BC-TV-BRIEFS:ZP – entertainment, people (1780 words)

Television news briefs

(EDITORS: Credit story to Zap2it.com, not Knight Ridder/Tribune or Knight Ridder Newspapers)




The PAX network will freshen up its summer schedule with two new game shows, including one based on the board game “Balderdash.”

The two games, “Balderdash” and the pop culture-oriented “On the Cover,” will run five days a week in primetime starting this summer. PAX has ordered 26 weeks of each.

“These two game shows are a key part of a new fall lineup …,” says Stephen Appel, head of sales and marketing at PAX. “We think these two programs will broaden the PAX audience and help develop positioning, branding and sales for the network.”

“On the Cover” bases its trivia questions on cover images from current magazines and popular CDs and DVDs. Contestants compete in three rounds, with the top scorer going on to a final round where he or she guesses at a “mystery cover” based on word clues. The winner gets a pop culture-themed prize.

“Balderdash,” based on the board game, will put two contestants in front of a panel of three comedians, who will offer both true and bogus answers to questions about words, people, famous quotes and the like. The player who spots the most truthful answers wins.

Both shows are products of a consulting agreement PAX has with NBC, which owns about a third of the shares in the family-friendly network’s parent company, Paxson Communications. NBC, however, is currently trying to cash out its shares in Paxson, which are worth in the neighborhood of $550 million.

Paxson says it can sit on NBC’s request for a year, after which NBC could sell its stake to a third party.


VH1 has set an air date for “30 Days Until I’m Famous,” an original film from Madonna’s Maverick Films.

Airing May 7 at 9 p.m. EDT, “30 Days” stars Camille Guaty (“The Help”) plays Maggie Moreno, a messenger girl just trying to keep her life together. In a plot twist that’s one part “American Idol,” one part “My Fair Lady” and one part “Bamboozled,” she gets plucked from the street by a record executive (Sean Patrick Flanery) who has bet his boss that he can transform any average girl into a pop star within 30 days.

After vocal lessons and a full makeover, Maggie has become a smash his as Solita, but has she also become a Latina stereotype?

The telefilm comes from writer Laura Angelica Simon (“Chasing Papi”) and director Gabriela Tagliavini (“Ladies Night”). The daunting roster of executive producers include Jan Korbelin, Bill O’Dowd and Philip Von Alvensleben of Screenvest P4 and Madonna, Guy Oseary, Bruno Del Granado and Mark Morgan of Maverick. Kevin Bannerman and Melissa Cobb also produce for VH1.

“Famous” features a soundtrack full of new songs, including original music from Kinky, the Black-Eyed Peas, will.i.am, Soraya, Jorge Moreno and Desi Arnaz.


MTV’s Video Music Awards are hitting South Beach.

For the first time in its 20-year history, the VMA show will venture outside the showbiz hubs of New York and Los Angeles. The 2004 show will jump off live from Miami’s American Airlines Arena on Aug. 29.

“The VMAs are always the biggest, craziest party of the year, and Miami is a beautiful backdrop for this summer’s show,” MTV president Van Toffler says. “When we made the decision to move the VMAs this year, we found a perfect host in Miami, a town with a rich musical heritage and strong cultural diversity.”

The city is only too happy to have MTV descend on it, judging by a statement from Mayor Manny Diaz.

“Miami is a world-class city on par with New York and Los Angeles,” Diaz says. “In our discussions with MTV, we made it known that our location, weather and amenities make us a natural and logical choice. Yet, we also wanted to assure MTV that the people of Miami are keenly prepared to make this event a resounding success.”

Nominees, hosts and presenters for the awards will be announced in coming weeks.


Stone Stanley Entertainment, the production company behind the testosterone-driven “Man Show” and ABC’s reality franchise “The Mole,” has signed a deal to explore its softer side in a reality series for Oxygen.

The nature of the Stone Stanley venture for Oxygen is unknown, but it seems likely to continue with the company’s self-professed “commitment to diversity, creativity and unapologetic fun.”

“Oxygen’s attitude is very much in line with Stone Stanley and we jumped at the chance to collaborate with them,” says Stone Stanley Vice President of Development, Sharon Levy. “We admire their commitment to original programming and we are excited to work with them to create a show aimed at their audience.”

Stone Stanley has had success developing projects for a variety of different cable audiences. In addition to doing “The Man Show” for Comedy Central, they did Nickelodeon’s “Legends of the Hidden Temple,” the recent Spike TV hit “The Joe Schmo Show” and the popular game show “Shop “Til You Drop.”

“Stone Stanley has a proven track record with edgy, fun reality shows and their brand of television fits right in with other Oxygen programming,” says Oxygen’s Programming President Debby Beece. “Their shows have a lot of personality and a very distinct feel and we are really eager to see what they come up with.”


A pair of Oscar winners, Faye Dunaway and Isaac Hayes, have signed on to the Sci Fi Channel movie/back-door pilot “Anonymous Rex.”

The pair will make cameos in the movie, based on Eric Garcia’s award-winning novels where dinosaurs have continued to exist to the present day, evolved down to human size and live among us by means of elaborate disguises.

Dunaway will play Shin, the head of a secretive dinosaur governing council. Hayes will also play a member of the tribunal. “Anonymous Rex” stars Sam Trammell (“Going to California”) as dino private eye Vincent Rubio and Daniel Baldwin (“Homicide”) as his partner, Ernie Watson. Stephanie Lemelin (“The Mullets”) is also part of the cast.

Garcia’s novels tip their hat to hard-boiled detective fiction, and Sci Fi says “Anonymous Rex” will do the same to “film noir gold standards “Chinatown’ and “Blade Runner,”‘ so who better to have in the cast than Dunaway, who earned one of her three Academy Award nominations for “Chinatown.” She won a best actress Oscar two years later for “Network.”

More recently, she’s made guest appearances on “Alias” and co-starred in “The Thomas Crown Affair.” She stars in CBS’ adaptation of “Back When We Were Grownups” later this year.

Hayes’ “Theme from “Shaft”‘ won the best original song Oscar in 1972. These days, he’s best known for providing the voice of Chef on “South Park.” Other acting credits include the 2000 “Shaft” remake, “Escape from New York” and “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka.”


With “24” bumped out of its regular time period this week, Fox is making sure viewers have a couple extra chances to see the show.

As it’s done in the past, the network will use its cable sibling FX for additional airings of the episode, which debuts at 9 p.m. EDT Sunday. Fox had to move “24” from its normal home this week to accommodate President Bush’s televised press conference Tuesday night.

The episode, “6:00 A.M.-7:00 A.M.,” will have some stiff competition on Sunday, airing opposite new episodes of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” on NBC and “Alias” on ABC, plus “The Sopranos” on HBO.

FX will rebroadcast “24” at 11 p.m. EDT Monday and 6 p.m. EDT Tuesday, three hours before the show returns to its regular spot on FoxOX.

Fox employed a similar strategy during the show’s first season, scheduling multiple repeats of “24” on FX to allow viewers to keep up with the real-time thriller’s plot. Network executives credited the “multiplexing” with helping keep the series on the air as early episodes struggled somewhat in the ratings.


The WB is prepping a new talent show that parrots the formula of Fox’s smash “American Idol,” but rewards the worst singers instead of the most talented. No, the network hasn’t purchased rebroadcast rights for “Canadian Idol.” The WB will unveil their new secretive Lack-of-Talent Show “The WB’s Superstar USA” during May sweeps.

While “American Idol” is billed as the search for America’s next pop superstar, “Superstar USA” is a showdown between people who think they’re going to be the next pop superstar, but clearly aren’t.

“Bachelor” guru Mike Fleiss has shooting the show on the sly over the past four weeks, following auditions in Las Vegas, Minneapolis, Orlando and Philadelphia. “Superstar” will begin a seven-episode run May 17 at 9 p.m. EDT.

Capitalizing on the success of “Idol” reject William Hung, “Superstar” will reward the less talented singers. Even as the more gifted Clay Aikens and Ruben Studdards of the competition are eliminated, the remaining contestants believe that they’re progressing towards their musical goals.

Along the way, the contestants will come to Hollywood, receive the requisite makeovers and dancing lessons and will get to perform in front of a live studio audience.

The “Superstar” panel of judges will include pop sing Vitamin C (Colleen Fitzpatrick on her birth certificate), “Wild Thing” Tone Loc (Antonio Smith on his birth certificate) and Chris Briggs, filling the Simon Cowell role. Briggs is also one of the show’s producers.

“When I did “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire,’ ratings sky-rocketed because people couldn’t believe what they were seeing,” Fleiss explains. “This show will certainly strike a whole new chord with audiences and is sure to get people talking. The fact that we are able to perpetrate a hoax of this magnitude with thousands of people for more than a month is absolutely incredible.”

While the joke may be on the off-key crooners, the winner will ultimately receive a $100,000 talent and recording contract.

“This is a genre that is ripe for parody,” says The WB’s CEO Jordan Levin. “Back when we first introduced this type of show to an American audience with “Popstars,’ we found that the most memorable and relatable contestants were the people who had perhaps more courage than talent. Their passion to become superstars shone through. In this series, the viewing audience will be rewarded with a fun, funny and entertaining send-up of the genre, but in the end, you’ll be won over by our Superstar.”

Former MTV VJ Brian McFayden will host the series.

(c) 2004, Zap2it.com.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-04-16-04 1632EDT

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