Search This Blog

dinsdag 20 maart 2012

Charlie Sheen Coming Back to 'Two and a Half Men' ... in Kathy Bates Form

Charlie Sheen Coming Back to 'Two and a Half Men' ... in Kathy Bates Form

Looks like "Two and a Half Men" creator Chuck Lorre is getting in one more jab at his former cast member-turned-nemesis Charlie Sheen.

Sheen's character, Charlie Harper -- who was killed off on the season premiere of the CBS hit last fall -- is coming back to the show, albeit in ghost form. And that ghost will be played by "Harry's Law" star Kathy Bates.

Who is female. And nearly 20 years older than Sheen.

Bates will guest-star on the series' April 30 episode, playing Harper's ghost, CBS said Monday. In the episode, Jon Cryer's character Alan Harper suffers a minor heart attack, and is visited by Harper's ghost in the hospital.

After Sheen was bounced from the show after a spree of bizarre behavior and a string of insults hurled at Lorre, his jingle-writing character Charlie Harper suffered an off-screen demise which saw him falling in front of a train in France, with the strong implication being that he was pushed by his new bride Rose, after he was caught by her with another woman.

Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, who plays heartbroken internet billionaire Walden Schmidt.

Matt Weiner on 'Mad Men' Ad Controversy: I'm Not Exploiting 9/11, Journalists Are!

Matt Weiner on 'Mad Men' Ad Controversy: I'm Not Exploiting 9/11, Journalists Are!

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner isn't falling for the criticism surrounding the latest ad campaign for his series.

Weiner has lashed out about the scandal about the ad, which depicts the show's "falling man" icon falling from the sky and which some say is insensitive to 9/11 victims, some of whom jumped from the World Trade Center towers rather than burn to death.

While some have criticized the ads as "cruel" and "tasteless," particularly since billboards of the image were put up in Manhattan, including close to Ground Zero, Weiner isn't having any of it.

In fact, he says, it's the media's fault for stirring up controversy where there is none.

"I think it’s an excuse for journalists to show that picture again. I do, I think they’re exploiting 9/11," Weiner said during a recent interview with Salon. "To suggest that I’m not reverent to the tragedy is ridiculous. I hate to say it, but a businessman falling out of a window is a symbol that far precedes that event. What I see are journalists looking for a story, going and confronting these 9/11 victims. It’s like going to Coretta Scott King and being like, 'Do you hate movies where people play your husband?'”

The "falling man" imagery has been part of the series since it began airing in 2007. According to Weiner, he was "stunned" when a cloud of controversy gathered around the image recently.

"They can trot out that picture again, which was always a controversial picture to someone who lived through it," Weiner said. "As someone who was very, very involved in the campaign, and trying to get people to watch the show, I was stunned that someone would try to bring it up again."

The fifth season of AMC's "Mad Men" begins on March 25.

Ricky Gervais's Derek Noakes sitcom pilot to air on Channel 4 in April

Ricky Gervais's Derek Noakes sitcom pilot to air on Channel 4 in April

Ricky Gervais sitcom pilot Derek will be screened on Channel 4 in April, it has been announced.

The Office creator is hoping that the nursing home-centred comedy, which also stars Karl Pilkington in his first acting role, is commissioned for a full series.

However, BAFTA is billing its screening in London, on Tuesday, March 27, as "a one-off comedy drama".

A Channel 4 spokesperson said: "Channel 4 is very excited to be working with Ricky Gervais on this new project and it's wrong to say we have rejected a series.

"The pilot will be on TV in April and then there'll be further discussions about the potential for a full series."

Derek Noakes, to be played by Gervais, is described by BAFTA as "a tender, innocent man whose love for his job and the people he cares for shines through".

"He's 49 years old and loves animals, Rolf Harris, Jesus, Deal or No Deal, Million Pound Drop and Britain's Got Talent - but his main hobby is autograph hunting," added the description.

Pilkington will portray retirement home landlord Dougie, Noakes's employer.

James Bond legend Sir Sean Connery will reportedly appear in the first episode.

Derek Noakes first appeared in a short at 2001's Edinburgh Comedy Festival, then a 39-year-old aspiring stand-up comic living with his grandmother.

FOX Announces 2011-12 Season Finale Dates

FOX Announces 2011-12 Season Finale Dates

Highlights include the two-part season finale of "American Idol" on Tuesday, May 22 and Wednesday, May 23.

AMERICAN IDOL will continue live two-hour performance shows every Wednesday (8:00-10:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) until the two-night grand finale celebration in May. Don't miss the AMERICAN IDOL final performance showdown between the remaining finalists on a special night, Tuesday, May 22 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), followed by the season finale of GLEE at a special time (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT). Then, on the two-hour grand finale celebration airing Wednesday, May 23 (8:00-10:07 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), America's final votes will be revealed and the newest IDOL will be crowned before thousands of fans and millions of television viewers.

As previously announced, GLEE returns to Tuesdays (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), beginning April 10, with NEW GIRL remaining at 9:00-9:30 PM ET/PT, and RAISING HOPE returning to its regular time slot at 9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT. After HOPE's season finale on April 17 (9:30-10:00 PM ET/PT), BREAKING IN returns for three weeks in the time period through May 8.

Additionally, HOUSE will conclude an extraordinary eight seasons of medical mysteries and remarkable diagnosis on Monday, May 21, with a one-hour retrospective (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT), followed by the can't-miss series finale (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT).

Following are FOX's season finale dates for 2011-12:


(Times for All-New Episodes are ET/PT Except as Noted)

Saturday, April 7:

8:00-10:00 PM Q'VIVA! THE CHOSEN

Tuesday, April 17

9:30-10:00 PM RAISING HOPE

Tuesday, May 8:

9:00-9:30 PM NEW GIRL

Friday, May 11:

8:00-9:00 PM THE FINDER

9:00-10:00 PM FRINGE

Sunday, May 13:

9:30-10:00 PM AMERICAN DAD

Monday, May 14:

8:00-9:00 PM BONES

Sunday, May 20:



8:30-9:00 PM BOB'S BURGERS

9:00-10:00 PM FAMILY GUY (One-Hour Season Finale)

Monday, May 21:

8:00-9:00 PM HOUSE (One-Hour Retrospective Special)

9:00-10:00 PM HOUSE (Series Finale)

Tuesday, May 22:

8:00-9:00 PM AMERICAN IDOL (Pt. 1 - Final Performance Round) (ET live/PT tape-delayed)

9:00-10:00 PM GLEE

Wednesday, May 23:

8:00-10:07 PM AMERICAN IDOL (Pt. 2 - Grand Finale) (ET live/PT tape-delayed)

Ratings: NCAA Basketball Boosts CBS to First; 'Once Upon a Time' Top-Rated Show

Ratings: NCAA Basketball Boosts CBS to First; 'Once Upon a Time' Top-Rated Show

NCAA basketball coverage gave CBS a tentative overall ratings win Sunday night, while ABC's "Once Upon a Time" was the night's top-rated program, according to preliminary numbers.

CBS came in first in the adults 18-49 demographic and total viewers with an average 2.3/6 and 9.7 million, though overrun from NCAA basketball coverage meant the numbers could be revised. "60 Minutes" at 7 p.m. posted a 2.5/8 in the demo and 10 million total viewers, though that number is most likely skewed due to the basketball overrun until 7:44 in the Eastern and Central time zones. From 8 to 9, the continued "60 Minutes" coupled with "The Amazing Race" posted a 2.6/7 and 10.6 million total viewers, while "The Amazing Race" concludion, coupled with the beginning of "The Good Wife" from 9 to 10, averaged a 2.2/5 in the demo and 9.2 million total viewers. The network finished the night from 10 to 11 with "The Good Wife" continuation followed by "CSI: Miami," which averaged a 1.8/5 in the demo and 9 million total viewers.

ABC took second place in the demo and total viewers with an average 2.2/6 and 7.5 million. "America's Funniest Home Videos" at 7 posted a 1.3/4 in the demo and 6.1 million total viewers, while "Once Upon a Time" the following hour nabbed the night's top slot despite matching last week's series low with a 2.9/8 in the demo and 8.6 million total viewers. "Desperate Housewives" the following hour was down slightly from last week with a 2.5/6 in the demo and 9 million total viewers, while "GCB" at 10 dropped 13 percent in the demo to a 2.3/6, with 6.3 million total viewers.

Fox came in third in the demo and fourth in total viewers with an average 2.0/5 and 4.3 million. Following a "Simpsons" repeat at 7, "The Cleveland Show" at 7:30 posted a 1.6/5 in the demo and 3.3 million total viewers. At 8, "The Simpsons inched up to a 2.4/7 in the demo and 5.2 million total viewers, while "Bob's Burgers" climbed 11 percent from last week's season premiere for a 2.1/5 in the demo and 4.4 million total viewers. "Family Guy" at 9 was even with last week for a 2.8/7 in the demo and 5.7 million total viewers, while "American Dad" closed the night at 9:30. It was also flat with last week for a 2.2/5 in the demo and 4.6 million total viewers.

In fourth place in ratings and third in total viewers with an average 1.4/4 and 6.4 million, NBC ran "Dateline" at 7, which grew 22 percent to a 1.1/4 and 6.2 million total viewers. "Harry's Law" at 8 tied last week's series low with a 1.1/3 in the demo and 7.9 million total viewers. "The Celebrity Apprentice" at 9 dropped 10 percent from last week to touch a series low for the celebrity edition of the franchise, posting a 1.8/4 in the demo and 5.8 million total viewers.

The Vampire Diaries Stars Sit Pretty

The Vampire Diaries Stars Sit Pretty

For Nina Dobrev's 23rd birthday in January, her Vampire Diaries costar and real-life boyfriend Ian Somerhalder gifted her with a deluxe, hi-tech studio set chair. It's made of sustainable bamboo and matches the one he's been sitting in. (Cost: around $1,000, Nina says.)

"It has a table that swivels around and has a seat that lifts up so you can store stuff underneath," raves Nina. "I kept stealing his, so he got me one."

Why such an extravagant purchase? "We live in them," Ian says. "I have pockets where my cell phone and pencils go, plus every gluten-free snack known to man. It's like a holistic pharmacy in there to keep me going 15 hours a day."

But costar Paul Wesley finds the chairs a big waste of money. "They're absurdly plush — with cup holders!" he says with a laugh. "My chair is crappy, but I will never get one of those expensive ones. Gotta keep it real, man. Besides, anytime [Ian and Nina] are not working, I just sit in theirs!"

CBS (Non) Renewals, Smash, The River, Grey's, Awake More

CBS (Non) Renewals, Smash, The River, Grey's, Awake More

Question: Do you think it is possible that CBS will cancel Unforgettable, CSI: Miami and CSI: NY? I really like all of them and I am hoping this won't come true. — Linda

It is possible one or more of these shows won't be back in the fall, but just because they weren't included in CBS's announcement of early renewals (a whopping 18 series in all) doesn't mean they're necessarily doomed. It really depends on CBS's development and needs going into the new season, and as usual, they're approaching it from a position of stability and overall schedule strength. And while we often say about struggling networks (like NBC) that they can't cancel everything — thus ensuring the survival of bubble shows like Parenthood, for instance — with CBS the situation is that they can't afford, strategically anyway, to renew everything. The CSI spinoffs in particular are long-in-the-tooth and expensive, and much like when CBS eventually let go of decently performing veterans like Without a Trace, Judging Amy and Cold Case, at some point the programmers feel the need to make the call to freshen up the schedule with potential new hits — not always successfully, but CBS's track record is pretty solid. The separation anxiety fans are feeling is pretty common this time of year, but we'll just have to wait until May to see which of these shows make the cut.

Question: I was wondering if after you see a show and review it, do you ever go back and re-watch? Based on your reviews, I have tuned in to The River and Smash. I am sad to say that I have been disappointed in both. Except for the doll scene, which was super-creepy, The River has not really done much to creep me out. (By the way, I absolutely agree with your thoughts on Supernatural, although I will watch until the end. I am hoping the end comes sooner rather than later.) Last week's episode of The River was okay, but really, zombies? Or zombie-like creatures?

I am much more disappointed in Smash. I think Smash is a failure on every level, except for the acting by Christian Borle, Jack Davenport and Megan Hilty. It is failing as a soap opera, and I want to know why shows think soaps are so easy to do because they more often than not fail at it. There is no build-up to the soap elements. Julia seemed to fall back into bed with Michael without any serious qualms. All the plotlines seem so rushed. And they just have so much going on: adoption story, dating drama for Tom, the drama between Derek and Ivy, etc. Maybe it's because I am not a fan of Katharine McPhee-ver, but to me there's no doubt that Megan Hilty's Ivy deserves the part. And have the writers ever been to Iowa? They act like it's Siberia and that everyone there does not have a clue. The Marilyn musical and songs aren't doing it for me either. I just wonder what you saw that I cannot? — Shelley

Firstly, of course I keep watching most of the shows I review during their regular runs. (Very few of the shows I detest do I stick with — what would be the point — but even then, if they stick around, I tend to check in on them from time to time.) In the case of midseason shows like Smash and The River, I was able to base my reviews on multiple episodes — a luxury that tends to occur at midseason more often than in the fall — and maybe we'll have to agree to disagree on these. I'll concede neither is perfect, but I believe in the idea and (up to a point) have enjoyed the execution of both shows, and I'd much rather see the networks attempt offbeat, ambitious projects like this than deliver the umpteenth variation on a crime drama — though there's nothing wrong with a good one, of course — or a reality show (again, there's good and bad here, so trying not to overgeneralize).

I've enjoyed The River as a fun jump-in-your-seat pulp-fiction horror adventure. That one I'd put in the guilty pleasure column. And I know I'm in the critical minority, but I much preferred its straightforward scares (even the derivative mutant zombies in the research facility) to the pretentious psychosexual ghost-around-every-corner overkill of American Horror Story. And neither comes close to the level of The Walking Dead for sustained serious terror built around flesh-and-blood (oh the blood!) characters. With Smash, I'm still on board with the backstage musical drama (including the actual music, when it sticks to Broadway), which is an incredibly risky proposition for network TV, though I understand the frustration with the sudsy storylines, which often fall flat. But what continuing weekly series doesn't have soap elements to keep the story churning? Smash struggles at making the personal dramas as compelling as the subplots about the process of putting on a show — and it's pretty much a consensus view even among the show's champions that Karen's Iowa detour was the season low point to date — but I'll stick with an uneven show like this that's trying something new for those moments it achieves an exhilarating high. Which is the reason I haven't abandoned Glee, either. But you're not the only having problems with this. Read on...

Question: Last week's episode of Smash has to be the longest hour of TV I have sat through in a long time. My eyes were literally sore from rolling at the clichéd subplots, inane dialogue and the bad acting of Katherine McPhee. What has happened to the show that was so wonderful in the pilot? I don't even like the show music anymore. It's all chopped up in the rehearsals as Ivy and Derek spar about her inability to get anything right. I tuned in initially to see Debra Messing and Anjelica Huston, but they are now badly misused in boring subplots. I suppose Eileen's house hunting and going to a (gay?) bar are supposed to be emblematic of her efforts to get out of the shadow of her soon-to-be-ex-husband and loosen up, but those scenes just dragged on and on. Julia's affair with Michael is wrong on so many levels and so predictable that I was praying that annoying Ellis would find them in the studio during their late-night tryst, but he was out with Eileen playing the Big Hunter video game. Now this stupid affair will go on. Every time Katherine McPhee shows up, she sucks the life out of the scene. The bar mitzvah number where everyone is so enthralled with her was totally unbelievable to me. The only interesting part of the episode was learning about prednisone as a voice cure, but Ivy's dithering about whether or not to take it and then how much to take also took too much time. The teaser for this week promises major meltdowns all around. I think the meltdowns have been happening for weeks. Are you still enjoying the show? Do you know if it gets any better? — Frank

I have seen tonight's episode in advance (but nothing beyond), which I do think is one of the better ones, and by its end, some of your criticisms will be addressed head-on, giving me hope for the remainder of the season. But if the storyline about Ivy's vocal and emotional insecurities — which pretty much speaks to the heart of what Smash is all about — didn't grab you, and you're not enjoying the music, maybe this isn't the show for you. Give it another shot. This episode features the great Bernadette Peters as Ivy's spotlight-stealing diva mother, arriving just in time to upstage and undermine her daughter as the all-important workshop for potential investors looms. I'm only sorry that just as Smash has begun to stabilize in the ratings, this particular episode will face tough competition with new episodes of Castle — a themed tie-in to the Dancing With the Stars premiere — and Hawaii Five-0. No one said it would be easy.

Question: Is Ivy's trajectory on Smash intended to parallel Marilyn Monroe's life (as Ronald Colman's character in the classic A Double Life gradually became Othello)? Talent, temperament, tardiness, insecurities, drinking ... what's next? Overdose/suicide attempt? — V

What a great comparison. I love A Double Life! But I wouldn't take it too far, and I hope that Smash doesn't either. Without doubt we're meant to be seeing parallels between the pressures and insecurities bedeviling Ivy and what Marilyn herself went through, but her hesitation at going on the vocal steroid (and something she says in tonight's episode in an argument with her mother) makes me think that Ivy is too self-aware to let her fall into this trap too deeply.

Question: In your weekly review, you wrote about Owen's confession that he had cheated on Cristina in Grey's Anatomy, and I'm not sure what to make of your comment: "Though really, who can blame him?" Are you implying that Cristina deserved to be cheated on or that there are extenuating circumstances for cheating in this troubled relationship? The abortion, that is? I'm interested to know what you think about this new development, because you are a man and the majority of fans at boards are women, and we women tend to be more compassionate and forgiving towards female characters, I guess. Do you think this couple can or should be saved? Or do you think Shonda Rhimes is going to keep Cristina and Owen navigating around each other because Sandra Oh and Kevin McKidd are formidable acting partners even if Cristina and Owen's marriage seems so sad and miserable? Oh gets all the praise, but McKidd is outstanding himself in their scenes, and I imagine this is the reason TPTB (the powers that be, FYI) are pilling so much angst on this couple, because Cristina and Owen are played by two actors who can actually act and sell that those two mismatched doctors love each other deeply. — Sabrina

I essentially agree with you, especially on the performances of McKidd and Oh, and I should have known better than to be so glib in my week-in-review (which is often my default mode when putting together that weekly rundown), especially about this relationship, which I know so many fans take so seriously. Of course I'm not suggesting that Cristina deserves to be punished, or that Owen is justified for cheating. When I wrote, "Who can blame him?" I was referring to that moment when he admits, quite heart-wrenchingly, "I love you so much that it hurts," adding, "It hurts to love you." This couple is the perfect embodiment of the "you always hurt the one you love" doctrine, and what I should have made more clear is how inevitable (which is not the same as predictable) this twist now seems, especially when you see how much pain and torment Owen is in, even as it causes Cristina more anguish. I'm curious to learn the details of his indiscretion, not that it will excuse him — and I'm sure he'll never stop torturing himself about it, regardless of whether Cristina decides to forgive him. But to your bigger question about whether the couple can or should be saved: Should, definitely. Can, probably. Look at what all the couples on this show go through. This season has been Cristina and Owen's turn to hit the skids — they can't all be happy like Meredith and Derek are these days, or there'd be no show — but they and we have invested so much in these two, I'm betting they'll find a way to reconcile. Not until we all go through more angst, I'm sure.

Question: Just curious. After The Killing's (creator/exec producer) Veena Sud lied to her audience and promised an answer to the whodunit of "Who Killed Rosie Larsen?" by the end of Season 1 — then let it leak that you'd get a payoff a couple episodes into Season 2 — then revised that to say that you'd find out Rosie's killer by the end of Season 2 — how should I interpret the fact that Season 2 of The Killing debuts on April Fool's Day? — Michael

My interpretation: It's pretty obvious that some jokes just write themselves. And another reminder of the uphill climb this series faces to woo back skeptical viewers who feel burned they didn't get any payoff whatsoever last season.

Question: I'm way too invested in whether Harry's Law will be renewed, considering I've yet to see an episode of the show. It's just that it seems to do so well with older folks, but not in the key demos. While I know CBS ain't in the business of show-saving, I wonder if Harry isn't a good candidate for them to make an exception. — Dennis

Your first sentence made me laugh. You care, but not enough to watch. (I know how you feel.) It will be interesting to see if NBC sticks with Harry's Law, which (depending on when and where it airs) tends to draw a larger total-audience number than many NBC shows, though as you note the audience skews much older than the NBC norm. Whichever way the pendulum swings, I wouldn't expect CBS to come to its rescue. They're doing just fine as it is, with an emphasis on big-tent programming that may do well with the older crowd (which is CBS' reputation, not entirely justified), but are generally able to pull their weight in all categories.

Question: After reading last week's astute reader analysis of where the reality lies with Awake, I would like to offer some additional thoughts and offer a somewhat different analysis. First, do you have any thoughts (or insider knowledge) as to where the "reality" of the show actually lies in the mind of the writers? Have they decided where they plan to actually go with this in the end? And second, I have to say that applying logic to the analysis of where the true "reality" lies can only cause the viewer a problem. (I took a quote from Juliet in Lost to mean that all would fit together in the end in a logical time travel/alternate universe fashion; if I had not heard this one quote and counted on it, I would not have been nearly so disappointed in how the series ended.) Thus, I don't think we can go by whether Jason Isaacs' character is in every scene to determine which (if either) "reality" is actually a dream; there is no reason on earth that in his "dream" he couldn't "know" certain things (the scenes he doesn't appear in) in some sort of unconscious fashion. And of course now I am going to contradict myself about not being "logical" and say that the little tests (such as knowing a passage from the middle of the Constitution word for word) make me believe that for him, neither reality is more real than the other.

That said, I would like to offer up the two alternatives that make the most sense to me as to what is actually happening: (1) He is in a coma and both "realities" are dreams and (2) Both "realities" truly are real. Remember the "parallel universe" theories so dear to scientists? In this point of view, at each moment of time, our future splits into a myriad of possibilities, none more real than any other. In the case of Isaacs' character, two of these possibilities have somehow become linked, and unlike the rest of us, who are unaware of our other realities, his are forever linked. It will be interesting to see in the end how all of this plays out; it would be very disappointing if the series does not make it long enough for us to find out. — Maryann

I agree with your last point. I do not want Awake to disappear without at least trying to explain to us why Michael is going through this, and I really don't know (or at this point want to know) what the writers have in mind, though I have to believe they're not flying entirely blind here. You make some very good points, and a few that just add to my befuddlement. Right now, I'm more invested in the emotional journey than in the metaphysical specifics (which as you noted caused Lost no end of grief), and on that level, Awake is succeeding for me so far.

Question: I started watching Suburgatory at the request of a friend and have found it very enjoyable. The best way I can describe the show is quirky. Cheryl Hines is fabulous as always, and Jeremy Sisto has a knack for comedy. What are the chances of this show sticking around? The show does not seem to get a lot of buzz and is sort of flying under the radar. — DJ

Depends on your radar. In my book, ABC's Wednesday night boasts the most solid and enjoyable comedy lineup anywhere on TV, and that only became more true with the arrival of the tartly whimsical Suburgatory as the first show to successfully bridge the wonderful The Middle with the powerhouse Modern Family. (If only Cougar Town were still on Wednesdays, the lineup would be just about perfect.) The chances for renewal are excellent, and I agree with all of your points. The show's a hoot, and the cast is terrific.

Question: So is it safe to say Ringer is officially the biggest bomb of the 2011-2012 season? Do you think the show would have been better off on CBS as originally planned? Personally I love Ringer, but I think the writing is on the wall with regard to its future. — Rion

Ringer is a lugubrious dud, for me creatively as well as in the ratings, but there have been far bigger bombs this season in terms of expectation: The Playboy Club, to name one; Charlie's Angels another. The CW flies pretty low on most people's radar, and the only truly significant hype element about Ringer involved Sarah Michelle Gellar's return to series TV. (I now wish the TV fates had guided her instead to Revenge, which turned out to be a much more enjoyable mystery soap, and I'd love to see what she could have done with the Emily character, who's far less mopey than Bridget and Siobhan. A Buffy fanboy can dream.) But no way would Ringer have been better off on CBS, which would have had no patience with this show's turgid slow build. It would have been canceled by November, or would have had to become a much different show than the one the CW is airing. At least on the CW, they tend to give you a longer leash with which to fail. And with that network, where so little actually pops, it's pretty much impossible to gauge the criteria for success and renewals. So I haven't a clue if this one's a keeper or a goner. Wouldn't be much surprised either way.

Question: I know the fans don't want it to happen, but since most of NCIS' primary actors only signed two-year contract renewals last season, does it seem that the writers are winding down the show? We're getting back stories, loose ends, flashbacks, etc. Are TPTB wrapping up the show? — Lori

Not from what I can tell. Although it's also a fact that any show (unless you're The Simpsons) that has just celebrated its 200-episode milestone is closer to the end of its run than the beginning, and talent negotiations tend to become more complicated over time as well. The flashbacks and back stories seem to be a way to satisfy viewer demand for each character to get their moments in the spotlight without affecting the group dynamic too drastically. When a show is as successful and stable as NCIS, the last thing they tend to want to do is to fix what isn't broken. Few shows have managed to stay this popular this long, and CBS is unlikely to do anything to hasten its departure.

Question: Like you, I didn't like Alcatraz that much, but I'm liking recent episodes more and I think I know why. One of my problems with the show originally was the way the flashbacks would try to make the villain of the week sympathetic due to the rough treatment they received during their original prison sentence, but who could feel much sympathy for the killers when they were wreaking havoc in modern-day San Francisco? Recently the flashbacks seem more concerned with setting up the modern-day plots, plus the modern-day stories are getting more exciting. There is one Alcatraz mystery they'll never explain: how they manage to get back to San Fran from Alcatraz so fast when they have to stop a crime! — Brian

Excellent point. The midseason deluge has caused me to fall behind a few episodes on this one, but I'll try to catch up in time for next week's two-hour finale. At which point we'll have to sweat it out until May to learn if it's coming back.

Strong Retail Sales for NBC's Fashion Star, Despite Soft Ratings

Strong Retail Sales for NBC's Fashion Star, Despite Soft Ratings

NBC's new reality competition Fashion Star got off to a slow start last Tuesday, but producers say they're still heartened by the fact that the show's winning designs have been selling well online. The retailers involved — including Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue — say they're selling out of many of the show's winning designs. "Sales of Fashion Star merchandise exceeded expectations," says Macy's spokesperson Holly Thomas.

Fashion Star centers on a group of aspiring designers who are mentored by Jessica Simpson, Nicole Richie and famed designer John Varvatos; supermodel Elle Macpherson is host. Buyers from Macy's, H&M and Saks Fifth Avenue serve as judges and decide whether to buy and market any of the contestants' clothes. Because the show was pre-taped, the winning clothing items immediately go on sale at the retailers' websites after the show.

In last week's premiere episode, a buyer for Macy's purchased three designs from the show's contestants, and by the next day, one of the designs had sold out on its online store. Thomas says a kimono-sleeve maxi caftan dress by contestant Nikki Poulos, with a price tag of $89, "sold out in less than 12 hours, and other items have sold out in certain sizes. Traffic to the store and the site have been very strong." But Macy's and the other retailers declined to specify how large of a stock they had actually ordered of the winning designs.

H&M sold out on a $19.95 black-and-turquoise dress from contestant Sarah Parrott, while Saks Fifth Avenue sold out on a limited supply of $350 zipper mini-skirts from contestant Orly Shani. "The people who showed up were coming to buy," executive producer Ben Silverman says of viewers who checked out the online stores. "The click-through rate on purchase was hundreds of percentage points higher than normal."

Fashion Star managed to win its premiere timeslot among broadcast networks in the key adults 18-49 demographic — but with a paltry 1.6 rating, on a night in which everyone was in a slump. The show moves to its normal time, Tuesdays at 10 p.m., tomorrow, but producers are anxiously awaiting the arrival of The Voice — which will launch its Tuesday results shows on April 3 at 9 p.m., giving Fashion Star a much-needed lead-in boost.

March Madness: NCAA Tourney Takes Best Ratings In 18 Years – Report

March Madness: NCAA Tourney Takes Best Ratings In 18 Years – Report

The 2012 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship through Saturday’s contests garnered the highest ratings for March Madness in 18 years, according to Multichannel News.

The series has averaged a 5.3 household rating across TBS, CBS, TNT and TruTV through March 17 — up 4% from a 5.1 in 2011 and a 15% bump over over a 4.6 rating in 2010, according to Nielsen fast nationals.

Games averaged 8 million viewers, up 3% from last year’s 7.8 million viewers at the same time in the tournament and 14% ahead of the 7 million viewers during the comparable 2010 period. St. Patrick’s Day delivered a surge in viewership giving the four networks the highest-rated and most watched Saturday since 2007. Saturday’s game ratings averaged a 6.1, 3% over last year’s 5.9 and 13% above the 5.4 mark in 2010. The 9.3 million viewer average matched last year and was 11% more than the 8.4 million viewers in 2010.

Friday’s games generated record numbers for the four networks with a 5.4 household rating and 8 million viewers — the most-watched Friday since the event expanded to four telecast windows in 1991. Those deliveries were up 8% compared with a 5.0 rating in 2011 and 29% versus 2010′s 4.2 rating. Turner and CBS are in the second of a 14-year, $10.8 billion deal whereby the four networks air each of the tourney’s 67 games in a national window. Coverage previously was regionalized on CBS.

Simon Cowell: 'I might axe The X Factor in 2013'

Simon Cowell: 'I might axe The X Factor in 2013'

Simon Cowell has revealed that he is considering axing The X Factor after this year's series.

The Syco boss already has a new format "in development" to replace the talent show franchise, which launched in 2005.

"In a year's time we might say, 'Right, that's the end of The X Factor. Let's start something new'," the Daily Star quotes him as saying.

Of last year's ratings dip, the music mogul said: "I'd rather fall off the cliff on numbers than deteriorate slowly."

Cowell added: "We have something in development which could replace The X Factor. Most things in music, fashion or TV tend to be across a ten-year period.

"The great test of success is if you can transcend a decade. I believe we can do it again if we're prepared to be brave."

The 52-year-old, who quit the talent show last year to launch X Factor in the US, recently signalled his intention to return to the UK panel.

Meanwhile, Cowell has also backed 2011 judges Gary Barlow, Tulisa Contostavlos, Kelly Rowland and veteran Louis Walsh to return for a second year together.

An ITV spokesman said: "It is the UK's most popular entertainment show and we're looking forward to another great series."

'Homeland' soars to series high of 2.5m on Channel 4

'Homeland' soars to series high of 2.5m on Channel 4

US drama Homeland continues to perform solidly for Channel 4, the latest overnight data has revealed.

Starring Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, the show last night (Sunday) climbed to its highest audience so far for 'Blind Spot', pulling in 2.11m (8.3%) in the 9pm hour and 351k (2%) on +1.

The critically-acclaimed series has not dropped below the 2m mark since premiering last month (February).

The Dancing on Ice semi-final attracted 6.96m (29.5%) to ITV1 from 7pm (+1: 215k/0.9%), then Jennifer Ellison's Skate Off departure was seen by 5.76m (22.5%) at 9.30pm (+1: 237k/1.5%).

Sandwiched between the skating show, a one-off celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Mother's Day special entertained 5.43m (21.6%) between 8.30pm and 9.30pm, adding a further 155k (0.7%) on ITV1 +1.

Upstairs Downstairs's penultimate episode mustered 4.75m (18.6%) in the 9pm hour.

Meanwhile, strong performances from Countryfile (6m/26.3%) and Antiques Roadshow (6.2m/24.7%) helped ensure a solid early evening for BBC One.

Over on BBC Two, Orbit concluded with 2.57m (10%) at 9pm, prior to which The Best of Top Gear scored 2.21m (8.8%), beating Channel 4 Falklands War documentary Most Daring Raid, which took 1.57m (8.7%) and 212k (0.8%) on timeshift.

Elsewhere, Channel 5's screening of Will Smith's I, Robot appealed to 922k (3.7%) between 7.45pm and 10pm.

Across primetime, ITV1 came out on top with 22.6% (+1: 0.7%) against BBC One's 21.7%. BBC Two claimed third place with 9.3%, ahead of Channel 4's 5.4% (+1: 1.3%) and Channel 5's 3.9% (+1: 0.2%).

On the multichannels, Being Human (780k/2.9%) and Desperate Housewives pulled in 780k (2.9%) and 619k (3.5%) for BBC Three and E4 respectively. Housewives had a further 135k (0.5%) on E4 +1.

A Benidorm catchup on ITV2 amused 700k (2.7%) and 186k (1%) an hour later.

TV News Broke Its Losing Streak In Action-Packed 2011: Study

TV News Broke Its Losing Streak In Action-Packed 2011: Study

This is one of the first times in years that TV journalists and executives won’t need a box of Kleenex nearby when they read the Pew Research Center’s encyclopedic and authoritative annual State Of The News Media Report, which will be released today. Broadcast networks, cable news networks, and local TV stations all showed signs of improvement in 2011 as people became riveted by stories about Arab Spring, the death of Osama bin Laden, the shooting in Tucson of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Britain’s royal wedding, and the tsunami in Japan, according to Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The audience for the major networks’ newscasts increased for the first time since 2001. Cable news viewing also was up, a relief after a huge slide in 2010. And local news gained ground, ending a five-year decline. To be sure, traditional news providers across the board still haven’t figured out how to make money in digital media. And last year they “lost more ground to rivals in the technology industry,” Pew says. The audience for online news sources grew 17.2% while revenues were up 23.0%, Still, researchers say that “news is becoming a more important and pervasive part of people’s lives” — and that “could prove a saving factor for the future of journalism.” Here are some of the highlights for TV news:

Broadcast networks: Collectively, the evening newscasts for ABC, CBS, and NBC attracted an average of 22.5M people a night — up 4.5% vs 2010. One possible reason for the uptick: The nightly news shows are more differentiated than they’ve been in years. CBS notably tacked toward hard news after Scott Pelley replaced Katie Couric; for example, the network paid more attention to the economy than ABC and NBC did, and devoted far less time than ABC did to the trial of Michael Jackson’s doctor. The number of stories with overseas datelines was up 9% at all of the newscasts, including the PBS NewsHour. The increase in nightly viewing may be cold comfort for those who have seen ratings fall 54.5% since 1980. Still, Pew notes, the lowest rated network newscast (the CBS Evening News) on average attracted more than twice the audience of the highest rated cable news show (Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor). Morning newscast viewing also grew, averaging 13.1M, up 5.4%. It’s the first time that’s grown in seven years.

Pew estimates that ABC News revenues rose 2.5% to about $650M. CBS News was probably up 1% to $430M. NBC News also likely saw revenues rise 1% to $860M from its broadcast shows — and to more than $2B when its cable operations including CNBC and MSNBC are thrown in.

Cable: The story here is more complicated. About 3.3M people tuned into CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC on an average night, up about 1%. But after their double-digit fall in 2010, the slight gain in a news-filled year makes Pew uncertain that cable news “has fully halted its ratings slide.” The changes in prime time also were lopsided, unlike for the broadcasters where all three improved. CNN’s prime time results were +16% (to 654,500), MSNBC was +3% (773,000), Fox News was -3% (1.9M) — and HLN plummeted 11% (385,500). During the day the three major cable news nets lured about 2M, +2%. MSNBC was +20% to (385,500), CNN was +5% (474,000), Fox was -2% (1.1M) — and HLN was flat (250,000). Pew says that CNN benefited from its strategy to sharpen its identity as a substantial and independent source of global news. MSNBC successfully established itself as the specialist in political news. As for the decline at Fox, Pew says that’s probably due to the efforts by its chief, Roger Ailes, to oust Glenn Beck and tone down the tough talk following the Giffords shooting. “Ailes said he wanted Fox hosts to scale back the rhetoric, not out of any ideological softening, but for the pragmatic reasons that it would not be good politics, or good business, to let his channel be defined by the fringe,” Pew says.

The audience figures are just part of the story for cable: Revenues for Fox News last year probably were +9.4% to $1.5B, with CNN and HLN +7.3% to $1.3B, and MSNBC +8.1% to $409.3M, Pew says citing data from SNL Kagan.

Local TV: “After years of decline, local television news showed new signs of life in 2011,” Pew says. The audience for morning newscasts was +1.4%, while late evening news was +3%. Part of the increase may be attributable to a 14% jump in late night news in February — a sweeps month when Nielsen collects detailed info about local viewing — as people looked for the latest headlines about the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Still, the figures may underestimate the jump in local news viewing. Lots of stations added news to their schedules: some use it to beef up their pre-dawn programming, and in mid-afternoon to fill the hole left by the end of Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated talk show. News may have regained some of its financial luster as stations use it as an attraction for their Web sites, and as they forge partnerships with other local TV outlets, newspapers, and radio stations. A recent survey found that 59% of stations collaborate with others to produce news.

It’s hard to put a revenue figure on local newscasts. Pew notes that station ad sales were -6.7% in 2011 to $18.1B — but they’re also collecting new revenue from pay TV retransmission consent payments. Still, the research group says, “After years of losing audience and revenue, local television news appears to have settled into a kind of equilibrium.” Although stations made less last year than they did in 2010, “the decline was about what might be expected in a non-election year.”

Rupert Penry-Jones leads 'The Last Weekend' cast

Rupert Penry-Jones leads 'The Last Weekend' cast

Rupert Penry-Jones and Endeavour star Shaun Evans will lead the cast of ITV1's new suspense thriller The Last Weekend.

The series is a Mick Ford (Single Father, Ashes to Ashes) adaptation of Blake Morrison's best-selling book.

Episodes' Genevieve O'Reilly, The Trip's Claire Keelan, Waking The Dead's Hugh Mitchell and Swedish actor Alexander Karim have also signed up for the project.

The Last Weekend follows the story of two couples with a shared history on holiday in Suffolk over a bank holiday weekend. Evans plays a working class primary school teacher, who made friends with the sporty and privileged Ollie (Penry-Jones) at university.

The men's competitive edge, a resurrected old bet and returning sexual tensions result in "a horrendous and catastrophic outcome" for both couples.

Executive producer Sally Woodward Gentle said: "The Last Weekend is a brilliantly written, evocative portrayal of modern male jealousy. Superbly crafted and tightly structured, Mick has brought Morrison's claustrophobic thriller to life with exquisite menace."

ITV's head of drama Laura Mackie added: "Producers Carnival are brilliant at delivering classy, high-quality drama and The Last Weekend will add to our strong slate of contemporary serials."

Starz To Preview New Series ‘Magic City’ Behind ‘Spartacus’ Finale

Starz To Preview New Series ‘Magic City’ Behind ‘Spartacus’ Finale

Starz will preview the pilot episode of new period drama Magic City after the season finale of Spartacus: Vengeance on March 30. That will be followed by a massive sampling campaign for Magic City ahead of its April 6.

The first three episodes of the show starring Jeffrey Dean Morgan will be available on a slew of platforms, including, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, DIRECTV, DISH, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, AT&T U-verse TV, making the episodes available to some 76 million viewers.

Amanda Holden: 'The Queen, Kate and Wills watch Britain's Got Talent'

Amanda Holden: 'The Queen, Kate and Wills watch Britain's Got Talent'

Britain's Got Talent judge Amanda Holden has revealed that the royal family are fans of the show.

The TV star, who will sit on the panel of the ITV reality programme again alongside Simon Cowell, David Walliams and Alesha Dixon when it launches next weekend, said that she wants The Queen, Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge to enjoy this series because they have admitted to her they like it.

Holden told The Sun: "BGT is a family show so I want to find an act that will appeal to the whole royal family. I want Kate and William to enjoy our acts as much as the Queen. I know they all watch the show, I've asked them."

One of the show's insiders said: "BGT is a show that is aimed at everyone - rich or poor, royal or commoner. It's great that the Queen and Kate and Wills are fans."

Last week, ITV debuted an advert for this year's Britain's Got Talent which saw Holden and her fellow judges being summoned to see The Queen and Cowell assure the monarch that he would not let her down with the show.

Last year, The Queen admitted to The X Factor finalist Mary Byrne that she asks her staff to "record" the show so that she can "watch it the next day".

Prince Harry has also sat in the live audience for The X Factor, attending with ex-girlfriend Chelsy Davy in 2009, while Prince Charles is believed to be a staunch supporter of Strictly Come Dancing.

BBC Director General Mark Thompson To Step Down After London Summer Olympics

BBC Director General Mark Thompson To Step Down After London Summer Olympics

Mark Thompson BBC OlympicsIn a move that had been expected for the past few months, Mark Thompson announced his exit this afternoon in a letter to staff.

“This morning I told (BBC chairman) Lord Patten that I believe that an appropriate time for me to hand over to a successor and to step down as Director-General of the BBC would be the autumn of this year, once the Olympics and the rest of the amazing summer of 2012 are over,” Thompson wrote.

“I have told the Chairman that I believe that he and the Trust should begin the public process of finding the next DG as soon as they see fit,” he added. The Guardian opines that Thompson’s exit could see the first female DG at the BBC, with COO Caroline Thomson and head of news Helen Boaden among the names circulating internally. BBC Vision chief George Entwistle is also said to be a candidate. Thompson noted that his eight-year stint atop the broadcaster made him the longest-serving DG since the 1970s. “We’ve weathered a series of lively storms and been through some trying as well as some very successful times together,” he said.

The BBC has been faced with austerity measures in recent years. The latest cost-cutting scheme, Delivering Quality First, kicked in last year after TV license fees were frozen until 2017 meaning a big drop in revenues.

TV Tonight 20th of March 2012

TV Tonight 20th of March 2012

The daily list in alphabetical order, of all the new episodes airing.

    112 - på liv och död S05E29: "Del 29 av 30"
    19 Kids and Counting S06E08: "Boys Day Out"
    90210 S04E19: "The Heart Will Go On"
    Ano Natsu de Matteru S01E11: "Episode 11"
    Another S01E11: "Makeup"
    Antiques Road Trip S04E27: "Series 4, Episode 27"
    Balls Of Steel Australia S02E08: "Season 2, Episode 8"
    Battleground S01E06: "TBA"
    Big Brother Sverige S08E27: "Del 27"
    Big Fat Gypsy Weddings S02E06: "A Community At A Cross Roads"
    Bleach (JP) S16E23: "Ichigo vs. Ginjō! Secret of the Substitute Badge"
    Breaking In S02E03: "The Blind Sided"
    Chelsea Lately S06E54
    Chopped S11E06: "Sound the Alarm!"
    Cleverdicks S01E17: "Episode 17"
    Come Dine With Me S18E56: "Series 18, Episode 47"
    Comic Relief Does Glee Club! S02E06: "Series 2, Episode 6"
    Conan S02E65: "Episode 65"
    Cougar Town S03E06: "Something Big"
    Crimewatch UK S29E04: "Series 29, Show 2 (Update)"
    Crimewatch UK S29E03: "Series 29, Show 2"
    Dance Academy S02E06: "Like No One's Watching"
    Dance Moms S02E11: "Melissa Pleads the 5th"
    Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou S01E11: "Episode 11"
    Days of our Lives S47E92: "Ep. #11802"
    Deal Or No Deal (UK) S07E189: "Episode 1869"
    Den sista dokusåpan S01E03: "Season 1, Episode 3"
    Dickinson's Real Deal S08E76: "Series 8, Episode 76"
    Doctors S13E223: "Only the Truth"
    Doomsday Preppers S01E08: "TBA"
    EastEnders S28E47: "March 20, 2012"
    Éden Hotel S02E10: "Season 2, Episode 10"
    Emmerdale S41E67: "March 20, 2012"
    Fashion Star S01E02: "Who's Your Customer?"
    Film 2012 with Claudia Winkleman S01E11: "Episode 11"
    Four In A Bed S03E07: "Le Manoir"
    General Hospital (US) S49E246: "#12520"
    Geordie Shore S02E08: "Series 2, Episode 8"
    Goede Tijden, Slechte Tijden S22E142: "Season 22, Episode 142"
    Gokujo S01E10: "Episode 10"
    Halv åtta hos mig S08E34: "Södertälje - Lina"
    Hardcore Pawn S05E14: "TBA"
    Holby City S14E23: "Eastern Promise"
    Hollyoaks S18E57: "March 20, 2012"
    Home and Away (AU) S25E42: "Episode 5477"
    Horizon S50E11: "The Truth About Fat"
    Hotel cæsar S28E171: "Season 28, Episode 171"
    House Hunters S48E56
    House Hunters International S25E59
    I Hate My Teenage Daughter S01E07: "Teenage Vacation"
    Jeopardy! S28E132: "Show #6337"
    Jersey Couture S02E12: "Weight Loss Beauties"
    Jersey Couture S02E14: "Prom Mania!"
    Jersey Couture S02E13: "Couture Challenge"
    Jimmy Kimmel Live S09E222: "Kristen Bell, Ice Cube, KISS"
    Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best? S02E09: "Birthday Blues"
    Justified S03E10: "Guy Walks Into a Bar"
    Key & Peele S01E08: "Season 1, Episode 8"
    Last Call with Carson Daly S10E26
    Last Man Standing S01E20: "Animal Wrongs"
    Late Night with Jimmy Fallon S02E235
    Late Show with David Letterman S19E43
    Let's Stay Together S02E11: "Fear Factor"
    Live with Regis and Kelly S29E146:
    My First Place S22E02
    My First Place S21E14
    My Ride Rules S02E04: "Rolls Meets Rose"
    Natsume Yūjin-Chō S04E12: "The Door of Memories"
    NCIS S09E18: "The Tell"
    NCIS: Los Angeles S03E18: "The Dragon and the Fairy"
    Neighbours S28E52: "Episode 6362"
    New Girl S01E17: "Fancyman (Part 1)"
    Packed To The Rafters S04E22: "Endings and Beginnings"
    Pointless S06E27: "Series 6, Episode 27"
    Property Virgins S11E11: "Diamond in the Rough"
    Raising Hope S02E18: "Poking Holes in the Story"
    Revealed S02E03: "The Secret D-Day Disaster: Revealed"
    Rijdende Rechter, De S19E06: "Season 19, Episode 6"
    Ringer S01E18: "That Woman's Never Been A Victim Her Entire Life"
    River City S10E28: "Episode 772"
    Rookie Builders S01E01: "Episode 1"
    Shortland Street S21E47: "Season 21, Episode 47"
    Southland S04E10: "Thursday"
    Storage Wars: Texas S02E06: "Who Bought JFK?"
    Storage Wars: Texas S02E05: "Dallas Cowboys and Indians"
    Supersize vs Superskinny S05E04: "Geoff Milton / Josh Bryson"
    Switched at Birth S01E22: "Venus, Cupid, Folly, And Time"
    Tabatha Takes Over S04E10: "Sweetgrass: Atlanta, GA"
    The Biggest Loser S13E12: "Season 13, Episode 12"
    The Bold and the Beautiful S25E252: "Ep. #6282"
    The Chase (2009) S05E36: "Series 5, Episode 36"
    The Ellen DeGeneres Show S09E125: "Armie Hammer, Kevin Nealon, Birdy"
    The Game S05E10: "A Punch in the Gut... Full of Human"
    The Jeremy Kyle Show S07E132
    The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson S08E52
    The Little Couple S05E01: "Getting Back on Track"
    The Little Couple S05E02: "A Little Thanks"
    The Real Housewives Of Orange County S07E07: "Under the Knife"
    The Revolution (2012) S01E47: "Season 1, Episode 47"
    The River S01E08: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"
    The Rosie Show S01E87
    The Talk S02E90: "Season 2, Episode 90"
    The Tonight Show with Jay Leno S19E261
    The Young and the Restless S39E251: "Ep. #9866"
    Thuis S17E147: "Season 17, Episode 147"
    Top Gear (US) S02E14: "Limos"
    Top Shot S04E06: "Blast from the Past"
    Tosh.0 S04E08: "Season 4, Episode 8"
    Unforgettable S01E18: "The Comeback"
    Veckans brott S04E10

Lord Sugar invests in former 'Apprentice' candidate Susan Ma

Lord Sugar invests in former 'Apprentice' candidate Susan Ma

Lord Alan Sugar has gone into business with former Apprentice finalist Susan Ma.

Ma, who reached the final five on the 2011 series of the BBC One reality show, has earned an investment from Sugar in her skincare company Tropic.

"Skincare has always been my passion, right from the early days of mixing and experimenting with new formulas in the kitchen with my mum and selling them in Greenwich market," said Ma.

"My time on The Apprentice gave me an incredible opportunity to learn from Lord Sugar and I have applied this knowledge to take Tropic Skincare from my kitchen table to a credible business model.

"Having Lord Sugar's investment and guidance to help me launch my new venture has been invaluable and I hope to return his confidence and trust in me by making a real success of Tropic Skin Care."

Lord Sugar added: "After filming ends, I tell all the contestants to give me a call if they need me. At the You're Hired show after The Apprentice final, I mentioned Susan as someone I'd be contacting in the future.

"Well, I did contact her and then she didn't leave me alone until I invested in her! She has impressive enthusiasm and work ethic as well as a fantastic product and I am confident in her ability to make a success of this venture."

Last week, The Apprentice 2011 winner Tom Pellereau announced his joint project for a curved nail file product - Stylfile - with Lord Sugar.

The Apprentice launches on Wednesday, March 21 at 9pm on BBC One.

BBC America to Co-Produce New Dramaville Series - "Ripper Street"

BBC America to Co-Produce New Dramaville Series - "Ripper Street"

Ripper Street has begun filming on location in Dublin

BBC AMERICA is co-producing an extraordinary new crime series, Ripper Street, to premiere as part of BBC AMERICA's Dramaville this fall. Filming has started on location in Dublin from March 12. The eight part series, created by Richard Warlow, set in and around Whitechapel in London's East End in 1889, during the aftermath of the Jack The Ripper murders.

Ripper Street will star Matthew Macfadyen (MI-5, Pride and Prejudice), Jerome Flynn (Game of Thrones), Adam Rothenberg (Alcatraz), Myanna Buring (The Twilight Saga, White Heat) and David Dawson (Luther, Secret Diary of a Call Girl). The action centers on the notorious H Division, which is charged with keeping order in the chaotic streets of East London.

Ripper Street is produced for the BBC by Tiger Aspect Productions, Lookout Point and BBC AMERICA. The project is Executive Produced by Greg Brenman and Will Gould at Tiger Aspect and by Simon Vaughan at Lookout Point. The series was commissioned by BBC Head of Drama, Ben Stephenson and Danny Cohen. Polly Hill is Executive Producer for BBC1.

Ripper Street is being made with the participation of Bord Scannén na hÉireann/Irish Film Board. BBC Worldwide is distributing the series globally.

BBC AMERICA's SVP of Programming, Richard De Croce said: "We're thrilled that Ripper Street is coming to our channel as part of Dramaville, the home of outstanding British drama. To this day, audiences continue to be fascinated by Jack The Ripper and the events in Whitechapel in the late 19th Century. This script and cast are going to take us for a great ride. We're excited to be involved in such an ambitious production with Tiger Aspect and Lookout Point."

Tiger Aspect's Head of Drama Greg Brenman added, "We are so excited to have started production and be seeing these glorious scripts by Richard Warlow come to life. There is so much zest and urgency in Ripper Street that I honestly believe we're helping re-define the accepted notion of British period drama."

Simon Vaughan, who came up with the concept for the show and who, with BBC Worldwide, has brokered the deal with BBC AMERICA said, "The hunt for Jack The Ripper was the first ever global media man hunt - and somehow still stirs a macabre fascination in the public more than 120 years later. This is an iconic subject and we are delighted to be producing this as a UK/US co-production allowing us to deliver major production values and make a very ambitious series."

James Hickey, Chief Executive, Bord Scannén na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board said: "We are delighted that Ripper Street is filming on location in Ireland. We very much welcome the opportunity this major drama series will give to Irish talent both in front of and behind the camera."

The filming of Ripper Street will continue until late July.

'Absolutely Fabulous' Joanna Lumley: 'Kate Moss was a treat on show'

'Absolutely Fabulous' Joanna Lumley: 'Kate Moss was a treat on show'

Absolutely Fabulous star Joanna Lumley has praised Kate Moss for her guest role in the series.

The comedian, who will return to TV screens as Patsy Stone alongside Jennifer Saunders's Edina Monsoon in aid of Sport Relief, said that she loves it when celebrities agree to take part in the show.

Moss will appear as herself in Absolutely Fabulous, alongside model David Gandy and designer Stella McCartney. Other guest stars in the exercise-themed episode include former Spice Girl Emma Bunton, plus athletes Linford Christie and Colin Jackson.

Lumley told The Sun: "It's not every day we get to see Eddy and Patsy in close proximity to a treadmill, so make the most of it. Some real superstars have been hauled in to appear with us in this sketch so we're hugely grateful. Kate slotted into the Ab Fab sketch a treat.

"It was brilliant to have her and all the other guest stars involved, to give Ab Fab that bit of Sport Relief magic."

Moss also said: "I had a great day working with the Ab Fab team - Jennifer and Joanna were so much fun. Sport Relief does such a great job, I am always really happy to support them."

'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings' complaints dismissed

'Big Fat Gypsy Weddings' complaints dismissed

Various complaints against Big Fat Gypsy Weddings have been dismissed by Ofcom.

The media regulator was investigating whether the use of the words "bigger", "fatter" and "gypsier" was appropriate in the reality TV show's latest ad campaign after the Advertising Standards Authority received more than 300 complaints.

According to The Guardian, Ofcom found that the controversial adverts on TVs and billboards are not offensive or racist and cleared the Channel 4 show of any breach of the British broadcasting code.

They also dismissed many complaints from Gypsy Blood viewers that the programme had broadcast cruelty to animals after a scene showing a dog being trained to kill baby deer.

Ofcom also dismissed these complaints, arguing that the documentary was broadcast after 10pm, the scenes were only short sequences and that all the scenes, however shocking, were all justified within the factual context of the episode.

Channel 4's commissioning editor Nick Hornby has previously defended Big Fat Gypsy Weddings following criticism from the gypsy community, insisting that the programme is "fair and accurate".

'Dancing on Ice' Matthew Wolfenden is bookies' favourite

'Dancing on Ice' Matthew Wolfenden is bookies' favourite

Matthew Wolfenden is the bookmakers' favourite to triumph on this weekend's Dancing on Ice finale.

The Emmerdale star has been near the top of the judges' scores throughout the series and won immunity in yesterday's semi-final thanks to his performances on the ice.

Wolfenden is currently the 4/7 odds-on favourite to win the series, while former favourite Jorgie Porter has drifted to 2/1 after ending up in last night's skate-off.

X Factor star Chico, who replaced Chesney Hawkes on the show following an injury, is the outsider for the title. However, the singer's odds have been slashed considerably following his semi-final routines and punters can now get odds of 6/1 on him at Ladbrokes.

"We're confident Wolfenden will walk away as the Ice King. If he doesn't win it will be one of the biggest upsets in reality TV history," said a Ladbrokes rep.

"We can't write off Chico, though, he caused a huge upset by making the final and punters have latched on to the underdog."

The Dancing on Ice final takes place on Sunday, March 25 on ITV1.

'Breaking Bad' Back in July, Says Aaron Paul: 'Shit Is About to Get Crazy'

'Breaking Bad' Back in July, Says Aaron Paul: 'Shit Is About to Get Crazy'

Given the many shocks on the first four seasons of "Breaking Bad," Aaron Paul is saying a lot when he tweets that "shit is about to get crazy" on the show's fifth and final season.

On Saturday, Emmy winner Paul tweeted that the show will return in July -- and praised show creator Vince Gilligan for raising the stakes yet again.

"Just read the first episode of breaking bad S5 and words can not express. Shit is about to get crazy. Get ready my friends. Love you Vince!"

In a reference to the season four finale, he added: "The teaser alone in episode 1 [of Season 5] will have you screaming more than when someone got blown up last season."

He also offered helpful fashion advice: "Make sure u wear your diapers because I'm pretty sure u will shit yourself."