Today's News: Our Take

Question: I saw Matthew Perry ...

Question: I saw Matthew Perry on an episode of The West Wing, and I was just wondering which episode it was. — Jessi, Clinton, Ind.

Televisionary: I can't say for sure which one you saw since he'd already played lawyer Joe Quincy in two episodes, last season's "Life on Mars" and "Evidence of Things Not Seen," by the time I got your question. And he made it three with Nov. 12's "Separation of Powers."

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CSI Star's '80s Nostalgia

The actor who plays CSI's chief crime-scene sleuth has a long history in law enforcement. Sort of. Years before William Petersen became Gil Grissom, he stalked Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter and made his mark in the 1985 action-thriller To Live and Die in L.A. In fact, Petersen still speaks fondly of the latter, which arrives Dec. 2 on DVD. "It's got one of the best car chase scenes ever," he says. "And it shows the seedy side of L.A. It's a perfect '80s movie."

TV Guide Online: You played a federal agent in To Live and Die in L.A. Did that help you snag your CSI role?
Petersen: Not so much. I played a Secret Service agent investigating counterfeiting. That's what the Secret Service does, apart from protecting political figures; it deals with the Treasury.

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Jennifer Love Hewitt is rekindling her love affair with TV. The former Party of Fiver has inked a deal with Touchstone Television to star in an as yet untitled half-hour comedy from Freaks and Geeks scribes Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah. Touchstone is also searching for a small-screen vehicle for Peter Dinklage, the breakout star of the heartwarming indie The Station Agent. read more


In other Jacko news, Elizabeth Taylor is coming to the pop star's defense. On Sunday, the actress dangled a statement to the press saying she believes her good buddy is "absolutely innocent" and will be "vindicated." She ended the statement by begging someone — anyone — to hire her. Poor dear. read more

ER's Dead Doc Talking

Forget ripped from the headlines, Thursday's shocking ER was ripped straight from The Wizard of Oz. In case you missed it, a fiery helicopter was dropped on County General's very own Wicked Physician, Robert Romano — marking the one-armed medic's second (and presumably final) run-in with an angry chopper. But forgive us if we're not moved to join in a chorus of, "Ding dong the raging misogynist is dead." For as despicable as the rat bastard was, we'll miss his special brand of bad medicine. So, in honor of the doc's death, we rang up Romano's portrayer, Paul McCrane, for a quick postmortem.

TV Guide Online: What's the deal with Romano and helicopters?
Paul McCrane:
(Laughs) Yeah, just call him Ahab [from Moby Dick]. [Helicopters are] like his white w read more


Actress Yancy Butler (TNT's Witchblade) was arrested Saturday in Delray Beach, Fla., and charged with disorderly intoxication after she wandered in and out of traffic. According to reports, several cars had to swerve to avoid hitting her. This isn't Butler's first run-in with the law. Last January, she was arrested after a fight at her uncle's Long Island home. She was ordered to complete a 28-day stay in rehab and stay out of trouble for a year. read more


Michael Jackson has set up a new Web site to speak directly to "fans, friends and family" about the child molestation charges leveled against him. "As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious," he wrote. "They are, however, predicated on a big lie. This will be shown in court, and we will be able to put this horrible time behind us." Jackson says will serve as "a source of official communications on my case." Conspicuously missing from the site: A certain official mug shot. I'm sure it's just an oversight. read more


Poor Rachel Campos. The 32-year-old MTV alum has been passed over once again for that elusive fifth co-host slot on ABC's daytime chatfest The View. Today, Barbara Walters announced that 28-year-old Survivor alum Elisabeth Filarski Hasselbeck (say that three times fast) has been tapped to replace Lisa Ling, who left to do something for National Geographic. Hasselbeck also beat out soap star Erin Hershey Presley, but it's Campos I really feel sorry for. read more


Moviegoers put some money in the kitty over the weekend. Despite pans from purrsnickety critics, Dr. Seuss' the Cat in the Hat debuted at No. 1 with $40.1 million — a respectable haul, but far below the $55 million How the Grinch Stole Christmas earned in 2000. Halle Berry's supernatural thriller Gothika also thrived despite spooky reviews, opening in second place with a strong $19.6 million. Rounding out the top five: Elf (No. 3 with $19.1 million), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (No. 4 with $15.2 million) and the film my brother David and sister-in-law Pam can't stop raving about, Love Actually (No. 5 with $9.1 million). Of course, they hated read more


Fox has extended a full-season order (that's 22 episodes) to its sublime (yet low-rated) family comedy Arrested Development. The network, meanwhile, is developing a comedy based on the bestselling book The Complete A--hole's Guide to Handling Chicks, Variety reports. read more

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