- - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

There’s nothing like a backwoods blood feud to excite television viewers on Memorial Day.

The first part of the History network’s miniseries “Hatfields & McCoys” was seen by 13.9 million viewers on Monday night, more than 17 million when the immediate repeat was added in, the Nielsen company said. The numbers held up for part two on Tuesday, which was watched by 13.1 million, Nielsen said.

Those are huge numbers in the cable television world. No scripted series on the broadcast networks last week came close. By contrast, Fox’s series finale of “House” last week reached 8.7 million people.

“Hatfields & McCoys” had a couple of big-name stars in Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton and is airing over three nights in two-hour chunks. Broadcast television was dominated by competition shows again last week, led by the 21.5 million people who watched the “American Idol” finale on Fox. “Dancing With the Stars” and “America’s Got Talent” also did well.

Perhaps crowded by the marketplace, ABC’s “Duets” finished a modest No. 23 in the ratings, with 6.8 million viewers. Fox’s summer series “So You Think You Can Dance” also came out of the gate slowly, with 6.3 million viewers.

Robin Thicke could keep ‘Duets’ all in the family

Robin Thicke is a mentor on the new ABC singing series “Duets,” but the R&B crooner could find himself partnering on a song with his 2-year-old son, or wife, actress Paula Patton.

Mr. Thicke said both his wife and son can sing.

Miss Patton, whose film credits include “Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire” and “Mission Impossible 3,” sings a small part on a song Mr. Thicke produced for Usher, the slow groove “Can U Handle It.” It appears on Usher’s Grammy-winning, 2004 effort “Confessions,” one of the last decade’s top-selling albums.

“The song called for a female vocal, a very simple, more like a talk-whisper part and … I said, ‘Hey honey, you mind putting something down for me?’” he recalled. “And of course it turns out to be Usher’s biggest album and one of the biggest albums of all-time.”

Mr. Thicke, 35, said Miss Patton would ask him, jokingly, to let her sing on songs he worked on.

“She’d be like, ‘Hey baby, can I just sing a little song just so I can hear my voice on tape?’” Mr. Thicke said. “And I was like, ‘No! We’re not starting that. We are not going to get into the “you recording an album.” Go find another producer if you want to do that.’”

Mr. Thicke said there are no plans for Miss Patton to release her own music, though he admits: “She does a mean impression of Marilyn Monroe’s ‘Diamond Are a Girl’s Best Friend.’ But nobody is allowed to see that. That’s just for daddy.”

Miss Patton gave birth to the couple’s son, Julian Fuego Thicke, in 2010. Mr. Thicke said the toddler also has singing skills.

“He has incredible pitch,” Mr. Thicke said. “He wakes up every morning and before he even cries to be taken out of his crib, the first thing he does is sing. He just kind of lies there in his crib and sings songs for a little while.”

Mr. Thicke said he has let his son tag along when he tapes “Duets,” which debuted last week and airs at 8 p.m. Thursdays. It also features Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Sugarland’s Jennifer Nettles, and each week the Grammy-winning singers perform duets with amateurs, one of whom will go on and win a recording contract.

Mr. Thicke, who came on the scene in 2003 with long hair and rock-influenced sound, is best known for No. 1 R&B hits like “Lost Without You” and “Sex Therapy.” He said it’s hard to see himself on screen: “I can’t watch myself on anything for more than a few minutes. I’ll never watch ‘Duets’ — that’s for sure. I’d watch it if I wasn’t on it.”

Actor Dinklage to support Walk for Farm Animals

In “Game of Thrones,” Peter Dinklage’s character is constantly steeped in battle over control of a mythical kingdom. After the show’s season finale on Sunday, Mr. Dinklage plans to take his fight to the farm.

Mr. Dinklage, 42, will spend his offseason promoting a campaign to change the way society treats farm animals as national spokesman for Farm Sanctuary’s annual Walk for Farm Animals.

The actor, who has been a vegetarian since he was 16, has won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his role in the HBO series. He said he joined the cause because he felt “animals used for food are treated like unfeeling machinery.”

Farm Sanctuary, which provides care for more than 1,300 rescued farm animals, will put on walks in more than 35 cities across the country this fall.

Hallmark Channel’s first series to star Andie MacDowell

Andie MacDowell will be a pioneer for the Hallmark Channel, starring in the network’s first prime-time series.

Hallmark said Wednesday that Miss MacDowell will portray municipal court judge Olivia Lockhart in “Cedar Grove.” It will start with a two-hour movie airing later this year and continue with a 13-episode series early in 2013.

The new series is based on books by author Debbie Macomber. Movie adaptations of Ms. Macomber’s books have been among the top-rated programs that Hallmark has shown over the past three years.

Miss MacDowell’s movie credits include “sex, lies and videotape,” “Groundhog Day” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral.”

Thomas Jane’s Raw Studios expands to digital realm

“Hung” star Thomas Jane is an unabashed lover of comic books.

So much so that not only did he play Marvel Entertainment’s Punisher in a film and voice DC’s Jonah Hex in an animated short, but he also wrote the six-issue miniseries “Bad Planet” with Steve Niles.

He also formed Raw Studios with artist Tim Bradstreet to develop more comic book tales, too.

The studio — which has published titles under its own imprint and for Image Comics — was to make the leap to digital on Wednesday, with the “Dark Country” graphic novel.

Mr. Jane, who stars in the HBO series, has a soft spot for the work given that he turned the Tab Murphy-written short story into a 2009 film. It was his directorial debut and he starred in it, too.

So when it came to putting Raw Studios titles out digitally, “Dark Country” was the first choice for himself and Mr. Bradstreet to premiere exclusively on Comixology, the company founded in 2007 that has gone on to power many comic publishers’ digital offerings while working with physical retailers, too.

“Dark Country has long been a passion project of mine. In 2009, I was able to make the film a reality. And today, with Thomas Ott’s amazing [art] work, we’re now able to release the Dark Country graphic novel exclusively with Comixology,” Mr. Jane said.

Mr. Bradstreet said the digital graphic novel is different from the film, which is the aim of releasing it through Comixology.

“Looking at that package and seeing it come out, I think that’s an Eisner-worthy book,” he said, referring to the comic industry awards. “I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

Compiled from Web and wire reports

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