NBC announces renewed shows
Universal City, Calif. — NBC is renewing Tina Fey’s “30 Rock” for the 2009-10 season, along with “The Office” and “The Biggest Loser.”
Besides the return of the comedies and the weight-loss reality show, NBC announced Thursday that it has set a premiere date for Amy Poehler’s new comedy, a mockumentary about local government. The show, yet to get a title, will debut 7:30 p.m. April 9.
“Southland,” a new police drama from “ER” executive producer John Wells, also will debut April 9, at 9 p.m.
NBC said fans of “ER” will get three more episodes than previously announced before the show ends for good, a total of 23. That will push its two-hour finale to April 2.
Angela Bromstad, new president of prime-time entertainment for NBC, weighed in on the fate of other series at a meeting of the Television Critics Association.
Despite a drop in ratings, “Heroes” is secure, Bromstad said. The sci-fi drama, in its third season, “may have taken on too much in terms of characters and multiple story lines,” she added.
Bromstad said the network feels “very strongly” about “Life,” “Friday Night Lights” and “Lipstick Jungle.” She denied reports that “Lipstick Jungle,” which stars Brooke Shields, has been canceled.
Beyonce to sing for Obamas at ball
Washington — Beyonce will sing for Barack and Michelle Obama’s first dance on inauguration night.
And the song? “Crazy in Love?” Her version of Etta James’ “At Last?”
The Presidential Inaugural Committee isn’t saying. “It is our hope that we can keep the song secret until the moment,” said spokeswoman Linda Douglass.
Beyonce is part of the star-studded lineup at the official Neighborhood Ball that will be televised on ABC, along with her husband Jay-Z, will.i.am, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Sting, Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and Maroon 5.
The Presidential Inaugural Committee said Thursday that presenters at the ball will include Denzel Washington, Jessica Alba, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ray Romano, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and Kate Walsh.
The Neighborhood Ball is for Washington, D.C. residents, and will be broadcast live and streamed online.
Beyonce has been eager to participate in the inauguration, telling a reporter the day after the election: “Whatever they want — if they need me to volunteer, they need me to sing, I’m there, and I’m ready.”
Piven says nothing fishy about mercury poisoning
New York — Jeremy Piven is defending his reputation against skeptics who think he used mercury poisoning to get out of the Broadway revival of “Speed-the-Plow.”
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday, Piven said he had been suffering high levels of mercury, six times the normal limit. The 43-year-old actor said he was diagnosed with mercury poisoning the first week of rehearsals for the play, and finally succumbed to the illness when he passed out in his home.
On doctors’ orders, Piven abruptly departed the critically acclaimed production of David Mamet’s satiric comedy in December, less than two months after the show opened in New York.
He said: “I’ve never not completed anything in my life. ... I wanted the show to continue forever and they pulled me out of this thing. That’s the truth.”
Piven denied reports saying the “Entourage” star had been partying late at night and was bored with the play.
He also said fish was his only source of protein for the past 20 years, but he hasn’t had any in five months.
Steve Carell buys Mass. general store
Marshfield, Mass. — Steve Carell is going from “The Office” to the general store.
Carell, who plays bumbling boss Michael Scott on the NBC sitcom, recently bought the Marshfield Hills General Store. The 45-year-old actor is a part-time resident of the town on Massachusetts’ south shore, 25 miles south of Boston.
He put sister-in-law Tish Vivado in charge but said customers should not be surprised to see him working there on occasion.
“I will be manning the cash register, and stocking the shelves as time permits!” Carell wrote in an e-mail to The Boston Globe.
He said the purchase was more of an “emotional investment than a business one” and an opportunity to preserve a piece of Americana.
The store’s previous owner, Sherry Bechtold, said she and her husband, Bob, sold the 155-year-old building and business to Carell after being convinced he wanted it “for the right reasons.” She said she wanted to make sure the new owner retained the store’s character.
St. Lucia thanks Winehouse for publicity
Castries, St. Lucia — St. Lucia’s tourism chief is praising Amy Winehouse for bringing publicity to the Caribbean island.
Local media have closely covered the British singer’s presence since she arrived in December, accusing her of everything from tossing a drink on a tourist to throwing up at a breakfast buffet.
But Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet says every picture shows Winehouse smiling or interacting with the locals, and the overall impact has been positive.
Chastanet told a TV station Thursday that the government sent her a gift basket of local products.
In a competitive world, he said, “any edge that you can get, you hang on to it.”