Today's News: Our Take

Question: Please help me win ...

Question: Please help me win a bet. What was the name of the actress who played Gina, the P.A.A. who dated Martinez on NYPD Blue around 1997? Thanks so much. — Karen W.

Televisionary: Well, Karen, perhaps it's time I start nagging people again about an old Televisionary rule: If you're going to write me about a bet, I insist on knowing what's at stake. A steak dinner? A paycheck? Spill it.

Nevertheless, I'll tell you that P.A.A. (principal — or sometimes police — administrative assistant) Gina Colon, who began dating Det. James Martinez (Nicholas Turturro) shortly after showing up on the job and eventually had his baby, was played by Lourdes Benedicto. If you miss the lady, look for her on Dawson's Creek as a troubled barmaid/love interest for the chronically irritating Pacey (Joshua Jackson).

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Leary's Most Challenging Job

When ABC pushed back the sophomore season premiere of The Job from September to January, naturally, there was speculation that the network had lost confidence in Denis Leary's critically-acclaimed cop comedy. But according to Leary, the Gotham-based series owed the delay to Sept. 11, not the disappointing ratings that plagued its debut season.

"We shoot on-location in downtown New York," the show's creator and star tells TV Guide Online. "A week [after the attacks] we knew there was no way we were going to make it on the air until January — at least. Which in retrospect is a good thing, because I had neither the time nor the interest to watch something new."

The unexpected hiatus was no break for Leary, however. He spent his downtime raising $1.2 million for the The Fund for New York's Bravest — a branch of the Leary Fire read more

Angry Inch Shrinks to Fit Small Screen

These days, John Cameron Mitchell thinks a lot about acceptance. It's at the heart of the actor-writer's directorial debut, the cathartic musical travelogue Hedwig and the Angry Inch. And, as the movie hits video-store shelves tomorrow, it also will decide the ultimate profitability of his creation. Are Middle American audiences planning a Blockbuster night going to embrace the main character, an East German transsexual rock singer, when even she has trouble doing so?

The Sundance Film Festival prize winner certainly hopes so. "When you see something like The Rocky Horror Picture Show on cable all the time or on Broadway, it makes me think that people will remember that the details of the story are really just that — details," the 37-year-old native of El Paso, Tex., tells TV Guide Online. "The more specific read more

Will The West Wing Tackle AIDS?

At a recent World AIDS Day event — where Emmy-winning West Wing director Paris Barclay was honored as one of 20 black "Heroes in the Struggle" — this question arose: Might his issue-oriented series ever address the impact of AIDS on African-Americans?

"That would be a great storyline," said Barclay's pal, Dulé Hill, who plays presidential aide Charlie Young on the show. "I think it's something we should bring to [creator] Aaron Sorkin. I would like to see that."

Scoffed Barclay: "Aaron ignores everything that doesn't come from his own mind. I found the best strategy is to go to [writer/producer] read more

Julia Stiles: She Loves NY!

Here's one more name you can add to the list of celebs touting their Big Apple pride: Julia Stiles. The Save the Last Dance actress — a native Gotham girl and a Columbia University coed — rejoices, "More than ever, [I'm] proud to be a New Yorker!"

About the tragic events of Sept. 11, Stiles confesses to TV Guide Online that she was shaken up over the destruction of her hometown. Stiles, whose parents live near the former site of the World Trade Center, was touched on a very personal level. "I grew up in that neighborhood, and seeing all the news footage and recognizing every street corner was really terrifying and upsetting," she sighs. "I went back to the block that I grew up on and not seeing the Twin Towers outside my window right down the street was really weird."

You'd think the devastation would drive the starlet straight to the West Coast read more

Maybe It's Her Big Break!

No maybes about it: Young Reagan Dale Neis — star of the WB's Friday night sitcom Maybe It's Me — has made it in Hollywood. And no one's more surprised than the 19-year-old actress herself.

"I sort of figured that my career would start with tiny bit parts like I was getting, which was two lines here and two lines there," the onetime Malcolm in the Middle guest star tells TV Guide Online. "My next big prayer was that I could get up to five lines in an episode. I was totally willing to work my way to whatever I ended up getting, and then Maybe It's Me [came out of nowhere]."

Of course, it's possible the show's casting director initially wanted to meet with the Alberta, Canada native just to get the inside scoop on her catchy moniker. "[In America], everybody wonders if I was named after [former] President [Ronald Reagan]," she e read more

Stockard Channing Loses It!

Anyone who witnessed West Wing First Lady Abigail Bartlet's reaction to her husband-in-chief's decision to run for a second term earlier this season knows that Stockard Channing has that whole psycho thing down pat. But if you thought she was mad then, wait until you see her lose control in The Business of Strangers, her new indie, opening Friday in New York and Los Angeles.

In the film, the Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actress plays a high-powered female executive who goes into meltdown mode while cooped up in a hotel room with Julia Stiles. "I had to get down and dirty and ugly and strange," she tells TV Guide Online. "I knew I had to go someplace I'd never really [gone] before and read more

Gillian Anderson: The Cause Is Out There

Shorn of her skulking Scully character, X-Files star Gillian Anderson seems prone to giggles. At a Dec. 2 Hollywood benefit for troubled gay teens, Anderson — who was co-hosting the evening's live auction with Teri Garr — lost it when she announced that bids would be "increasingly mental," as opposed to "incremental."

But the big laughs came when bidding for a walk-on role on HBO's mortuary drama Six Feet Under commenced. "We have a lot of dead people on our show. If anybody ever asks you if you want to be a dead person, don't do it," Anderson cracked. "You have to stop breathing for long periods of time." Seeing the mock disapproval on Garr's face — after all, her job was to sell the auction items — she co read more

Tom Cruise on That Other Cruz

At the Manhattan press junket for Vanilla Sky, Cameron Crowe's new romantic thriller (opening Dec. 14), Pen&#233lope Cruz was chatting up a room full of reporters when Tom Cruise appeared in the doorway calling, 'Hola, Hola!' Cruz then gasped, jumped from her seat and bolted from the room to follow her beau down the hall. She sheepishly returned moments later to apologize for exiting without a good-bye.

Apparently, such is the whimsical real life/reel life romance of the handsome Vanilla stars. But contrary to widely-circulated rumors, Cruise insists they didn't become intimately involved during the film's production. Says he: "I wasn't falling in read more

SU2 Star Isn't Your Garden-Variety Gnome

Standing just 4'0" tall, Danny Woodburn can state with great certainty that there are, in fact, small roles. Since the actor broke into showbiz a decade ago, his career has been full of 'em, from Tony the Elf in 1996's Jingle All the Way to Kramer's diminutive rival, Mickey Abbott, on Seinfeld. However, when Special Unit 2 offered him a part that was a little supernatural — that of Carl the Gnome — he expressed a few big concerns.

"I had some trepidation originally," he confirms for TV Guide Online. "But I justified [coming onboard by reminding myself] that I was not going to be the only one in makeup. There are creatures-of-the-week from all different walks of life, in all shapes and sizes.

"Plus, I realized that this character is sort o read more

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