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Sunday, August 5, 2001
Brady gets his own show on ABC
New series highlights comedian's improved talent and audience interaction
Known for continually upstaging his co-stars on ABC's "Whose Line is it Anyway?" in terms of eccentric energy and pure talent, Wayne Brady has long been a favorite of improvisational comedy aficionados. Brady can somehow seamlessly go from playing a disgruntled weatherman to performing a mad rendition of Stevie Wonder's "Isn't She Lovely?," so it seems only right that he should have a show named after him.
"The Wayne Brady Show" (premiering 7 p.m. Wednesday on ABC) is a new variety show in old-school style. It includes the improv games that Brady is known for, but it also features Brady in scripted sketches and songs.
The studio audience proves to work for this show as it does for "Whose Line?," and the show's overall vibe is funky like "Solid Gold" and fly like "In Living Color." But like both shows, it doesn't always strike gold.
During the summer TV critics press tour, the ever-animated Brady sat with critics during a luncheon and explained that his show is a tribute to the people he grew up watching.
"Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and my grandma - they'll all be in there," Brady said.
Brady's known for his impersonation of his grandma, with her matronly attitude and Caribbean accent. In one of the first episodes, his grandma is surprised in the studio audience when she hears Brady's impersonation for the first time.
The improvisation of "The Wayne Brady Show" is clearly its strongest asset; Brady's comedic talent doesn't get to shine within the format of scripted sketch comedy.
In an early episode, Brady takes on the persona of James Brown, the 911 emergency medical technician. It's a humorous sight gag watching Brady's dead-on Brown squirm about the room while instructing CPR, but it's not nearly as engaging as when Brady brings fellow musicians Justin Timberlake ('NSync) and Brian McKnight to the stage for an improvised song about a woman in the audience.
Other highlights this week include:
7 p.m. on Showtime: WILD IRIS "A perfect neurotic fit" is what a gentleman of our acquaintance would call the relationship between a young widow (Laura Linney) and her mother (Gena Rowlands) living together in a small Kansas town.
7 p.m. on TNT: JAMES DEAN James Franco of "Freaks and Geeks" stars as the screen star in the new made-for-cable bioflick. Repeats at 10 p.m. and midnight.
7 p.m. on TCM: TCM SPENDS THE NIGHT WITH JAMES DEAN It's been 45 years since the death of the film actor. The evening begins at 7 with "The James Dean Story," a 1957 documentary by Robert Altman. Then check out "Rebel Without a Cause" at 8:30 and "Giant" at 10:30.
9 p.m. on VH1: FROM THE WAIST DOWN: MEN, WOMEN & MUSIC Each hour of the five-part mini-series focuses on a different aspect of sexuality and popular music. Tonight: Remember how Elvis Presley showed so persuasively that sex and dance go together? Other parts are shown this week at 9 p.m.
7 p.m. on History: HISTORY VS. HOLLYWOOD The series looks at how true to reality "historical" films really are. Tonight, learn about Darryl Zanuck's efforts to make "The Longest Day" real in terms of the memories of veterans while still making it teach that war is futile.
8 p.m. on NBC: FRASIER Yes, it's a rerun, but it's a good one. Frasier and Niles take a class in auto repair and learn lessons unrelated to how an engine works.
9 p.m. on AMC: BEYOND TARA: THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF HATTIE MCDANIEL "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be one for $7.00," said McDaniel to those who criticized her for playing stereotypical roles in movies. She was the first (and one of only two) black women to win an Academy Award. (McDaniel's was for Mammy in "Gone With The Wind"; the other winner was Whoopi Goldberg for "Ghost.") Learn more about her career and struggles with both whites and blacks.
6 p.m. on Cinemax: SALGADO: THE SPECTRE OF HOPE Photojournalist Sebastico Salgado and novelist John Berger talk about Salgado's work capturing the images of migrants in more than 40 countries. Where did he find hope? Where did he find despair? Look for images from Rwanda, Sudan, Mexico, Mozambique, Yugoslavia and other challenged regions.
7 p.m. on HBO: REVERB The fourth season of the music series begins. Expect rocking footage of live shows intercut with backstage stuff.
7 p.m. on PBS: CREATING 'RAGTIME' Whoopi Goldberg hosts a documentary about the making of the Broadway musical "Ragtime." While the show is named after a specific genre of music (as is E.L. Doctorow's original book), many kinds of American music from the early 1900s are featured.
7 p.m. on Bravo: LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE A waxy drugstore candy bar is not the appropriate snack for watching this sensuous 1992 film. A young woman (Lumi Cavazos), forbidden to marry her true love, finds a special power in her cooking. The Mexican movie is shown with English subtitles.
9 p.m. on Showtime: GOING TO CALIFORNIA California has long been a special destination of people trying to Find Themselves. The new series, which stars Sam Trammell and Brad Henke (left), follows the adventures of two twenty-something buddies as they drive across the country.
7 p.m. on CBS: THE 3RD ANNUAL FAMILY TELEVISION AWARDS The awards are presented by the Family Friendly Programming Forum, a group made up of 47 major national advertisers. Their point is to encourage networks to develop more programs that fit their definition of "family friendly."
8 p.m. on HBO: DINNER WITH FRIENDS Dennis Quaid, Andie MacDowell, Greg Kinnear and Toni Collette star in the new adaptation of Donald Margulies' Pulitzer Prize-winning play about two couples who struggle with the news that one of the men is leaving his wife for another woman.
9 p.m. on Lifetime: WOMEN DOCS Each episode of the new series will introduce viewers to four female doctors who share their personal and professional lives. Tonight's show focuses on a neonatologist, a cardiologist, a plastic surgeon and an ob/gyn, all working at St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers of New York.
10 p.m. on Lifetime: BEYOND CHANCE The series begins its third season with host Melissa Etheridge. The program shares stories of people who believe that their lives "have been touched by destiny and fate." Note the new time slot.
Pop culture and media critic Ricardo Baca can be reached at 886-3688
or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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