Tuesday, August 29, 2000

'NYPD Blue' turns up the heat

        We'll have to wait until January (or later)to see if Detective Danny Sorenson (Rick Schroder) has a new love interest on NYPD Blue next season — Detective Diane Russell (Kim Delaney), widow of Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits).

        “I think that might happen this season,” says Mark Tinker, director for NYPD Blue (10 p.m. today, Channels 9, 2).

        “It was in the plan at the beginning of last year to get them together, and then we kind of cooled on it,” Mr. Tinker says. “And then near the end, we were talking about it again.”

        The plan could change again, however, with co-creator Steven Bochco taking over daily supervision from co-creator David Milch, who will be a consultant this season. ABC renewed NYPD Blue for two years after Mr. Bochco agreed to run the show.

        Mr. Tinker says he almost quit this year over frustrations with Mr. Milch, whose scripts were notoriously late. Sometimes pages weren't ready when Mr. Tinker was ready to rehearse and shoot a scene.

        “I almost didn't come back. (Last year) was the worst year I had ever experienced,” he says.

        Also in the works for the new season — possibly a gay romance for administrative assistant John Irvin (Bill Brochtrup). “We also want to see John's apartment,” Mr. Tinker says.

        For the second year, ABC is delaying the NYPD Blue season premiere until January. Sela Ward's Once and Again will air at 10 p.m. Tuesdays until the Monday Night Football season ends. NYPD Blue will air new shows consecutively through May sweeps.

        Enquirering Mind: This Enquirering mind wanted to know: Why is Tim Meadows leaving Saturday Night Live to be a supporting player on Michael Richards' (Seinfeld) new NBC comedy?

        “I felt that I was done with SNL,” says Mr. Meadows, who has portrayed Oprah Winfrey and O.J. Simpson since joining the cast in 1991.

        He will leave SNL after the first two telecasts this season (Oct. 7-14), just long enough to promote his new Ladies Man movie based on his SNL Leon Phelps character.

        The Michigan native signed a sitcom development deal with NBC in January, but the project was scrapped a few months later. “We just didn't think the script was quite good enough,” says Garth Ancier, NBC Entertainment president.

        So Mr. Meadows was added to NBC's Michael Richards Show premiering Oct. 24 (8 p.m., Channels 5, 22). He will play a detective Kevin Blakeley, a co-worker of bumbling detective Vic Nardozza.

        “It's really a great role for me,” he says. “I just felt like it was something I couldn't really pass up.”

        Joining SNL regulars this fall are former featured players Rachel Dratch and Maya Rudolph.

        Help wanted: Want to be a Miss America pageant judge? One lucky fan will be selected for the judging panel for the Oct. 14 live telecast in Atlantic City through a contest being conducted by the Miss America Organization.

        You must be at least 18 to apply by using the entry form in USA Weekend magazine delivered with the Sunday Enquirer last Sunday or next Sunday, or by logging onto www.abc.com/missamerica.

        Eighty finalists will be chosen at random next month. The winner will be selected after those 80 are asked: “If you could ask a Miss America finalist one general question, what would it be and why?”

        Robot battle: The robots are coming! The robots are coming!

        Comedy Central premieres BattleBots (10:30 p.m. Wednesday), a gladiator-style tournament fought by radio-controlled robots. WCET-TV picks up PBS' English Robot Wars series on Sept. 30 (5 p.m. Saturdays, Channel 48).


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