- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 8, 2009

BET plans Vick doc

He’s out of prison, back in the NFL, and now Michael Vick is going to star in his own television series.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the quarterback, who took his first regular-season pro snap just two weeks ago after serving 18 months in prison, is partnering with BET for a new eight-part docu-series scheduled to air early next year. The program, tentatively titled “The Michael Vick Project,” spotlights his controversial comeback with the Philadelphia Eagles while also examining his tumultuous past — including his troubled childhood and his 2007 arrest for running a dogfighting ring.

The one-time NFL star’s decision to expose his private life to a television audience follows a flurry of recent news and sports-media interviews, which began with CBS’ “60 Minutes” in mid-August. The Vick series is a gamble for a quarterback who is eager to rehabilitate his tarnished image but also doesn’t want to incur the further wrath of animal rights protesters, many of whom argued against his reinstatement to the NFL.

That may be difficult.

Officials with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals expressed skepticism about the project.

“People who abuse animals don’t deserve to be rewarded,” said PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “They shouldn’t be given multimillion-dollar contracts … or given the privilege of being a role model.”

The project is being produced by DuBose Entertainment; Mr. Vick’s production company, MV7 Productions; and Category 5 Enter-tainment. No one associated with the production would comment on Mr. Vick’s compensation for the series, the Los Angeles Times said. In August, a federal judge approved Mr. Vick’s six-year plan to repay creditors an estimated $20 million and emerge from bankruptcy.

Producers of the Vick series emphasized that the program should be considered a docu-series — not a typical reality show like VH-1’s “The T.O. Show,” which revels in the excesses of its flamboyant star, Buffalo Bills wide receiver Terrell Owens. The tone of Mr. Vick’s show, producers say, will be serious and somber as it focuses on his personal struggles since his release.

It also will revisit the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., where Mr. Vick spent 1 1/2 years behind bars, and the Virginia property where he ran and financed a dogfighting ring.

‘Betty’ delayed

Fans of “Ugly Betty” will have to wait another week for the return of the show in its new Friday slot. According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC has decided to push the fourth-season premiere of the dramedy from Friday to Oct. 16.

The network has been using the 8-to-10 p.m. Friday block to air same-week reruns of its new series to garner additional sampling. ABC will extend the double pumping for another week to land extra support for its fledging shows before giving the two-hour block to “Supernanny” and “Ugly Betty,” THR says.

“Betty” will launch with a two-hour premiere Oct. 16 and move to its regular Friday 9 p.m. slot the following week.

Hudson special set

Jennifer Hudson is getting in the holiday spirit with ABC.

According to “Access Hollywood,” the former “American Idol” finalist-turned-Oscar-and-Grammy-winner will host the holiday music special “Jennifer Hudson: I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in December on the network.

The one-hour special, which will be filmed in Miss Hudson’s hometown of Chicago, will follow the star as she “relives her childhood Christmases with musical performances shot on location at the small neighborhood church where she brought the congregation to its feet week after week, the music academy where she studied, and other Chicago sites,” ABC said.

Miss Hudson also will visit with family and “childhood friends and others whose influences have been instrumental in her rise from humble beginnings to Hollywood stardom.”

No airdate or time has been announced for the special, “Access Hollywood” reported.

‘Flashpoint’ renewed

CBS has renewed the police drama “Flashpoint,” ordering 13 episodes of the series, which originally was produced for Canadian TV by CTV.

New episodes are targeted to bow later this season, BroadcastingCable.com reports. “Flashpoint” performed well for the network on Friday nights last season, averaging 9.5 million total viewers.

It is unclear, however, where “Flashpoint” will land on the schedule. This season, CBS has opted for a female-heavy Friday night slate with “Ghost Whisperer” and “Medium” performing well from 8 to 10 p.m. and “Numb3rs” continuing to be a solid performer in the 10 p.m. slot.

Many happy returns

Speaking of CBS, the network’s former reigning comedy champ, “Everybody Loves Raymond,” is heading for prime time again - this time on TV Land. The basic cable network announced Tuesday that it has landed prime-time broadcast rights to the 15-time Emmy-winning sitcom beginning in June, the Hollywood Reporter says.

TV Land will air “Raymond’s” 212 episodes in its prime programming block targeting 40-somethings.

In addition to “Raymond,” TV Land also picked up the rights to “Boston Legal,” “Home Improvement” and “The Nanny,” all of which are set to air next year.

“Boston,” starring William Shatner and James Spader, and “Improvement,” starring Tim Allen and Patricia Richardson, are slated for the first quarter, B&C said. “Raymond” will premiere in the second quarter, and “Nanny,” with Fran Drescher, is set for the third quarter.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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