TV briefs


Gunn guides ‘Style,’ ‘Queer Eye’ says goodbye

“Project Runway’s” motto-spouting mentor Tim Gunn will bring his wisdom to the average Joe and Jane.

Gunn will host Bravo’s series “Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style” in which he will personally shepherd one poor schlub’s journey from fashionably awful to awesome.

Using the book “Tim Gunn: A Guide to Quality, Taste & Style” (co-written with Kate Moloney) as a manual, Gunn will tutor everyday people on his style philosphy and how to “make it work” – from finding the right fit and revamping closets to proper grooming and selecting a fashion role model.

“I’m practically delirious that Bravo has given me this incredible opportunity and together, we vow to redefine “makeovers,”‘ says Gunn. “This series aims to be one-part education and two-parts fun, and you’ll see me being a fashion therapist, not a svengali.”

Gunn, who acts as the Chair of the Department of Fashion Design at Parsons The New School for Design, has appeared on the last three seasons of Bravo’s “Project Runway” – which will return for a fourth season – to critique, encourage and tell designers to “carry on” or “make it work.”

In other Bravo news, it was announced Friday that the cable network would say good-bye to “Queer Eye,” the groundbreaking, Emmy-winning reality series that introduced America to the Fab Five: Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez. The fifth and final season will air this summer.

“The unforgettable Fab Five have taken Bravo and viewers worldwide for an eye and mind-opening ride since they made their fabulous debut,” says Berwick. “We proudly watched as viewers embraced the series that really helped open the closet doors on gays and their presence on television and in popular culture.”

Meet the ‘Survivor: Fiji’ cast

It turns out that the racial diversity of “Survivor: Cook Islands” wasn’t just a one-time fluke.

Friday, CBS announced the cast members for the 14th installment of Mark Burnett’s hit reality franchise, the appropriately titled “Survivor: Fiji.” And, true to Burnett’s recent promises, the show’s cast is every bit as the stars of the race-baiting Cook Islands season.

The contestants range in age from 23 to 54 and the group includes players born in Hong Kong, Colombia, Venezuela and South Korea. Expect plenty of Hurricane Katrina subplots, as at least three players have direct ties to Louisiana.

As always, there will be twists. The players won’t be divided into tribes until the third day, prior to an Immunity challenge. The tribe that wins that challenge will return to camp with “copious resources,” while the losing tribe will receive only a pot, machete and water source. In addition, there will be a hidden Immunity idol at each camp, but the only clues to find the important trinket are located on Exile Island.

Here’s a little info on the 19 new castaways viewers will meet formally when “Survivor: Fiji” premieres Feb. 8:

• Name: Alex Angarita

Age: 28

Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Attorney

• Name: Kenward “Boo” Bernis

Age: 34

Hometown: Lafayette, LA

Occupation: Construction Worker

• Name: Yau-Man Chan

Age: 54

Hometown: Martinez, CA

Occupation: Computer Engineer

• Name: Earl Cole

Age: 35

Hometown: Santa Monica, CA

Occupation: Advertising Executive

• Name: Jessica deBern

Age: 27

Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Fashion Stylist

• Name: Erica Durousseau

Age: 27

Hometown: Lake Charles, LA

Occupation: Non-Profit Fundraiser

• Name: Cassandra Franklin


Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Civil Engineer

• Name: Liliana Gomez

Age: 25

Hometown: Oxnard, CA

Occupation: Loan Officer

• Name: Andria “Dre” Herd

Age: 25

Hometown: Wilmington, NC

Occupation: Cheerleading Coach

• Name: Stacy Kimball

Age: 27

Hometown: Boulder, CO

Occupation: Interactive Internet Producer

• Name: Sylvia Kwan

Age: 52

Hometown: Ross, CA

Occupation: Architect

• Name: Mookie Lee

Age: 25

Hometown: Wheeling, IL

Occupation: Loan Manager

• Name: Lisette “Lisi” Linares

Age: 36

Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Customer Service Representative

• Name: James Reid

Age: 28

Hometown: Los Angeles

Occupation: Bartender

• Name: Edgardo Rivera

Age: 28

Hometown: Miami Beach

Occupation: Advertising Executive

• Name: Anthony Robinson

Age: 32

Hometown: Straight out of Compton

Occupation: Expert Witness Locator

• Name: Gary Stritesky

Age: 55

Hometown: Ramsey, MN

Occupation: School Bus Driver

• Name: Rita Verreos

Age: 38

Hometown: San Antonio

Occupation: Single Mom

• Name: Michelle Yi

Age: 23

Hometown: Cincinnati

Occupation: Student

Ex-‘Angel’ Smith to host hairy ‘Senius’

Signature hairstyles were trademarks of the “70s series “Charlie’s Angels,” so it’s appropriate that ex-Angel Jaclyn Smith will be aligning herself with another hair-heavy show.

The actress has signed on to host “Shear Genius,” Bravo’s latest reality TV offering, previously announced under the working title “Top Hair.”

Contestants chosen from across the nation will compete not only to prove their skill with scissors and their mastery of specific cuts and styles, but they will also have to match their work with the desires of the client – ranging from the guy next door to A-list celebrities. The hairstylists will be challenged to perform two cuts per episode.

Smith will join celebrity stylist Sally Herschberger, who will act as the lead judge in the series.

“Our critically acclaimed reality competition series are branded by ultra-talented contestants as well as highly credible hosts and judges,” says Bravo’s Executive Vice President, Programming & Production, Frances Berwick. “We are excited to name the iconic Smith as host and celebrated Hershberger as lead judge as they lend tremendous credibility to the series and to the contestants during their competitive journey.”

The eight-episode series is gearing up to begin production soon, with a project spring 2007 premiere.

Smith shifted from modeling to acting and appeared in series such as “McCloud” and “The Rookies.” She’s best known as Kelly Garrett on “Charlies’s Angels” and received a Golden Globe nomination for portraying the titular first lady in the TV movie “Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy.” She recently co-starred on CBS’ “The District.”

Smith also introduced a collection of women’s apparel for K mart stores in 1985 and entered the home furnishings market with Jaclyn Smith Home in 2002.

Clooney, Sci Fi celebrate ‘The Diamond Age’

Sci Fi Channel has ordered a six-hour miniseries based on Neal Stephenson’s best-selling novel “The Diamond Age: Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer” to be produced by George Clooney.

During its Television Critic’s Association press tour panel, Sci Fi announced an ambitious development slate that also includes productions from familiar names Darren Star (“Sex and the City”) and Mark Burnett (“Survivor”).

“Sci Fi originals continue to push the boundaries of imagination to help us envision and explore a reality and a future far beyond the scope of our experience,” says Mark Stern, the cable network’s executive vice president of original programming. “From provocative screen adaptations of science fiction bestsellers to futurist action thrillers and off-beat, Earth-based human dramas, Sci Fi offers an inventive range of originals that reflect the genre’s ever-broadening appeal.”

Stephenson will adapt “The Diamond Age” for Clooney and Grant Heslov’s Smokehouse Productions. The book, set in a neo-Victorian futuristic society involves an underprivileged young lady who gets her hands of a technologically advanced book intended only for the children of the upper classes.

Burnett is getting behind “Avery House,” a two-hour drama pilot about a family who moves into a large Victorian estate in a sleepy New England town and soon realizes that their seemingly perfect new home has some perplexing and magical powers. Dava Savel is writing the pilot, an NBC Universal Television production.

Star and Mike Werb (“Face/Off”) are producing an untitled 90-minute drama about a quartet of convicts who receive technologically advanced bodies and are put to work by the US government tracking down threats from science run amuck.

Also moving forward are “Revolution,” a two-hour space colony pilot from Ed Redlich (“Shark”) and John Belluci, the quirky two-hour pilot “Middletown” from Coke Sams and Matt Lindahl, the two-hour slacker superhero dramedy “Johnny Midnight” and half-hour comedy “Starcrossed” about life behind the scenes on a sci-fi space soap.

The cable network is also working on the unscripted series “Witch School,” which looks at Ed Hubbard’s Witch School in Hoopeston, Ill.

Lili Taylor on Lifetime’s ‘Mind’

Lifetime is betting that viewers will be in a “State of Mind” to watch a dramedy about a therapist with issues.

The cable network has picked up the series, starring Lili Taylor (“Six Feet Under,” “I Shot Andy Warhol”) as the aforementioned therapist, for a summer premiere. It’s one of two new shows Lifetime will roll out later this year, the other being the previously announced “Army Wives.”

During its press tour session Thursday in Pasadena, the network also announced production of an original movie called “And She Was,” starring Kirstie Alley as a screenwriter who comes up with a novel way to extend her career.

“State of Mind,” executive produced by Greer Shephard and Michael Robin (“Nip/Tuck,” “The Closer”), opens with Taylor’s character, Dr. Ann Bellows, catching her husband having an affair – with their marriage counselor. Her colleagues at New Haven Psychiatrist Associates try to help, to little avail.

The cast also includes Devon Gummersall (“My So-Called Life,” “The L Word”), Lolita Davidovich (“The Agency,” “Hollywood Homicide”), Mido Hamada (“The Path to 9/11”), Derek Riddell (“The Virgin Queen”) and Kevin Chamberlin (“Lucky Number Slevin”). Robin directed the pilot, which was written by psychotherapist and author Amy Bloom.

The Alley movie will feature the former “Cheers” and “Fat Actress” star (she’s also exec producing) as an Oscar-winning writer who can’t seem to find work because of her age. She then hires her nephew (Eric Christian Olsen, “The Loop”) as a front for her work. Naturally, the plan goes awry.

The movie, written by George Beckerman (“The Jackie Thomas Show”) and directed by Graeme Clifford (“The Last Don”), is also scheduled for a summer premiere.

Cumming joins Sci Fi’s ‘Oz’ remake

Alan Cumming is off to see Sci Fi’s wizard.

The Tony-winning actor has joined the cast of the cable channel’s dark, futuristic remake of L. Frank Baum’s fantasy book “The Wizard of Oz,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

In this updated epic tale, a young woman named DG somehow gets snatched up and thrust into the fantastical realm known as The Outer Zone (aka The O) that’s currently oppressed by dark magic.

Along the way, she befriends the half-brained man Glitch, the wolverine-like Raw who seeks courage and the emotionally scarred, heroic Cain, who was once part of the police force known as Tin Men in the O.Z. DG is journeying along the Old Road to seek the Mystic Man, but in the end, has a showdown with the wicked Azkeadellia, who has curiously close ties to DG herself.

Cumming will play Glitch, the miniseries’ version of the Scarecrow.

The six-hour miniseries, “Tin Man” (working title), will begin production on its science fiction, psychedelic reimagining of the already bizarre tale in March in Vancouver for a projected December premiere.

Cumming has won a Tony for playing the emcee in the 1998 revival of “Cabaret” and last year starred in Broadway’s “The Threepenny Opera.” On the big screen, he portrayed Kurt Wagner, aka Nightcrawler, a mutant with the power of teleportation, in “X2: X-Men United.” His other film credits include “GoldenEye,” “Emma,” “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion,” “Spice World,” “Titus,” “Josie and the Pussycats” and the “Spy Kids” movies.

He next appears in “Gray Matters” and “Suffering Man’s Charity,” which he directed, produced and stars in.

Just last Sunday, he married his boyfriend Grant Shaffer in a civil ceremony outside London.

Blige, Furtado land CBS grammy week cameos

In a not-so-subtle piece of Grammy Week cross-promotion, CBS has booked 2007 nominees Nelly Furtado and Mary J. Blige for drama series guest appearances.

First up, on Feb. 7, Furtado will guest on “CSI: NY” playing a world-class professional shoplifter, whatever that means. She becomes CSI’s leading suspect in the murder of a store security guard.

Furtado is up for a best pop collaboration Grammy for “Promiscuous.”

Then, on Feb. 9, Blige will drop by “Ghost Whisperer” playing the coach of a high-ranked high school cheerleading team. When the chearleaders start turning up disabled, somebody calls in the ghost whisperer who whispers to ghosts and finds out something about something else. In the end, hugs are exchanged as people go off into the light. That’s just a hunch.

Blige is up for eight Grammys this year.

CBS will broadcast the 49th annual Grammy Awards on Feb. 11.

‘Idol’ runner-up gets ‘Ugly’

“American Idol” will be in full swing come Feb. 1, but that night you’ll find last season’s runner-up on another network.

Katharine McPhee will make a guest appearance on ABC’s “Ugly Betty” on Feb. 1, the first night of sweeps. The sweeps guest-star parade on the network also will include Margot Kidder (“Superman”), who will pop up on “Brothers & Sisters” Sunday, Feb. 11.

McPhee will be playing herself on “Ugly Betty.” The Feb. 1 episode centers on fashion week, and she’s a celebrity guest at the Mode runway show. Not coincidentally, Feb. 1 is also two days after McPhee’s debut album hits stores.

As for Kidder, she’ll play a character named Emily Craft on “Brothers & Sisters.” The episode, “Valentine’s Day Massacre,” finds Nora (Sally Field) having dinner with a friend (Kidder, presumably) and later taking “a risky ride that could land her in trouble.”

Kidder is best-known for playing Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve “Superman” films, cachet she traded on for a guest role on “Smallville” a couple of seasons ago. Her credits include “The Amityville Horror,” “The Great Waldo Pepper” and a slew of TV roles, including parts on “Boston Common,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “The L Word.”