Today's News: Our Take


ELLEN COMES OUT... AGAIN

Ellen DeGeneres will play a lesbian in her upcoming CBS comedy series, but her sexual orientation will not be the focus of the show. "Ellen is going to be a gay woman, but it's not going to hit [you] over the head," CBS Television President Leslie Moonves told reporters yesterday. DeGeneres's comeback vehicle — which Moonves confirms will likely air next fall, not at midseason as originally planned — will feature the comedienne as a lesbian who returns to her hometown in the Midwest. (Working title: Normal, Nevada?) read more

Question: Since I don't ...

Question: Since I don't approve of you encouraging people to sin, please settle an argument and not a bet. My question: When the The Wonder Years ended, did Kevin and Winnie end up together? My friend says yes but I thought they each went their own way. Just out of curiosity, too, what was the name of Kevin's band? (This isn't part of the argument.) Thanks. — Beth K.

Televisionary: Oh, c'mon, Beth. My bet is your argument and vice versa. You think you're not wagering, but pride is on the line and that's often more precious than, say, an all-you-can-eat shrimp dinner. As my neighbor's Girl Scout daughter said when delivering Animal Treasures, even though we'd ordered Thin Mints: "Same difference."

Anyway, if your moral compass indicates your conscience is clear, then it's my pleasure to say you may hold your head high as well. At the end of the series's run on ABC — from March 1988 to September 1993 — the adorable Gwendolyn "Winnie" Cooper ( read more

Question: What became of a ...

Question: What became of a new show called Freakylinks? It just disappeared after a couple of episodes. Thanks.

Televisionary: No mystery there, anonymous friend. The eerie Ethan Embry series seems to have, well, scared the heck out of Fox execs.

After the paranormal show spooked only critics and failed to attract an audience, the network yanked it from the schedule for the rest of the sweeps period. It's supposed to return Dec. 1, but the skeptic in me doesn't believe you should hold out hope for the show's longterm future.

Frankly, the reasons the show is struggling are no big mystery to me. If you're going to create a show with supernatural themes, you'd better choose a more impressive title than Freakylinks, which sounds like a comedy about hippies peddling bracelets.

read more

Question: Having grown up in ...

Question: Having grown up in Lancaster County, PA, "home of the Amish," I remember watching with great amusement the '80s drama (?) Aaron's Way with Merlin Olsen as an Amish father who leads his brood to the very un-Amish land of California. Unfortunately, none of my friends remember it and are questioning my sanity. Please help. — Stuck in PA Dutch

Televisionary: For all I know, Dutch, you may be utterly certifiable, but you can tell your friends that it ain't due to imagining non-existent TV shows.

Former L.A. Ram and Hall-of-Famer Olsen did indeed portray Amish dad Aaron Miller on the CBS drama, the cast of which also boasted such notable names as Belinda Montgomery (wife Sarah), Samantha Mathis (daughter Roseanne) and veteran actress Jessica Walter. As you remember, Olsen dragged his clan from their familiar Pennsylvania Dutch territory and out west to Cali after his eldest son, who'd turned his back on his Amish heritage, got h read more

HURLEY BUSTS OUT

Elizabeth Hurley reportedly is a signature away from becoming the spokesperson for the Ultimo bra, described as a revolutionary gel-filled, cleavage-enhancing bra. Scottish firm MJM International has offered the Estée Lauder model $4.2 million to peddle the undergarment. "She hasn't signed on the dotted line as of today," her rep told the New York Daily News. "She's still working for Estée Lauder." read more

Question: As a child of the ...

Question: As a child of the '50s (don't laugh), I was a big fan of Car 54. Could you tell me when the show premiered and ended? Also, if memory serves correctly, didn't comedian Joe E. Ross die shortly afterward? If you could give me any further particulars on him I would appreciate it. Thank you. — John Maloney, NYC

Televisionary: Laugh? I was a child of the '60s, John, so I'm not all that far behind you. Anyway, I'm really tired of everyone buying into this Hollywood-spawned belief that age is something to be ashamed of. I go to a lot of press conferences and trust me on this: Tyne Daly says more in one sentence than the latest hot young thing giggles out in an hour. Just my two cranky cents.

Created by The Phil Silvers Show's Nat Hiken, Car 54, Where Are You? ran on NBC from September 1961 to September 1963. But the lovable Ross, who played Officer Gunther Toody, enjoyed a longer life than that. The comic actor passed away read more

Costner's History Lesson


With his new White House drama Thirteen Days (due Dec. 20), Kevin Costner hopes to teach audiences a lesson in heroism by showing how President John F. Kennedy averted war during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. But the Oscar winner acknowledges that many Americans are more likely to be interested in who the late president slept with.

"It does distress me, but that's our human nature," he tells TV Guide Online. Still, Costner's not one to be swayed by public opinion. There's no Marilyn Monroe in this JFK pic — just a straightforward war room drama co-produced by Costner and featuring the actor in the role of presidential aide Kenny O'Donnell. "I like reading about our leaders in this way. I don't like reading about who they slept with. I like men and women who, in the face of all odds, stand for something."

Costner, who's had his share of wild ups and downs at the box office, says ticket sales are not a primary concern when he's making read more

Peter Horton's Comedy Surprise


Peter Horton was as shocked as anyone that he ended up on ABC's The Geena Davis Show. The actor — best known for dramatic roles such as Gary on thirtysomething — tells the TV Guide Channel that the opportunity to do comedy pretty much came out of nowhere.

"I wasn't looking to do another series at all," Horton says. "I was in the process of developing projects and directing. [And] I'd never really done that much comedy... I never really considered it before."

Well, that all changed when he was informed who his leading lady would be. "They told me that Geena Davis was doing it [and] that's sort of a different animal," he says. "I mean, a chance to work with Geena Davis is a chance to work with Geena Davis."

Despite woeful reviews and so-so ratings, The Geena Davis Show recently was renewed by ABC for the remainder of the season. Still, even if the sitcom makes it to a 10th read more

Felicity Cutup's Stage Fright


For three years, Robert Patrick Benedict has kept Felicity viewers in stitches as Noel's (Scott Foley) goofy, obnoxious sidekick Richard. However, behind-the-scenes of the WB drama, the actor admits that the comedy doesn't always come as that much of a relief.

"When you work on a closed set without a studio audience like this, you don't know if people are laughing or not," Benedict tells TV Guide Online. "And if they are, you don't know if they're laughing with you or at you. It's a lot of [pressure]."

Luckily, this season, producers decided it was high time that Benedict be given more to do than deliver some witty dialogue every third week. In a recent episode, Richard revealed some surprising vulnerability when he came out... as a virgin. "He's more three dimensional now as opposed to being [just] comic relief," he notes. "I was the annoying nudge down the hall. Now they're slowly developin read more

CYBILL FLEES FIRE

Cybill Shepherd's Memphis home was damaged by a small fire over the weekend. The host of the struggling relationship series Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus said a bedroom fireplace may have been the cause of the blaze, which was quickly brought under control. read more

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