Today's News: Our Take


Question: I have a debate ...

Question: I have a debate with my know-it-all son-in-law regarding the Freddie Prinze character, Chico, on Chico and the Man. I say Chico was Mexican and Prinze was actually Puerto Rican. I remember a debate brewing due to a Puerto Rican playing the part instead of a Mexican. My son-in-law disagrees. He first said Prinz was Mexican playing a Puerto Rican. When I proved that wrong, he said the character was still not Mexican. My son-in-law is Mexican himself and he always has to be right. I myself watched the show when it was on. Can you give me some insight and proof to show my know-it-all son-in-law? I would appreciate any help. Thanks. — Winnie, Lexington, Ky.

Televisionary: Funny you should ask, Winnie. I answered just this question last year. Now go get 'em.

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Question: Hey, Televisionary, ...

Question: Hey, Televisionary, dude, you are terrific. I hope you can help me out on this one. I have two questions about Malcolm in the Middle. What city does this show take place in? And what horrible crime did Francis do to put him into military school? — Elizabeth B., Tacoma, Wash.

Televisionary: Thanks, Elizabeth, dude. The hometown, like the last name of Malcolm's family, has never been revealed. Nor has the show ever revealed exactly what Francis (Christopher Masterson) did to earn his trip to military school. (And please save yourself some typing and e-mailing, everybody. There's been plenty of speculation, and Francis has committed plenty of sins, but neither of these questions has ever been specifically answered on the show.)

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Question: Who plays the role ...

Question: Who plays the role of Omar on The Wire? — Bunche, New York, N.Y.

Televisionary: That's Brooklyn native Michael K. Williams, who does an amazing job (I'm a big fan of the show). A former dancer, Williams has also appeared in episodes of Law & Order and The Sopranos as well as in the features Bullet and Bringing Out the Dead.

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Question: What was the ...

Question: What was the premise behind James at 15 and when did it air? I heard it was the inspiration behind Dawson's Creek and I am a DC fanatic so I really wanna know. — Vanessa, Orlando, Fla.

Televisionary: James at 15, which ran on NBC from October 1977 to July 1978 (and became James at 16 as the character aged) focused on the adolescence of James Hunter (Lance Kerwin), an Oregonian who was transplanted to Boston as the series began. In Walter Mitty-fashion, James periodically dropped into his fantasy life (dramatized for the audience) and was also a burgeoning photographer.

The show was Creek-like in that it dealt frankly with teen sexual issues (STDs and the loss of James's virginity) and other complications (teen drinking, etc.) That's standard stuff today, but was groundbreaking for network TV way back when I was a junior-high-aged kid.

As far as the read more

Question: Friends and I were ...

Question: Friends and I were talking about how amazing it is that Hogan's Heroes ever got on the air. So I have to ask: How did the producers ever get a show set in a concentration camp on? — Nick C., Seward, Neb.

Televisionary: They didn't. Hogan's Heroes, which ran on CBS from September 1965 to July 1971, was a comedy set in a prisoner-of-war camp, not a concentration camp. Who came up with that idea? Creator Bernard Fein, who'd earlier played Private Gomez for four years on The Phil Silvers Show and wanted to create a similar antiauthority dynamic on his series. The thing was, his concept initially revolved around a U.S. penitentiary rather than a WWII prison camp, but no one was interested until he made the switch.

"I tried for four years to sell the show," Fein told TV Guide in 1965. "Finally I gave up and decided to leave the business. read more

THE GUEST IS OUT THERE

Former X-Files star David Duchovny will serve as Craig Ferguson's inaugural guest on Monday's Late Late Show. Other first-week guests include Jason Alexander, Jon Cryer and Nip/Tuck's Julian McMahon. (Note to Craig: Ask him who The Carver is!) read more

REMEMBERED

Nearly 300 mourners, including past and present Law & Order stars Sam Waterston, Chris Noth and Benjamin Bratt, were on hand for the funeral of Jerry Orbach on Friday in New York City. Orbach died of prostate cancer on Tuesday at age 69. read more

Bill Murray's Miserable Life


In The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Bill Murray stars as an egotistical underwater adventurer who has relationship issues with his wife, long-lost son, and pretty much his whole crew. Turns out, there's a lot of misery behind the movie's comedy.

While Murray was interested in reteaming with his Royal Tennenbaums director, Wes Anderson, the 54-year-old was very unhappy during the several months they spent filming on location in Italy. "I was physically and emotionally drained, not just from the work," Murray sighs. "It was a torturous experience to be away from home for that long. I hated going to work. I was so personally miserable that it was really a challenge to work every day because I was just so lonely and missed my [family] so much. It was what I imagine being in prison is like."

While most of his Zissou co-stars say they got close, Murray has a rather cynical take on the setside camaraderie. "It was like a famil read more

Meet Phantom's Masked Man


Gerard Butler feels darn lucky to be starring in the big-budget holiday movie Andrew Lloyd Webber's Phantom of the Opera. Since he's basically unknown — and not really a trained singer — the 35-year-old Scottish-born actor was thrilled that director Joel Silver allowed him a chance to prove himself, even though it meant months of voice and movement classes.

"I love this job," says Butler, who's actually very attractive underneath the Phantom's mask and all those layers of makeup. "I used to work in an area that I hated. Therefore, I relish the chance to work hard and to improve at something."

The hated occupation? Let's just say he appreciates a good, old-fashioned lawyer joke. "I trained as a lawyer," he sighs. "I studied law for five years and I was actually president of the Glasgow University Law Society. I trained at a top law firm in Scotland, and it made me so desperately unhappy. I felt I stepped into a life that I n read more

I SPY A COVER-UP

Citing illness, Jennifer Garner has abruptly canceled a spate of TV appearances to promote the return of Alias and her upcoming feature Elektra. Inside Edition reports that Garner has a nasty viral infection and will be laid up for at least a week. Her rep, meanwhile, is dismissing tabloid reports that the actress is preggers. read more

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