News Round-up

EASTENDERS coy about first all-black show
Viewers of EASTENDERS were treated last night to a unique storyline that involved a detailed and occasionally moving discussion of racist bigotry in Fifties Britain.

The BBC may say it is surprised at criticism that it underpromoted a televisual first: the first episode of the long-running soap to feature an all-black cast. The truth is that this reflective episode was undersold for fear of incurring the wrath, and race-baiting fury, of the redtop newspapers.

The BBC is adamant that it had no idea that the episode coincided with the tenth anniversary of Sir William Macpherson’s report into the death of Stephen Lawrence.

All-black EASTENDERS Makes Soap History - As in Lesson
Perhaps the most surprising thing about last night's episode of EastEnders was not the fact that it had an all-black cast, but that this was the first time this had happened in the soap's 23-year history. Here is a show that claims to represent life in the heart of multicultural London, which has put out thousands of hours of television - and yet it has taken more than two decades to dedicate a full 30 minutes to a black family.

According to the EASTENDERS press office, the episode was neither a political statement nor a conscious decision to right past wrongs. The episode was simply "Patrick Trueman sharing his experiences of being a young man living in 1950s Britain with the family he lives with (the Foxes), which does mean it's an all-black cast on screen ... This is no different to other episodes where we've concentrated on one particular family or storyline in the past."

Angry Viewers: Black EASTENDERS is racist
The BBC has been accused of racism after last night’s EastEnders showed almost exclusively black characters. Viewers from different backgrounds hit out at the “politically correct propaganda”.

The one-off show focused on the black Trueman and Fox families after it is revealed dad Patrick (Rudolph Walker) was arrested for assault in the 1958 Notting Hill race riots. Three white male extras made very brief appearances halfway through the episode, in separate scenes in the cafe and in the Queen Vic. All of the main characters were black.

WHERE ARE THEY NOW: Y&R's Donnelly Rhodes (ex-Phillip)
Rhodes feels fortunate to have earned a living working close to home in his later years. Canada's film and TV production industry works on a small scale, in part because there isn't enough money in domestic film distribution and TV advertising to sustain a larger industry.

The real opportunities -- and most of the well-paying jobs -- are in Los Angeles. That is why so many young Canadian actors try their luck there first, as Rhodes did early in his career, when he landed make-or-break roles in THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and SOAP.

Rhodes says he watched the Academy Awards, but in general he's not one to obsess over which actor wins which award in any given award show.

"I really think there should be an award for the best actor in a lousy script," he said. "That would be worth winning. Basically, it's about the script. If you have a really good part, any decent actor is going to look pretty good in it."

Grace Kelly to join CORONATION STREET?
Katherine Kelly's sister is in talks to join CORONATION STREET. Grace Kelly, 19, is being lined up to play the sister of Katherine's character Becky Granger in the ITV soap after she impressed bosses during an audition for another part.

A source said: "Grace came to audition for a small role and blew bosses away. She's as quirky as Katherine and she's a cracking little actress. However, they couldn't give her the part because she just looks too much like Katherine. It's uncanny. It's been agreed that if she joins the cast, she's going to have to play one of Becky's relatives, maybe even her sister. Sisters playing sisters would be a CORONATION STEET first."

CBS takes international
The battle between CBS's and Hulu has heated further with the former opening up some of its online video content to international audiences. CBS fell out with Hulu last week when the NBC Universal-News Corp joint venture pulled its programming from in a move the Eye claimed "contravened its contractual rights".

While Hulu has been working hard on its international expansion strategy but remains accessible only to US internet users, CBS has now made some of its content available to overseas surfers, albeit only clips. Classic shows such as BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 and MELROSE PLACE are now accessible globally via, which recently relaunched following CBS's purchase of the site as part of its US$1.8bn CNET buy-out last summer.

Lindsay Price joins WITCHES OF EASTWICK pilot
The Warner Bros.-produced EASTWICK follows three young witches who come into their powers. WMA-repped Price will play one of them, Joanna, a hardworking, shy reporter for the local newspaper. She joins Jaime Ray Newman, who was recently cast as a fellow witch. Price's casting on EASTWICK is formally in second position to LIPSTICK JUNGLE, which has not been canceled. The show, which wrapped its second season, has developed a passionate fan base but has lagged in the ratings.

On my FNL has never found an audience: "There’s so many things you could say. You could blame it on marketing. You could blame it on timeslot or any number of excuses. I think at the end of the day we made it how we wanted to make it. You wish that it could be received as well. But the critical praise that we’ve had has been astounding. Everybody who watches the show absolutely loves it. I’ve never met anybody who said, 'I watched an episode but it just wasn’t my thing.' There’s nothing we can do about the ratings. Nothing we can control about it. I don’t know the real reason. It’s slightly disappointing because I would love the show to go on forever. But we fought for our life every year. I think we’re leaving a legacy that far outweighs ratings. I wouldn’t have it any other way."

Cady McClain on the times we are living in
"It’s an interesting time we are in. Frankly I am trying not to watch too much news, as it just seems to get worse and worse, and the media seems hysterical about every moment. I do have faith that there are good people in this world, and that we can all help each other if things get rough."

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