Today's News: Our Take

Angel Delivers a Devil of a Time

While Emmy's snub of Buffy the Vampire Slayer brings most critics' blood to a boil, the fact that those same reviewers often overlook the supernatural series' sublime spinoff, Angel, makes the rest of us reach for our stakes. Since its 1999 premiere, Angel has solidified into an hour of quality television that rivals — and this past season arguably even outshone — its sire. In fact, if the final WB episode of Buffy (before its fall transfer to UPN) is an "instant classic" — and, frankly, it is — then the four-episode fairy tale with which Angel rounded out the year is at least a mini-masterpiece. So, who does a blood-sucking crimefighter have to bite around here to get some respect? Executive producer David Greenwalt doesn't know. "We could do an all-nude episode," he sighs to TV Guide Online, "and we'd still read more

Question: I am an art teacher ...

Question: I am an art teacher and I am interested in knowing if there is a book or other material available containing examples of the many sun variations done on CBS's Sunday Morning over the years. It would be a great help in teaching radial designs to children. Thank you. — Susan B.

Televisionary: Sorry Susan, but according to CBS they can't publish such a collection (and plenty of people have asked) because they don't own the rights to most of the suns they use. Many of the funky solar images you see on the show come from producers who happen upon items at flea markets or in museums, but many others are created by local artists and fans of the show. Either way, they're not for the network to use beyond what you see each week.

I was going to suggest that you contact the engineers at Goodyear for help in radial design, but it's just that kind of crack that got my ears boxed and knuckles thwacked in grade school. So the best real suggestion I can offe read more

Baywatch Beauty's Raunchy Rat Cameo

Ever wonder how much a night with former Baywatch babe Brandy Ledford might go for? Well, at least one lucky gent will get the answer to that very question this weekend... sort of. "I play a hooker with a heart of gold," she tells TV Guide Online of her memorable big-screen appearance in Rat Race. "Is there any other kind?"

The movie, which wrapped before Ledford stepped into her starring role on the Sci Fi Channel series The Invisible Man (airing Fridays at 8 pm/ET), is "a loose, loose remake of It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World," explains Ledford, "combined with a little bit of Cannonball Run."

Of course, neither of those zany flicks featured scenes even remotely similar to the one in which Ledford finds herself immersed in Rat Race (opening Friday). " read more

Question: On the Batman TV ...

Question: On the Batman TV series, every Batman and Robin wanted to slide down the Batpole, they would flip up the head of a bust just outside the hidden door. Who was the bust of? — Kevin

Televisionary: Holy setup, Kevin! Why do I get the feeling you know the answer to this and are simply trying to stump me? I usually avoid such questions because I like to help out those who really need to know something, but this time I'll bite since I grew up with that show and have a soft spot for it.

To gain access to the Batcave, either Bruce Wayne (Adam West) or Dick Grayson (Burt Ward) would push a button in a bust of William Shakespeare.

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Question: I've read some ...

Question: I've read some columns where you helped people find out what songs are from TV commercials and I have two requests for you. The first one: On the Lee Dungarees commercial, is that Johnny Cash singing the song? I know the question sounds sort of stupid, but it's been bugging me for weeks. The second one is, what band sings the song for that Mercedes C coupe commercial? The only lyrics I know are about a guy singing about driving in his car and I really like the song. Thanks! — Salom

Televisionary: I exist to serve, Salom. Now, to answer your second question first because I'm a contrary kind of guy, the Mercedes song you seek is Geggy Tah's "Whoever You Are" and it's from their 1996 album Sacred Cow. (Before you ask, the name comes from how founding members' Greg Kurstin and Tommy Jordan's little sisters mispronounced their respective names.)

As far as the Lee Dungarees ads go, that's The Dave Matthews Band's Juni read more

Question: What is the name of ...

Question: What is the name of the TV show with Becca and Corky? — Suzie B.

Televisionary: That was the groundbreaking ABC drama Life Goes On, which ran from September 1989 to August 1993. The first network show built around a character with Down syndrome (and one that featured an actor who had the condition to boot), it focused on the Thatcher family and borrowed its title from the classic Beatles song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," a version of which served as the theme song.

In the series' early days, Life Goes On revolved chiefly around the challenges facing 18-year-old son Charles (Christopher Burke), better known as Corky. Corky "mainstreamed" over from special education to high school when the show kicked off and, in doing so, added a new wrinkle to the daily life of younger sister Becca (ER's Kellie Martin), who was now his classmate. Overseeing the homefront were dad Drew (Bill Smitrovi read more

NYPD Gets Red-Hot and Blue

NYPD Blue has long had one of the more racially diverse ensembles on television. But the ABC police drama isn't content to rest on its laurels — and, with the way that its revolving door of cast members keeps swinging, it couldn't do so for long, anyway. So, this season, the squad room will be growing by one when a badge is issued to an additional member of a minority group.

"We wanted to have another female," co-creator/executive producer Steven Bochco tells TV Guide Online. "She'll be a Puerto Rican detective." Word is, the character will be partnered with Charlotte Ross's Det. McDowell.

Lest the powers that be resort to staking out Charo's home to cast the plum part, we've compiled a list of unusual suspects that we think it would be criminal to overlook. — Charlie Mason with Michael Ausiello

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Sopranos Son Among the Outlaws

Relative newcomer Will McCormack — who appears in the new Western throwback American Outlaws (opening Friday) — had very little research to do for his recurring role as Dr. Melfi's (Lorraine Bracco) son on The Sopranos. In fact, he hardly had to act at all!

"My mom is a shrink, and lives in New Jersey, and is Italian, and looks alarmingly a lot like Lorraine Bracco," explains McCormack, the brother of actress Mary McCormack (Private Parts). "Plus, the first day I shot for the show was in Verona, N.J., where my father's from. So there's some serendipity around The Sopranos [for me]."

The up-and-comer admits that he's in the dark as to what role — if any — he'll play in the read more

Six Feet Under Starlet Breaks Out

With all the flawless young faces and midriff-baring vixens cluttering TV screens, it's refreshing to watch Lauren Ambrose play Claire Fisher, the shrewd, hearse-driving, acid-tongued teen of HBO's hit black comedy, Six Feet Under. As the youngest and most complex member of the Fisher clan — a dysfunctional family running a funeral home in Los Angeles — Ambrose nails the confusion and fragility of adolescent angst while struggling with a life surrounded by death.

"I love Claire," Ambrose tells TV Guide Online. "She's not involved in the family business, but she grew up in that very bizarre setting. As a result, she's had to raise herself in a lot of ways. She's got an interesting perspective on the world."

How does Ambrose's upbringing compare to Claire's? "I've lived through a lot of typical teen things, so it's just a matter of pulling them up," says the 24-year-old Connec read more

Jason Biggs's Just Desserts

It's been two years since American Pie was served up to moviegoers, and Jason Biggs continues to be haunted by the now-legendary scene in which his character makes love to an apple pastry. In fact, when filmmaker Kevin Smith asked the 23-year-old New Jersey native to appear in his new comedy, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back (due Aug. 22), he wanted him to parody his kinky past.

"It's sort of a caricature. I'm trying to deal with being the 'Pie Guy,' which is sort of what my life has been like," Biggs tells TV Guide Online of his cameo, in which he plays himself. "For the last two years I've been known as the 'Pie Guy.' So it's sort of fun to laugh at it."

Well, in the much-ant read more

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