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They Learned Comedy From the 'Girls'

June 27, 2005 12:00 AM

The shoulder-padded Miami singles who were the subjects of the classic 1980s sitcom "The Golden Girls" may just be the predecessors of the women of Wisteria Lane. At a panel of comedy writers last week at the Museum of Television & Radio in Beverly Hills, "Desperate Housewives" creator Marc Cherry and "Arrested Development" creator Mitch Hurwitz discussed the state of comedy in prime time today. While they are now celebrated comedy showrunners, both began their careers as writers for "The Golden Girls," which they said was an important training ground. Mr. Cherry said the show's veteran cast was so good "You knew it was your fault" when a joke didn't work. Mr. Hurwitz said he was greatly influenced by "Girls" executive producers Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas (son of TV legend Danny Thomas) and their ability to craft comedy. -CHRISTOPHER LISOTTA

Teach and Entertain

The In Tune Foundation Group and Passport Entertainment have struck a deal with Viacom to produce at least 26 episodes of a weekly syndicated show tentatively titled "In Tune TV," said executive producer Gene Maillard, CEO of In Tune, a nonprofit group. The half-hour will feature popular musicians and will air Saturdays beginning Sept. 10 on Viacom-owned stations and some others. The show, which meets Federal Communications Commission standards as an educational program, will approach music from an enlightened perspective, Mr. Maillard said, noting it will be supported by distribution to classrooms of In Tune Monthly, a magazine for kids 12 to 18. The goal is to use fun and entertaining methods to teach basic life skills through music and popular culture. "We want to be the coolest television show in America," he said. The musician Zarah is set as host. She said she has been positively influenced by music: "I think music has healed a lot of my past." -CHARLEY DANIELS

A Slow Rise at Promax&BDA

Executives looking to move up in the promotion industry last week learned to avoid the elevators at the Marriott Marquis in New York, where Promax&BDA held its 2005 conference. In the past year the hotel has undergone a multimillion-dollar renovation. However, due to a lingering strike by the elevator engineers union, the modern control system for a bank of revamped elevators was only partly installed. Most attendees rode escalators up the first eight floors. For those with higher aspirations, the problems were greater. For instance, guests trying to get to Promax and TelevisionWeek's presentation of the 2005 Awards of Distinction in a suite on the 45th floor faced long waits for the few working elevators. Some were sent to 8, then rerouted to 43 via a freight elevator loaded with linen carts. Hotel management apologized in advance to attendees, offering prizes ranging from a New Year's holiday stay at the hotel, to iPods and free drinks (the drink prizes seemed the most appreciated). Next year's Promax&BDA will again be at the Marriott. Things can only improve. Look for photos from the Campaigns of Distinction Awards presentation in the July 11 edition of TVWeek. -JON LAFAYETTE