Today's News: Our Take


Grab a Kleenex, kids. This July, talk show veteran Sally Jessy Raphael hangs up her trademark red-rimmed glasses for good: After two decades in daytime, Studios USA has cancelled her chatfest due to lousy ratings. (In the past three years, Sally's slipped from No. 3 behind Oprah and Jerry Springer down to last place at No. 9.) "I am proud that we were able to help so many guests and viewers find solutions to their problems and comfort in their lives," she said in a statement. "I am also proud to have created the production formats that most talk shows now use. I've been on television for 46 years, which must be a record." Brava to Sally for bowing out with class. read more

Question: I was a big Lost in ...

Question: I was a big Lost in Space fan as a kid. Watching reruns, I realized there was a big difference between the evil Dr. Smith from the first episodes and the funny Dr. Smith who came along later. What was the deal with that? — Kevin L., Honolulu, Hawaii

Televisionary: Elementary, you lugubrious lump... you pusillanimous pinhead! (Sorry, my inner Smith got the best of me there, Kevin.)

The simple answer is the one behind so many developments on your favorite shows, both old and new — ratings. As the story goes, actor Jonathan Harris, who played the no-good doctor, and the powers-that-be behind the show, one of many from legendary producer Irwin Allen, realized early on that the truly evil Dr. Smith would wear thin in no time. So though the character was merely sinister when the series launched on CBS in September 1965 — it was his sabotage that got all of them lost in the first place — read more

Question: Where can I get a ...

Question: Where can I get a videotape of The Mists of Avalon? Thank you. — Audrey P.

Televisionary: Well, my mom taped the whole thing and might be persuaded to part with it for the right price, but the networks, the MPAA and pretty much everyone who depends on copyright laws for a living really hate that kind of thing, so we best leave that potential auction alone. (Besides, her cable provider's picture is grainy as all get-out and my dad kept switching to ESPN and The Cartoon Network, so unless you like abrupt jumps from Anjelica Huston's Lady of the Lake to Australian-rules football and Bugs Bunny in drag, it makes for frustrating viewing.)

All of which means you should probably just hit your local or online video store and plop down the 15-20 bucks or so it'll cost you for the official version. If you pick it up on DVD, you also get additional scenes, cast and production information and all the other cool stuff that makes it worth springing for read more

Question: I have been racking ...

Question: I have been racking my brain for the name of this show and for the life of me I can't seem to recall it. It was about vampires. If I remember correctly, it was on Thursday nights or Tuesday nights back in 1997. I don't think it ran for more than one season, if that long. I want to say it was called The Kindred, but I am not sure. If you could let me know if this is right and how to get a hold of a copy of it, I would greatly appreciate it. — Terrie-Lynn T.

Televisionary: You rack rather well, Terrie-Lynn. Much of what you came up with is on the money or at least close enough to salvage some pride points, though I must say fans of the series would've been a lot happier had it indeed lasted an entire season.

Kindred: The Embraced actually ran on Fox's schedule for the whole month in 1996. Based on the popular Vampire: The Masquerade role-playing game, it starred '80s icon C. Thomas Howell (Soul Man read more

Question: My husband, brother ...

Question: My husband, brother and I have a little disagreement. I say Rin Tin Tin was on Saturday mornings and they say it was on Friday evenings. Who is right? I really hate losing. Thanks. — Chris R., Ravenna, Ohio

Televisionary: Depending on how you look at it, you both are correct, Chris, so it looks like neither side has to choke down a big ol' steaming slice of loser's pie. (I'm not too partial to the flavor myself.)

The original Adventures of Rin Tin Tin brought the popular big-screen pooch and his boy pal Rusty (Lee Aaker) to ABC's Friday-night schedule in October 1954 and it stayed there for just shy of five years. For two years beginning in September 1959, ABC reran episodes on Saturday afternoons. CBS then picked it up for another two years in 1962 and broadcast reruns on Saturday mornings. The show resurfaced in 1976 and The Family Channel produced a new series, Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop, in the late '80s.

Of course, if you cou read more

Falcon Crest Hunk Returns!

If you ask us, Friday nights have been a whole lot less intoxicating since 1990, when CBS put a cork in Falcon Crest, its sublime sudser about vindictive vintners and their whiny relatives. So, especially considering the multitude of other Reagan-era reunion projects that are fermenting (L.A. Law, The Cosby Show, for starters), why isn't the Eye Network drunk on the idea of unbottling vinegary Angela Channing and her clan of Chablis-swilling swine?

According to William R. Moses, who played Maggie and Chase's son, perpetual pushover Cole Gioberti, it's a question he and a former co-star recently asked themselves. "Lorenzo Lamas and I spoke of it when we ran into each other in the Napa Valley, of all places," he tel read more

Alan Thicke's Greatest Fear

Growing Pains alum Alan Thicke believes there's nothing to fear but fear itself — unless, of course, he's having a bad hair day! Perhaps that's why when the second edition of Celebrity Fear Factor airs tonight at 8 pm/ET on NBC, Thicke — who scales the side of a 36-story building — won't be cringing about the stunt, but rather, his coif.

"I had this horrible little flip in the back," the 55-year-old actor laments to TV Guide Online. "I said [to the producers], 'Can't you remove that digitally?'"

Tresses aside, Thicke is proud of his hair-raising experience. Facing youthful opponents like Stephen Baldwin and Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, he cracks, "I think my goal was simply to represent [an older] demographic. I was like the [aged football Hall read more


Spiritual guru Oprah Winfrey has signed a new deal to host The Oprah Winfrey Show through the 2005-06 season, at which point she'll bow out of the talk show arena for good, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The timing of Winfrey's swan song is significant: The 2005-06 season marks the 20th anniversary of The Oprah Winfrey Show's debut in national syndication. read more


A man ordered to stay away from actress Meg Ryan has been found competent to stand trial. John Michael Hughes — who claimed he was married to Ryan — is accused of breaking into a Malibu home he believed belonged to her. (It actually was the home of another Ryan family.) Hughes told police he broke in because the Sleepless in Seattle star forgot to leave a house key under the doormat for him. read more


America revisited Sept. 11 in huge numbers Sunday night. On the eve of the sixth-month anniversary of the terrorist attacks, CBS's harrowing Robert De Niro-hosted documentary, 9/11, notched a whopping 23.9 rating and a 33 share based on preliminary Nielsen data. As a result, CBS handily won the night. Meanwhile, firefighters who watched the virtually uninterrupted special said it was an accurate and sensitive account of the tragedy. read more

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