BC-TV-BRIEFS:ZP – entertainment, people (930 words)

Television news briefs

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

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SCHWARZENEGGER RETURNS TO “TONIGHT SHOW’

There’s an “I’ll be back” joke in here somewhere: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will appear on NBC’s “Tonight Show” Friday, a year after announcing his candidacy to Jay Leno.

The governor’s return to Leno’s couch isn’t exactly a surprise. In fact, he’s been on the show twice since August 2003 – once after winning the governorship in the recall election that ousted then-Gov. Gray Davis and once in March.

Friday’s appearance will mark a year since his entry into politics. Schwarzenegger is coming off signing his first state budget (several weeks after the constitutional deadline, not unlike his predecessors) and continues to be popular among the state’s voters.

Whether he’ll use “The Tonight Show” as a platform for some new campaign – he has made rumblings about backing a voter initiative to make the state Legislature part-time – remains to be seen.

Whatever Schwarzenegger has to say Friday, it likely won’t be as big a surprise as his announcement a year ago. At the time, most observers expected him to tell Leno and the TV audience that he wasn’t going to run in the recall election, instead deferring to former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan.

That, of course, turned out not to be the case, and the rest is, as they say, history.



FAMILY-FRIENDLY TV GROUP PRAISES “JOAN,’ PANS “EVERWOOD’

It’s not much of a surprise that “Joan of Arcadia” tops the Parents Television Council’s list of the most family-friendly TV series. The watchdog group’s pick at the opposite end of the spectrum, however, might raise a few eyebrows.

The PTC, in its annual rankings of the best and worst shows on television for families, puts The WB’s family drama “Everwood” at the top of the “worst” list. The group says the list “does not examine artistic quality”; the rankings are based on incidents of violence, sex (including innuendo) and profanity in a given show.

“Everwood” tops the worst list primarily for its “careless and irresponsible treatment of sexual issues,” but it also loses points for being sneaky. The show “gives every appearance of being a family drama, but it’s nothing of the kind,” the group says. “… “Everwood’s’ reckless messages about sex without consequences are expressly targeted to impressionable teens.”

The Emmy-nominated “Joan of Arcadia,” on the other hand, earns PTC kudos as “the best new show of the 2003-04 season” and “one of television’s most pro-family shows.” The council also notes that while Joan (Amber Tamblyn) speaks to God on a regular basis and follows instructions given to her by the Almighty, her reward comes in seeing how what she does affects others, not in material terms.

Other shows on the best list include PAX’s “Doc” and “Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye,” CBS’ “Everybody Loves Raymond” and two reality shows – “American Idol” and “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” Repeat offenders on the worst list include “CSI” and “Will & Grace”; they’re joined by newcomers “Cold Case,” “Two and a Half Men” and “Las Vegas.”



HBO ENAMORED WITH “BIG LOVE’

“Big Love,” a drama series about a polygamist and his three wives, has made it official with HBO.

The pay-cable network has ordered 11 episodes (including the pilot) of the series, from creators Will Scheffer (“In the Gloaming”) and Mark Olsen. It’s expected to premiere sometime in 2005, the Hollywood trade papers report.

Bill Paxton (“A Simple Plan,” “Thunderbirds”) will star in “Big Love” as a Utah man who practices polygamy. Jeanne Tripplehorn (“Sliding Doors,” “The Firm”), Chloe Sevigny (“Shattered Glass”) and Ginnifer Goodwin (“Ed,” “Mona Lisa Smile”) play his wives.

Bruce Dern (“Monster”), Harry Dean Stanton (“Pretty in Pink,” “Repo Man”) and Grace Zabriskie (“Twin Peaks”) have also joined the cast.

Scheffer and Olsen, who produced the 2002 independent film “Easter” – based on Scheffer’s play of the same name – are serving as executive producers along with Tom Hanks and Gary Goetzman. Rodrigo Garcia (“Six Feet Under,” “Carnivale”) directed the pilot.



TNT FLIES TO “MOON’

The sprawling miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon” will make its commercial-television debut on TNT later this year.

Produced with NASA’s cooperation, “From the Earth to the Moon” first aired on HBO in 1998. It was nominated for 17 Emmys and won three, including the trophy for outstanding miniseries.

“‘From the Earth to the Moon’ set a new standard for television miniseries, thanks to its unprecedented quality of production, writing, directing and cast,” says TNT’s head of programming, Ken Schwab. “It set the stage for how many miniseries are being produced today.”

The 12-hour miniseries tracked the history of the space program from the early Mercury and Gemini missions through the Apollo 11 moon landing and into the 1970s. Tim Daly, Kevin Pollak, Rita Wilson, Mark Harmon and Elizabeth Perkins were part of the huge cast, and Graham Yost (“Boomtown”), Sally Field, Jonathan Mostow (“Terminator 3”) and Tom Hanks, who was also an executive producer, all directed episodes.

TNT will air the miniseries in several blocks. The first two episodes will debut at 9 p.m. ET Oct. 1, with episodes three through seven running the next day, beginning at 5 p.m. All 12 episodes will run Oct. 3, and episodes eight through 12 will air again on Oct. 9.

“From the Earth to the Moon” is the second HBO miniseries to make its way to ad-supported TV this year. The History Channel aired the World War II epic “Band of Brothers” in the spring.



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AP-NY-08-03-04 1602EDT



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