Thursday, May 02, 2002

Delhi native has enviable problem


        As much as she loves her job on ABC's Philly, Delhi Township native Diana-Maria Riva isn't taking any chances.

        The 1987 St. Ursula Academy graduate has filmed a NBC drama pilot set in Miami, in case ABC cancels Philly May 14.

        “This is how I see it: It's a nice problem to have (two network series at once). If I have that problem, I'm thanking God,” says Ms. Riva during a trip home to visit her parents, Dr. Chris and Maria Uhlenbrock.

    In the Just Shoot Me season finale, Huey Lewis guest stars as a stockbroker who plays air guitar with Finch (David Spade) in an episode that also features Alan Thicke and Leeza Gibbons (9:30 p.m., Channels 5, 22).
    Other sweeps stars tonight: General Hospital's Rena Sofer flirts with Ross (David Schwimmer) on Friends (8 p.m., Channels 5, 22), and Craig. T. Nelson from The District appears on The Agency to conclude a crossover plot between the two shows (10 p.m., Channels 12, 7).
        She's optimistic that ABC will renew Philly, starring Kim Delaney as attorney Kathleen Maguire, for a second season. She can't hide her glee over the failure of Sally Field's heavily-promoted The Court in Philly's 10 p.m. Tuesday slot this spring.

        “It's looking good for us, especially after Sally Field's debut — and quick shelving,” says Ms. Riva, who plays Patricia, the blunt Philly secretary.

        “I have to thank Sally Field, because I think she made us look good.”.

        ABC pulled Philly in late March for The Court. Half way through The Court's six-week run, the network hastily threw Philly back on the air.

        “When we came back after Sally Field, we came in second that night in the time period. After three weeks of being gone, there were people looking for us,” says the actress, who was honored as an “outstanding young alumni” at her 15th high school reunion last weekend.

        The actress knows that TV can be a crazy business. ABC announced that Philly had ended its season on April 23 — despite having one more show which “ties things up” in the can, she says.

        Her first ABC series, a law-office sitcom called Common Law, was canceled by the network in one month in 1996.

        She knows that ABC could cancel Philly, despite having to fill many other holes in the schedule after the collapse of Who Wants to be a Millionaire last fall. ABC also must replace Once and Again, What About Joan?, Bob Patterson, and rebuild Friday night.

        “It's been a very difficult (TV) year,” she says.“I have faith that ABC will support Philly.

        Still, she's hedging her bet. She plays the older sister of a tough-talking Cuban-American FBI agent (Roselyn Sanchez from Rush Hour 2; As The World Turns) in a NBC drama tentatively titled Miss Miami.

        NBC announces its fall schedule on May 13. ABC and WB unveil their fall lineups the next day.

        The University of Cincinnati graduate is in “second position” on the NBC show, meaning that she's obligated to Philly if both shows air this fall. She would like to explore the possibility of doing both, which would mean commuting from Los Angeles to Miami.

        “It would be difficult, from what I hear, but possible with a little fancy footwork. Who knows what can happen?” she says.

        We'll know in less than two weeks.

        Little big man: Nine-year-old Josh Hutcherson of Union will spend the next three weeks in Cleveland appearing in his first movie, Miracle Dogs, being produced for the ABC Family Channel.

        By the time he comes home, he could have his first TV series.

        Josh left New Haven Elementary School in Boone County in January to go do TV pilot auditions in Hollywood. He has been cast in a WB situation comedy, House Blend, with Cincinnati native Amy Yasbeck. He'll find out if the show makes WB's fall lineup on May 14.

        “He's had no prior acting experience, but he wanted to do this forever,” says his mother, Michelle Hutcherson.

        In the film, he plays the son of Kate Jackson, who rescues a dog. Shirley Jones and Stacy Keach also co-star in the film.

        On House Blend, Josh plays the son of Ms. Yasbeck, a divorced mother of two who combines households for economic reasons with a divorced father of two (Dan Cortese from Veronica's Closet).

        Survivor 5 set: CBS' fifth Survivor will be filmed this summer on the island of Tarutao, Thailand. The 16 castaways will live on a 58-square-mile island, the largest of 50 islands comprising Tarutao National Park. It was once used as a prison, CBS says. Survivor: Thailand will premiere this fall.

        Tonight on Survivor: Marquesas (8 p.m., Channels 12, 7), the 10th of 16 players will be voted out of the game.

        ABC news: ABC will devote the entire broadcast day on Sept. 11, from Good Morning America through Nightline, to the one-year anniversary of the terrorist attacks.


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