Today's News: Our Take

Question: My husband and I ...

Question: My husband and I agree on one thing about You Bet Your Life. When someone said the secret word, a toy duck came down with a prize for them. But even though he says I'm wrong, I remember other animals and people giving the prize away, too. Am I right? Thank you. — Ruth V., Anacortes, Wash.

Televisionary: That you are, Ruth, but the change came into play only in the last couple of seasons of the show's 1950-61 run on NBC.

For years, a moustache-wearing toy duck dropped from above to bless contestants on Groucho Marx's popular TV and radio quiz show who stumbled on the secret word of the night — an everyday word like "gas" or "fire" — with $100. (The audience, of course, had already been clued into what the word was. Today's young whippersnappers probably think Pee Wee Herman made that up.) But Groucho being Groucho, he had to mix it up — and get a pretty woman in on the act. Thus, the prize was sometimes delivered by ba read more

Question: Hi there! There's ...

Question: Hi there! There's been a lot of question at my office place about whether Mr. Ed was truly a zebra or not. Can you shed some light on this to end our discussion once and for all? Thanks! — Laura P., Greendale, Wis.

Televisionary: That's an urban legend with remarkable legs (pun intended), Laura. Tell your co-workers Mr. Ed was definitely a California-born show horse named Bamboo Harvester. Apparently a zebra was used to do a few stunts the horse wasn't able to handle, but otherwise it was all Ed.

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Question: I am one of the few ...

Question: I am one of the few who love Dawson's Creek, not just up until when they go to college but all six seasons. In the fourth season, when Gale Leery becomes pregnant, there is a really pretty song playing in the background when Dawson tells Joey. I know its called "Fields of Gold" but I don't know who sings it. Do you know? I can't seem to find it anywhere. — Leah

Televisionary: The song playing when Dawson told Joey of his mom's pregnancy in the "Great Xpectations" episode was Eva Cassidy's version of Sting's "Fields of Gold." (It was also heard earlier in the episode, in a scene in Andie's hospital room.) You'll find it on her album Songbird (Blix Street), and Sting's original take is on Ten Summoner's Tales and Fields of Gold: The Best of Sting 1984-1994.

And just because I'm a stickler for detail, I'll point out that the Cassidy version was also used in the 2001 graduation episode, called, of all things, "The read more

Question: I missed last ...

Question: I missed last week's TV Guide, where you were going to tell us whose eye was used for the cover a couple of weeks ago. I'm dying to know! — India S., Kansas City, Mo.

Televisionary: Then die no longer. The owner of the eye featured on our fabulous Fall Preview cover is revealed here.

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Question: In broadcasting, ...

Question: In broadcasting, why is the guest room called the green room? — Jim A., Jacksonville, Fla.

Televisionary: Boy, I'll bet you figured there was a simple answer for this one, eh, Jim? There ain't. In fact, the one definite thing I can tell you is that nobody really agrees on the origin of the word.

It predates the tube by quite a bit, though. While it currently describes the room guests wait in before appearing on TV, it was originally used in the theater world to describe where actors killed time before coming on stage. The first written use of it to describe such an area dates back to the early 18th century.

Now, why it's called that remains a disputed topic. Some people claim the room was painted green to soothe performers' eyes after they squinted into the bright stage lights (doubtful, since electric lights weren't in use so the stage lighting wasn't all that bright). Others claim that because the slang term for stage was "the green," i read more

Question: I used to love ...

Question: I used to love reading the other Televisionary questions and answers from the past, but with the new format I can't seem to find them. Are they still available on the site? — Amy, Emporia, Va.

Televisionary: The powers that be here at TVGO tell me they are working to bring the archived columns in the various sections back soon. In the meantime, you can look at old stuff dating back to our early-September relaunch if you're willing to work for it. Here's a clunky way to do it: The front page of your favorite section is actually a file with a name corresponding to the date it went up. For example, this page is a file named 031007.asp. So if you tack that onto the end of the URL for this section ( and make it this column comes up. And since this column is updated every Tuesday, changing it to the previous Tuesday (030930.asp) will read more


William Steig, an illustrator for The New Yorker who also authored children's books including Shrek!, died of natural causes Friday night at his home in Boston. He was 95. read more


CBS's Joan of Arcadia and ABC's Hope & Faith inched closer to official hit status in their second airings Friday night, while NBC's Miss Match looked more and more like an all-out misfire. Joan and Hope dipped slightly in Week Two, but nonetheless won their respective timeslots among adults 18-49. (BTW: My friend Jill called Friday's Hope & Faith "simply atrocious," and I'm inclined to take her word for it.) Miss Match, meanwhile, dropped 29 percent from its already disappointing premiere and finished third at 8 pm. (What did Alicia Silverstone do to deserve all this bad luck? It's not right people!) read more

American Dreamboat's Darth Vader Connection

Jamie Elman is a professional actor. He's been in show business for years. He's even got a regular gig playing nerdy dreamboat Luke on American Dreams. We make special mention of these facts because, after reading the following confession, you might be tempted to think otherwise. Ready? Okay.

On the set of the feature Shattered Glass (opening Oct. 17), about the New Republic reporter whose fabricated articles predated the Jayson Blair scandal, the Star Wars fanatic had to use the Force to keep from going all ComiCon on co-star Hayden Christensen. "I wanted to tell him, 'Hey, it's another movie about Darth Vader and Luke,'" he admits to TV Guide Online. "Get it? Darth Vader [his big-screen counterpart] and Luke [my TV character]." Long pause. Dead silence. "Eh, I don't think even he would get that joke."

Elman also refrained from challenging the erstwhile Anakin Skywalker to a light-saber duel. "No, I did n read more

Barbra Streisand: The Way She Is

Actress. Singer. Director. Writer. Recipient of Grammys, Emmys and Oscars galore. Barbra Streisand has had a remarkable 40-plus-year career that has been plagued by stage fright and, more recently, scathing movie reviews and a perception that she'd rather bash Bush than get out there and sing. But get ready — Babs is back. Her new CD, The Movie Album, hits stores Oct. 14 — the same day she bares her soul to Oprah (check listings). And she faces down James Lipton and his little blue index cards on Inside the Actors Studio, airing on Bravo in December. As these outtakes from her TV Guide interview show, it seems the 61-year-old megastar is finally mellowing — just a little.

TV Guide: This is your 60th album. Why did you decide to make it a CD of nothing but songs from movies?
Barbra Streisand: I've thought about it for a long time. My last two albums (The Esse read more

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