TV Rants & Raves: Week of July 23

The week’s best and worst on the small screen:


A belated “Survivor

CBS announced Tuesday that Survivor: Africa will debut an entire month after the Eye Network‘s fall lineup premieres. While CBS executives attribute the delay to “turnaround time,” they’re forgetting something fairly important: Friends (competing with Survivor at the 8 p.m. Thursday timeslot) will have already attracted a loyal following by mid-October, especially with the Monica-Chandler nuptials keeping viewers abuzz.

Last winter’s debut of Survivor–during Friends reruns–was brilliant. This fall, don’t expect the reality show’s ratings to be as stellar as the previous two installments. NBC’s execs are shrewd. They’ll find a way to keep viewers onboard.


Calista gets “Scary”

Actress Regina Hall is perfectly happy as a regular on Fox’s Ally McBeal. She’s also perfectly happy with insulting the show’s star, Calista Flockhart, in a major motion picture. Hall currently stars in Keenen Ivory WayansScary Movie 2, in which she battles a living skeleton she nicknames “Calista.” Gotta love that. Thank god there are still people in Hollywood with a sense of humor.


Conan‘s racial woes

Late last week, Conan O’Brien apologized to the press for a comment made by one of his guests during a taping of his late-night talk show. The comment, uttered by comedienne Sarah Silverman, involved the racial slur “chink”–referring to the Chinese. Silverman is yet to apologize for the comment, so NBC and Conan felt it was up to them to put out the PR fire with their public statement. While the comment may have been out of place, it isn’t Conan‘s burden to bear–it’s Silverman’s. Conan should be completely off the hook here. Ever hear of another NBC late-night program called Saturday Night Live? Racial slurs are commonplace on SNL, and the show runs before Conan‘s 12:30 a.m. slot. Rest easy, Conan. Silverman can apologize if she wants to, but you’re in the clear.


“Wing”ers hold strong

The four Emmy-nominated actors from NBC’s The West Wing who threatened to quit the show if contract negotiations were denied returned to work last week to continue production. The dispute remains unsettled–Allison Janney, Bradley Whitford, Richard Schiff and John Spencer still make $30,000 per episode, though they claim they were promised a major pay hike if the show entered a third season (which it has). Nevertheless, the foursome continues their struggle with Warner Bros. as production moves on. Note to Warner Bros.: Pay ’em whatever they’re asking for. They’re good. Otherwise you’ll end up with Pauly Shore as Press Secretary.


Resurrection” retains its quality

Last season, viewers who watched Showtime’s Resurrection Blvd. probably did so with a wince on their face, awaiting the next instance of something cornball and cliché. This season, however, the show has maintained a level of quality, that’s, quite frankly, shocking. The balance of drama and comedy thus far has been superb, and the performances seem to be getting better. Young star Marisol Nichols shined in a recent episode in which she stumbles through an alcoholic stupor to realize she’s given her virginity away. On Tuesday night’s episode, the only major character on TV who has never spoken a word–Ruben Santiago (Daniel Zacapa)–finally broke down in a fit of anguish in a crowed L.A. intersection. Good stuff. Keep it up, Showtime.