Today's News: Our Take


FREEDOM RINGS FOR REESE

Reese Witherspoon is in talks to star in the Universal feature Freedom Writers, based on The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Group of Extraordinary Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Witherspoon will play the real-life teacher who encouraged a group of "at-risk" students at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Calif., to keep a daily record of their thoughts and feelings. read more

WATCH YOUR MOUTH!

Yikes! Trash-talker Kid Rock and country-crooner Hank Williams Jr. have signed on to perform a duet at the Country Music Awards, airing May 22 on CBS. Appropriately enough, they'll sing a Williams tune titled "The F Word." But will the Eye network allow Kid's casual use of four-letter words on live TV? A CBS spokeswoman tells TV Guide Online they'll broadcast on a seven-second delay — just in case any bleeping is necessary. read more

WHAT'S THAT? A REUNION!

Cathy Moriarty-Gentile will reteam with her Raging Bull co-star Robert De Niro in Analyze That, the upcoming sequel to Analyze This, Variety reports. Moriarty-Gentile will play a "formidable Mob widow." read more

Question: Was there a ...

Question: Was there a television show called Route 66? If so, when was it on and who starred in it? — Gloria F., Rehobeth, Md.

Televisionary: That there was, Gloria, and a popular theme song, penned by famed composer and arranger Nelson Riddle, went along with it.

The series, which starred George Maharis (The Most Deadly Game) and Martin Milner (Adam-12) for most of its four-year run on CBS, revolved around the adventures of two road warriors — Tod Stiles (Milner) and Buz Murdock (Maharis) — as they wandered around the country, with no particular place to go, in Tod's Corvette convertible. Two guys, a car, and a succession of guest stars: sounds like an easy show to shoot, no? Well read more

Question: I seem to remember ...

Question: I seem to remember that when I was younger I watched a show that starred Stephen Dorff (though I'm not completely sure about that). He had a dummy that kind of looked like Howdy Dowdy. Am I making this up or did it really exist? — June, Seattle, Wash.

Televisionary: What a dummy. (Not you, June — the show.)

The syndicated sitcom What a Dummy, 24 episodes of which were produced from 1990-91, did indeed include young Mr. Dorff as 16-year-old Tucker Brannigan. Tucker's dad, Ed (David Doty), inherited a trunk from his late uncle, who'd been a ventriloquist, and in the trunk was Jackie, his uncle's living, talking dummy.

The set-up didn't wander very far from the standard situation involving a wise-acre robot, alien or what-have-you hidden in a household. Tucker, Ed and the rest of the Brannigan family & read more

Question: Since NBC first ...

Question: Since NBC first began using the phrase "Must See TV" in 1994, what shows have been a part of that lineup? — Jillian, Boston, Mass.

Televisionary: Boy, do I have you covered on this one, Jillian. Taxing my television powers to their utmost, I have commanded my executive minions at NBC to produce a special just for you and they have done so. Tune in at 9:30 on May 20 for NBC's 20 Years of Must See TV, which will feature highlights from the biggest Thursday-night shows along with interviews with many of those series' stars. My one note of disappointment, however, is that though I told them to call it Hey, Jillian! Here's That Special You Asked For!, my network servants deemed that too unwieldy a title.

(Alright, so the network was going to put the special on anyway as part of their 75th-anniversary celebration and I had nothing to do with it. Had you going for a second, though, didn't I?)

Being a stickler, I'll add that though NBC di read more

Question: How come a lot of ...

Question: How come a lot of shows in the '60s started life in black and white and ended in color? There were plenty of them — The Andy Griffith Show, Gilligan's Island, The Beverly Hillbillies, etc. They all seemed to change to color in 1965. Was color television invented in 1965? I remember in 1990 they colorized the first year's episodes of Gilligan's Island. Can all shows, then, be colorized? — Kevin S., Aurora, Colo.

Televisionary: Well, keep in mind, Kevin, that the introduction of any new format takes a lot of time, a lot of money, and a lot of willpower on the part of the hardware maker or media company trying to get it adopted, and even then there's no guarantee it'll catch on.

Much like the current struggle over getting HDTV into people's homes, color television was read more

DROPPING OUT

After seven years, Will Ferrell has elected to quit Saturday Night Live to pursue a film career, the Los Angeles Times reports. Best known for his dead-on impersonation of President George W. Bush, the 35-year-old comic will make his final appearance on the May 18 season finale — reportedly hosted by alleged shoplifter Winona Ryder. Note to Lorne Michaels: This would be a really good time to convince Cheri Oteri to return. read more

SHORT CUTS

Sunday night's three-hour NBC 75th Anniversary Special was a ratings smash, with more than 20 million viewers tuning in... Once and Again's Shane West is in talks to star as Tom Sawyer in the upcoming 20th Century Fox feature The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen... Panic Room helmer David Fincher is in discussions to direct a remake of the 1975 supernatural thriller The Reincarnation of Peter Proud... The WB network has picked up 13 episodes of Everwood, a drama starring Treat Williams as a doctor who relocates to a small Colorado town after the death of his wife. read more

GET IN LINE NOW!

With Spider-Man breaking records left and right, Columbia Pictures isn't taking any chances with the sequel. The studio on Monday announced that it will release Spider-Man 2 on the comparable May weekend in 2004. The film — which reunites Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst with director Sam Raimi — opens May 7, 2004. read more

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