Today's News: Our Take


MISTER ROGERS REMEMBERED

PBS will air a documentary on TV icon Fred Rogers titled Fred Rogers: America's Favorite Neighbor on New Year's Day at 9:30 pm/ET. Rogers died last February at 74. read more

BIG FAT PRACTICAL JOKE

Fox has unveiled its latest reality series, and it sounds just dumb enough to work. In My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé (debuting Jan. 19), a beautiful "bride-to-be" named Randi plays a practical joke on her family and friends when she announces her engagement to Steve — an individual so loathsome he makes Bob Guiney look like Prince Charming. Randi must continue the charade all the way through to the wedding ceremony in order to win a million dollars. But the joke is also on Randi, who is under the impression that Steve is just a reality show contestant like herself. In reality, he and his family are professional actors. read more

HOME-WARD BOUND

Earl Hindman — the Taylor family's fenced-in neighbor, Wilson Wilson, on Home Improvement — passed away yesterday at the age of 61. The funnyman can still be seen today in syndicated reruns of the sitcom as well as on SoapNet's rebroadcasts of the 1970s soap opera Ryan's Hope, where he played sad-sack second banana Bob Reid. read more

STILL THE BOSS

Bruce Springsteen was 2003's top concert act with $115.9 million in ticket sales. Celine Dion ranked second with $80.5 million. read more

THRILLING RATINGS

Nielsen estimates that more than 18 million viewers watched Ed Bradley's exclusive sit-down with Michael Jackson on Sunday's 60 Minutes. But not everyone apparently liked what they saw: On Monday, Jacko's chief spokesman, Stuart Backerman, resigned citing "strategic differences" with other members of the embattled pop star's camp. read more

Life of Luxury Usually, I find...

Life of Luxury
Usually, I find it hard to sympathize with the travails of millionaires and billionaires, but it can't be easy to have the portly likes of Robin Leach clinging to you like some goateed Aussie barnacle. Waddling onto the screen looking like Opus' (the penguin of Bloom County fame) granddad, Leach latches onto tycoons and tycoonettes like gum on a movie theater seat cushion. First to be rear-ended is that old softie Donald Trump, who slogs from one garish multimillion-dollar development to another in a private jet marked "TRUMP" in 10-foot-high letters made of 24-karat gold. Yeah, yeah, yeah, he's got taste, but is there true love after Ivana and Marla? "It's very hard for a woman to compete with (my) life," the Donald says with a sigh. He might want to tilt an ear to Sharon Osbourne, who guided unsuspecting viewers through the ups and downs of her breast job: "I had National Geographic boobies. read more

MORE KUDOS

The Southeastern Film Critics Assn. — huh? — has named The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the best film of the year. Lead acting kudos went to Bill Murray for Lost in Translation and Naomi Watts for 21 Grams. The Online Film Critics Society, meanwhile, showered LOTR with a leading 10 nominations, including best picture, director Peter Jackson and supporting actor for Sean Astin. read more

Ben Affleck's Next Project


In Paycheck (which opened Thursday), Ben Affleck plays a genius whose bosses erase his memory after he invents a machine that sees into the future. Well, Affleck is no psychic in real life, but he can offer a glimpse of what's to come for his struggling reality series, Project Greenlight.

Greenlight, which gives aspiring writers and directors the chance to make movies, recently was dumped by HBO after two seasons. Like other orphaned TV shows, it's just been adopted by Bravo. The cable channel was "really aggressive in trying to do it," Affleck tells TV Guide Online. "We're really excited. They really get the spirit of it."

Since it's moving to the home of Queer Eye, Affleck, 31, feels obliged to give Greenlight a makeover. " read more

Vanessa Williams' Boomtown Farewell


Apparently, NBC has saved the best for last. This weekend, the Peacock network will air the final four episodes of Boomtown, its critically acclaimed but prematurely cancelled cop drama. (Three episodes air on Saturday, 8-11 pm/ET; one on Sunday at 10 pm/ET). Each features Vanessa Williams, who plays Det. Katherine Pierce. We interviewed the former Miss America, before Boomtown was officially axed earlier this year, to ask all about her eclectic life.

TV Guide Online: For Detective Pierce's first episode, you had to chase a perp up two flights of stairs, down a hall and up more stairs. How hard was it to shoot that scene, take after take?
Williams:
It wasn't too bad. I'm in good shape for a 40-year-old woman, fortunately. So I didn't get too winded.

TVGO: When you say you're in shape, how many flights read more

Jon Cryer Still Thinks Pink


You'd think Jon Cryer would be in a celebratory mood. After starring in four failed sitcoms, he has finally landed a prime-time hit with Two and a Half Men (Mondays at 9:30 pm/ET). But the 38-year-old former brat packer — he was Duckie in Pretty in Pink — won't break out the champagne just yet. Heck, he won't even settle into his trailer. "Let's just say, I don't decorate my dressing rooms," he says with a wink. "Not until the second season."

TV Guide Online: Love you on Two & a Half Men. But love you more in Pretty in Pink. It's one of my favorite movies ever!
Cryer:
Thank you.

TVGO: So, I've got to ask. Duckie — a blessing or a curse?
Cryer:
Oh, definitely a blessing. A lot of people have a lot of affection for him. And his predilection fo read more

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