Today's News: Our Take


Question: I know the new ...

Question: I know the new Dragnet's been cancelled, but since it revived the Joe Friday character I got to thinking. Wasn't there already a Joe Friday comeback in the late '60s or early '70s? — Denise H., Mandan, N.D.

Televisionary: That there was, Denise. And it was with Jack Webb, the original model, in the same role, too, doing the same sort of show he'd done in the series' initial run.

Webb, a Santa Monica, Calif., native and former World War II B-26 pilot, launched Friday and Dragnet as a radio show in 1949, and the show almost didn't make it past its first broadcast. Network execs hated the slow pacing, flat delivery and lack of violence and were screaming for changes — until New York Herald-Tribune critic John Crosby weighed in with a column that listed everything the suits hated as the show's strong points.

Dragnet stayed, and in January 1952 it launched on NB read more

Question: The version of ...

Question: The version of Rudolph I adored (and memorized) as a child contained a different song: During Hermey and Rudolph's first romp together (when they're now singing "We're a Couple of Misfits") they sang a song called "Fame &#038 Fortune". When and why was this changed? — Maryanne F., Short Hills, N.J.

Televisionary: Good question, Maryanne. And since I didn't know myself, I got in touch with someone who did. Rick Goldschmidt, author of The Making of a Rankin/Bass Holiday Classic: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Miser Bros. Press) and co-creator of the Rankin/Bass website, provided the following answer:

"There are many changes between the original special that aired in 1964 and the 1965-98 version of the special. Hermey and Rudolph originally sang 'We're a Couple Of Misfits' in the 1964 broadcast, but sponsor General Electric decided to make changes in the 1965 broadcast. A G.E. exec thought 'We're a Couple Of Misfits' was too much read more

Question: In the opening and ...

Question: In the opening and closing moments of Everwood, there is someone who talks over what is going on. Who is the actor who does this? — David L., Howell, N.J.

Televisionary: John Beasley handles the voice-over narration duties. He also plays bus driver Irv Harper on the show, and has appeared on such series as Brewster Place, CSI and Judging Amy.

read more

Question: I remember being ...

Question: I remember being scared out of my wits by a TV movie I happened across one boring Saturday afternoon when I was a kid. It would have aired in the late '70s or early '80s, and I was hoping you could tell me the name of it and whether it's available on video. From what I remember, it was about a teenage boy who was kind of a loser and an outcast at school. He lived alone with his weird, controlling mother in a rickety old house. Then his mother died suddenly and he so desperately wanted to stay in the house that he created a room within the walls of the house and secretly lived there even after the house was sold to a new family. He was such a loser that no one at school or in the neighborhood even noticed that he wasn't around anymore. Anyway, the new family had several attractive and popular teenage daughters that he then spied on and terrorized. I think he even killed a few of them eventually. As a military brat who moved into new houses every few years, I was thoroughly read more

HOLIDAY RATINGS

CBS' Michael Jackson Number Ones special finished No. 3 in its time slot Friday night with 10.6 million viewers. The network, meanwhile, denied talk that it paid the embattled singer an extra $1 million to dig his hole deeper on 60 Minutes. In other ratings news, Fox's World Idol finale — in which Norway's Kurt Nilsen beat America's Kelly Clarkson — attracted 7.7 million viewers. read more

STILL KING

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King topped the box office for the third consecutive weekend, grossing $30.8 million for a total of $292 million. Cheaper by the Dozen ($21.9 million), Something's Gotta Give ($12.5 million), Cold Mountain ($11.7 million) and Paycheck ($10 million) rounded out the top five. Meanwhile, Hollywood rang up $9.27 billion in ticket sales for 2003 — off 0.5 percent from the previous year. It was the first downturn in more than a decade. read more

THIS'LL MAKE HIS DAY

Actor-filmmaker Clint Eastwood — whose latest directorial effort, Mystic River, is an Oscar shoo-in, will receive a lifetime achievement award from the Broadcast Film Critics Association on Saturday. read more

CRIKEY!

Crocodile Hunter loon Steve Irwin — who provoked Jacko-like outrage over the weekend when he dangled his infant son Robert in front of a 13-foot crocodile — appeared on the Today show this morning and told Matt Lauer, "If I could relive Friday, mate, I'd go surfing." In response, Jaws told TV Guide Online: "I hope he brings along lil' Bobby. He looks tasty, um, I mean, I'd like to meet him." read more

Dishing Bachelorette's Meredith


Well, $4 million worth of pink rose petals has been swept up, following Trista and Ryan's Wedding, and it's time to move on. Starting Jan. 14 on ABC, the next Bachelorette follows in the bride's footsteps, seeking a man of her own. This time, it's Bob Guiney's reject, Meredith Phillips, who'll get her group-date on. And, as usual, Chris Harrison will be along for the ride as host. According to him, this season's stunner has all the makings of a fine dating-show drama queen.

"I hate even using the word, because it is a reality show, but Meredith is probably the most 'real' person we've had," says Harrison. "With Trista, the great thing for those of us producing [The Bachelorette] was that she always [understood it was] a TV show, and did what she needed to do." As for Phillips, though, "if she's happy, she's happy. If she's sad, if she's pissed off, that's it. She is who she is," he assesses. "She's not faking it."

That lack of read more

Montel Williams' Drug Story


On Nov. 3, Montel Williams was briefly detained at Detroit Metro Airport, where baggage screeners found a glass pipe and residue of a marijuana by-product in his bags. That's when the talk show host, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, was outed as a user of the herb for medicinal purposes. In his first interview after the incident, Williams makes no apologies. In fact, he devotes several chapters to the case for medical marijuana in his new autobiography, Climbing Higher — yeah, that's the title — in bookstores Jan. 6.

TV Guide Online: What happened to you in Detroit?
Williams:
When my bags were going through a metal detector at the Detroit airport, the security people found my needles. I take injectable drugs every day. Then, one guy found a perfectly clean glass pipe that looks like an egg. He said, "What do you smoke in it?" I said, "None of your business." And it p---ed him off. I also had a little bottle that had been in my bag for read more

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