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Quick Takes

January 18, 2011

Health shows feeling Fit

Discovery Communications has discovered that there is an audience for health programming after all. Two weeks after shutting down the Discovery Health Channel to make room for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), the Silver Spring, Md., media company said Monday that it would be moving much of the Discovery Health programming to its smaller cable channel, FitTV.

The channel — available in about 50 million homes, or about half of all U.S. households with cable or satellite TV — will be renamed Discovery Fit and Health as of Feb. 1.

The idea to add more muscle to Fit with the orphaned Health programming — "Medical Mysteries," "Dr. G: Medical Examiner" and "911: The Bronx" — came in response to queries from Health channel viewers during the run-up to the launch of OWN. They didn't want to lose the Discovery Health channel.

—Meg James

Miss America ratings rebound

Teresa Scanlan, the 17-year-old Miss Nebraska, wasn't the only winner at the Miss America Pageant last weekend. The broadcast itself won a huge ratings increase with its return to the broadcast airwaves Saturday.

Miss America ratings: A Quick Take in the Jan. 18 Calendar section said that ABC's broadcast of the Miss America Pageant on Jan. 15 had averaged 6.6 million viewers and won its time slot. It didn't: Fox's football telecast averaged 30.8 million viewers that night. —

An average of 6.6 million viewers tuned in to the two-hour event on ABC, according to the Nielsen Co.

That's a fraction of the audience the pageant commanded at its peak decades ago — in 1988, for example, Miss America scored 33 million viewers — but it represented a 47% hike over last year, when it ran on cable network TLC.

As viewing declined over the years, pageant organizers tried moving the telecast to cable, which resulted in even lower ratings. This time around, the program easily won its time slot on a repeat-heavy night with light viewing overall.

—Scott Collins

Choreographer wins cash prize

Choreographer Barak Marshall and Body Traffic won the first prize at "The A.W.A.R.D Show!" at REDCAT Sunday night. The honor includes a $10,000 grant to develop new work.

Performing excerpts from Marshall's zany and affecting "Rooster," Body Traffic garnered the most audience votes out of the 12 local entries over the four-day dance competition.

An acronym for Artists With Audiences Responding to Dance, the 6-year-old program, now administered by New York's Joyce Theater Foundation, brings audience feedback direct to dance makers. CalArts performance space REDCAT partnered with "The A.W.A.R.D. Show!" in the first-ever Los Angeles staging of the populist showcase.

—Debra Levine

A new actor will wear the sandals

Actor Liam McIntyre is strapping on the loincloth: He'll assume the starring role in the Starz series "Spartacus: Blood and Sand."

McIntyre, 28, will take over the role from Andy Whitfield, who has left the series as he battles cancer. McIntyre is Australian and largely unknown to U.S. audiences, although he did have a role in HBO's "The Pacific."

Writing for Season 2 was underway when Whitfield, 36, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Initially, writers conjured up a six-episode concept for a prequel to give Whitfield time to undergo treatment and recover before returning to the role. That prequel, "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena," premieres Friday with Lucy Lawless, John Hannah and Peter Mensah reprising their roles.

But Whitfield's cancer returned. He has since formally bowed out of the role and urged everyone to continue without him.

—Rene Lynch

Kidman, Urban welcome child

Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have added a second daughter to their family, born through a surrogate mother.

The couple announced Monday the arrival of Faith Margaret Kidman Urban, born on Dec. 28 at a Nashville hospital.

Kidman and Urban also have a 2-year-old daughter, Sunday Rose.

—Associated Press

Bond is given 'Carte Blanche'

The new James Bond book penned by U.S. author Jeffery Deaver will be titled "Carte Blanche" and take the British superspy to Dubai.

The novel, published by Hodder and Stoughton in Britain and commissioned by the estate of Bond creator Ian Fleming, is due for release on May 26. Its U.S. publisher is Simon & Schuster.


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