Country-music star LeAnn Rimes will take over as host of USA’s “Nashville Star” for its third season.

Rimes, a two-time Grammy winner with sales of 30 million albums to her credit, will bring what USA calls an “artist’s perspective” to the show, a talent search that rewards an up-and-coming country singer with a record contract. She replaces “Access Hollywood” anchor Nancy O’Dell in the role.

“As a singer and songwriter, I have great admiration for many of the budding stars who come to try their hand at performing, and can relate to the hopes and aspirations of all the contestants, no matter how good or bad,” Rimes says. “‘Nashville Star’ is great TV – it has drama, humor, sadness, fun and great music.”

Rimes appeared on the show’s second-season finale earlier this year and counts herself a fan of the show. The feeling is reciprocated by the producers.

Sitcom on divorce

You know the statistic: Roughly half of all marriages end in divorce. In the world of TV sitcoms, though, a vast majority of couples are happily married (or at least tolerate one another between one-liners).

Rich Appel wants to change that.

The former writer for “The Simpsons” and “King of the Hill” and creator of NBC’s “A.U.S.A.” has a pilot deal in place at CBS for a comedy about two couples going through divorces, the Hollywood trade papers report. One of the couples is proceeding amicably with their split, while the other decidedly is not.

The project is Appel’s first pilot since the brief run of “A.U.S.A.” on NBC in early 2003.

He most recently served as a co-executive producer on “The Bernie Mac Show” for FOX.

A former attorney, Appel joined the writing staff of “The Simpsons” in the mid-1990s and then moved on to “King of the Hill,” where he worked for four seasons. He won Emmys as part of the producing team for both shows.

He’s currently based at 20th Century Fox TV, which is producing the CBS pilot.

ARDS

The Sheen family already has two generations working in showbiz – dad Martin and kids Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Renee Estevez and Ramon Estevez.

In a few weeks, a third-generation Sheen will make her acting debut when Sam Sheen, Charlie Sheen and Denise Richards’ 8-month-old daughter, appears with her parents on CBS’ “Two and a Half Men.”

The episode, scheduled for Nov. 22, marks Richards’ second appearance on the show as Lisa, a woman who Charlie (Sheen) believes could be the one who ends his bachelorhood. When he last saw her, though (in an episode that aired the same week last year), she was about to get married.

A year later, Charlie sees Lisa again and is secretly happy to hear her marriage didn’t work out. He also finds out, though, that Lisa is raising a child (Sam Sheen), which gives him pause.

Richards most recently appeared in the Lifetime movie “I Do (But I Don’t).” Her other credits include “Wild Things,” “The World Is Not Enough” and “Undercover Brother.” She and Sheen, who married in 2002, have worked together on the 2001 romantic comedy “Good Advice” and in “Scary Movie 3.”



ALF BACK ON TV LAND’S COUCH

While CBS continues its search for a host of “The Late Late Show,” another member of the Viacom family is moving forward with its own late-night yakfest.

TV Land and sardonic, cat-loving alien Gordon Shumway – better known as Alf – have struck a deal for six more episodes of “Alf’s Hit Talk Show,” which debuted as a special in July. Ratings were good enough to warrant more episodes.

“We are thrilled to be able to move forward to series on “Alf’s Hit Talk Show,”‘ says Sal Maniaci, vice president of TV Land and Nick at Nite. “We are excited that we are able to entertain our audience with Alf’s wit and humor. This is definitely an alternative to many of today’s standard late night programs.”

Long-time “Tonight Show” sidekick Ed McMahon will serve as Alf’s co-host for the half-hour show, which debuts at 11 p.m. ET Nov. 5. Merv Griffin, who also knows from talk shows, and “Joan of Arcadia” star Joe Mantegna will be Alf’s first guests.

Tom Green, Bryan Cranston (“Malcolm in the Middle”), Doris Roberts (“Everybody Loves Raymond”) and musician Leon Redbone are set to appear in future episodes.

Paul Fusco, who’s the voice of Alf, and Burt Dubrow (“The New Tom Green Show”) are executive producing the show.



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AP-NY-10-28-04 1642EDT



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