Today's News: Our Take


Question: What exactly is a ...

Question: What exactly is a pilot episode? Are the first episode of a show and a pilot the same thing? There's a small wager involved between my brother and me. He says that for some shows a pilot and first episode are separate entities, but I say they are the same thing. Who's right? Thanks — Daniel S.

Televisionary: Though the networks and studios would love for you to be right on this one (since it would be cheaper), Daniel, your brother wins the bet.

Here's how it works: Studios and producers pitch a slew of ideas to a network. If a network likes an idea enough, it goes to script and then to pilot, moving through the development process the whole time (notes, feedback, casting suggestions, etc.). The studio and network each pay for a share of the pilot, which serves as a sample episode of what the series will be.

The pilot is often tested in front of an audience and, based on that and other factors, the network decides how many episodes to order, if an read more

Question: Who played Ellery ...

Question: Who played Ellery Queen on television?

Televisionary: The mystery here is which incarnation you're talking about. However, as your tireless servant, I'll provide all the details I've got in my usual tedious fashion.

TV's first Ellery Queen, the mystery writer who helped his police inspector dad solve crimes, was played by Richard Hart when The Adventures of Ellery Queen debuted on the DuMont network in 1950. After Hart suffered a fatal heart attack early the next year, Lee Bowman stepped in and the show jumped to ABC until its demise in late '52.

Hugh Marlowe, who played Queen on a radio show, brought the character back to the small screen two years later in a run of syndicated TV-movies before Lee Philips stepped in for the latter half of them.

Actor Jim Hutton (father of Timothy) played the sleuth in NBC's '70s version, which debuted in September 1975 and left the air a year later. (An additional trivia read more

SHORT CUTS

Singer Toni Braxton wed Mint Condition's Keri Lewis in a private outdoor ceremony Saturday in Atlanta... NBC's telecast of the first XFL championship game Saturday was watched by a paltry 1.7 million households, almost ensuring that the network will end its partnership with the league next season. — Michael Ausiello read more

SLAYER SHOCKER

In an unprecedented turnabout, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will move from the WB to rival network UPN this fall — and its sister series Angel may follow it there. After months of intense negotiations, the WB ultimately refused to cave in to the financial demands of Buffy's producer, 20th Century Fox, paving the way for UPN to snatch it up. According to Variety, the deal "represents the first time in modern TV history that a hit series has jumped networks solely over economic issues." The home of Moesha and WWF Smackdown! has ordered 44 installments of Buffy to air over two years at a per-episode price of $2.33 million. The UPN pact also includes a two-year pickup for the Buffy spinoff Angel if the WB decides to cancel it — a move that now appears likely. read more

FREDDY GETS CRUSHED

Even an 11th hour publicity stunt/pregnancy prank on The Tonight Show proved to be no help to Tom Green's gross-out comedy Freddy Got Fingered. The dismally reviewed pic debuted at No. 5 at the box office with an icky $7.3 million. The news was equally bad for Aussie actor Paul Hogan, whose critically savaged Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles opened at No. 4 with a tepid $8 million. Meanwhile, thanks to a boost in its theater count and repeat viewings by women, Bridget Jones's Diary jumped two places to No. 1 in its second weekend of release. The acclaimed British romantic comedy — starring Renée Zellweger, Hugh Grant and Colin Firth — grossed $10.5 million for the Friday-to-Sunday period. After three weekends at the top, Spy Kids slipped to No. 2 with $10.2 million. The film's 24-day total stands at $86 million. The Morgan Freeman thriller Along Came a Spider was the No. 3 film with read more

IT'S OFFICIAL

Elisabeth Rohm — best known for her roles on TNT's Bull and the WB's Angel — will replace Angie Harmon as the Assistant District Attorney on NBC's Law & Order next season, a show rep now confirms. Rohm's character is described as "an extremely gifted, intelligent and aggressive young prosecutor with Harvard Law Review on her r&#233sum&#233 and aspirations beyond the District Attorney's office." She'll debut in the show's 12th season premiere in the fall. read more

Sly's Driven Personality


Sylvester Stallone makes other actors nervous. Kaopectate nervous. Forget-your-lines nervous. During their first days on the set of Stallone's Driven — which hits theaters Friday — up-and-comers Kip Pardue (Remember the Titans) and Til Schweiger fretted more about meeting the megastar than surviving their intense racing scenes.

"For the first three weeks, it was terrifying," Pardue admits of the Rocky star, who wrote Driven and plays Joe Tanto, a veteran driver who mentors Pardue. "And then it got to the point where he was Sly, and he was a buddy." Echoes Schweiger: "I was nervous like hell."

Stallone understands the weight his name carries, though he's uncomfortable with it. "It has not settled in and it's odd," he says. "You walk in the room and you think they're, like, contemporaries..." Still, he knows those "contemporaries" aren't looking at him the same way he looks at them. "It's the same thing [as] when I w read more

AIR RAGE

R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck is out on bail after being arrested Saturday over an alleged air rage incident on a British Airways flight from Seattle to London. At a preliminary hearing today in London, Buck was charged with causing criminal damage to the plane, disobeying an aircraft commander, being drunk while on board and two counts of assaulting cabin crew. "I am very sorry for the incident and, of course, very embarrassed about the whole thing," the musician said in a statement. R.E.M. is scheduled to play at the South Africa Freedom Day Concert in London's Trafalgar Square on Sunday. read more

Love and War on Dundee Set


Survivor's Alicia and Kimmi and Colby and Keith weren't the first twosomes to do battle Down Under. Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles heroine Linda Kozlowski reveals that she and co-star-slash-husband Paul Hogan clashed when they initially met prior to filming 1986's Crocodile Dundee.

Kozlowski — who has played journalist Sue Charlton in all three Dundee movies — tells TV Guide Online that she found Hogan "very chilly and unfriendly" at the film's read-through in Australia. "Afterwards, he left and I went to the producer and I said 'Can I talk to you for a minute? The leading man, Paul Hogan... he's not really friendly.'"

Kozlowski would eventually see the error of her ways — "[Paul's] a little shy in real life" — but it was too late. "I think he was reprimanded," she recalls, adding that Hogan eventually reaped his revenge. "He said [to himself], 'I'll show you — I'll marry you!'" read more

WILL BUTLER DO IT?

The name's Butler, Gerard Butler. The little-known Scottish actor — best known for last year's Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000 — is reportedly the frontrunner to succeed Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. According to the Daily Record, producer Barbara Broccoli has set up a meeting with Butler to discuss the role. Brosnan's contract, the newspaper reports, expires after his fourth Bond pic — which goes into production in January. read more

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