TV Guide News


REALITY BITES NBC

The folks at NBC missed the boat on reality programming, and they know it. Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA, NBC's West Coast president Scott Sassa, whose job was rumored to be in jeopardy, admitted that he underestimated the draw of shows like Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and Survivor, now realizing that "this is not just a fad, it's a trend." The network's entertainment president, Garth Ancier, explained: "We had a schedule that was performing well, so we didn't rush into this." (Surely he's not referring to Suddenly Susan.) Well, better late than never, NBC may try to cash in on the craze with the reality show Chains of Love, in which a woman is chained to four men and decides who she wants to date. read more

WANTED: MOBSTERS

If it's been your dream to appear on an episode of HBO's mob drama The Sopranos, here's your chance. The show will hold an open casting call for Italian-looking men and women over the age of 16 this Saturday in New Jersey. For more information, including the location, call 718-906-2549. — Michael Ausiello read more

ABC EXEC RETURNS

Former embattled ABC entertainment president Jamie Tarses is poised to return to TV as president of James Burrows's NBC-based Three Sisters production company, The Hollywood Reporter reports. Tarses — the first woman to head a Big Three network — has kept a relatively low profile since parting ways with ABC last year. She recently was rumored to be in talks to join Madonna's Maverick Entertainment. read more

FLOCKHART AND SHANDLING DATING?

Is Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart dating comedian Garry Shandling? According to New York Daily News columnist Mitchell Fink, the couple were spotted having an intimate dinner in Los Angeles and, says the spy, they "definitely looked to be more than just friends." The barely there actress reportedly has had a crush on the funnyman for years. read more

MIKE + MECHANICS = TRAGEDY

Paul Young, the 53-year-old lead singer of the pop/rock group Mike + the Mechanics, died of an apparent heart attack in Britain. Conflicting reports say the musician passed away either on Saturday or Monday. "We are all shocked and devastated by Paul's death," said Mechanics member Mike Rutherford. read more

GROWTH SPURT FOR BIG BROTHER

Beginning next week, CBS's cringe-inducing reality soap Big Brother will expand to six nights and its weekly hourlong live episode will shift from Thursdays to Wednesdays after Survivor. Although not the ratings giant the network had hoped, Big Brother's live installment from last week — in which William and Jordan were nominated for expulsion — finished a respectable 15th in the ratings. read more

SNL's PRESIDENTIAL SPOOF

Saturday Night Live will air a two-hour prime-time special on the eve of the November elections, NBC announced at the Television Critics Association press tour. Dubbed a "Presidential Bash," the election-themed show will air on Saturday, Oct. 29 at 9 pm/ET. In other press tour news, Conan O'Brien will return to Los Angeles for another week this fall, Tim Meadows and William Devane have joined the cast of the retooled Michael Richards Show, and a two-hour wrap-up of the now-canceled drama The Pretender was scrapped when cable's TNT secured rights to a series of Pretender movies. read more

MACDONALD "EMBARRASSED" BY URINAL ADS

ABC's decision to post talking billboards above urinals in New York and Los Angeles promoting Norm's move to Fridays is getting the flush of approval from the sitcom's executive producer, Bruce Helford. "You know, sometimes the low road is the [one] less congested," he told assembled press at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, CA. "We had a blast doing it when they called." Series star Norm Macdonald, however, cops to being "embarrassed by all that restroom stuff," but added that he would not object to seeing the ads featuring his voice in women's restrooms. read more

COP LAND: THE SERIES

HBO is turning Cop Land, the 1997 Miramax film starring Sylvester Stallone as a New Jersey sheriff, into a weekly series. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the film's writer/director, James Mangold, and producer Cathy Konrad will serve as executive producers. None of the movie's stars will be involved, however. read more

MEG'S MOM TELLS ALL

Meg Ryan's estranged mom isn't surprised by rumors that her daughter has fallen for Gladiator star Russell Crowe. "When it was announced that they were making a movie together, it was obvious Meg would either hate Russell and have him kicked off the set because he was everything [estranged husband] Dennis [Quaid] was not, or she would end up having a passionate affair with him," Susan Jordan told London's Daily Mail. read more

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