Today's News: Our Take

Question: Who played one of ...

Question: Who played one of the detectives in the made-for-TV movie The Perfect Murder on Lifetime? Was it Kris Kristolferson or Tom Skillet? — Kimberly H., Conshohocken, Pa.

Televisionary: I assume you mean the 2000 movie Perfect Murder, Perfect Town. If so, that was Kris Kristofferson, Diane. I also assume you mean Tom Skerritt. Nope, wasn't him. Nor was it Tom Skillet. I checked on that, and it didn't pan out.

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Question: I was wondering if ...

Question: I was wondering if The Dead Zone will be returning anytime soon. I love the show and it ended in a cliff-hanger. — Diane B., Colorado Springs, Colo.

Televisionary: That it will, Diane. Look for the USA favorite on June 6 at 10 pm/ET.

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Question: Am I imagining ...

Question: Am I imagining things, or did I see Sesame Street's Maria on an episode of Law & Order, and Gina on a few episodes of The Sopranos? If so, they've come a long way from fixing toasters and treating animals. — Patricia M., Wheaton, Ill.

Televisionary: That they have, Patricia.

It was indeed Sonia Manzano, who has portrayed Maria on the Street for more than three decades, playing Barbara Benitez in the March 3 L&O episode "Hands Free." And you weren't alone in recognizing her. While shooting that installment, "The sound guy kept calling me Maria and telling me he grew up watching me. It was funny," she told The Detroit News.

As for Alison Bartlett, who portrays Gina, if you saw her on The Sopranos as the girlfriend of Tony B. (Steve Buscemi), the read more

Question: Was The Paper ...

Question: Was The Paper Chase's John Houseman a real law professor before he took up acting? I thought I remembered reading that. — Jonathan T., Stoneham, Mass.

Televisionary: Nope. But the late Houseman, who passed away in 1988, was many other things, certainly, before taking that role. Matter of fact, he didn't even start acting until he was 70, though by then he was already renowned as a theater and film innovator.

Born Jacques Haussmann, the Romanian native was in New York by the age of 25, cornering the soybean market as well as writing reviews and short stories. However, his business career was not to be: He was wiped out in the Depression and turned to the stage. He directed and produced and then hooked up with a young Orson Welles, working under the WPA to form the Negro Theater Project and Classical Theater and staging, among other things, a voodoo version of Macbeth. The two went on to form the Mercury Theater, scaring the he read more


NBC has decided to dump the remaining episodes of The Restaurant on a night when most people will be holed up in a real restaurant. Episodes 4 and 5 will air this Saturday at 8 and 9 pm/ET, respectively, and the series finale will run on Saturday, June 5 at 8 pm/ET. read more


American Idol's Paula Abdul and Apprentice runner-up Kwame Jackson will be among the judges at the 2004 Miss Universe pageant, airing June 1 on NBC... Correction: The name of Helen Hunt's new daughter is Makena'lei, not McKenna, as we reported on Friday. The name comes from a town in Maui and reinforces the age-old stereotype that celebs are nuts. read more


VH1 is developing a four-hour miniseries that will chronicle the adolescent years of Brat Packers Molly Ringwald, Judd Nelson, Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe and Demi Moore, Variety reports. The project is based on the book Brat Pack Confidential. read more

Will Seinfeld's Pal Be a Star?

The summer lull — just after May sweeps mania and before the fall TV season — is when networks like testing out iffy new material. Case in point: Come to Papa, an NBC sitcom starring stand-up comic Tom Papa. Basically, he plays a suburban New Jersey newspaper reporter who dreams of a life less ordinary as a comedy writer. How'd this unknown land such a plum gig? Well, his showbiz connections — particularly ex-NBC golden boy Jerry Seinfeld — didn't exactly hurt.

"I'm friends with Jerry. He kind of discovered me in the [comedy] clubs about five years ago, and I have been on tour with him," Papa explains, adding hopefully, "Seinfeld also debuted in the summer, so maybe that's a good omen. It's kind of strange how we've mirrored the same route he's taken. He had a pilot and it took a while to get up on its feet. Once it did, it was supposed to [debut] in the spring and they moved it to the summer, the same way that we did. read more


Ellen DeGeneres's freshman gabfest picked up best talk show honors at Friday's 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. But in a rather stunning turn of events, the funny lady lost the best host prize to Wayne Brady — whose self-titled show was recently axed after two seasons. Elsewhere, The Young and the Restless was named best soap, while General Hospital icon Anthony Geary (Luke) and Y&R spitfire Michelle Stafford (Phyllis) took the top acting awards. And money matters continued to haunt Martha Stewart: The embattled diva lost the best service show host trophy to financial wizard Suze Orman. read more


We knew that green ogre was big, but not this big. Shrek 2 grossed $104.3 million at the weekend box office, the second-best three-day haul in history behind Spider-Man. Since opening Wednesday, the animated flick has brought in $125.3 million — another record. Last week's No. 1 film, the Greek comedy Troy, fell to No. 2 with $23.8 million for a total of $85.8 million. Third-place Van Helsing, meanwhile, crossed the $100-million mark with weekend ticket sales of $10.1 million. read more

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