Today's News: Our Take


GOOD MORNING, BAGHDAAAAAD!

Robin Williams entertained American and Australian troops at the Baghdad International Airport on Tuesday during a U.S. military show that also featured actress Shannon Tweed, wrestler Kurt Angle and stock car driver Mike Wallace. "I'm looking at a group of heavily armed people here," Williams joked. "I'm telling myself, 'If you're not funny, it's a problem.'" read more

THE GOOD GIRL

A judge gave convicted shoplifter Winona Ryder high marks for abiding by the rules of her probation at a hearing Monday in Los Angeles. If she keeps it up, there's talk her felony convictions could be reduced to misdemeanors. Ryder's next progress report hearing is slated for May 26. read more

THIS JUST IN...

Leonard A. Mueller, a senior executive of Inter-Con Security Systems, has been appointed traffic and security chief for the 76th Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 29. Can you tell it's a slow news day? read more

Antiques Roadshow Starting tonight,...

Antiques Roadshow
Starting tonight, the "your junk might be a treasure" show sets up shop in Indianapolis — my hometown — for the next three weeks. Hoosiers in the house!

Fear Factor
You know you're a Fear Factor junkie when...
1. You can watch a guy wash down reindeer testicles with rancid egg nog and, instead of gagging, you think, "God, he's cute."
2. Pain-in-the-butt host Joe Rogan says, "I never cease to be amazed by what you freaks will eat." And you agree. Delightfully.
3. You see the set-up for the $50,000 underwater elimination stunt and recognize it from the Super Bowl Playboy Playmate episode.

Girlfriends
Look at Maya looking out for ex-husband Darnell. (How sweet!) And look at Joan going all caroling Nazi. (How annoying.)

Half & Half
No she didn't! After Dee Dee's ex announced — right before Christmas dinner — t read more

SHORT CUTS

Roughly 25.4 million people watched Sunday's Survivor: Pearl Islands finale, making it the show's most-watched climax since Survivor: Marquesas in May 2002.... The WB has picked up freshman variety show Steve Harvey's Big Time for a full season.... Luther Vandross, who continues to recover from his stroke, is hoping to attend the Feb. 8 Grammys; the singer is up for five awards. read more

Question: Whatever happened ...

Question: Whatever happened to that funny show The Wackiest Ship In the Army? My cousin says there was never such a show. I say there was and there was a cute guy with a last name like Smoltz. Who's right in this family melee? — B.J., Carlsbad, N.M.

Televisionary: Why, you are, of course. The Wackiest Ship in the Army ran on NBC's schedule for a year beginning in September 1965.

Based on the true story of the Echo, a sailing ship of questionable seaworthiness given to the U.S. by New Zealand in 1942, the show focused on an old two-mast schooner commanded by the Navy's Gary Collins at sea and the Army's Jack Warden in its home port. (Whichever one wasn't in command reported to the other, and, of course, they didn't agree on much.)

Others in the cast included Rudy Solari, Don Penny, Mike Kellin, Charles Irving, William Zuckert and, as you say, Fred Smoot (though I can't back you up read more

Question: As long as Falcon ...

Question: As long as Falcon Crest was on, was Jane Wyman the only cast member who stuck it out from beginning to end? — Ken S., Loveland, Colo.

Televisionary: Nope, but she was just one of two major stars on the hit nighttime soap when it debuted in December 1981 who made it all the way to the final episode in May 1990. (The other was Lorenzo Lamas and, technically speaking, Wyman missed much of the final season but came back for the series' end.)

Why? Well, as has been the case with many a show sporting a large cast of strong-willed veterans and beautiful newcomers — and to list all of Falcon Crest's players would wear my keyboard out — the turmoil behind the scenes rivaled what ended up on screen.

For starters, Wyman, the Oscar-winning film (Miracle in the Rain, Magnificent Obsession, Johnny Belinda) read more

Question: I was just ...

Question: I was just wondering if there are going to be any new episodes of Insomniac with Dave Attell on Comedy Central anytime soon. — Mike W., Granville, N.Y.

Televisionary: Rather than shooting new episodes, Dave Attell and company are now doing the show as quarterly specials, Mike. (Apparently he's got a very busy tour schedule now and, well... you try doing a regular staying-up-late series for four seasons, tough guy!) Look for the first, which involves a journey to the South and a visit to a Civil War reenactment, on Jan. 10 at 10 pm/ET.

read more

Question: Jeanette Nolan ...

Question: Jeanette Nolan played Sally Fergus on Gunsmoke. If I remember correctly she had a spinoff show of her own, playing Sally Fergus. If so, are there copies of her show available? — Gene A. Jr., Dunreith, Ind.

Televisionary: None that I was able to locate, Gene, and given the extremely short time the series was on the air, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for it to come out if I were you.

As you say, Dirty Sally, which debuted on CBS in January 1974, was a Gunsmoke spinoff. (Though again, if you technically define "spinoff" as a show's regular character getting their own series, Dirty Sally was more of a back-door pilot since Nolan's character appeared in only two Gunsmoke episodes.)

In the show, Nolan played a tough-as-rawhide, bottle-hoisting old lady who was headed for gold in California with her former-gunfighter pal Pike (Dallas's Dack Rambo read more

Question: A simple question: ...

Question: A simple question: How many total episodes of M*A*S*H aired in the 11 years it was on television? No bets, just curious. — Terri, Aurora Ill.

Televisionary: A simple answer: 251. See for yourself in our M*A*S*H ShowGuide.

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