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TV Notes: Oscar show promises no political censoring

Saturday, February 14, 2004

The producer and director of the upcoming Oscar telecast said ABC's 5-second delay will be used to shield viewers from any unlikely profanity or nudity -- but will not interfere with any political statements winners may make.

The safeguard measure for the Academy Awards is the latest fallout from the uproar over Janet Jackson's breast-baring Super Bowl performance, which has provoked an investigation by the Federal Communications Commission.

"At the nominees luncheon yesterday, I spoke with the nominees and just said that, when they come up, they're all under this microscope, unfortunately, because of these events a couple weeks ago," Oscar telecast producer Joe Roth told reporters Tuesday.

Asked if the delay could be used to block political statements -- like documentary filmmaker Michael Moore's scathing criticism last year of President Bush, which drew both cheers and boos from the theater audience -- Roth responded: "No, it applies to the use of profanity."

The producer, who's head of Revolution Studios, said he wants to encourage a sense of freedom and spontaneity -- as long as winners are interesting and generally wholesome, he won't seek to interrupt their speeches.

ABC always maintains a watch over its live events, said Oscar telecast director Louis J. Horvitz, who has worked on the show eight times previously.

"ABC standards-and-practices has always gone out on the red carpet and looked at the gowns the women are wearing, and I'm sure if a guy's coming in with a jock strap they might say something like, 'When you photograph him on his entrance, would you do a waist[-up] shot," Horvitz joked.

But it's happened before.

In 1974, David Niven's Oscar introduction of Elizabeth Taylor was suddenly interrupted as a naked trespasser flashing a peace sign raced past him onstage. Niven famously quipped to the audience: "Just think, the only laugh that man will probably ever get is for stripping and showing off his shortcomings."

More innocently, sometimes an actress shows up in a dress that becomes see-through in the bright stage lights -- which is what happened to an embarrassed Meryl Streep at the recent Golden Globe Awards.

Horvitz said he can deal with that through tighter close-ups or adjusted lighting without cutting or blocking the image.

The Academy Awards are set for broadcast from Hollywood's Kodak Theatre on Feb. 29. Billy Crystal has signed on as host.

(Anthony Breznican, The Associated Press)

Guests on 'Alias'

"Independence Day" star Vivica A. Fox guest-stars in "After Six," this Sunday's episode of "Alias," bringing to three the number of people involved in "Kill Bill" to appear on the ABC espionage drama.

Preceding her were the film's director and writer, Quentin Tarantino, who reprises his recurring role as McKenas Cole in "After Six," and Bill himself, David Carradine, who appeared in an episode last April.

"Do you want me to call my Vipers?" quips Fox, who played assassin Vernita Green in "Kill Bill." "I will!"

In "After Six," Fox puts aside the fisticuffs for battle of a more intellectual kind, playing rogue security-systems designer Toni Cummings. It's up to CIA agents Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) and Eric Weiss (Greg Grunberg) to convince Toni that she should help the CIA break through the defenses of the evil Covenant.

Fox laughs when asked if Toni's causing trouble for Sydney. "Just a little bit! Just a tad. She needs it. She can handle it, though. She's a tough one. But working on this show has been an incredible experience. I've been a big fan ever since it came out. I got the offer because of Quentin, because he's in the episode as well.

"So it was all organic. I jumped at the opportunity, went and did it. They were great to work with -- great hair, great makeup, great script. If I do TV, this is the kind of TV I want to do. I didn't think twice. 'Alias,' yes!"

On the guest-star docket for upcoming "Alias" episodes are "The Office" star and Golden Globe Award-winner Ricky Gervais, in a rare non-comedic role as a bomb maker, on March 14; and, in late March, Peter Fonda as Lauren's father, Sen. Reed.

(Kate O'Hare, Zap2it.com)

WB renews 'Charmed'

"Charmed" has put a spell on The WB and thus -- bewitched, bothered and bewildered -- the network has given the fantasy an early renewal, extending the series for a seventh season.

The drama premiered in the fall of 1998 and has been a solid and consistent ratings performer for The WB. The series averages nearly 4.7 million viewers per episode. While that's down slightly from the 4.95 million viewers "Charmed" was drawing at this time last year, it still performs well in key demographics in its Sunday night home.

The show is No. 2 in its 8-9 p.m. time period in people 12-34 and women 12-34 and No. 3 among women 18-34.

(Zap2it.com)

Family reality show

The reality producers behind "Joe Millionaire" and "Temptation Island" are looking for a few good families. Actually, the good people of Rocket Science Laboratories don't have much use for good families. They're looking for families that need help.

The latest offering from the "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance" team of Jean-Michel Michenaud and Chris Cowan will be a family makeover show that attempts to improve every aspect of a different family's life every week.

From deeper psychological improvements to superficial changes in landscaping and wardrobe, the new show will use a team of experts on an improvement mission.

The show is still in the casting process, and families that believe they have what it takes to make quality television should visit the Web site at www.familytimecasting.com for more information.

(Zap2it.com)

Channel surfing

Next week ABC will begin accepting applications for anyone age 18 or older interested in playing "Super Millionaire" at 1-800-999-7878. Telephone lines will open at 7 p.m. Monday and will remain open for eight consecutive hours for the following seven days. ... WQED's "On Q" (7:30 weeknights) mixes politics and cooking in a new segment titled "What's Cooking in Politics." It begins airing Monday. The first installment features "On Q" contributor Joseph Sabino Mistick and Allegheny County chief executive Dan Onorato talking politics while preparing a meal.

(Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV editor)

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