Today's News: Our Take


Question: Wasn't Spider-Man ...

Question: Wasn't Spider-Man on Sesame Street during the 1970s? I remember that this Spider-Man had no voice and only talked in words that were shown on the TV screen. — Kevin S.

Televisionary: It sounds like you're thinking of the most excellent Electric Company, Kevin — the Children's Television Workshop show intended to serve kids who'd outgrown Sesame Street. Produced for five seasons and aired during the '70s and early '80s, the show included a live-action segment called "The Adventures of Spidey," which utilized the webslinger's popularity to sneak some learning into kids' heads. (I know because, despite what my wife says, I was one of them.)

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Question: Is Sopranos and ...

Question: Is Sopranos and Kingpin director Allen Coulter any relation to conservative blowhard Anne Coulter? — Mary, Baltimore, Md.

Televisionary: Now, Mary, that's a political value judgment and since this isn't a political column — and people get very testy with me whenever I stray into that arena — I have to stress that's your term, not mine. However, just so no one gets confused with any other Anne Coulter, I'll adopt your terminology for convenience's sake and point out once again that we're discussing the "conservative blowhard" one.

Anyway, Allen Coulter, who, as you pointed out, has directed episodes of Kingpin and The Sopranos as well as Sex and the City, Michael Hayes, Millennium and read more

ROUND TWO

VH1 has filed a $1.5 million countersuit against odd couple Liza Minnelli and David Gest over their botched reality series. According to court papers posted on Court TV's TheSmokingGun.com, the music channel says Gest engaged in "unprofessional, erratic and deceitful conduct that went so far beyond the acceptable bounds of show business eccentricity as to render the series effectively unproducable." read more

GOLDEN TICKET

The producer behind Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is developing a two-hour live special for the WB in which contestants will have a shot at winning $1 billion, Variety reports. The Pepsi-sponsored contest — slated to air at the start of the new fall season in September — is being described as a real-life Willy Wonka. read more

HOW TO OVERCOME BAD REVIEWS...

Moviegoers have thumbed their noses at critics yet again. The poorly reviewed romantic comedy How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days — starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey — debuted at No. 1 over the weekend with $24.1 million. Jackie Chan's latest martial-arts comedy Shanghai Knights opened in second place with $19.8 million, followed by Oscar shoo-in Chicago, which expanded into wide release and jumped to No. 3 with $10.7 million. Last weekend's top film, The Recruit, fell to fourth place with $9.5 million. read more

SHORT CUTS

MC Hammer's Surreal Life gamble has paid off: The WB has signed the rapper-turned-reality star to headline a family sitcom based on his life... In a sudden and surprising move, Reese Witherspoon's hubby Ryan Phillippe fired his agents and managers on Friday. No reason was given, but we suspect he finally got around to seeing his 1995 TV movie Deadly Invasion: The Killer Bee Nightmare. read more

BY GEORGE, HE'S ANGRY

Wanna tick George Clooney off? Say something bad about Solaris, his recent sci-fi romance that flopped at the box office. At a press conference over the weekend at the Berlin Film Festival, a journalist called Solaris "boring" to Clooney's face. The actor's response? "I find you fascinating," he scowled. "You crack me up, man. You just wanted to get up and be a rat, you know that? You just wanted to get up and say something rotten. What a jerk! I mean honestly, you know, what a [expletive] thing to say!" I guess this would be a bad time to tell him that he made a lousy Batman. read more

SLIM TOUR SCHEDULE

Eminem plans only one U.S. concert this year, on July 12 in his native Detroit. Missy Elliott and 50 Cent will open the show. In related news, two of the rapper's favorite singers, Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera, will embark on a 45-city tour together beginning June 4. More details are to come. read more

DADDY DEAREST

Michael Jackson's nose is still out of joint over that frightening (and highly rated) British documentary in which he told Martin Bashir that he sometimes lets children sleep in his bed — and he's not taking the matter lying down. Jacko plans to release a video of Bashir praising Jackson's skills as a parent, which would seemingly contradict statements the journalist made during the 90-minute piece. The extra footage was shot during the making of the documentary. According to a statement released by the singer's camp, "The film shows extraordinary scenes of Martin Bashir praising the way Michael treats children and commenting on how good a father he is." Here's my two cents: Any child that disses Razzie nominee Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones — as little Prince Michael did — can't be all that messed up. Speaking of which. read more

MADONNA CAN SLEEP IN

Academy Award nominations will be announced this morning at 8:30 am/ET live on ABC, and insiders are predicting that Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Pianist will be the five films nominated for best picture. Dark horse contenders include Adaptation, Far From Heaven and About Schmidt. read more

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