Today's News: Our Take

Bernie Mac's Kiddie Crisis

Fox's brash new family satire The Bernie Mac Show (premiering Wednesday at 8:30 pm/ET) may be polarizing critics, but few would argue that the original King of Comedy struck gold casting his scene-stealing co-stars: "Adopted" whippersnappers Camille Winbush, Jeremy Suarez and Dee Dee Davis.

"We looked at some talented kids," the comic-turned-actor tells TV Guide Online, "but the individuals who made it earned it." Adds Kellita Smith, who plays Mac's wife on screen and off: "They are amazing. They are [wise] beyond their years."

But will they be sticking around? Given Bernie Mac's clever premise — reluctant parents (Mac and Smith) take in his drug-addicted sister's three read more

X Exec: "Mulder and Scully Had Sex"

Diehard X-Files fans are still recovering from last May's shocking season finale, which found Mulder and Scully sealing their eight-year-long (frustratingly platonic) partnership with a humdinger of a kiss. Further setting X-Philes' hearts aflutter was the strong inference that the baby boy Scully (Gillian Anderson) had just delivered was fathered by David Duchovny's UFO chasin' alter ego. But now, on the eve of the show's two-part ninth-season premiere (Part 1 airs Sunday at 9 pm/ET on Fox), reality has begun to set in: Mulder's gone (Duchovny's off making movies), leaving Scully nursing a broken heart — not to mention one downright spooky tot. And if that wasn't bad enough, the single mom also has to contend with the warrior princess herself — read more

AbFab Duo Just Says No

The ads promoting the new six-episode season of Britain's campy comedy import Absolutely Fabulous (Monday, 9 pm/ET on Comedy Central) proclaim that "Sin is in, Sweetie." But as the show's creator and star tells it, two of Patsy and Edina's favorite bad habits are out.

"I just didn't have quite the desire to smoke as much," writer-director Jennifer Saunders (Edina) tells TV Guide Online. "People kept saying to me, 'Do you want a cigarette?' In the last [season], I remember being desperate to smoke all the time, and this time I just felt, 'I can't be bothered to smoke anymore.' Also, the same with the drinking. The drinking is kind of 'By the way' instead of so highlighted."

Fans of the man-hungry, pill-popping misfits need not worry: The tag-team addicts didn't lose any of their trademark edge during AbFab's five-year hiatus. Patsy (read more

Gloomy Forecast for ER Star

Storm clouds are gathering over Laura Innes's ER alter ego Dr. Kerry Weaver — and we're not referring to the secret surrounding her sexual orientation. Next week's action-packed episode — "Partly Cloudy, Chance of Rain" — finds the stern doc caught in the middle of a raging thunderstorm.

"I'm stuck in an ambulance with a pregnant woman who's been stabbed," the Emmy-nominated actress-director explains to TV Guide Online. "We're trapped by live electrical wires that have fallen down. It was very intense and I got to be an action lady for a while."

As thrilling as the elaborate sequence was to shoot, Innes concedes that the special effects were toll-taking. "I did hate the rain part," she sighs. "You're standing out in the cold and you hear them say for the 75th time, 'Start the rain machines!' You think, 'No, please!' A crew member cam read more

Max Exposure for Northern Star

In 1994, Rob Morrow shocked many by exiting the quirky drama Northern Exposure, for which he had earned two Emmy nods. Since then, aside from a role in Robert Redford's Quiz Show, he has kept a relatively low profile, something which is about to change as the actor-director delivers projects to the small, big and really big screens.

For starters, there's Maze (opening Friday in 10 cities), a film that originally premiered on the Starz network. The drama — which finds Morrow serving as both director and star — tells the tale of a brilliant artist, afflicted with Tourette's syndrome, who is conflicted by feelings for his best bud's girl.

"I initiated this film about six years ago, and turned d read more

Island Guru Trashes Spy TV

Here's a shocker: Even the brainchild behind Fox's raunchy and critically reviled Temptation Island has standards. Executive producer Chris Cowan tells TV Guide Online that when it comes to deplorable reality shows, one program stands head and shoulders above the rest: NBC's modest summer hidden-camera hit Spy TV.

"Spy TV sucks," he seethes. "That show is awful." However, while critics thumbed their noses at the series on moral grounds — TV Guide's Matt Roush griped that "Spy TV finds sadistic new spins on hidden-camera high jinks" — Cowan takes issue with it on a creative level. "[The producers] don't understand where the joke is. They have such an opportunity; the concepts are so good. [But then] they're ready to pull the joke and they either reveal it too soon or reveal it too flat. They didn't get enough complexity in the joke, they don't know where the laugh is, there's way too much voiceover, they don't tr read more

Soul Food Hunk's Gay Kiss!

Despite its veneer of political correctness, it's clear homophobia is alive and well in Hollywood, as indie writer/director Patrik-Ian Polk discovered while trying to cast Punks. He needed a strong, handsome boy-next-door type for his debut film about the lives of black and Hispanic gay men in Los Angeles, and almost every "semi-well-known" candidate turned down the offer — until he found tasty Rockmond Dunbar of Showtime's Soul Food.

"I kept running into this road block with actors who didn't want to do a gay kiss," says Polk, who declines to name the reluctant thesps. "It was really a big issue. Everybody loved the character, and they loved the script. I had meetings and went through a nice number of actors [who] did not want to do the kiss, and I wouldn't change it."

It wasn't until a week before filming that they turned to the relatively unknown Dunba read more

Question: Who played the ...

Question: Who played the mayor on the television series That's Life? My husband and I have a large sum bet that it was Colin Higgins, the actor from the movie 9 to 5. I'm keeping my fingers crossed — I could really use the money! Thanks. — Wellie, Phoenixville, Pa.

Televisionary: Sorry, Wellie, but now you can really use it. Time to uncross those fingers and dig them into the old wallet because the actor who plays the mayor on CBS's That's Life is Peter Michael Goetz, not Mr. Higgins.

You may also have caught Goetz on The West Wing, The Practice, Gilmore Girls, Family Law or in guest spots on a slew of other shows. While you're mourning the loss of your much-needed cash, you might read more

Emmet Otter Is Coming to Town

This year, when Santa Claus reviews kids' holiday wish lists, he'll find more than just the usual pleas for Sony PlayStations. The DVD release of Jim Henson's 1977 classic, Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas, means the honky-tonkin' puppets known as the Riverbottom Gang also will be in high demand.

"Comparing perennial to perennial, Emmet has the longer life," offers Michael Polis, senior VP of marketing at Jim Henson Co. "Every holiday season, you'll end up seeing Emmet Otter in some form, which helps to boost the franchise."

Jugband follows the down-on-their-luck Otter clan, who sacrifice in hopes of making their holiday a little merrier: Musician Emmet ruins Ma's washtub to make a washtub bass, while Ma hocks Emmet's tools to buy a pretty frock — each is secretly scheming to win their local talent show and use the prize money to buy the other a "real Christmas gift."

read more

NYPD Blue Mystery: Is Danny Dead?

When NYPD Blue kicks off its ninth season tonight (9-11 pm/ET), one of last May's biggest cliffhangers will be resolved: What happened to Rick Schroder's Det. Danny Sorenson? A source close to the show confirms widespread speculation that with Schroder off the ABC cop drama, Blue producers decided to send his troubled character on a stairway to heaven. "They find his body decomposed," the insider whispers to TV Guide Online. "So, apparently, a long time has passed since he died."

Asked about the DOA chatter, executive producer Bill Clark reveals only that the Silver Spoons alum will definitely not appear on the show this season. Why? "I think that would have been a bit of a disservice to Mark-Paul [Gosselaar]," he explains, referring to the former read more

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