Today's News: Our Take

Fear Factor Right at the outset...

Fear Factor
Right at the outset of tonight's special family edition, host Joe Rogan says, "The stunts you're about to see are extremely dangerous... and should not be attempted by anyone, anywhere, anytime." That said, doesn't asking your child to dip her syrup-soaked head into live, red worms — so you can then pick the bugs off — count as child abuse?
And, what's up with the Kevan/Dakota father-son pair? Kevan, the father, only gets to see his 11-year-old boy, who is clearly a problem child, four days a month. Yet he spends those precious few days subjecting the kid to nationally televised public humiliation (rude boy got spanked by a girl). That's some parenting right there.

VH1's Monday night lineup
Looks like the music network with no identity is trying to give Skinemax a run for its money. On tonight's schedule: Sexy Single Babes, Britney vs. Christina and Getting Naked: Return to Skin. read more

Question: After watching the ...

Question: After watching the Andy Griffith Show reunion the other night, the thought occurred to me: Was Opie's mother ever mentioned in the show? I think in the early years they might have said something about "Ma," but was her name or her fate ever mentioned? Also, what was Aunt Bee's relationship to Andy? Was she the sister of one of his parents or one of Mrs. Taylor's parents? — Jeff B., Hartley, Del.

Televisionary: "Ma" was the only mention the first Mrs. Taylor ever received, and that only happened twice: in the episode of The Danny Thomas Show that served as a backdoor pilot for Andy Griffith and in the episode "Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee." Other than those two times, the poor woman was ignored.

As for Aunt Bee herself, she was Andy's aunt on his father's side. That, of course, didn't read more


Ex-Witchblade star Yancy Butler was ordered Monday to enter alcohol rehab following her weekend arrest for disorderly intoxication. She's due in court on Dec. 18. read more


Rocker Meat Loaf underwent heart surgery over the weekend after collapsing on a London stage last week. The 56-year-old "Bat Out Of Hell" crooner was reportedly suffering from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a defect of the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. read more


Donald Trump's NBC reality gamble The Apprentice will air Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET beginning Jan. 14. Ed moves to Fridays at 9 pm/ET during January and February, where it will replace a hiatus-bound Miss Match. NBC, however, insists the Alicia Silverstone dramedy will return to the schedule in March. We'll believe it when we see it. read more

Question: Please, please ...

Question: Please, please help! I am a loyal reader of your column and I love it. I am begging you to answer this question as it has been driving me crazy for years. No bets on the line, just my sanity. On the final episode of M*A*S*H, Charles befriends a group of North Korean musicians. He then tries to teach them to play a piece by Mozart. Can you tell me the name of this piece? I am almost positive it was Mozart but I could be wrong on that point. — Karen, Minneapolis, Minn.

Televisionary: Insanity begone! It was indeed Mozart. "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings (K. 581)," in fact. (But the musicians were Chinese, not North Korean.)

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Question: Can you please tell ...

Question: Can you please tell me if the woman who played Batgirl is still alive? Did she do any other television shows or commericals after she stopped playing Batgirl? — Lori H., Flint, Mich.

Televisionary: That she is, Lori, and that she did, though Yvonne Craig's acting work has tailed off as she's gotten into and out of various other businesses (real estate, prepaid phone cards) and done some writing (her autobiography, From Ballet to Batcave and Beyond, came out a few years back). Her post-Batman TV work includes guest spots on such shows as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, It Takes a Thief, The Mod Squad, Star Trek, Love, American Style, Mannix, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, Land of the Giants, read more

Question: I have a question ...

Question: I have a question that has been killing me for a long time. Every time the Nielsen ratings come up, they always display ratings for a certain show by age range. For instance, on a recent TV show, they said that it received the most viewers between the ages of 18-24. How on earth do they know how old the viewers are? How do they know if adults or teens watch their shows? While we are on the subject, how do they calculate the viewer numbers? Is our television some kinda tracking device? Basically, how do they know who is watching? — Johanna D.

Televisionary: Your TV isn't a tracking device, Johanna, but the boxes the folks at Nielsen place in sample families' homes certainly are. I've covered this before, but it's been a while, so what the heck? Others are probably wondering about this kind of thing, too. Here are the basics.

Nielsen uses a representative sample of U.S. TV households to determine who's watching what and when — for obvious reasons, tr read more


More than a dozen indie film companies are suing the Motion Picture Association of America to try to force an end to its partial screener ban. The indies claim the ban will "chill the financing of independent films" by limiting the awards they can receive. read more

Question: I'm an Italian fan ...

Question: I'm an Italian fan of Dawson's Creek. I was in the U.S. last May but I came back to Italy before I could see the last episode. I read about what happened on the show's official website, but I don't know which of them dies. Thanks a lot. — Andrea, Taranto, Italy

Televisionary: OK, spoiler alert: Everyone who hasn't seen this yet and doesn't want it ruined, stop reading now. It was Jen (Michelle Williams), done in by a bum ticker. Jack (Kerr Smith) stepped up and volunteered to raise her kid.

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