Wednesday, November 9, 2005

‘Alias’ ratings freefall

ABC’s spy drama “Alias” has hit a ratings snag this season, a drop that coincided with the death of series regular Michael Vaughn (Michael Vartan).

For the TV week ending Oct. 16, the third episode of the season, the former hit show was in 70th place, attracting just 7.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Apparently, Mr. Vartan has been filming a movie in Australia, but it wouldn’t be a stretch for a spy show to figure out a way to bring a character back from the dead. It isn’t clear whether Mr. Vartan chose to end his contract with ABC or if Jennifer Garner, who plays Sydney Bristow and once had a romance with the actor, encouraged his exit.

Time will tell if Mr. Vartan returns for what could be the series’ final season.

Those who miss the actor’s work on the show can pick up the just-released “Alias: The Complete Fourth Season” on DVD. The six-disc set includes 22 episodes, an interview with Miss Garner, a blooper reel and deleted scenes, among other DVD extras.

ABC’s “Alias” returns at 8 tonight.

Who loves Brad?

Talk of an “Everybody Loves Raymond” spinoff featuring co-star Brad Garrett has hit a snag, reports, citing a story published by the Hollywood Reporter.

The series appeared to be a go after Mr. Garrett won his third Emmy in September for his role as Robert Barone on the beloved CBS hit. However, “CBS waited so long [to put it in motion] that we’ve lost most of the writers,” Mr. Garrett told

The actor, however, has plenty to keep him busy. He’s on Broadway playing Murray the Cop in the revival of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple” with Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick. The show has earned mixed reviews, but ticket sales, reportedly more than $20 million, have gone through the roof.

‘Desperate’ firing

Actor Page Kennedy said joining ABC’s hit show “Desperate Housewives” this year was “an opportunity for me to showcase all the years of training I’ve had.”

Now the showcase has let Mr. Kennedy go for improper conduct, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Kennedy, who plays a fugitive from the law on the ABC show, was fired Friday after a “thorough investigation by the studio” of claims against him, publicist Janet Daily said.

Details of the claims were unavailable, Miss Daily said. A call by Associated Press to Mr. Kennedy’s agent for comment wasn’t returned immediately.

The supposed misconduct didn’t involve another cast member, a source close to the production said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Mr. Kennedy played Caleb, a character shrouded in mystery and seen only briefly as he was held captive in the basement of Wisteria Lane newcomer Betty Applewhite (Alfre Woodard). In the Oct. 23 episode, it was revealed that Caleb may have been responsible for a teenager’s murder in Chicago.

The role of Caleb is being recast. Mr. Kennedy’s last appearance on the series is Sunday.

In an AP interview last month, the 28-year-old actor said the series represented the chance of “making a name for myself.”

He was so intent on joining the show, he said, that he passed on other jobs, including a recurring role on Showtime’s “Barber Shop” and parts on the WB’s upcoming Rebecca Romijn series, “Pepper Dennis,” and on UPN’s “Love, Inc.”

The Detroit native appeared in the HBO series “Six Feet Under” as a football player who died of heat stroke and made his film debut as a bad guy in 2003’s “S.W.A.T.” He’s in the movie “In the Mix,” which is set to open on his birthday, Nov. 23.

Inside North Korea

CNN gives viewers a harrowing glimpse of life in North Korea this weekend, thanks to dissidents smuggling footage out of the secretive state.

The video, never before shown on Western television, follows a crowd being ordered to gather in a dusty field where a public official gives them an example of what happens to traitors. The video shows a man tied to a pole and shot by a firing squad for trying to make contact with the outside world.

North Korean dissidents are using technology such as digital cameras and cell phones to record such images and secret them out of the country.

Korean journalist Jung-Eun Kim meets with the dissidents on the Chinese border and in safe houses in Bangkok.

“Undercover in the Secret State” airs at 8 and 11 p.m. Sunday.

Compiled by Christian Toto and Jen Waters from staff and wire reports.

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