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Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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It's back to reality for winter TV season
Well, new programming can be found on TV, even as the writers strike cripples the schedule. You've just got to know where to look.
By Eric Deggans, Times TV/Media Critic
Published January 1, 2008
She's the best-known villainess ever created by reality TV.
So Omarosa Manigault Stallworth, card-carrying member of two performers unions, isn't above savoring the good luck that finds the Hollywood writers strike paralyzing network TV just as her appearance on NBC's Celebrity Apprentice is about to hit the small screen.
"It's allowed us to grab that coveted Thursday time slot," said Omarosa (no one calls her by her last name, not even in newspapers), who delights in reporting that fellow all-star Apprentice contestant Gene Simmons is an egotistical simpleton and that other contestants, such as prizefighter Lennox Lewis, counted on their friendship with Donald Trump for an advantage.
NBC had shuttled the Celebrity Apprentice debut, trying to keep it away from crushing competition by new samples of hits Grey's Anatomy and C.S.I. scheduled for the same 9 p.m. time slot on ABC and CBS.
That's what today's TV landscape has come to, nearly two months into the Hollywood writers strike: networks juggling an increasingly small stockpile of reality series, new mid-season series and rare nuggets of new episodes of popular shows still on the air.
Better enjoy Grey's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, C.S.I.: Miami and C.S.I. right now; according to comprehensive Web site the Futon Critic, they each have one new episode left, airing this week or next. A few veteran series, such as ER, House, Ugly Betty and Boston Legal, have three or four shows left.
Late-night talk shows such as NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Conan O'Brien along with ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live are due back Wednesday night; Jon Stewart's The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report are due back on Comedy Central Monday night. But with no writing of monologues or skits allowed, it's tough to know what exactly these programs will air.
And thanks to work stoppages that found actors and producers unwilling to violate the writers' picket lines, even series held back by the networks for mid season only have seven, eight or nine new episodes in the can, including CBS's Jericho, ABC's Lost and NBC's Medium. For a full list, check out www.thefutoncritic.com.
"Even though the strike has turned everything upside down, this could be good for the show," said St. Petersburg native Rene Echevarria, executive producer and head writer for Medium, which returns with seven new episodes at 10 p.m. Monday. "We're back on Mondays with Deal or No Deal as our lead-in. So it should get lots of (viewer) sampling, which is a complicated issue for those of us who are writers and producers. Usually, you want to keep your show in production."
Even as the late-night shows prepare to come back to new episodes this week and networks marshal what little new scripted programming they have left, it is obvious this TV season will unfold unlike any other. And you, dear viewer, will need some tips on how to survive unscathed.
So here are my recommendations on how to handle the next few months of programming, based on the previews I've seen, the dates shows are expected to reappear and the possibilities available to producers in this new landscape.
Here, you'll be choosing between handfuls of new episodes from shows you already know and debuts of series you've never seen. Choose wisely; by February, many of the shows you enjoy will be out of new episodes and gone until the strike ends.
NBC's Law & Order shakes things up at 9 p.m. Wednesday by making Sam Waterston's principled Jack McCoy the new District Attorney while adding Linus Roache and Jeremy Sisto as a new prosecutor and detective, respectively; HBO's standout urban drama The Wire starts its fifth and final season at 9 p.m. Sunday with a sardonic, spot-on analysis of the media; Fox used the fall to juice up its TV-based reboot of the Terminator franchise with an action-packed pilot for TheSarah Connor Chronicles at 9 p.m. Jan. 13; and ABC's mind-bending adventure Lost returns with eight new episodes at 9 p.m. Jan. 31.
New shows to avoid:
ABC's Cashmere Mafia airs a preview at 10 p.m. Sunday, debuting as a bland Sex and the City ripoff; ABC also brings back the boneheaded family drama October Road at 10 p.m. Monday; CBS's three-night conclusion of the sprawling western Lonesome Dove series, Comanche Moon (9 p.m. Jan. 13, 15 and 16), is mostly an excuse for star Val Kilmer to try out funny-looking facial hair and yet another oddball accent.
The CW's Gossip Girl returns at 9 p.m. Wednesday with two new episodes left; NBC's Friday Night Lights comes back at 9 p.m. Friday with six new episodes remaining; CBS's Cold Case returns at 9 p.m. Sunday with two new episodes left; ABC's Boston Legal returns at 10 p.m. Jan. 8 with four new episodes remaining; ABC's Brothers and Sisters returns at 10 p.m. Jan. 13 with three new episodes left; Fox's Prison Break returns at 8 p.m. Jan. 14 with five new episodes remaining; CBS's Jericho returns at 10 p.m. Feb. 12 with seven new episodes.
Each week, as more scripted shows run out of episodes and debuting series fail, the amount of unscripted reality TV fare will expand. Most of this stuff is good only for settling bets - will Dance War choreographer Bruno Tonioli's head explode before Donald Trump takes out one of the his Celebrity Apprentices? - but there are a few gems.
Shows to see:
NBC's Biggest Loser, one of TV's most underrated reality shows, comes back tugging even more heartstrings at 8 tonight with its couples edition; Bravo's hit Project Runway returns for nine episodes at 10 p.m. Wednesday; Queer Eye for the Straight Guy star Carson Kressley breaks out on his own with a touching reality show teaching women to love their bodies at 9 p.m. Friday on Lifetime's How to Look Good Naked; and Fox's 800-pound gorilla of a talent show American Idol returns for its seventh season at 8 p.m. on Jan. 15 and 16.
NBC's American Gladiators reboot debuts with a two-hour special at 9 p.m. Sunday; ABC's Dancing With the Stars spinoff Dance War: Bruno vs. Carrie Ann bows its two-hour debut at 8 p.m. Monday; Fox's game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? comes back at 8 p.m. Jan. 10 with a full season of episodes; and VH1's Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (featuring Tampa native Jessica Sierra with eight other low-level showbiz notables) debuts at 10 p.m. Jan. 10.