Today's News: Our Take

Question: Silly question ...

Question: Silly question time. Was Doogie Howser based on a real person? Thank you. — Rory O., Seattle, Wash.

Televisionary: No question is silly, Rory, particularly when I can get a column out of it.

No, Doogie Howser, M.D., which ran on ABC from September 1989 to July 1993, wasn't based on a real medical whiz-kid. In fact, it wasn't even based on any kind of reality. You see, even though it was a decent enough show (and I'm an admirer, generally, of creator Steven Bochco), there's no way a 16-year-old could be a practicing physician.

My word not good enough for you? Fine.

"Impossible," Harvard Medical School admissions officer Helen Rakin told TV Guide in 1989. "The youngest person we have on record ever to enter Harvard Medical School was 18. Doogie Howser would have had to graduate f read more

Question: I could swear that ...

Question: I could swear that when Ellen debuted, it was originally called Friends. This has been bugging me for a long time. Please help put an end to my wondering. — Stacey M., Piney Flats, Tenn.

Televisionary: Close. When the Ellen DeGeneres vehicle debuted on ABC in March 1994, it was called These Friends of Mine and Ellen managed the Buy the Book bookstore rather than owning it, as she later did before it bit the dust in an earthquake and she ended up selling the rebuilt operation to a chain and managing it again. Pals Holly (Holly Fulger) and Anita (Everybody Loves Raymond's Maggie Wheeler) helped with t read more

Question: Can you tell me the ...

Question: Can you tell me the name of a movie with Farrah Fawcett in a small part as a Playboy bunny? I just remember seeing her in some sort of bunny outfit. I remember seeing this as a kid and for some reason it's always stuck in my mind. — S.W., West Hollywood, Calif.

Televisionary: You're thinking of The Feminist and the Fuzz, a 1971 ABC TV-movie in which Ms. Fawcett did indeed play a bunny. The real story, of course, revolved around a feminist (Barbara Eden) and a male-chauvinist cop (David Hartman) who become roommates. The cast also included Jo Anne Worley, read more


NBC has placed an order for Celebrity Temps, a reality series in which stars trade jobs with regular folk for a day. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the first episode will find Carmen Electra babysitting small children. In exchange, the parents of the kids will head for the nearest mirror and stare in it all day. read more


Lovebirds Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have shelled out $16 million for an 83-acre plantation on Georgia's tony Hampton Island. The lush property resembles a set out of Gone With the Wind, complete with a 10,000-square-foot main house, miles of unspoiled forest and convenient access to the 6 train. read more


Reality may be getting a harsh reception in theaters, but it remains big business on the small screen. A cable channel devoted to all things reality is in the development stages, and could debut as early as January. Dubbed Reality Central, the channel will offer a behind-the-scenes look at unscripted shows and contestants. Half of the network's lineup will initially be comprised of reality show reruns. Stars of the genre — including Survivor champ Richard Hatch and Bachelorette beauty Trista Rehn — have signed on to help promote and market the project. This channel has Tina Fabulous written all over it! read more


Ed leading man Tom Cavanagh joins the cast of Broadway's Urinetown: The Musical beginning May 20... Actor-comedian Jamie Foxx and his sister, Deidra Dixon, were arrested Saturday after they refused to leave a New Orleans casino. read more

Real Cancun Star Bares All

There's little doubt that 18-year-old Texas Tech freshman Alan Taylor is the star of The Real Cancun, the reality feature from the producers of MTV's The Real World. His progression from reserved, non-drinking outsider to fun-loving party animal over the course of the eight-day spring break free-for-all was almost as compelling as those wet T-shirt contests. After watching him complain about girl trouble and shyness, we were pretty shocked when the lapsed teetotaler told TV Guide Online all about his thespian past, not to mention that understanding girlfriend back home...

TV Guide Online: You seem so reserved in the movie, but I hear you're actually involved in theater at school.
Alan Taylor:
That's the thing people don't understand about me. They say throughout the movie I find my confidence. But I've done theater since I was 15! People are asking what my aspirations will be now, and I kind of hate to say professio read more


Clearly tiring of Members Only hand-me-downs, actress Shelley Morrison — best known as Karen's wisecracking maid on Will & Grace — was arrested Wednesday for investigation of felony shoplifting at a Los Angeles department store. Arraignment was set for May 14. In other Will & Grace news, Thursday's episode — featuring a guest shot by Madonna — attracted an above average 17.7 million viewers. Unfortunately, the show itself was decidedly below average. read more

Meet Jaws' Granddaddy, Meg!

Since Steve Alten reacquired the rights to his engrossing bestseller Meg, about a prehistoric predator that makes Jaws' Great White look like a guppy, showbiz sharks have been circling. However, it's not only the scribe's screenplay adaptation that's sparked the feeding frenzy. It's also the fact that his book and its follow-up, The Trench, have made "finatics" of the hard-to-hook adolescent demographic.

"For a while, nothing was happening," the author tells TV Guide Online. "But recently, some developments have been spurred on because it seems that teens love Meg — so much so that high school teachers were using the book as part of their curriculum. I didn't know this until English teachers started e-mailing me that the book was a huge hit in their classes.

"So, essentially, we have a growing army of kids who are wanting to see a movie [adaptation]. I wasn't aiming to do that, but it just worked out," he continues, amazed. "No read more

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