Today's News: Our Take


HEALTH SCARE?

Published reports say Tonight Show icon Johnny Carson — who celebrates his 78th birthday today — recently underwent emergency heart surgery to clear a blocked artery. Word is Carson is back home and doing well. read more

THE WEDDING'S OFF

Disney has pulled the plug on Ben Affleck's upcoming wedding comedy Ghosts of Girlfriends Past — just four weeks before the film was expected to begin production. Although Mickey Mouse execs declined comment, Variety speculates that high costs as well as Affleck's tarnished image (read: Gigli, Bennifer) were contributing factors. In the flick, Affleck was to play a bachelor who is visited by the ghosts of his past girlfriends while attending his younger brother's wedding. read more

SEPARATED

Courtney Love has lost custody of her 11-year-old daughter Frances Bean, at least for now. At Tuesday's hearing, which followed Love's Oct. 2 arrest on charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance, a judge decided to place Frances with her nanny. Kurt Cobain's widow will be allowed frequent visits. read more

HARSH REALITY

ABC has called off its first annual Reality Awards, an upcoming two-hour special honoring the best in reality TV. Why? Competing networks apparently refused to provide clips from their shows. "We were surprised that the networks didn't see the value in promoting their own shows, even if it was on ABC," says the kudocast's producer, Don Mischer. "I can't speak for the networks, but it's just a very competitive time in television. It could be the networks didn't want to give ABC any competitive edge." read more

ROUND TWO

Liza Minnelli officially filed for divorce from David Gest on Wednesday, a day after her estranged hubby slapped her with a $10 million lawsuit. In a statement, Minnelli called Gest's allegations that she beat him in alcohol-fueled rages "hurtful and without merit," adding that she had "hoped very much that the end of my marriage would be handled with mutual respect and dignity." (I'm tempted to poke fun at Liza's na&#239vet&#233, but I really don't want to get smacked.) read more

Joan of Arcadia's Mom Knows Best


When it comes to playing a mom, Mary Steenburgen is an expert. She shows extraordinary patience with a grouchy pre-teen son and a childlike Will Ferrell in the upcoming movie Elf (opening Nov. 7). On TV, she's raising three teenagers on the new CBS drama Joan of Arcadia. Plus, in real life, she has two kids of her own! All that motherhood must take a toll.

"It is strange," Steenburgen tells TV Guide Online. "I have a lot of teenagers in my life. I came home the other night, and my son made some little hilarious put-down of me, which seems to be his [routine]. I said, 'Charlie, I spent all day long with teenagers putting me down and being paid for it. I can't come home and have you do it. It is just too much.'"

Other than such minor worries, the 50-year-old actress seems pleased with life read more

Galactica Stars Sound Off!

When the heavily-hyped Battlestar Galactica premiered on ABC in September 1978, many publications (including TV Guide) predicted it would be the fall season's breakout hit. But lukewarm ratings and a punishing production schedule led to its cancellation after only eight months. Flash-forward 25 years later, and we're suddenly in the midst of a Galactica renaissance. The original series has just been released for the first time on DVD in an elaborate six-disc box, featuring remastered and uncut versions of all 24 episodes, plus a number of bonus features. Here, two stars of the cult phenom — Dirk Benedict (Starbuck) and Richard Hatch (Apollo) — reflect on their trip to the stars and sound off on Sci Fi Channel's upcoming Galactica remake.


TV Guide Online: On the DVD, you both read more

SHORT CUTS

ABC will debut its new mob drama Line of Fire on Dec. 2 in NYPD Blue's Tuesday/10 pm timeslot. Blue is expected to return in February with new episodes... Nip/Tuck's first-season finale attracted 3 million viewers Tuesday night. That's slightly below the FX drama's season average of 3.3 million viewers. The season finale of MTV's Newlyweds, meanwhile, led all cable shows among viewers 18-34. read more

IDOL WORSHIP

Clay Aiken is proving to be the most successful loser in history. The American Idol runner-up's debut CD, Measure of a Man, entered Billboard's album chart at No. 1 with sales of 613,000 copies. By comparison, Idol's inaugural champ, Kelly Clarkson, moved 297,000 units during her album's first week in stores last April. Now, the pressure's on Aiken's Idol sidekick Ruben Studdard, whose Soulful CD drops Nov. 25. read more

REMEMBERED

Actor Fred Berry, best known as the red-beret-wearing, suspenders-clad Rerun on the 1970s sitcom What's Happening!, died Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 52. An autopsy is planned to determine the cause of death, although Berry reportedly had been ill since suffering a stroke this summer. After years of obscurity, Berry experienced a bit of a career revival of late, having appeared opposite David Spade in Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star as well as in an episode of Scrubs last April. Most recently, he took part in the new phone-a-celeb service HollywoodIsCalling.com, in which $30 would earn a fan a 30-second call from Berry. read more

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