Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

60 Minutes Wednesday is adding longtime BET anchor Ed Gordon as a part-time correspondent... Moulin Rouge front man Ewan McGregor will headline a revival of Guys and Dolls on London's West End in June... CBS and Fox have sealed new deals with the NFL to continue airing Sunday-afternoon football games through 2011. The combined deals are reportedly worth $8 billion. read more

Fear Factor "Are you ready for...

Fear Factor
"Are you ready for a lot of falling, screaming and gagging?" shouts Joe Rogan. In other words, same old, same old. OK, so this time they're in New York City, but the location only serves as a fancy backdrop for the beautiful opening shots. It's easy to pick out the weakest players: Cheerleaderish Kelli and self-described "crazy man" Timothy are both eliminated in the first round of pick-the-flag-off-the-moving-target. I can barely watch as Nicole and Patrick slurp down pureed rat like it was ice cream, and move to the final test. When Patrick chokes and drops his flag from the air-lifted wall, Nicole wins and I cheer out loud. After all, I love it when a woman beats a man with huge arms and an even huger ego.

Life of Luxury
Five minutes into this show, I actually start to miss Robin Leach. And I never even liked Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous! But his snooty British accent a read more

GAME OVER

After striking out in its new Saturday time slot, Clubhouse has been benched for the remainder of November sweeps, CBS confirms. Repeats of crime dramas and specials will replace the baseball-themed drama on Saturday at 8 pm/ET. The news comes just days after Eye execs axed fellow freshman series dr. vegas. Can Center of the Universe be far behind? Fingers crossed. read more

GOLDEN GLITCH

Michael Moore's November nightmare continues. The anti-Dubya crusader has just learned that Fahrenheit 9/11 cannot compete in this year's Golden Globes derby because it's a documentary. The Globes have also dealt a blow to Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, rendering that pic ineligible in the best drama category because it is considered a foreign-language film. read more

MANGO RETURNS

ABC has signed former Saturday Night Live funnyman Chris Kattan to star in an as-yet untitled half-hour comedy that is being billed as a cross between Curb Your Enthusiasm and I Love Lucy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kattan will play a consumer reporter at a small-town TV station who is both neurotic and appealing — a deadly combo if ever there was one. read more

Question: Hello! I remember ...

Question: Hello! I remember watching a Japanimation-type series in the late '70s, but cannot recall the name! It was set in the future and a group of teenagers flew a spaceship called the Phoenix and wore masks that had beaks. I remember a big deal on the show would be if they had to escape something. The ship could go so fast it turned into a blaze of fire and took on the shape of the legendary phoenix rising from the ashes. Can you help? — Kelley, Memphis, Tenn.

Televisionary: Sounds to me like you're thinking of the import hit Battle of the Planets, which was syndicated in the late '70s and featured the adventures of a teen team called G-Force as they fought the evil Zoltar and his minions.

Now, Zoltar may have been evil, but not without motivation. His planet, Spectra, wasn't long for this... well, his world. It was dying, and he hoped to take over Earth in order to save his home. In addition, his boss, the Spirit, commanded him to do bad things read more

Question: I was a fan of The ...

Question: I was a fan of The Mod Squad when I was a kid, even though I don't think I got much of it. I never saw the beginning, though. What were Pete, Linc and Julie originally arrested for? Thank you. — Greg C., Medina, Ohio

Televisionary: They weren't very exciting crimes by today's standards, Greg: Rich-kid hippie Pete Cochran (Michael Cole) stole a car; ghetto-born Linc Hayes (Clarence Williams III) was arrested in the Watts riots; runaway Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton) was brought in for vagrancy. Of course, I doubt audiences would've accepted heroes who'd committed more serious offenses back in September 1968, when the ABC series launched.

That said, the producers weren't all that worried about viewers accepting kids-gone-wrong as heroes after the trio were drafted into the police department's "youth squad." They were more concerned with offending the younger side of the audience, who weren read more

YEAH!

Chart-toppin', six-packin' "Yeah" man Usher has signed on to star in a coming-of-age film about a kid from the streets who finds salvation through music and enjoys walking around shirtless, Variety reports. The Dimension project is being written by Ray scribe James White. read more

EXTREME NIELSENS

ABC's one-two punch of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and Desperate Housewives hit new series highs Sunday, lifting ABC to another dominant win on the night. Home drew 20.5 million viewers at 8 pm, while Housewives attracted nearly 25 million at 9 pm. Housewives' momentum is even more startling when you consider that the once-promising dramedy seems to be spiraling downward creatively. (Read tomorrow's "Ask Ausiello" for more on that.) Elsewhere, viewers virtually ignored Fox's My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (4.8 million viewers), but Arrested Development — in its new time slot following The Simpsons — pulled in a promising 8 million viewers. Finally, CBS's cheesy Dallas reunion drew a solid (if unspectacular) 14.2 million viewers. read more

TOE BE OR NOT TOE BE

Burt Reynolds has been called many things, but a toe stomper? The 68-year-old actor is suing ex-girlfriend Pamela Seals, alleging that she was threatening to falsely accuse him of abuse if he didn't cough up millions of dollars in extortion. Specifically, Reynolds claims Seals was going to accuse him of yelling at her and, um, stomping on her toes during their 16-year relationship. In Reynolds' defense, I hear Seals' toes can easily be mistaken for big, juicy grapes. read more

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