Life if Brian extended

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ABC’s “What About Brian” ended its season last week after just five episodes and one heated argument between star-crossed possible soulmates Brian (Barry Watson) and Marjorie (Sarah Lancaster).

A lot of observers of the TV business figured they’d never see the fight resolved, given the show’s modest ratings performance in its brief run. In a bit of surprise, though, ABC announced Tuesday that “Brian” will return to the network in the fall.

“We really felt like it was something we wanted to stick with,” ABC Entertainment President Steve McPherson says. “You want to be patient with things you believe in.”

The show’s overall ratings this spring were far from stellar. After debuting to about 12.8 million viewers on a Sunday following “Desperate Housewives,” it averaged just 6.3 million viewers in four airings on Monday nights. McPherson says it did do well, though, among the young women who make up the core of ABC’s audience. He also thinks that with “The Bachelor” as a lead-in next fall, “Brian” has a chance to grow.

“I don’t think it’s a show that explodes out of the box,” McPherson says. “I think it’s a show that takes time.”

That extra time could also allow “Lost” mastermind J.J. Abrams, an executive producer of “What About Brian,” to become a little more hands-on with the show. “J.J.’s involvement is a big thing for us,” McPherson says. “He really has a way of bringing those characters to life.”

We should note, though, that Abrams will still be a rather busy man in the fall, even if he is free from his duties on “Mission: Impossible III.” With the new drama “Six Degrees” joining “Lost” and “Brian,” he’ll have three series on ABC next season.



LONGORIA TOPS MAXIM 100 AGAIN

Eva Longoria: Yup, she’s still hot.

The astute folks at Maxim magazine voted the “Desperate Housewives” actress as the hottest woman for the second year in a row.

“I was floored that Maxim named me No. 1 for the second year in a row! I hope that the San Antonio Spurs follow in my footsteps and repeat also!” Longoria exclaims. “Maxim and their readers have been so amazing to me, not only have they made it possible to see me from space, but to choose me out of so many beautiful women for the second time is unbelievably flattering!”

She’s referring to a cover she did for the lad mag’s 100th issue that was blown-up to oversized proportions and placed in the Las Vegas Desert.

Other celebrities rounding out the Top 10 on the Scoville hotness scale include “Sin City’s” Jessica Alba, “Just My Luck” redhead Lindsay Lohan, mother-to-be Angelina Jolie, “Dancing with the Stars” second season contender Stacy Keibler, “Match Point’s” Scarlett Johansson, Cameron Diaz, the new Lois Lane in “Superman Returns” Kate Bosworth, “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Keira Knightley and R&B artist Christina Milian.

Unlike last year’s list, the 7th annual listing of buzzworthy beauties actually includes fellow “Housewives” stars Nicollette Sheridan (48) and Teri Hatcher (73). TV has its share of eye candy on the list including “Lost’s” Emilie de Ravin (65), Evangeline Lilly (67) and Yunjin Kim (98) and former castaway Maggie Grace (75).

Other boob tube hotties include “Veronica Mars” snoop Kristen Bell (11), “Grey’s Anatomy” cutter Katherine Heigl (12), first season “Dancing with the Stars” champ Kelly Monaco (13), “The O.C.’s” Rachel Bilson (14) and Mischa Barton (21), “24’s” Elisha Cuthbert and “Battlestar Galactica’s” Grace Park.

Others joining the ranks of hotness include “V for Vendetta” star Natalie Portman (33), heiress Paris Hilton (38), funny gal Sarah Silverman (50), Paris 2.0 aka Nicky Hilton (62), cyber hottie Tila Tequila (88) and “The Break Up” star Jennifer Aniston (99).

So who’s not hot? J.Lo, Salma Hayek and new moms Britney Spears and Katie Holmes were missing from the list.

Longoria wraps up her latest season of “Housewives” with a two-hour finale on Sunday. She was last seen on the big screen opposite Kiefer Sutherland and Michael Douglas in “The Sentinel.”



“60 MINUTES’ PRODUCER CRILE DIES

George Crile III, a producer for “60 Minutes” and “60 Minutes II,” died Monday at the age of 61.

The producer and best-selling author passed away from pancreatic cancer at his home in Manhattan.

During his more than 25 years working for CBS, he produced numerous stories for “60 Minutes” and its spinoff, reporting on Three Mile Island, the Gulf War, the KGB and other topics of global significance.

It’s his 1982 documentary, “The Uncounted Enemy: A Vietnam Deception,” that got the most attention, though. The controversial documentary focused on Gen. William Westmoreland’s deliberate under-reporting of enemy troop strength in Vietnam, thus deceiving President Lyndon Johnson and the public in 1967. Westmoreland’s libel suit was settled a few years later.

Crile is also known for his book “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which studied the CIA’s providing support and arms for the Islamic mujahedeen. Wilson was a former U.S. House member who prodded Congress to back the mujahedeen. The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks renewed interest in the book, to which Tom Hanks bought the film rights. A Universal film adaptation starring Hanks as Wilson is reportedly in the works.

He’s survived by his wife, Susan Lyne, president of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc.; four daughters and two sisters.



“ER’ WON’T REPEAT ITSELF

Although it’s hardly at the heights it once was, NBC’s “ER” is still a pretty strong performer in the Nielsens. Including repeats, it’s averaging about 12 million viewers a year.

Those numbers would be higher if you took out the repeats – which is exactly what NBC plans to do next season.

The long-running hospital drama will go rerun-free for its 13th season. It will run for 13 episodes in the fall, leading to a cliffhanger, then return to finish out the season in April 2007. In between, the network will give the highly visible 10 p.m. EDT Thursday spot “The Black Donnellys,” a new drama created by Oscar-winning “Crash” writer-director Paul Haggis and the film’s co-writer, Bobby Moresco.

“Repeats are tough for any serialized drama, and it’s been harder for “ER’ as it got into its 12th season this year, 13th season next year,” NBC Entertainment President Kevin Reilly says. “When “ER’ is in originals, it still has the goods.”

The move is also a vote of confidence for “The Black Donnellys,” which was the first series NBC picked up this year for the 2006-07 season. It follows a quartet of Irish-American brothers in New York whose sense of loyalty to one another leads down a sometimes-dark path.

NBC has a long tradition of airing high-profile and high-quality dramas at 10 p.m. Thursdays. Prior to “ER,” the timeslot was home to “L.A. Law” and “Hill Street Blues.” Reilly hopes “The Blacke Donnellys” can follow in that tradition.

“I think it’s really very special,” Reilly says of the show. “It’s compelling and different, and I think it’s worthy of the night. We want to shine a light on it.”



(c) 2006, Zap2it.com.

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