- - Monday, August 20, 2012

Nicki Minaj sings about “Starships,” but is she a star-maker? The singer-rapper could be joining the ranks of “American Idol” judges.

A person close to Miss Minaj said Monday the 29-year-old entertainer has been in talks to judge the Fox TV competition and that a deal is in the works, according to the Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity.

The Fox network said it had no comment.

If Miss Minaj signs on, she would join Mariah Carey as a new judge on “Idol,” which returns in January. Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez announced their exits from the show last month.

Miss Minaj — known for her colorful hairstyles, wardrobe and antics — is best known for hits like “Super Bass,” “Starships” and “Turn Me On” with David Guetta.

Watchdog group: There’s
 more implied nudity on TV

A watchdog group said broadcast television is implying a lot more nudity in prime time than it used to.

The Parents Television Council said Monday that its researchers found 76 instances where a person appeared nude, with their private parts obscured, in prime time last season, the Associated Press reports. It happened on 37 different shows.

The group said that’s a sharp rise from the 15 instances the networks aired the previous season.

Examples include a couple skinny-dipping on “The Bachelor,” Howie Mandel jokingly appearing nude in his dressing room at “America’s Got Talent” and a naked man jumping out of a car trunk in the candid- camera show “Betty White’s Off Their Rockers.”

In each case, the full nudity was obscured by pixilation or strategically placed objects.

‘Tonight Show’ lays off 
workers, Leno takes pay cut

“The Tonight Show” has laid off about two dozen workers, prompting host Jay Leno to accept a pay cut to spare other staffers as NBC clamps down on expenses, the Associated Press reports.

NBC Universal imposed the cutbacks Friday, according to a person familiar with the moves. The person asked not to be identified because NBC Universal hadn’t officially disclosed the cost cutting.

The payroll purge affected about 10 percent of the roughly 200 people who work on “The Tonight Show,” still the top-rated late-night program. Viewers shouldn’t notice any changes in programming at “The Tonight Show,” the person said.

NBC Universal is trying to improve its financial performance under the ownership of Comcast Corp., which bought the entertainment company last year.

Mr. Leno had been making $25 million to $30 million annually as the host of “The Tonight Show.” His salary will be reduced to about $20 million after making the concessions. Mr. Leno also brings in substantial income touring as a stand-up comedian.

Several other “The Tonight Show” staffers also absorbed pay cuts.

The show’s cost-cutting measures were first reported by Deadline Hollywood, a website that tracks the entertainment industry.

Despite its solid ratings, “The Tonight Show” hasn’t been a big moneymaker. That prompted the cuts Friday, which are expected to trim the program’s weekly budget by about $600,000, or 25 percent, to $1.7 million.

‘Live With Kelly’ co-host 
to be named Sept. 4

The producers of “Live With Kelly” said a new co-host will be revealed on the show Sept. 4, according to the Associated Press.

Disney-ABC Domestic Television said Monday that Kelly Ripa will officially announce her new partner as he or she joins her on stage that morning. By then, Miss Ripa will have welcomed 59 guest co-hosts since Regis Philbin retired from the show in November. The company said the new host will come from that large pack.

The day before the big revelation, Miss Ripa will host the show solo for the first time.

Mr. Philbin, who created the show, exited at age 80 after presiding more than 28 years alongside several co-hosts. Miss Ripa became his on-air partner in 2001.

‘Mentalist’ actress sues
 over sexual harassment claim

A former background actress on CBS’ “The Mentalist” has sued producer Warner Bros. Television and its casting service, claiming her role was reduced and eventually eliminated when she complained about a daily barrage of sexually charged comments directed at her by a fellow employee.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Shanelle Howard, who said she had performed as a stand-in and background actress on the hit Simon Baker procedural drama since it launched in 2008, filed suit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court against Warner Bros. Television; the fellow employee, Lonnie Moore; and GEP Cencast, the casting agency that handles background actors on the show. Miss Howard said she had been a GEP employee since 2001.

The actress claims Mr. Moore subjected her to “a daily barrage of sexually based comments and unsuitable conduct” while working on the show, including statements such as “I’m married but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun,” “Are you wearing thongs today or nothing at all?” and “It’s just sex; stop being so uptight and give me some.”

Miss Howard also claims she was subjected to physical harassment.

Warner Bros. TV declined to comment on the suit.

Joe Theismann to appear on 
USA’s ‘Necessary Roughness’

“Necessary Roughness” is recruiting the help of Super Bowl winner and two-time Pro Bowler Joe Theismann, the Washington Redskins’ former star quarterback, for a cameo, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He will play himself.

In the 16th episode of season two airing this winter, Mr. Theismann expresses interest in getting involved in the management side of the New York Hawks football team.

Mr. Theismann, who played for the Redskins from 1974 to 1985 after a stint in the Canadian Football League, filmed the guest spot Monday on the Atlanta set.

He wouldn’t be the first NFL star to drop by “Necessary Roughness,” but is the first to play himself. The show airs at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on USA.

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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