Today's News: Our Take

Question: Another argument ...

Question: Another argument question for you. Did Andy Kaufman ever get thrown off the set of Taxi for bringing hookers in with him? A guy I work with swears that's a true story, but I say it was a story Kaufman made up. — Jay L., Atkinson, N.H.

Televisionary: Oh, boy. You're gonna draw me into saying definitively what was real and what was merely reported when it comes to the late Kaufman, prankster extraordinaire? I'm not even entirely comfortable with referring to him as "late," since so many people are convinced he faked his own death.

Kaufman, who co-starred as Taxi's foreign-born cabbie Latka Gravas, lived to mess with people's heads (audience and entertainer alike) and subvert the accepted model of performer and audience. So answering your question requires a little explaining.

Kaufman was more of a performance artist than a comedian, though many people tried to fit him into the comic-turned-sitcom-star mold. He created many cha read more

Question: I recently saw Jane ...

Question: I recently saw Jane Seymour on an episode of Oprah discussing East of Eden. Apparently Miss Seymour played the part of Cathy/Cate in a TV mini-series based on John Steinbeck's novel. Can you tell me more about the mini-series? Who were the other actors, when was it shown and is it available to rent on video? — Karen V., Lowman, N.Y.

Televisionary: That was an ABC mini-series that aired over three nights in February, 1981, and starred Warren Oates as papa Adam Trask, Timothy Bottoms as son Adam and Bruce Boxleitner as Adam's wayward brother Charles. Seymour played manipulative hellion Cathy Ames, who married Adam and bore him twin sons, Cal (Sam Bottoms) and Aron (Hart Bochner), before heading off to work in a brothel.

Fans of the 1955 Elia Kazan feature will recall that Cal was played by James Dean, but that movie focused only on the last third of the story while this mini-seri read more

Question: What TV shows were ...

Question: What TV shows were popular in the year 1990? — Lizzie, Ft. Jennings, Ohio

Televisionary: Why do I get the feeling that's the year you were born, Lizzie? Call it a hunch.

Anyway, it depends which part of 1990 you're talking about, since each year is split between two TV seasons. From the fall of 1989 through the following April, The Cosby Show (NBC) and Roseanne (ABC) were tied for the top spot with ratings of 23.1 each. Rounding out the top 10 were Cheers (NBC, 22.7), A Different World (NBC, 21.1), America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC, 20.9), The Golden Girls (NBC, 20.1), 60 Minutes (CBS, 19.7), The Wonder Years (ABC, 19.2), Empty Nest (NBC, 18.9) and Monday Night Football (ABC, 18.1)

For the fall of 1990 to spring of '91, the top 10 were: Cheers (21.3), 60 Minutes (20.6), Roseanne (18.1), A Different World (17.5), The Cosby Show (17.1), Mu read more

Question: I am a JAG fan and ...

Question: I am a JAG fan and have been since the show first started. I noticed that at the end of the season premiere there was a tribute to Trevor Goddard that read: "In Loving Memory of Trevor Goddard, Oct. 14, 1969-June 7, 2003; May He Rest In Peace." I want to know how and where he died! — DawnMarie, Oklahoma City, Okla.

Televisionary: Sadly, Goddard, who played Lt. Cmdr. Michael "Mic" Brumby on the hit CBS series from 1998-2001 and most recently appeared on the big screen in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, was found dead in his North Hollywood home on June 8. Initial reports said he committed suicide, but authorities determined the actor died of an accidental drug overdose. He left a wife and two sons behind.

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Question: Hi. I love your ...

Question: Hi. I love your column. I just read your comment about The Ghosts of Buxley Hall. I just wanted to let you know that it's not too difficult to transfer the video standard PAL to NTSC. The person with the question should be able to take the VHS PAL tape to any video duplication place to get a conversion made. Some places won't do it because of copyright issues, but I used to work at a video production company that would agree to make one VHS NTSC copy if you signed a copyright release form. Customers would buy European tapes all the time and bring them in for conversions. So if the person with this question is desperate, this is an option for him or her. — Madeline C., Austin, Tex.

Televisionary: Assuming Tiffany, who asked that question, is a loyal reader, she'll see this. And we both thank you for the info, Madeline.

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Question: For the past three ...

Question: For the past three Sundays I have been searching the USA Network for the show Dead Zone. Has it been cancelled? — Jeanne D., Bothell, Wash.

Televisionary: Not at all, but it is in reruns right now after ending its second season in January. The show's already been renewed for a third, which should start sometime in June. If you need a fix of repeats before then, however, check our lovable listings for late-night times during the week.

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Jessica Biel Must Die!

Say your prayers for Jessica Biel. The minister's daughter from 7th Heaven really needs 'em in New Line's bloody Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake (opening Friday). But we're curious: How does an actress find herself on the wrong end of a chainsaw? Let's ask her, shall we?

"It is so weird," the 21-year-old tells TV Guide Online. "I just think, 'Okay, now it is time that I do an acting piece that is going to be Oscar-worthy.' I have all these ideas about what is going to come out next, and then something like this falls in my lap!

"Initially, I was very intimidated and very concerned about remaking this classic," Biel continues. "Then I read it, and it was great. And I met with [director] Marcus Nispel and he's great. Nothing like I ever expected. And it just happened. I never think, 'Oh, I've got to do a horror film,' or 'I've got to do an action movie' to get completely out of what I've done before."

Horror flick read more


Steve Martin is in talks to succeed Peter Sellers as Inspector Clouseau in MGM's big-screen prequel Birth of the Pink Panther. Mike Myers was originally attached to the role, but the studio passed when Austin Powers allegedly demanded a too-groovy $20 million payday. read more


Barbara Walters can add another big notch to her belt. The ABC News vet has landed an exclusive interview with embattled domestic guru Martha Stewart. The chat — Stewart's first since being indicted for insider trading — took place over the weekend. However, ratings-hungry ABC is holding the piece until November sweeps. During the sit-down, Stewart admitted the prospect of doing jail time frightened her. "Who wouldn't be scared? Of course I'm scared," she said. "The last place I would ever want to go is to prison. And I don't think I will be going to prison, though." read more


Shield star Michael Chiklis is jumping onto the big screen with a role in the indie working-class comedy-drama Make Someone Happy. read more

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