With the reality dud “Next Action Star” providing only limited lead-in to the vastly more successful “Last Comic Standing,” NBC has juggled its Tuesday and Wednesday schedules. Joel Silver’s search for the next Sylvester Stallone has been shunted off to Wednesdays, perhaps the equivalent of Stallone being shunted off to a sequel to “Stop, Or My Mom Will Shoot!”

Replacing “Next Action Star” on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET will be encores of the previous week’s “Last Comic Standing,” which NBC hopes will provide a more compatible lead-in to the new episode.

“Next Action Star” takes the place of the previously announced encore of “Last Comic Standing.” The time slot was originally set aside for repurposed episodes of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” but NBC will hold them for later in the summer.

Through its first three weeks, “Last Comic Standing” is averaging 9.28 million viewers, up from the 8.3 million it averaged in its first season. It has also helped carry NBC to several summer wins among adults 18-49, the network’s demographic of choice.

The network boasts that last week, “Last Comic” improved on its lead-in by 86 percent in the key demographic, which is more a reflection of the tepid numbers for “Next Action Star.” That series has averaged only 5.17 million viewers in its first airings, causing “Last Comic” to mostly fend for itself.

Kelley’s NBC show seeks lawyers, cases

NBC is seeking California-area lawyers and pending civil court cases for a new reality show from David E. Kelley (“The Practice”).

The show is looking for men and women of good standing with the California Bar Association and cases including but not limited to personal injury, property disputes, workplace disputes, discrimination, contract disputes, sexual harassment, fraud, medical malpractice and family or inheritance disputes.

More information on becoming involved with the series is available on NBC’s Web site in the “Contestants” section.

The selected attorneys will be part of what the network describes as a “TV law firm,” which will have a managing partner who releases one barrister per week.

The litigants in the selected cases will either be represented by a member of the “TV law firm” or by a distinguished guest attorney.

The cases will be tried in front of guest judges and, potentially, juries. While some cases will be determined in the courtroom, others will be decided in outside arbitration.

The lawyers are ultimately competing for what is only described as a “large cash prize.”

Kelley is executive producing the untitled eight-episode series along with David Garfinkle (“Surreal Life,” “Blind Date”), Jay Renfroe (“Surreal Life,” “Blind Date”) and Jonathan Pontell (“Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public”).

Fox, FX snag spidey sequel

In a deal believed to be worth around $50 million, Fox and cable sibling FX have scored the television rights to “Spider-Man 2.” The summer blockbuster opened on the big screen in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the deal for “Spider-Man 2” won’t kick in until January 2006, after the film has completed its theatrical run, PPV window and exclusive premium cable window on HBO.

The 10-year deal caps the cost to Fox even if the movie repeats the success of the first movie.

Under the deal, Fox gets three airings of the movie in the first three years of the deal. After 2010, the film’s producers at Sony can sell rights to other networks that want to share the broadcast window with FX.

“Spider-Man” grossed more than $400 million at the US box office and rights for the first movie went to Fox in a 10-year, $60 million deal.

The lower price for the sequel licensing fee reflects the downward trend in the television market for most feature films.Two of the summer’s largest hits, “Shrek 2” and “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” have yet to secure broadcast homes.

MEET THE LATEST PACK OF ‘BIG BROTHER’ SHUT-INS

Continuing the trend established recent seasons, the cast of CBS’ “Big Brother 5” is young, attractive and eager to do anything to win the show’s $500,000 prize.

Following a season in which the show’s cast was criticized for being young and homogenous, the “Big Brother” casting department has a strange sense of how to set things right. No contestant is older than 41 and only one other person is over 30. Needless to say, both of the House’s near-senior residents are men.

The players come from all over the country, from Boston to Pittsburgh to Los Angeles to Tupelo, Mississippi. Their occupations range from cocktail waitresses to models to morticians. Early bets for high drama include Holly, whose bio declares “cruel people who are closed-minded freaks,” and Marvin, who already warns “I’m too real for some people.”

As always, the 13 shut-ins will face an array of physical and semi-mental challenges on the road to the big prize. Last year, the early episodes were dominated by talk of “The Ex-Factor,” which found four of the constants living with a former boyfriend or girlfriend. CBS has yet to unveil any shocking twists for this season.

The immortal and inevitably bare-shouldered Julie Chen returns as host.

“Big Brother 5” debuts with a special 90-minute broadcast on Tuesday, July 6 at 8 p.m. ET before moving into its standard airings on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.



‘CSI: NY’ EXPANDS ITS FORENSIC TEAM

Following in the footsteps of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” and “CSI: Miami,” CBS’ new drama “CSI: NY” just keeps adding one cast member after another. The drama, which already features Gary Sinise, Melina Kanakaredes, Carmine Giovinazzo, Vanessa Ferlito and Hill Harper has added two more members to its crack investigative team.

Eddie Cahill has joined the cast as a regular, playing homicide Detective Don Flack, a second-generation officer with a quick wit and mad forensic skills. CBS publicity boasts that Cahill’s character isn’t know for “having patience with potential suspects.”

“Friends” fans remember Cahill as Rachel’s (Jennifer Aniston) former assistant and boyfriend Tag. At least a dozen viewers also remember him as one of the stars of The WB drama “Glory Days.” Most recently, Cahill appeared on the big screen in the spring hit “Miracle.”

The drama has also added Grant Albrecht in a recurring role. Albrecht, who suffers from a spinal cord condition, recently participated in CBS’ Spring 2004 Talent Showcase for actors with disabilities. The actor, a veteran of CBS shows including “The Guardian” and “Walker, Texas Ranger,” will play the head of the DNA department, a former runner now paralyzed from the waist down.

“CSI: NY” faces off against NBC’s “Law & Order” at 10 p.m. ET on Wednesday nights this fall.



A&E’S SCHWARZENEGGER BIOPIC PUMPS UP CAST

Perhaps hinting at its intended tone, A&E’s “See Arnold Run” has beefed up its cast and crew with the director of “American Pie 2” and one of the stars of “Son of the Beach.” The Schwarzenegger pic is still in preproduction, with hopes of an airdate at the end of 2004.

A&E has recruited J.B. Rogers to helm the project, which is based on a script by Matt Dorff (ABC’s “Inside the Osmonds”). In addition to “American Pie 2” and “Say it Ain’t So,” Rogers’ credits include the immortal Comedy Central original “Knee High P.I.”

“It’s an unusual choice because he’s not a real movie-of-the-week director,” A&E programming chief Bob DeBitetto tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We went a different route because the project merited it.”

The movie cuts between Schwarzenegger’s quest for his fifth consecutive Mr. Olympia title and his 2003 run to become California’s governor.

Looking for an actor to play the youthful, gap-toothed Austrian bodybuilder, A&E has turned to Roland Kickinger, an Austrian-born gap-toothed bodybuilder. The former “Mr. Austria” is best known as Chip Rommel from “Son of the Beach.”

A&E is still searching for an established actor to play the 2003 version of Schwarzenegger, as well as the perfect Maria Shriver.



(c) 2004, Zap2it.com.

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Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services.

AP-NY-06-30-04 1619EDT


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