Today's News: Our Take


Question: Do you know when ...

Question: Do you know when (and if) HBO's Oz is coming back? — Vanessa H., Devil's Lake, N.D.

Televisionary: The edgy prison drama, which kicked off in 1997, is currently shooting its sixth and final season and will return to HBO's schedule with its last eight episodes early next year. Baseball Wives, another series from Oz creator Tom Fontana (Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere) and partner Barry Levinson, will also debut on the network around the same time. As the name suggests, it will focus on women married to major-league players.

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Question: Please send me any ...

Question: Please send me any information you have on show that I believe aired in 1962. It was called Norby and it was filmed in Pearl River NY, my hometown. I once saw a TV Guide cover that featured the show. — Bill S., Westtown N.Y.

Televisionary: I don't send personal answers, Bill. I don't have much on the show (and don't believe it was ever on one of our covers), but I'll give you what I've got. Norby, the first series shot in color (it was sponsored by Eastman Kodak) aired for only three months on NBC in 1955. It featured David Wayne as the title character, Pearson Norby, a loan officer at the Pearl River First National Bank. Joan Lorring played Norby's wife, Helen, while Susan Ha read more

CLEARED

Two men accused of attempting to blackmail Oscar-winner Russell Crowe were acquitted Monday in an Australian court. Judge John Williams said prosecutors failed to prove the duo demanded money from Crowe in return for destroying a video showing the Gladiator star brawling outside a bar. read more

Meet Minority Report's Real Star


If there's any justice in the world, acting vet Lois Smith will receive her first Oscar nomination next year for her sublimely wicked supporting turn in Steven Spielberg's thrilling futuristic cautionary tale Minority Report.

Although she's only in one scene of the film, it's certainly a memorable one: Attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the pre-crime program, Tom Cruise tracks down Dr. Iris Hineman (Smith) — the eccentric old woman behind the revolutionary system. The duo's ensuing cat-and-mouse game is as tense as it is entertaining — mostly thanks to Smith, who caps off the sequence by forceably grabbing Cruise and smooching him!

"He's a good kisser," t read more

HOW THE OTHER HALF LIVES

How did Dick Clark celebrate the recent renewal of his syndicated chat show The Other Half? He purchased a 12-acre Malibu home for close to $15 million, the Los Angeles Times reports. The oceanfront property has been described as "one of the best building sites in Malibu." read more

CHEER UP TOMMY LEE

At the weekend press junket for Men in Black II, Tommy Lee Jones gave TV Guide Online the scoop on his next project: He's in talks to star in an upcoming Warner Bros. comedy titled Cheer Up. "The premise is a squad of high school cheerleaders witness a gangland killing and have to be put into a witness protection program, overseen by an aging FBI agent," he explains. "It doesn't take very long for the girls to go on the lam, running from the mob, and they have to be supervised. It's a funny idea." Jones — who would play the FBI agent-turned-chaperone — says producers are still looking for a director. read more

SOUR GRAPES

Quick, get Halle Berry some more Kleenex: Angela Bassett says she turned down Berry's Oscar-winning role in Monster's Ball because she didn't want to play a stereotype. "It's about character, darling," she tells Newsweek. "I wasn't going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn't do that because it's such a stereotype about black women and sexuality... It's about putting something out there you can be proud of 10 years later. I mean, Meryl Streep won Oscars without all that." Natch, Bassett insists her comments were not intended as a diss to Berry — not that we were reading between the lines or anything. read more

SAD IN THE STATES

Beloved advice columnist Ann Landers died Saturday of cancer at the age of 83. Landers, whose real name was Esther Lederer, did not want her column to go on in her absence. "She owned the copyright and she did not wish for the name to continue," her daughter, Margo Howard, told The Associated Press. "She felt it was very much associated with her." As a result, her final column will run July 27. read more

SHORT CUTS

Martin Scorsese, Etta James, Kevin Bacon, Susan Sarandon, Kermit the Frog and the late Gilda Radner are among the entertainers to be honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame next year... NBC has replaced CBS as Donald Trump's beauty pageant partner, which means the Peacock Network will now broadcast the Miss USA, Miss Universe and Miss Teen USA competitions. read more

REPORT CARD

Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg probably wish they could have prevented this from happening: The duo's new futuristic thriller Minority Report didn't have the slam-dunk opening weekend victory many had predicted. The Oscar-worthy film grossed $36.9 million, barely edging out the debut of Disney's animated pic Lilo & Stitch ($35.8 million). In fact, Disney execs remain confident that when final numbers are tabulated later today, L&S will come out on top. Still, Cruise and Spielberg may have the last laugh: Strong word of mouth on Report indicates that the pic may have a long, successful run this summer. The same can't be said for Scooby-Doo. In its second weekend of release, the read more

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