Today's News: Our Take


STUNT CASTING ALERT

Film great Ann-Margret will guest-star on three episodes of NBC's Third Watch in November. She'll play a a judge who is being stalked and must be protected by New York's finest. read more

Question: Hi, Jeff. Who was ...

Question: Hi, Jeff. Who was America's first female game show host? — Todd G., Fayetteville, Ark.

Televisionary: First things first, Todd. Who the heck is Jeff?

Moving on: America's first female game show host was Arlene Francis. The late Ms. Francis, probably best known for her What's My Line? days, handled the hosting duties on Blind Date, which debuted in 1949. There weren't many other lady hosts for decades until Betty White and Just Men! in the early '80s.

Now, your next question may well be: Why so few? In that case, as Anne Robinson would say, I am the weakest link. I can't tell you.

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LIFE AFTER SEX

Two stars of Sex and the City are getting a little action on the side. Kim Cattrall will exec produce and star in the HBO movie The Country Girl, based on Clifford Odets's 1950 play. And Kristin Davis has scored the female lead opposite Matthew Modine in the TNT telefilm The Winning Season, which revolves around a 12-year-old boy who finds a magic baseball card. read more

Question: I have been ...

Question: I have been watching reruns of Roseanne on TBS. The final season is very weak, and John Goodman was noticably absent from several episodes. Was it his choice not to participate in much of the season? — Eric, Los Angeles, Cal.

Televisionary: Indeed it was, Eric. In the show's 1996-97 season, the hit comedy's last, Dan and Roseanne Connor spent time apart because Goodman wanted to cut back on the number of episodes he appeared in.

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RELIGIOUS FERVOR

The Anti-Defamation League is blasting Mel Gibson's upcoming film The Passion, claiming the project — which chronicles the events leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ — will fuel anti-Semitism. "The film unambiguously portrays Jewish authorities and the Jewish mob as the ones responsible for the decision to crucify Jesus," says Abraham Foxman, the league's national director. Gibson's rep insists the pic is "about love, hope, faith and forgiveness." read more

DAILY AFFIRMATION

News flash for Stuart Smalley: Doggone it, not everyone likes you. Fox News Channel is suing liberal humorist Al Franken (aka Stuart) to stop him from using the slogan "fair and balanced" in the title of his upcoming book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. Fox — which is also seeking unspecified damages — claims it registered "Fair & Balanced" as a trademark in 1995. A rep for Franken's publisher, Dutton, responds, "The attempt to keep the public from reading Franken's message is un-American." read more

Question: Last week you ...

Question: Last week you answered a cat question, so here's another: What was the name of Willow and Tara's cat on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I remember it had a real funny name. — Bill, Tucson, Ariz.

Televisionary: Well, I hope you're proud of yourself, Bill. What you probably thought of as a simple question led to the involvement of several people here at Televisionary central and eventually led to us pestering the main Buffy man himself, Joss Whedon.

The first bit of info. is easy: Willow and Tara's cat was named Miss Kitty Fantastico. But that got me thinking: What the heck ever happened to that cat? There was that throwaway line from Dawn (Michelle Trachtenberg) in the "End of Days" episode. Remember? She told Xander she no read more

Question: Wasn't Law & ...

Question: Wasn't Law &#038 Order's Steven Hill on Mission: Impossible when it first started? Why did he leave? — Grant D., Lee's Summit, Mo.

Televisionary: The reason was said to be due to Hill's strict observance of Orthodox Judaism. The devout Hill had it written into his contract that he be released from the set in time to make it home by sundown on Fridays (when the Jewish sabbath begins) and that he wouldn't have to work on the Jewish High Holy Days. Whether that was truly the only reason isn't certain — and you'd sure as heck never get anyone to admit if it were a factor on a contemporary show — but there were signs that it was a problem five months after the show's September 1966 launch.

Hill's schedule was "occasionally inconvenient," M:I creator and executive producer Bruce Gellar admitte read more

Question: What TV series did ...

Question: What TV series did Doug E. Doug have a supporting role in a few years ago? — Helen T., Congress, Ariz.

Televisionary: Doug played neighbor/pal Griffin Vesey to Hilton Lucas (Bill Cosby) for the four-season run of CBS's Cosby, which debuted in September 1996.

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Question: What guest singer ...

Question: What guest singer appeared as Fran Drescher's father in the season-six Nanny episodes "Ma'ternal Affairs" and "Finale"? — Dean, Brandywine, W.V.

Televisionary: That was veteran singer Steve Lawrence playing Fran's dad, Morty. Over the years, you may also have caught his guest work on episodes of such shows as Diagnosis Murder, Empty Nest and Murder, She Wrote.

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