Today's News: Our Take

Question: With the final ...

Question: With the final season of Friends winding down, I have come to realize there are two things missing from the series and I don't believe their absence was ever explained. What happened to the duck and the chick? I don't believe that the writers ever got rid of them like they did the monkey, but instead just phased them out. — Kim, Sacramento, Calif.

Televisionary: As far as I know, the birds' fate has never been explained, Kim. There's a lot of wrapping up to do by the end of the series, but you never know: They just might squeeze that in.

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Question: What was the name ...

Question: What was the name of the cockatoo on the TV show Baretta? — Michelle, Deerfield Beach, Fla.

Televisionary: Fred. But you really don't think I'll let you get away with reading that short an answer, do you?

In real life, Fred was a great-triton cockatoo named Lala which was given to trainer Ray Berwick by U.S. Customs officials who found him mixed in with a bunch of chickens from Hong Kong. (Berwick had to teach him English words since the bird knew only Chinese when he got him.)

As Baretta fans know, Lala could, among other things, say "freeze," answer the phone and say "hello," and drink from a bottle. But such talents didn't come cheap. Even though other birds were used for flying and shoulder-sitting scenes, Fred (well, Berwick) still received $1000 per episode for his troubles.

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Question: Mr. Televisionary, ...

Question: Mr. Televisionary, please help me. I'm looking for the original title of an American serial shown in Italy in the late '70s. The Italian title sounded like The Wonderful World of Mr. Monroe and the show involved a comics painter living in a nice house with his wife, a dog and a daughter. Sometimes the human characters were presented as comics Mr. Monroe painted. I can't find anyone among my friends who remembers this. I know I wasn't drunk. Can you help me? I can offer you a fine bottle of Chianti if you bring me back this memory. — Luigi, Firenze, Italy

Televisionary: Ah, Luigi — if only I could accept bribes. Answering you gives me an excuse to do the next best thing, however, so at lunch I plan to run out to the corner liquor store, buy myself a nice bottle, drink the entire thing myself and then tell my boss it's your fault. Sound like a plan?

Anyway, your question brings up a common dilemma I face with this column. I'll write about a gi read more


Fox News braggart Bill O'Reilly charged Judging Amy producers a fair and balanced fee for his guest appearance on the May 18 season finale. "He worked for scale," says Amy executive producer Joe Stern in the current issue of TV Guide magazine. "He didn't try and stick us." In the episode, O'Reilly — playing himself — blasts Amy for setting free a would-be killer. Wait until he finds out she voted for Gore. read more

Hugh Jackman's Fear of Success

Aussie transplant Hugh Jackman enjoys big Stateside stardom thanks to his roles as Wolverine in the X-Men movies and Peter Allen in Broadway's The Boy from Oz. Still, the 35-year-old hunk hesitated about taking his latest high-profile part as a supernatural crime-fighter in Van Helsing (opening May 7). Hmm... A fat paycheck for doing a big-budget action flick — what's for a working actor not to like?

"After X-Men 2, I was going to do a smaller independent movie," Jackman says. "I was a bit reluctant to be in another big, franchise-type, summer popcorn movie. I feared to go down that road. They take a long time [to make]. It's a year of your life.

"Then, of course, there could be X-Men 3, then Van Helsing 2," he adds. "That could be my film life. [Van Helsing director] Stephen Sommers told me that I am probably the only actor to worry about being in two successful franchises!"

Jackm read more


Injured Siegfried and Roy illusionist Roy Horn will give his first sit-down interview since October's tiger attack to California first lady Maria Shriver. The exclusive chat will air as part of a 90-minute NBC special this fall. read more


Kelsey Grammer apparently isn't letting Frasier go without a fight. Last month, Paramount — with Grammer's blessing — allegedly pitched NBC a new series chronicling the next phase of Frasier's life, Variety reports. NBC opted against continuing the franchise, leaving producers free to A) shop the project elsewhere, B) quit while they're ahead or C) feel silly for even suggesting such a thing. Let's pray they went with B or C. read more


Tina Fey's cliquish teen satire Mean Girls opened at No. 1 over the weekend with $25 million — more than double expectations. Last week's top flick, Denzel Washington's thriller Man on Fire, slipped to No. 2 with $15.2 million, followed by the Jennifer Garner comedy 13 Going on 30 ($10 million). Elsewhere, three other newcomers — Laws of Attraction, Godsend and Envy — collected a mere $20 million combined. read more

Swan Lays a Fashion Plate

As The Swan's plastic surgeons sharpen their scalpels to transform yet another average Jane into a future Stuff covergirl in tonight's episode (airing at 9 ET on Fox), TV Guide Online catches up with the lipo-lovin' reality series' last overhaul recipient, Kathy R.. We couldn't believe the 27-year-old part-time vacuum-cleaner salesperson really wouldn't pursue her dream career in fashion because she didn't think she looked the part. (Seriously, had she seen Betsey Johnson?) Alas, the Illinois native wasn't kidding. Read on, and see for yourself.

TV Guide Online: Kathy, you do know that in order to be a designer, you don't have to be a model, right?
Kathy R.:
I know. But I always had this preconceived notion that only a certain type of person would be in that type of business. I never really felt like I fit in. I always kind of felt like I had to hold my personality back.

TVGO: But you had a cute boyfriend who a read more


Comedy Central's new It Funnyman, Dave Chappelle, is in talks to headline his own comedy film for New Line. Dave Chappelle's Family History of the World would find the comic playing his family members at various points in history. read more

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