NBC GRANT-ING “WISHES’ WITH UNSCRIPTED PILOT

NBC is delving deeper into the feel-good area of unscripted TV with a special that helps people realize their dreams.

The show, called “Three Wishes,” will travel to small towns across America and help residents fulfill long-standing hopes. Projects the show undertakes could range from making a sports fantasy come true to saving a teacher’s job to helping a struggling city revive its economic base.

Grammy-winning singer Amy Grant will host the show, which has begun production on a pilot. “Three Wishes” will likely air as a special first, and may go to series if ratings are strong enough.

“When I heard about this show, I was extremely moved by NBC and the production company’s concept to provide incredibly positive changes in the lives of different people,” Grant says. “I knew that whoever wound up hosting this show was going to have a front-row seat to some pretty amazing interaction with some very deserving people. I’m so glad my name was thrown into the pot.”

Andrew Glassman and Jason Raff, both veterans of “Average Joe,” will executive produce “Three Wishes” for NBC Universal TV. An airdate for the special/back-door pilot hasn’t been set.



“106 & PARK’ HOST MAKES “THE SHOW’ FOR UPN

AJ Calloway, who hosts BET’s signature music show “106 & Park,” is making the jump to network TV.

UPN has ordered a pilot for a comedy called “The Show with AJ Calloway,” in which he’ll play a fictionalized version of himself, the Hollywood trade papers.

“The Show,” which is being produced by Sony Pictures TV and Handprint Entertainment, will try for a “Larry Sanders Show”-style look at the life of Calloway’s alter ego, the host of a late-night talk show. Offstage issues involving former girlfriends, intrusive family members and friends complicate his work life.

Calloway has hosted “106 & Park” since its debut in 2000. He’s also appeared on several other BET (which, like UPN, is part of Viacom) shows and specials and in the feature film “Drumline.”

David Goetch, Benny Medina, Jeff Pollack and Evan Weiss are executive producing the pilot. Calloway will receive a co-exec producer credit along with Mike Brillstein and Adam Lublin.



“BUFFY’ ALUM BRENDON IN FOX’S “KITCHEN’

Nicholas Brendon, who had his fair share of comedic moments in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” will give full-time comedy a shot in a Fox pilot.

Brendon has joined the cast of “Kitchen Confidential,” the Darren Star-produced pilot based on chef Anthony Bourdain’s memoir of hard living and haute cuisine. He’ll play a pastry chef at the lead character’s restaurant, the showbiz trade papers report.

The show’s cast already includes “Freaks and Geeks” alumnus John Francis Daley and Owain Yeoman (“Troy”), who would have starred in The WB’s “Commando Nanny” this season had the show ever made it onto the air. The Bourdain part hasn’t been filled yet.

David Hem (“Cracking Up,” “Just Shoot Me”) is writing the pilot, with Star (“Sex and the City,” “Beverly Hills, 90210”) executive producing and directing.

In addition to “Buffy,” Brendon has appeared in “Psycho Beach Party” and last year’s ABC Family movie “Celeste in the City.” He also starred in another Fox pilot, “The Pool at Maddy Breaker’s,” in 2003.



“SHIELD’ COLLARS SOLID RATINGS WITH CLOSE

The addition of Glenn Close to “The Shield” attracted some curious viewers Tuesday, resulting in fairly strong ratings for the show’s fourth-season premiere.

About 3.9 million people tuned in to the FX series Tuesday night, giving “The Shield” the second-biggest audience on cable for the evening (behind a “Law & Order” rerun on TNT). More than half of the audience fell in the adults 18-49 demographic prized by advertisers.

Both numbers represent improvements over last season, the least-watched of “The Shield’s” three years. Last year’s premiere drew only 2.8 million viewers, and the show’s season average was slightly below that. The series averaged about 3.3 million viewers in each of its first two years.

Tuesday’s numbers didn’t quite reach the heights of the season one and two debuts, which both attracted more than 4 million people, but FX can hardly be disappointed with an improvement of more than 35 percent over last year.

The casting of Close, an Emmy winner and five-time Oscar nominee, as the new captain in “The Shield’s” fictional L.A. precinct of Farmington has brought some renewed buzz to the series. The rest of the cast, including Emmy winner Michael Chiklis as Detective Vic Mackey, remains intact.



TONYS ANNOUNCE JACKMAN’S BACK, MAN

It seems like they can’t hold the Tony Awards anymore without Hugh Jackman. A Tony winner last summer for his lead performance in the otherwise maligned “The Boy From Oz,” Jackman will return to host the theater awards telecast for the third consecutive year.

The 59th Annual Tony Awards will air June 5 from New York’s Radio City Music Hall. CBS will broadcast the evening. The network has aired every Tony telecast since 1978 and thanks to a recently inked pact, the Tonys will remain on CBS through at least 2010. This will be the eighth time that the Radio City Music Hall has been home to the Tonys.

When he oversaw the Tonys last June, Jackman was coming off the mixed results for his summer blockbuster “Van Helsing,” which opened to huge crowds in May, but instantly fell precipitously at the box office after negative word of mouth set in. Jackman had more success as Wolverine in the two “X-Men” features. The Australian actor will next be seen in Darren Aronofsky’s long gestating “The Fountain.”

On Broadway, Jackman’s presence was so intrinsic to the success of “The Boy From Oz” that whenever he had to briefly leave the show, the house went dark. Several years earlier, Jackman earned raves as the lead in “Oklahoma!” at London’s National Theatre. He has also starred in stage productions of “Sunset Boulevard” and “Beauty and the Beast.”


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