First, CSI and Two And A Half Men flip script writers, a cool idea given one is a dramatic police drama and the other is a studio audience sitcom. Most weeks they are TV’s No. 1 drama and No. 1 comedy, in the U.S. if not in Canada.
Both showrunners–Carol Mendelson from CSI and Chuck Lorre from Two And A Half Men–were in Alberta last June where they were special guests of the Banff International Television Festival. I was there to moderate a panel of TV critics and spotted then the first night at an impromptu screening of the Sopranos finale, made possible when I brought the disc TMN had dropped off at my room to the attention of the Festival organizers. Miss the most anticipated TV finale ever? Fagetaboutit.
After the big Sopranos fade to black left everyone scratching their heads (and blaming me for getting a screener with a missing ending, which we al know now wasn’t the case), Lorre mentioned this bizarre ambition of his to try his hand at a CSI script. He and Mendelson sealed the deal at Banff. The Two And A Half Men episode, where a body is discovered, airs tonight on CBS and A-Channel. Lorre’s CSI, where the death of a sitcom star brings the Vegas forensics team to LA, airs Thursday night on CBS/CTV.
Actors from shows on the same network have pulled this stunt in the past, going all the way back to the ’60s with Petticoat Junction, The Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres. (That Sam Drucker got around.) In more recent times it has happened on shows desperate for a little publicity, such as Las Vegas and Crossing Jordan. This is the first time I can recall writers making the TV criss-cross. Should be worth a look.
Later tonight, check out Late Show with David Letterman, where ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel will guest. Kimmel and Jay Leno did each other’s show in LA in January during the writers strike. “He gave me a lot of good advice,” Kimmel told me when I spoke with him on an ABC conference call in February, just days before shooting his 1000th show in late night.
While the two LA-based late night rivals bonded, Kimmel has always been an unabashed Letterman fan. He says he rarely missed watching Letterman before he himself became a late night talk show host. Asked in February which elusive guest he’d most want to have on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he singled out Letterman right away.
Kimmel is in New York to prep his gig hosting the network’s annual “upfront” for advertisers. He’s killed at these things in the past. There will be more than the usual scrutiny on him this week with so much speculation on how the whole late night deal is going to go down next year, what with Conan O’Brien taking over Tonight from Letterman and NBC about to announce Jimmy Fallon as O’Brien’s replacement. Might ABC ditch Nightline and throw Kimmel head-to-head against O’Brien’s revamped Tonight in 2009? Or will Kimmel, who seems to have already stolen a chunk of O’Brien’s college crowd, wait and go for Letterman’s chair at CBS once Dave’s contract expired in 2010? And what of Craig Ferguson, fresh off his triumph at the White House correspondent’s diner and his first-ever weekly win over O’Brien in the late late night ratings?
Kimmel and Letterman probably won’t get too into it tonight, but count on them getting more candid than when O’Brien visited Leno a few months ago in what seemed like a shotgun visit.