- - Sunday, January 1, 2012

Virginia alcohol regulators say the Discovery Channel’s “Moonshiners” television show is misleading viewers into thinking the state is tolerating illegal booze manufacturing and that they wouldn’t have participated if they knew how the episodes would turn out.

The television series is about people who brew their own moonshine and local authorities’ efforts to track them down. The show includes actual western Virginia residents and state agents.

Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control spokeswoman Kathleen Shaw told the Associated Press in an email Thursday that viewers have asked why the state is allowing a crime to take place. Miss Shaw said the show is a dramatization, and no illegal liquor is actually being produced.

“If illegal activity was actually taking place, the Virginia ABC Bureau of Law Enforcement would have taken action,” Miss Shaw wrote.

Earlier Thursday, the department issued a statement about the show.

“Virginia ABC agreed to participate in an informative piece that documents the history of moonshine and moonshine investigations in Virginia. Virginia ABC did not participate nor was aware of the false depiction of moonshine manufacturing, distribution and/or transportation in the filming, and would not have participated in the ‘documentary’ had it known of this portrayal,” the statement said.

Miss Shaw said the Discovery Channel had been asked to add a disclaimer, “but the request was overlooked.”

Messages left with a show publicist were not immediately returned.

Among other things, a Nov. 30 news release announcing the show’s premiere said that “Viewers will witness practices rarely, if ever, seen on television including the sacred rite of passage for a moonshiner — firing up the still for the first time.”

The release does not specify whether parts of the show are dramatized.

ABC’s ‘This Week’ gets behind-the-scenes change

After bringing back George Stephanopoulos to replace Christiane Amanpour on Sunday’s “This Week” political talk show, ABC is making a change behind the scenes as well.

The network’s news president, Ben Sherwood, said Friday that Jon Banner will replace Rick Kaplan as the show’s executive producer. Mr. Banner was a longtime producer of “World News” before taking on a wider role recently at ABC News.

Mr. Sherwood said Mr. Kaplan will produce ABC’s New Hampshire primary and offer a “critical voice” in news and election coverage later.

“This Week” has been sinking in the ratings behind NBC and CBS, and Mr. Stephanopoulos agreed to come back to the show while continuing as co-anchor of “Good Morning America” during the week.

‘Beverly Hillbillies’ actress settles suit over Barbie

The actress who played Elly May Clampett on the “The Beverly Hillbillies” has settled her lawsuit over a Barbie doll that uses the character’s name and likeness.

The Associated Press reports an attorney for actress Donna Douglas said she settled with CBS and toymaker Mattel on Tuesday. Ms. Douglas’ lawsuit had sought at least $75,000. Details of the settlement were confidential.

Ms. Douglas played the critter-loving tomboy for all nine seasons of the CBS comedy about a backwoods family that strikes oil and moves to Beverly Hills.

She claimed CBS Consumer Products Inc. and Mattel Inc. needed her approval for the Barbie. In court documents, CBS and Mattel said they didn’t need her OK because the network holds exclusive rights to the character.

BBC’s ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ may hit big screen

Jennifer Saunders, the co-creator of the award-winning BBC series “Absolutely Fabulous,” has said she plans to make a big-screen version of the TV show.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Ms. Saunders set the Internet alight with reports she is planning a movie version of the show, which returned to the small screen over the Christmas season on BBC to ratings success and a positive critical reception.

The comedy show featuring Ms. Saunders as Eddy, her sidekick Patsy, played by Joanna Lumley, and copious amounts of champagne, aims to capitalize on the show’s long-running popularity.

First airing on BBC in 1992, the comedy about a fashionista and her hard-drinking, smoking sidekick has scored numerous awards, including a best comedy show BAFTA in 1993 and an Emmy for best popular arts program the following year.

This year’s Christmas special, penned by Ms. Saunders, marked the show’s return to the small screen after an absence of six years. The Christmas special garnered around 9 million viewers.

According to reports, Ms. Saunders said she is “definitely going to do” a movie version.

“I’m aiming to shoot this in a beautiful part of the Riviera. I fancy the south of France in the spring,” Ms. Saunders said.

Actress Kaye Stevens dies, was ‘Tonight Show’ regular

Singer and actress Kaye Stevens, who performed with the Rat Pack and was a frequent guest on Johnny Carson’s “The Tonight Show,” has died at a Central Florida hospital. She was 79.

Close friend Gerry Schweitzer confirmed that Stevens died Wednesday at the Villages Hospital north of Orlando following a battle with breast cancer and blood clots.

Stevens, a longtime South Florida resident, performed with Rat Pack members including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop. She also sang solo at venues like Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the Plaza Hotel’s Persian Room in New York City.

During the Vietnam War, Stevens performed for American soldiers in the war zone with Bob Hope’s USO tour.

Besides singing, Stevens also acted in film and television. She appeared in six movies, earning a Golden Globe nomination in 1964 for “The New Interns.” She was a regular celebrity player on game shows and appeared as a regular on “Days of Our Lives” from 1974 to 1979.

During the past two decades, Stevens started her own ministry and began performing only Christian and patriotic music. She staged benefits to help build St. Vincent Catholic Church in her longtime home of Margate, Fla., where city officials named a park in her honor.

Compiled from Web and wire service reports

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