The Baltimore Sun

Leno to leave late-night for earlier time slot

Although he's losing his late-night gig to Conan O'Brien next year on NBC, Jay Leno is staying on at the network where he'll host a show five nights a week at 10 p.m.

The deal not only prevents Leno from moving to another network and competing with O'Brien, it also has the potential to be a big cost saving for NBC. A talk show is cheap to produce. And the earlier hour is expected to draw more people to his show: Generally about 50 percent more people are watching TV at 10 p.m. than at 11:30 p.m.

Top-rated - and expensive to produce - dramas have dominated NBC's 10 p.m. time slot, particularly on Thursday, which has seen ER, Hill Street Blues, Law & Order and L.A. Law camped there over the years.

On his way out

T.R. Knight, the actor who plays Dr. George O'Malley on the ABC hit medical drama Grey's Anatomy, has asked to be released from his contract, according to a person with direct knowledge of the situation.

Knight is reportedly unhappy with his storyline, the person said. Knight has three years left on his contract and the network has indicated it will release him, said the insider, who could not be identified because he was not authorized to discuss negotiation details. An ABC representative declined to comment.

Knight was at the center of a controversy that added extra drama to the drama in early 2007. After Grey's Anatomy won a Golden Globe, fellow actor Isaiah Washington made a homophobic slur against Knight. The ensuing uproar led to Washington's being fired from the popular show in June 2007.

'WALL-E' wins

The Los Angeles Film Critics Association has named the animated smash WALL-E as the No. 1 movie of 2008 and the Batman flick The Dark Knight as runner-up.

The group's honors yesterday include Sean Penn as best actor for Milk and Sally Hawkins as best actress for Happy-Go-Lucky.

The late Heath Ledger is the critics' supporting-actor winner for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Penelope Cruz is the group's supporting-actress choice for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Danny Boyle has won the directing honor for Slumdog Millionaire, while Happy-Go-Lucky is the screenplay winner for Mike Leigh.

Tops on TV

CBS' freshman drama, The Mentalist, starring Aussie hottie Simon Baker, was the No. 1 show for the week of Dec. 1-7 according to Nielsen Media Research. The show drew 18.7 million viewers.

The others on the top 10 list (in millions): NCIS, CBS, 18.5; CSI, CBS, 17.5; The OT, Fox, 16.2; Desperate Housewives, ABC, 16.1; Grey's Anatomy, ABC, 15.3; 60 Minutes, CBS, 13.8; Two and a Half Men, 13.6; Sunday Night Football, Ravens vs. Redskins, NBC, 13.3; Barbara Walters Presents, ABC, 13.2.

Senator 'Nanny'?

Fran Drescher, star of The Nanny, wants to succeed Hillary Clinton in the U.S. Senate, according to her publicist, Jordan Brown.

That wish would put her in the running, at least according to reports, against Caroline Kennedy and New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.

A boy for 'Eli Stone' star

Eli Stone star Jonny Lee Miller and his wife, actress Michele Hicks (The Shield), welcomed a baby boy last week. Buster Timothy Miller was born Wednesday in Los Angeles. He weighed in at 9 pounds, according to news reports.

It's the first child for the couple, who were married in July. Miller was previously married to Angelina Jolie; they divorced in 1999.


Actor Harold Gould, 85.

Actress Susan Dey, 56.

Actor Kenneth Branagh, 48.

TV chef Bobby Flay, 44.

Rock musician Meg White, 34.

Actress Raven-Symone, 23.

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