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TV Notes: 12/23/03

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

'Anna Nicole' rated worst show on TV by screenwriters

John E. Johnson, executive director of the American Screenwriters Association, has this comment about his group's poll of the worst shows on television:

"Clearly many of the top 10 'bad shows' were reality-based formats," Johnson says. "What does that tell us?"

That writers don't like shows that take money out of their pockets, maybe?

The poll gathered 10,327 responses from writers about what they think were the biggest dogs to air in 2003. "The Anna Nicole Show" on E! was a runaway winner, with more than a third of respondents naming it the biggest stinker.

That choice won't draw an argument from many people. However, the poll also names shows like "Survivor" and "Fear Factor" among its 10 worst. Both are Top 20 shows in terms of total viewers, according to Nielsen ratings.

In fact, not a single scripted sitcom or drama ranked among the ASA's 10 worst. Seven of the 10 can be lumped under the "reality" heading; the others are "The Jerry Springer Show" and "Howard Stern," both talk shows, and WWE wrestling (poll results didn't specify whether writers found Spike TV's "Raw" or UPN's "Smackdown" more offensive).

The results of the poll are as follows:

1. "The Anna Nicole Show," E! (33.7 percent)
2. "The Jerry Springer Show," syndicated (12.7 percent)
3. "Temptation Island," Fox (9.6 percent)
4. WWE wrestling, UPN/Spike TV (9.2 percent)
5. "Joe Millionaire," Fox (9.1 percent)
6. "Howard Stern," E! (8.9 percent)
7. "Fear Factor," NBC (8.8 percent)
8. "Big Brother," CBS (6.2 percent)
9. "Survivor," CBS (1.6 percent)
10. "The Amazing Race," CBS (0.8 percent)


Bet on Butters

Butters has become one of Trey Parker's favorite "South Park" characters.

Butters, who's blond and constantly being picked on, started playing a larger role when muffled, hooded Kenny was killed off for a year, says Parker, who created the popular Comedy Central animated show with Matt Stone.

"We ended up adding all these dimensions to Butters that I think were really great," Parker told AP Radio recently. "He's always the kid that's worried his parents are going to ground him, but on the other hand he's got this other persona where he thinks he's this evil superhero, but even in that he does the most mundane things."

Parker, 34, said he knows when he's writing a scene featuring Butters and Cartman that it's going to be good. (Stone voices Butters and Parker voices Cartman.)

The seventh season finale aired last week.

(Associated Press)

White takes 'Practice' run

Emmy winner Betty White will join the cast of "The Practice" for a three-episode arc later this season.

White will play Carol Piper, a resident of Alan Shore's (James Spader) hometown, where he returns to defend a childhood buddy in a murder case. Carol's busybody tendencies bring her into contact with Shore.

White has worked with "Practice" creator David E. Kelley in the past, co-starring in the giant-crocodile movie "Lake Placid," which Kelley wrote. She also made a guest appearance on "Ally McBeal" in 1999.

White's appearance on "The Practice" will mark a relatively rare foray into drama. She has appeared in a handful of dramatic TV movies and feature films -- most recently 1999's "The Story of Us" -- and guest starred on shows ranging from "St. Elsewhere" to "Everwood," but has spent most of her career as a comedic actress.


Duff rocks in 2004

Remember the excitement of New Year's Eve when you were 16, getting to stay up till midnight and drink a little champagne with the grown-ups? That's sorta what Hilary Duff's New Year's Eve is going to be like, except that the 16-year-old actress-singer is going to co-host MTV's New Year's Eve bash beginning at 10:30 p.m.

Duff won't be the only 2003 sensation ready to ring in 2004 at the music network's annual gala bash. Ubiquitous "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken will be on hand, as will Ludacris and Simple Plan, who will continue an MTV tradition by performing a surprise cover at midnight. Chingy will also be performing "Right Thurr."

Several thespians familiar to MTV audiences will make appearances. The cast of The WB's "One Tree Hill," who caused a near-riot when they dropped by "TRL" earlier in the year, will pay a visit, as will Erika Christensen, who starred in the network's musical take on "Wuthering Heights."

The event, co-hosted by MTV's Damien, La La, Vanessa, Quddus, Hilarie and SuChin, will also feature a showdown between Reign Man and Wrekonize, the winners of the first two installments of MTV's "MC Battle."


Renewed, returning, canceled

The WB has given "Gilmore Girls" an early renewal for the 2004-05 television season ... Bravo has acquired the rights to the canceled Fox series "Keen Eddie," including six unaired episodes. The series premieres on Bravo at 9 p.m. Jan. 27 ... The Hollywood Reporter says Showtime has canceled the drama series "Street Time."

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor)

Comcast adds KDKA in HD

Comcast cable has added a high-definition feed of KDKA's signal at Channel 782. (R.O.)

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