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Spanking the Censors

November 28, 2005 12:00 AM

Writer-producer Tom Fontana, who has been raising the bar on TV since writing on "St. Elsewhere," will take a break from his negotiations with The WB censors long enough to get dressed up and accept the Real Deal Award at Scenarios USA's annual benefit Wednesday in New York. Scenarios USA is a nonprofit organization that connects teen writers with professional filmmaker mentors who help the teens create short films. Co-founder Maura Minsky cited Mr. Fontana and his series, including "Homicide: Life on the Street" and "Oz," for having "broken boundaries with their honest depictions of human interaction. We especially look forward to his new [midseason] series 'The Bedford Diaries,' which takes place in a sex education class and therefore touches upon many of the issues we address in our work." Those hopeful words come just as Mr. Fontana is wrestling with addressing the topic of masturbation in a "Diaries" episode about sexual abstinence without using that most clinical word-or any of the euphemisms rejected by WB censors. "We came up with a list of pretty funny alternatives," said Mr. Fontana, whose personal favorite was "spanking the monkey." He praised The WB creative executives with whom he's dealt, but is, to say the least, bemused about the Catch-22 in which he's caught: doing a series about sex education but being forbidden to talk about some things. "We're fighting the good fight," he said. "I just didn't think I'd have to."-Michele Greppi

Spot-less Gastineaus

This week's season premiere episode of E!'s "Gastineau Girls" will be televised without commercial interruptions, thanks to an advertising deal with America Online to promote AOL content, including a weekly podcast being recorded by Lisa and Brittny Gastineau that will be available on AOL's podcast hub. As part of the ad buy, a meeting the Gastineau girls had independently with AOL Music to set up the podcasting deal will be featured in the premiere. In future episodes they will be seen doing the podcast. AOL, which will launch its own broadband video-on-demand network of classic TV shows in January, will air clips from "Gastineau Girls" to promote the premiere, but not the entire episode, as it has in the past with programs including "Jack & Bobby" and "Project Greenlight." -Jon Lafayette

Wedding Bells at WE

WE: Women's Entertainment has acquired the 2003 NBC series "Race to the Altar," one of several programs the network will premiere next month. "Altar" is a seven-episode series following eight engaged couples as they compete to win a fantasy wedding. WE is expected to announce the acquisition this week. In December WE will debut another nuptials-themed show, "Katrina Weddings: A Second Chance" (a special in which a wedding planner helps two Gulf Coast couples), plus the original movie "Charles & Camilla: Whatever Love Means," the series "I Can't Believe I Wore That ..." (profiling fashion faux pas of yesteryear) and "Daddy's Spoiled Little Girl" (profiling the daughters of celebrities). -James Hibberd

G4 Beats 'Lost'

The most downloaded video podcast on iTunes last week wasn't "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" or "The Simpsons" but … a G4 show? Incredibly, yes. The Comcast-owned network's "Attack of the Show," which features gaming news and interviews, hit the No. 1 spot last week. Of course, it did have the advantage of being offered for free-unlike its broadcast net competition, which typically charge $1.99 a download. But for a gamer net of modest viewership, that's still a reason to crow. After all, the show was only made available on iTunes the week before. "The instant popularity of G4's video podcasts is not surprising, as we know our young male audience craves cutting-edge entertainment and technologies," said Gaynor Strachan Chun, senior VP of marketing for G4. -James Hibberd