Today's News: Our Take


Question: When I was a kid, I ...

Question: When I was a kid, I used to watch a cartoon called Tobor, I think. Tobor is robot spelled backwards. Can you fill in the blanks for me? He was a sort of cartoon bionic man, and whenever he felt his energy getting low he would smoke a "special" cigarette he had hidden in his belt buckle. This was my favorite cartoon and I would rush home from school to catch it. How could I get my hands on a video of Tobor just to show my sons I'm not crazy? They laugh every time I tell them about it and even tease me, saying no way a cartoon character would light up. — MamaBrant

Televisionary: Oh, but light up he did, Mama B. And I continue to be a sucker for questions about shows from my childhood. Marine Boy, Ultraman, The Banana Splits and now this.

Tobor, read more

Question: I know there was a ...

Question: I know there was a short-lived TV series based on the book series of teenage detective Nancy Drew. Can you tell me more about that? Why was it cancelled and how long did it run? Great column, and thanks for your help! — Christina

Televisionary: No, no, Christina — thank you for your support. The truth is The Nancy Drew Mysteries, which debuted in February 1977, wasn't so much cancelled as it was eaten by The Hardy Boys Mysteries, with which it traded off Sunday nights on the ABC schedule.

Teen detective Nancy, originally created by a stable of writers who used the pen names Carolyn Keene for a Drew book series and Franklin W. Dixon for the Hardy novels, was the 18-year-old daughter of a famous attorney (William Schallert). She shared her dad's fascination with crime and had her own talent for getting to the bottom of a mystery.

ABC decided Nancy should share the timeslot more closely with the Boys ( read more

Question: This has been ...

Question: This has been bugging the heck out of me and my mom. What show was Jason Bateman on during the '80s? I know it was really popular, and now he's starring in some new show. Thanks. — Nicole

Televisionary: Well, Nicole, since young Mr. Bateman appeared in several shows during the instant-gratification decade, I'll just assume you're talking about The Hogan Family, which ran on NBC from March 1986 to July 1991. The series began life as Valerie, a vehicle for sitcom vet Valerie Harper (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Rhoda), who played a put-upon mom trying to balance career and domestic life.

Married to airline pilot Michael Hogan (Josh Taylor), Valerie Hogan oversaw a multi-kid household that included man-about-town teen David (Bateman) and twins Mark (Jeremy Licht) and Willie (Danny Ponce). In the fall of 1987, Harper had a falling out with the powers-that-be behind the scenes and she walked. Her chara read more

Question: I'm doing a term ...

Question: I'm doing a term paper on TV and politics and came across some stuff saying how controversial the Smothers Brothers show was. I watched some tapes at the library, and they don't seem so crazy to me. What was the big deal? Thank you. — Charles G.

Televisionary: Y'know, Charles, in my day I was one of the laziest students to ever drag down the Upper Dublin High School GPA (bottom third of my graduating class, baby — hoo-hah!). So I can't believe I'm enough of a sucker to play right into your hands. (C'mon, kid — if you're online and reading this, you can do a lot of your own research without even having to go to the library.)

Be that as it may...

First off, keep in mind that we're talking more than three decades back, when the people in Standards and Practices were far less forgiving and the networks were even more sensitive than they are today. (And let's not kid ourselves, Charles — they're still plenty sensitive.)

read more

Rivers on the Red Carpet: Sorry!


"If you've tuned in for intelligent conversation and life-altering interviews, you're in the wrong place." So confessed Joan Rivers at the outset of E! Entertainment Television's Academy Awards pre-show, which she co-hosted, as usual, with the poster child for nepotism at any level, daughter Melissa.

Just prior to that, ahem, "revelation," Joan — infamous for the numbingly inane banter and flubbed facts omnipresent in her red carpet reviews — offered an "apology" for the less-than-Pulitzer-caliber reporting which has long elicited barbs from critics. That was followed up with Melissa's own act of contrition: She said she was sorry "in advance" for her mom's offensive behavior.

And, to be sure, both Riverses worked hard to fill that celebrity-free first half hour with blue humor. After Joan mangled what surely would have been a world-class joke about irritable bowel syndrome, Melissa (forever milking motherhood) groaned about having to change both he read more

Oscar Gets Martin-ized


Where's Elizabeth Taylor when you need her? By and large as spontaneous as a State of the Union address, last night's broadcast of the 73rd Annual Academy Awards felt like it went on for longer than even production on any of the best picture nominees. (In fact, Gladiator costume designer Janty Yates spent more time making her way to the dais than Mickey Rourke's last two pictures spent in theaters.) However, as will happen any time there's a get-together of Tinseltown's beautiful people, things occasionally got pretty interesting. So, for viewers who dozed off during the ceremony — and for celebrities who attended, but forgot to bring their No-Doz — TV Guide Online presents a rundown of the wake-up calls that you might have missed.

Steve Martin's turn as the good humor man. Although the show itself seemed to drag — with all of the honorary awards getting handed out, how could it not? — none of the blame can be plac read more

TIGER FULL OF SPIRIT

It was a good weekend for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In addition to its four Oscar statuettes, the martial arts love story bagged three more trophies Saturday at the 16th Annual Independent Spirit Awards, which honor outstanding achievements in independent filmmaking. Besides being dubbed best picture, Tiger also earned plaudits for director Ang Lee and supporting actress Zhang Ziyi. Meanwhile, Ellen Burstyn was named best lead actress for Requiem for a Dream; Javier Bardem, best lead actor for Before Night Falls; and Willem Dafoe, best supporting actor for Shadow of the Vampire. And though You Can Count on Me was shut out of the winner's circle by Oscar, the Laura Linney drama picked up Spirit Awards for best screenplay (Kenneth Lonergan) and best first feature (for Lonergan and producers John Hart and Jeffrey Sharp). read more

SAD SALE

Internet auctioneer eBay has sold the jeep that John F. Kennedy Jr. drove to the airport on the night of his fatal 1999 plane crash. An anonymous Kennedy aficionado from Shreveport, La., snagged the green Wrangler Sahara for $57,100. The rather morbid purchase includes a copy of the title with Kennedy's name and old Manhattan address on it, and a photo of him sitting in the driver's seat. read more

HOT AIR

Master illusionist David Copperfield is being sued for around $15,000 by Cathy Daly, a crew member injured during a stunt rehearsal. Daly claims that a wind machine flung her body 10 feet in the air while a man-made tornado was being stirred up for the Copperfield! Tornado of Fire special, which airs live April 3 on CBS. read more

Oscar Winners Sound Off Backstage


Julia Roberts: You've just won an Academy Award for your gutsy performance as the title crusader in Erin Brockovich — now what are you going to do? No, she's not headed to Disney World, silly. She's going to the press room to answer questions from hundreds of anxious reporters from around the world. And she wasn't alone. Here is TV Guide Online's who's who of who said what mere moments — or in Russell Crowe's case, many, many moments — after striking gold.

Pollock's supporting actress winner Marcia Gay Harden revealed that her nominated leading man (and Pollock director), Ed Harris, had tried to prepare her for the agony of defeat. "A couple days ago, he said, 'Just practice saying, And the winner is... everyone else's name, and you'll be fine.' [So] when [I heard] my name, all I could think was, 'Oh my gosh.'" Overwhelmed, Harden — who told TV Guide Online that she had just signed to read more

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