Today's News: Our Take

'N Sync Hunk Joins Brady Bunch

Whose Line Is It Anyway? standout Wayne Brady — who launches his own ABC variety series, The Wayne Brady Show, tonight at 8 pm/ET — had an ulterior motive when he asked his good pal, 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, to drop in for the debut.

"I have to admit — and this is without any shame whatsoever — I'm a huge 'N Sync fan," the 29-year-old Emmy nominee confesses to TV Guide Online. "I just love the music. I love the pop stuff. I don't like a lot of the groups, but I love them."

Apparently, the feeling is mutual. As Brady recalls, Britney Spears's dreamy beau RSVP'd to his special invite on the spot. "I said, 'Look, you know I'm doing this show. I don't know if you're touring, doing another music video... But if you're free... ' [And he replied] 'Yes.' It was that fast. 'Yes, I am.'"

In the hour-long premiere, Brady, Timberlake read more

Death Becomes Mrs. Landingham

Choose life? Poppycock! According to Kathryn Joosten, dying well is the best revenge. After The West Wing put down President Bartlet's no-nonsense secretary Mrs. Landingham in May, the actress's popularity jumped up — way up!

"Hasn't that been wonderful!" she exclaims to TV Guide Online. "I've received condolence cards and a lot of letters, mostly from people writing to say, 'Why?' and 'Now what happens?' and 'I don't like it.'

"As a matter of fact," she continues, "there was a group in Washington, D.C., that posted a condolence ad in a magazine there."

Since Joosten's West Wing counterpart was laid to rest, her raised profile has given her career a considerable boost to boot. She isn't getting more auditions, exactly, but those that she is getting are going increasingly well. "When I get in the door, it's like, 'Oh, yeah,'" she says, evincing a tone of recognition. read more

Question: Who is starring in ...

Question: Who is starring in Bob Patterson this fall? — Rita M.

Televisionary: That would be Seinfeld alum Jason Alexander heading up the comedy, which ABC has plunked into the 9 pm/ET slot on Tuesdays. In this particular laffer, Alexander plays a neurotic but famous motivational speaker who depends on his bad-for-him ex-wife to maintain the edge he's terrified of losing. Attempting to bolster his fragile ego in this endeavor are his partner (Robert Klein) and his new assistant (Chandra Wilson), who's confined to a wheelchair and has a terminal case of the dropsies (I'll pause here for laughter).

If you pay attention to showbiz news, you may have read that Alexander, the sh read more

Question: I have been ...

Question: I have been wondering ever since Mariska Hargitay first appeared on Law &#038 Order: SVU if she is the daughter of Mickey Hargitay and Jayne Mansfield? I can't seem to find an answer. Can you tell me if she is? Thank you. — Patricia S.

Televisionary: She is indeed, Patricia. Born in 1964 to the title-winning weightlifter (Mr. Universe, Mr. World, Mr. America) and the legendary blonde bombshell, the actress was in the car with her mom and her two siblings when a tragic accident near New Orleans took Mansfield's life in 1967. In fact, early in Hargitay's career, her mom's image helped influence her acting choices — in the other direction. "I played lots of tomboys, wearing flannel shirts, jeans and boots," she told The Los Angeles Times last year. "On some unconscious level, I was shying away from those sexual roles because of my mother. But as I got older, I changed my mind. I now lo read more

Question: Linda Evans and ...

Question: Linda Evans and John Forsythe were in a nighttime soap with the name Carrington. What was the name of that show? — Donald N.

Televisionary: I'm happy to answer that, but I demand an explanation — unless you spent the better part of the '80s living in a vacuum or, at least, manning a missile silo, I simply don't see how you could forget the over-the-top Dynasty. A fixture of a time when alluring TV women were rightly defined as those over 20, the series was a classic and the definition of the overused term "guilty pleasure."

A ratings powerhouse in the mid-'80s, Dynasty ran on ABC from January 1981 to May 1989, making Forsythe, Evans (The Big Valley) and co-star Joan Collins household names while doling out paychecks to what seemed like half of Hollywood and upping the profiles of actors like Pamela Sue Martin (The Nancy Drew Mysteries), Heathe read more

Question: I am stumped. John ...

Question: I am stumped. John Pinnette, one of my favorite comedians, was in a syndicated TV show in the late '80s and I can't think of the name. He was a referee and I think contestants settled squabbles in an arena. Please help. — Tony, Columbus, Ohio

Televisionary: You're close on the timing, but the show in question, The Grudge Match, was actually produced in 1991-92. Hosted by Steve Albert and Jesse "The Body" Ventura (that's Governor "The Body" to you now, mister), the show pretty much lived up to its title.

Rather than submit to the wisdom of a Judge Judy or Mills Lane, two contestants with a beef would, as you say, settle it in the ring by battling it out with giant boxing gloves or by throwing vegetables or various kinds of muck at each other, etc. Pinnette, while unable to keep it clean, made sure nobody fought dirty and the studio audience's vote determined the winner when all the punching and heaving was read more

Manny &#038 Lo Cutie Returns

Rising starlet Scarlett Johansson isn't your typical 16-year-old high-school senior. With respectable credits like Manny &#038 Lo and The Horse Whisperer on her permanent record — plus a girlish beauty that makes Neutrogena hawker Jennifer Love Hewitt look over the hill — this youngster don't need no stinking hall pass. In Tinseltown, she can practically write her own ticket.

In An American Rhapsody — in theaters Aug. 10 — she chews scenery as Suzanne, the angsty daughter of Stalin-era Hungarian refugees (Tony Goldwyn, Nastassji Kinski) transp read more

Babe Star Makes Peace with CBS

Last February, animal rights champion and noted vegan James Cromwell blasted CBS for its involvement in the grisly slaughter of a wild pig on an episode of Survivor: The Australian Outback. The Oscar-nominated Babe actor — who told TV Guide Online at the time that the incident left him "appalled, outraged and disgusted" — fired off a letter to Tiffany entertainment president Nancy Tellem expressing his objections.

Six months later, Cromwell seems to have settled his beef with the network. How else to explain his decision to go to work for CBS on the upcoming drama series Citizen Baines (airing Saturdays at 9 pm/ET beginning Sept. 22). "I want to be on CBS because I want people who watch the show to hear a different read more

Providence: Up in Smoke!

Fans of NBC's sentimental Providence know Concetta Tomei as Lynda — the chain-smoking ghost who visits the dreams of her daughter, Dr. Syd Hansen (Melina Kanakaredes). While she's glad her lung cancer-afflicted character enjoys such longevity as a specter, the actress wouldn't fancy that option for herself!

"I'm a former smoker," Tomei confesses to TV Guide Online. "I quit smoking in 1991. So those are herbal cigarettes I smoke on the show. I don't inhale very much, but if I do, I shallowly inhale. But I think I'm the only actress in primetime TV who's smoking — it's a powerful statement, because she smoked two packs a day for 20 years and it killed her.

"It's powerful to show to the women who continue to choose that vice, despite the statistics up against them," she adds. "Lynda doesn't get to be with her husband and her grandchildren. She's a ghost!"

Incidentally, the late Mrs. Han read more

Jessica Alba: Bride-to-Be

Jessica Alba may play a genetically enhanced supervixen on Dark Angel, but she feels a little more vulnerable than that in real life. As the rising starlet has learned, giving up her privacy is a lot tougher than taking on TV baddies — especially when it comes to her romance with fiancé and Dark Angel co-star Michael Weatherly.

"I just won't talk about us," Alba says firmly. "I know the media will dive into your personal life as much as you allow them to." Feeling she's damned if she does or doesn't dish, the actress simply throws up her hands. "If celebrities don't want to talk about something," she points out, "then the made-up stories are everywhere. In the end, you just have to say to yourself, 'It's not brain surgery, it's just entertainment. Nobody's dying here.'"

By all accounts, Weatherly (who has a five-year-old son with ex-wife and former Loving co-star Amelia Hei read more

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