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BC Beat

11/02/2007 08:00:00 PM Eastern

With Anne Becker, John Eggerton, Alex Weprin and Rob Edelstein

For more BC Beat, Go to www.bcbeat.com

Phony CSI Pamphlets: Obfuscation for Jesus

CSI: Palestine" screams the printed pamphlet with the familiar logo and yellow crime scene tape across the top. This is, however, not an ad for Anthony Zuicker's latest, most topical franchise forensic drama yet. "CSI" in this case stands for "Christ Scene Investigation," and the pamphlets are produced by Garland, Texas-based American Tract Society (ATS), which plays on the series' popularity to win converts.

The company states in the material that, "This tract expresses solely the editorial views of ATS and is not associated in any way with the show's creators, producers or actors." While that's good news for CBS (which declined to comment), those views could spark controversy. As the ad copy says, "The gospel of John contains sufficient evidence to convict Christ of the ultimate crime (according to the Jews), that of being God. Investigate His seven miracles and examine the evidence for yourself."

"CSI" is not the only ATS attempt to help raise the Jesus rating with the young demo. Other titles include "Are You a Survivor?" "Are You Lost?" and "Who's Your Idol?" which features Randy, Paula and Simon on the cover. Randy is pointing at Simon in the image; chances are good that the gesture is not meant to answer the title question.

More 'Soup' Is On at E!

E! programmers aren't rooting for a writers' strike, but if it's happening, the network wouldn't mind picking up some nighttime viewers who won't know what to do without their nightly fix of topical, snarky humor.

So E! will be hyping a couple of shows that don't use or need Writers Guild staff. For starters, it will expand its Friday night popular pop culture roast, The Soup, into a series of six half-hour specials that will run Monday nights at 10, starting Nov. 12. And because it is a non-union show, new episodes of Chelsea Lately, the 11:30 nightly talk show starring Chelsea Handler, continue, while Leno, Letterman, Stewart, Colbert, et al., are dark during a strike.

"Everyone's talking about how the topical shows are where the audience will feel the strike the fastest because you can't bank them," says Suzanne Kolb, E! Networks' executive VP, marketing and communications. "For us, that means our shows could get sampling."

The Soup Presents clip shows, helmed by the irreverent host of the series, Joel McHale, will feature "best of the worst" countdowns on topics such as celebrity families, over-the-top TV moments, and fights on TV. The regular series, which chronicles the week's funniest entertainment moments, will continue to premiere new episodes on Friday nights. One of E!'s highest-rated programs (it's up 54% in the 18-49 demo year to year), it is also consistently the network's most DVR'd show.

"We certainly don't want a strike," says Kolb, "but we look at it from the audience's perspective." Hey, that E! is not just for Entertainment. It's for Empathetic!

Get High, C'mon Down

On The Price Is Right, Bob Barker famously urged his viewers to "have your pets spayed or neutered!" Comedian and current Price Is Right and Power of 10 host Drew Carey has his own cause: legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.

"I think it's clear by now that the federal government needs to reclassify marijuana. People who need it should be able to get it—safely and easily," Carey said last week.

That endorsement came on The Drew Carey Project on Reason.tv, a libertarian Website promoting "free minds and free markets."

"Ahhhh…smell that smell? That's the smell of freedom," Carey says at the outset of the program, entering a dispensary in West Hollywood that sells medical marijuana.

While Carey's principles are a matter of record, his latest exhalation might not fit with the "Come on Down!" atmosphere of his high-profile CBS gig. (Calls to CBS Entertainment have not been returned as of this writing.)

The move could be risky for the comedian, whose game shows have been looking secure on the schedule.

Carey promises he won't be booting Barker's pet project to control the pet population. But don't expect him to discuss his own pet project anytime soon.

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