average of 8.3 million viewers. ABC’s “World News” was second with 7.7 million and the “CBS Evening News” had 6 million viewers.

For the week of Oct. 19 through 25, the top 10 shows, their networks and viewerships: 1) “NCIS,” CBS, 21.25 million; 2) “Dancing With the Stars,” ABC, 16.82 million; 3) “NCIS: Los Angeles,” CBS, 16.48 million; 4) American League Championship Series: L.A. Angels vs. N.Y. Yankees, Game 6, Fox, 15.48 million; 5) “The OT,” Fox, 15.07 million; 6) “Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 15.06 million; 7) NFL Football: Arizona vs. N.Y. Giants,” NBC, 14.98 million; 8) “Dancing With the Stars Results,” ABC, 14.92 million; 9) “Criminal Minds,” CBS, 14.27 million; 10) “Desperate Housewives,” ABC, 14.18 million.

Halloween watch

Halloween TV on tap for Wednesday:

• The Return of the Living Dead (9:30 a.m., AMC) - A man and a group of teenagers deal with the accidental release of brain-hungry zombies on an unsuspecting town.

• Extreme Paranormal (11 p.m., A&E) - The team investigates the Pennhurst State School and Hospital, a decrepit mental asylum in Eastern Pennsylvania, where reported strange sightings and unexplained phenomena have been witnessed since its closing in 1986 - amid claims of abuse, neglect and reported torture under the guise of “treatment.” Next, the team travels to Manchac Swamp, a haunted wetland just outside of New Orleans.

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

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