Today's News: Our Take


VMA UPDATE

Speaking of the "Funniest Man on TV," Chappelle has been added to the list of celebs slated to appear at the 2004 MTV Video Music Awards, airing Aug. 29 live from Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena. He'll be joined by fellow presenters Paris Hilton, Tony Hawk, Lenny Kravitz, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Jon Stewart, Ashlee Simpson and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs. read more

Question: What's up with ...

Question: What's up with every political ad starting and/or ending with "My name is (insert politician's name here) and I approved this message"? Is this some kind of new FCC regulation, or is it just something that the advertising industry and politicians think sounds way cool? — Jon B., Atlanta, Ga.

Televisionary: Neither, Jon (though I can't really say for sure on the second point — maybe some of them do think it's way cool). Those statements are required on all radio and TV ads paid for and produced by the candidates themselves. That's in keeping with the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law, which went into effect last year.

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Question: As a child, I ...

Question: As a child, I remember a show that was live-action as well as animated. Some of the offerings were tales of Huck Finn, Tom Sawyer and Becky lost in an animated world (the main characters were played by 'real' actors); and I believe an animated version of Gulliver's Travels was also part of the rotation. I'm thinking it was part of the Banana Splits show, but I can't find any information. — Michael, Austin, Tex.

Televisionary: It was indeed part of The Banana Splits, Michael.

You're thinking of NBC's The New Adventures of Huck Finn, which initially ran for a year, beginning in September 1968. Starring Michael Shea, Kevin Schultz and Lu Ann Haslam as Huck, Tom and Becky, the show yanked our heroes (played by the in-the-flesh actors) out of their own book and into animated versions of other classics, where they met their literary counterparts (Don Quixote, Medusa, etc.) and spent a great deal of time running read more

LOOK OUT, DUBYA

Al Franken is moving in on Bill O'Reilly's turf. The left-leaning satirist's radio show will begin airing on the Sundance Channel next month. read more

Question: There was a song ...

Question: There was a song played twice in the pilot episode of the addictive, mind-boggling, fabulously wonderful 4400. It started, "Hush, baby, don't you cry" or something to that effect. Can you tell me who sings it and how I can get a copy? I would be forever in your debt. My roommate and I have watched it three times, and have exclaimed out loud all three times, "That is a great song! We have to have it!" Please help us! — Taunja, Normal, Ill.

Televisionary: But of course, Taunja — just as I did in my April 6 column when James asked about the theme song from Kingdom Hospital. The answer is the same: It's Ivy's "Worry About You" and you'll find it on their 2001 CD, Long Distance (Nettwerk).

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Question: Hi. I'm Stacey ...

Question: Hi. I'm Stacey Scowley's publicist. Thought I'd mention that interestingly enough, the girl who Kate is getting her confused with is Lara Boyd Rhodes, who co-starred in Pi&#241ata and is, coincidentally, very close friends with Stacey. They get this all the time. — Amy F., Los Angeles, Cal.

Televisionary: The extra info is much appreciated, Amy. I thank you, and I'm betting Kate thanks you, too. (For any of you who didn't read the question in question — and shame on you for not keeping up, you laggards — see my July 20 column.

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Growing Up Gotti OK, so... Victoria...

Growing Up Gotti
OK, so... Victoria Gotti's giving a realtor a tour of her super-sized McMansion when she discovers that her boys had a keg at their party in the guest house. "We know what it's like to be a teenager," the realtor says. "I didn't know what it was like to be that kind of teenager," Gotti replies. Apparently she also doesn't seem to know what's it like to provide parental guidance. I mean, Hello! Underage drinking and Lord knows what else was happening up in there! You'd think with 42 security cameras scanning the grounds she would have gotten a clue. But whatever. I'm more concerned about the way her "angels" talked to her. And the way they treated her blind date. (Who, by the way, must have been insane to go out with an alleged mobster's ex.) If those ill-mannered, metro mob heirs are, as Victoria says, her proudest achievement, then you know what Vicki, you're in trouble. But let me be careful what I say here, lest I have problems "when read more

Question: Is it true that ...

Question: Is it true that Family Matters was supposed to be called Urkel? There's some serious money riding on this. Thank you. — Marci G., Natchitoches, La.

Televisionary: No, it's not true, Marci. But considering how quickly nerdy neighbor Steve Urkel (played by Jaleel White) stole the show out from under his costars, it might as well have been.

Thing is, White wasn't even supposed to be a costar when he auditioned for the role. As written, Urkel was intended to make a one-time appearance 12 episodes into the first season (the show debuted in September 1989 on ABC). According to executive producer Thomas L. Miller, however, that changed as soon as White recited his lines in front of 50 or so actors, writers and producers his first time out. "When he started reading, the whole room screamed," he said. "I turned to my partner, Bob Boyett, and said, 'We have to sign this kid'."

Sign read more

Natalie Portman's Garden Secrets


Natalie Portman isn't a Jersey girl by birth (she's actually a Long Island native), but she certainly makes a convincing one in her latest film, Garden State. She plays Sam, an Annie Hall-like young woman who strikes up a relationship with the film's Benjamin Braddock-like hero, Andrew (played by Scrubs star Zach Braff). The role gave Portman the chance to wear ordinary clothes for once, unlike the elaborate costumes she sports as Amidala in those Star Wars prequels.

"Sam was a fun character to play because she doesn't really hide anything," says the 23-year-old actress. "She gets to have all of this weirdness hanging out. I enjoyed doing a small movie like this. It's not about big special effects or opening-weekend grosses. It's about creating something together that people will enjoy."

Portman agreed to appear in Garden State after meeting with writer-director Braff, with whom she clicked right away. But read more

Amazing Race's Internet Lovers

There's one thing you can say for sure about Bob and Joyce: These senior citizens definitely don't look like your typical Internet-dating couple. Still, the latest team to face Philimination on CBS's The Amazing Race (Tuesdays, 10pm/ET) was also one of the most popular thanks to their upbeat attitudes, strong racing skills and all-around good-heartedness. Here the New Jersey natives reminisce about their first date, and look ahead to the future.

TV Guide Online: So tell us the story of how you met.
Joyce:
We met through Match.com. I had been a widow for a long time and didn't have much of a personal life. I was raising my three children and working hard. My son, who is a software engineer, told me, "Mom, you need a life. Go on the Internet. It's the only way you'll be able to do this." And I said, "No way." But he insisted and helped me put my profile on Match.com. Lo and behold, Bob came on...
Bob: And I saw her profile. Actually, I pass read more

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