Today's News: Our Take


GOODBYE WEEZIE

Actress Isabel Sanford — aka Louise "Weezie" Jefferson from The Jeffersons — has died at 86. On July 4, she was hospitalized at L.A.'s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she passed away on Friday with her daughter at her side. Sanford's health reportedly had been in decline since undergoing surgery on a neck artery last year. Back in 1981, Sanford was the first African-American woman to receive an Emmy for Best Actress in a Comedy Series. Most recently, the beloved TV personality did The Simpsons, as well as popular ad campaigns for Old Navy and Denny's restaurants. read more

SPIDEY CENT$

Over the weekend, ol' sticky fingers was at it again — and we don't mean Winona Ryder, either. Spider-Man 2 took in another $46 million at the box office, making it the fastest flick ever to break the $250-million mark. (It's up to $257.3 million now; that's almost as much moolah as I'll make for guest-writing this column... in my dreams.) Despite the fact that Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy opened strong, the Will Ferrell comedy's $28 million take made it a distant second. Rounding out the top five were the critically savaged new release King Arthur ($15.2 million), Michael Moore's Bush-burning Fahrenheit 9/11 ($11 million) and the period romance read more

AND IF YOU CAN'T MAKE IT THERE?

Over the weekend, Actors' Equity and Broadway's producers reached an impasse in their ongoing negotiations to keep the lights of the Great White Way turned on. Late Friday night, the union made its final offer, and the bigwigs gave their final answer: Heck, no! Both sides agree on salary and health-care benefits for B'way performers; however, they can't get it together where road-show casts are concerned. Sheesh. If anybody deserves a break, isn't it a chorus boy who's bringing a little razzle-dazzle to Peoria? read more

SUNDAYThe 4400 Oh, sure, this...

SUNDAY

The 4400
Oh, sure, this is derivative. You can tick off the influences just as easily as I can: Firestarter (Orson Bailey's nosebleed-causing powers); The Dead Zone (Maia's ability to foresee the future); The X-Files (two feds bickering their way into true affection as they get to the bottom of the case). But who cares, as long as it's good? And The 4400 is good.

This is Stephen King before he forgot how to be Stephen King — back when we (and he) cared about his characters and didn't have to slog through scatological story lines to discover we didn't anymore.

I was expecting a run-of-the-mill alien-abduction story. Early on, when I was grabbed by the human element of the tale, I was afraid they'd lose that and take the easy way out by focusing more on the spooky sci-fi elements (&#224 la King's Kingdom Hospital). But it didn't happen, thankfully read more

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS

Today on Jeopardy!, Utah software engineer (and unofficial brainiac) Ken Jennings will attempt to break the $1-million mark. (He's already got Uncle Sam salivating over the $920,960 he's won to date.)... On Wednesday, TV's Frugal Gourmet Jeff Smith was served his last meal. The kitchen aide died at age 65. read more

HE'LL BE BACK...

...and when he gets back, he'll look a wee bit different, at least if A&E gets its way. The cabler is courting Jurgen Prochnow to play Arnold Schwarzenegger in its upcoming biopic, See Arnold Run. Word on the street is that the English Patient actor is seriously considering taking on the role, provided he can spend five years getting into character at Bally's. read more

Smallville Seeks Super Star


Next season on Smallville, the Boy of Steel will encounter a force more powerful than even the Kryptonite that brings him to his knees: true love. Producers have begun scouring Superman's adopted planet for an actress to play his eventual sweetheart, Lois Lane. And, while we may lack Clark Kent's X-ray vision, even we can see that any of these rising starlets could turn Lana Lang green with envy.

Michelle Williams: The thinking fan's Katie Holmes has proven in one independent movie after another that she was wasted among the loquacious poseurs of Dawson's Creek. But, while the brainier writing of Smallville would better serve Williams' intellect, even Lex Luthor probably couldn't squeeze a few episodes into her busy film schedule. (Would it help if we begged?)

Shelly Cole: We have long looked forward to the pseudo goth chick's every fleeting appearance on Gilmore Girls as Rory's droll Chilton classmate, Madeline, an read more

Press Tour Diary: Day One


As any self-respecting TV journalist will tell you, the annual Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Los Angeles is only as good as the free food that's dished out. And from the taste of things, this is going to be a fan-freakin-tastic 10 days. NBC kicked things off Saturday with a menu that included power bars, smoothies, hot popcorn, fresh fruit, a movie theater-style candy counter and, best of all, veggie burgers! Suddenly, the Peacock's new fall lineup was looking a lot better. The only thing missing was Diet Raspberry Snapple, which, by the way, was not waiting for me when I arrived at my hotel. (Let's just say I was not pleased and leave it at that, okay? Great.) Anyway, the day's schedule included panels for Medical Investigation, The Apprentice 2 and the much-talked about Siegfried and Roy-themed CGI comedy Father of the Pride. Here's my minute-by-minute recap:

EXECUTIVE SESSION
9:00 am The ex read more

Shatner and Nimoy Reunited

In the '60s, these intergalactic travelers were sent where no man had gone before. This year, William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy have re-teamed for a series of Priceline.com commercials that have proved an earthly delight to many Star Trek fans. Here, TV Guide Online opens hailing frequencies to question Kirk and Spock about their small-screen reunion.

TV Guide Online: Any reservations about getting together again as pitchmen?
Nimoy:
I didn't. When they sent me the copy of that first commercial, I thought it was hilarious. Bill and I have a relationship that works well for this kind of humor. So it's been an easy decision to do the spots.
Shatner: You know, the first time I did a Priceline commercial — the one where I was singing — it was extremely risky. The ad was a success, but it could have gone the other way, where people are saying, "Isn't he a fool?" Well, they did say that [Laughs], but in addition, they a read more

Smallville Seeks Super Star


Next season on Smallville, the Boy of Steel will encounter a force more powerful than even the Kryptonite that brings him to his knees: true love. Producers have begun scouring Superman's adopted planet for an actress to play his eventual sweetheart, Lois Lane. And, while we may lack Clark Kent's X-ray vision, even we can see that any of these rising starlets could turn Lana Lang green with envy.

Michelle Williams: The thinking fan's Katie Holmes has proven in one independent movie after another that she was wasted among the loquacious poseurs of Dawson's Creek. But, while the brainier writing of Smallville would better serve Williams' intellect, even Lex Luthor probably couldn't squeeze a few episodes into her busy film schedule. (Would it help if we begged?)

Shelly Cole: We have long looked forward to the pseudo goth chick's every fleeting appearance on Gilmore Girls as Rory's droll Chilton classmate, Madeline, an read more

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