Today's News: Our Take

Question: I recently bought ...

Question: I recently bought my daughter some Schoolhouse Rock tapes and only now realize how cool a lot of that music was. Who were the people behind the songs? Were they real musicians? Thanks. — Honor Roller, New Hope, Pa.

Televisionary: Why, yes, they were, Roller. And frankly, they were teachers, too. Heck, I'd still be struggling with A Duck Is a Duck, Helicopters and Gingerbread and The Dog Next Door if it wasn't for those guys and their solid Rock.

In terms of the musicians, I can cover those who did the lion's share of the tunes. The musical director was jazz pianist (as many have pointed out, much of the "rock" is actually jazz) Bob Dorough, who penned nearly all of the "Multiplication Rock" tunes and many others, and sang classics like "My Hero, Zero," "Lucky Seven Sampson" and "Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here." Lynn Ahrens started as a secretary at McCaffrey and McCall, the ad agency that created read more

Question: Can you tell me the ...

Question: Can you tell me the name of the actor who played on the TV show Stingray? No one I've spoken to seems to remember anything about it! Thanks. — Josef D.

Televisionary: Why, that was Nick Mancuso (Total Recall 2070) behind the wheel on the NBC series, which debuted in March 1986 and was cancelled in July of the next year. His character's nickname was Stingray (he drove a black '65 Corvette Stingray), but his real name was... well, he never did quite say. But he was from... um, we didn't really know that, either.

But he helped people in need and in return asked only an I.O.U. for any favor requested sometime in the future. (Full disclosure time: Many of you thought the person whose question I addressed in the third item of my Jan. 2 column meant this show and not Vengeance Unlimited — and you didn't mince words in letting me know about my "error." Tough crowd.)

Th read more


In this week's scathing cover story, the National Enquirer alleges that Three's Company alum Suzanne Somers secretly underwent liposuction in a Beverly Hills clinic on Feb. 20. The tabloid article includes photos of a supposedly post-surgery Somers — who's authored four diet books and hawked countless ThighMaster gadgets — being escorted to her car by a nurse. It also quotes sassy fitness guru Jack LaLanne as asking: "So what happened to her system? It must not be working for her! This is the extreme in hypocrisy. She's let down all her fans, admirers and customers." Somers's publicist, Sandi Mendelson, would only tell TV Guide Online: "We're really not going to make any comments. We don't want to spend any more energy on this and dignify this." read more

Question: Can you please tell ...

Question: Can you please tell me the longest-running prime-time drama and comedy? Thanks. — Maryanne

Televisionary: My pleasure, Maryanne. That's what they pay me for (and I'm hoping they'll never figure out I'd do it for free). The western drama Gunsmoke enjoyed an incredible 20-season run on CBS, debuting in September 1955 and leaving the network's schedule in September 1975.

It gets a little stickier with comedies. The Jack Benny Show and The Jackie Gleason Show are tied for that record with 15 seasons each, but there are some technical matters to address. When the Benny show first hit the TV airwaves in October 1950, it was as a sporadically scheduled, Sunday-night special on CBS. In 1952 it began airing every four weeks before becoming a bi-weekly show in 1953 and then a weekly in 1960, a frequency which held through the 1964 jump to NBC and its September 1965 exit from the airwaves.

The Gleason show, for its part, began li read more

Question: What a great site ? ...

Question: What a great site — I was just surfing and there you were! My question is: What was the name of the show that featured one woman (Alexandra Bastedo?) and two guys who had either been involved in some sort of accident or had been to Tibet. They could communicate with each other by ESP or some such thing. I used to be fascinated by that show. If you would allow me another question: Whatever happened to the guy who played Adam Troy in Adventures in Paradise? (Now that's dating me.) Regards — Jennie, Brisbane, Australia

Televisionary: Okay, Jennie, you may think I'm answering both questions because you buttered me up, but it's really that I'm darned tickled to get mail from so far away. (I doubt I could deliver the sound thwack to the "send" button required to fire e-mail halfway around the planet, so I'm impressed by the effort.)

Ms. Bastedo starred alongside Stuart Damon and William Gaunt as The Champions, a supe read more

Jude Law's Gun Scare

In his new film Enemy at the Gates (opening Friday), The Talented Mr. Ripley's Jude Law stars as legendary Russian sniper Vassili Zaitsev, a soldier whose skill at shooting German officers during World War II was the stuff of legend. Ironically, the actor — who never picked up a firearm in his life — admits the role proved to be a hands-on lesson in gun control.

"It scared me how easy it is [to shoot]," Law tells TV Guide Online. "Guns are very well designed to be terribly straight-forward. You pick them up, point them and squeeze."

To play the expert sharpshooter, Law spent two months training using live rounds. "I started at 100 meters and you just blow things apart," he explains. "Then they took me down under the trenches to get the feeling of having shots whizzing over my head, and I heard the sonic boom. It's terrifying!"

While Law may have been a combat novice, his co-star Ed Harris — who plays the German assassin read more


Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon director Ang Lee may want to make room on his mantle for a little guy named Oscar. The filmmaker won the Directors Guild of America's prestigious Outstanding Directorial Achievement in a Feature Film award for the Chinese-language crossover smash. In 53 years, DGA winners have in all but four instances gone on to win the best director Oscar. Translation: Steven Soderbergh is in big trouble. read more


A WB publicist is denying a report in Time magazine that the network's low-rated soap spoof Grosse Pointe has been cancelled. "It is currently not on the schedule but has not been cancelled," the rep tells TV Guide Online. "The show will be considered along with everything else for next season." Meanwhile, diehard fans hoping to save the show from getting the axe have been mailing bars of soap (get it?) to WB execs. If you're in a lather over the show's possible demise, drop a bar in the mail to the WB Network, 4000 Warner Blvd., Building 34R, Burbank, CA 91522. read more

Friends Breaks Racial Divide

NBC's Friends — often criticized for its lack of racial diversity — will be getting a little more colorful this Thursday. Gabrielle Union, star of last year's hit cheerleading flick Bring It On and a resident of CBS's now-defunct medical drama City of Angels, will pop up as a love interest for Ross (David Schwimmer)... and Joey (Matt LeBlanc).

"I'm this random girl that they both find attractive, and I date both of them — unbeknownst to the other," Union tells TV Guide Online, adding that her character moves into the neighborhood and catches the boys' eyes. "Ross comes along first and says, 'Oooh — hot chick.' He asks me out, and then Joey comes around and asks me out."

Though no fuss was made of the racial difference between Union and her leading men, the actress still couldn't help feeling like the 'black sheep' in the Friends family. Keeping an eye read more

Ousted Survivor: "Jerri's a B#@*&!"

Jeff Varner, the conniving Internet project manager who became the latest castaway to get booted from Survivor: The Australian Outback, seems to agree with the rest of America about contestant Jerri Manthey.

Appearing on CBS's The Early Show Friday morning, the 34-year-old Internet project manager from Port Washington, N.Y., admitted that as he watches the episodes play out, he can understand why Manthey is getting such a frosty reception with viewers. "In the game, she is a bitch and I can't stand her... and she needed to go," he groaned, adding that had he and his fellow Kuchas seen her true colors, they would have targeted her at Tribal Council instead of innocent hottie Colby. "She sat there with two votes beside me, and we had no idea.

"The only time we ever knew anything about Ogakor is when we came [together for] the [Immunity] Challenges," added Varner. "And we just could sort of gauge their body language. And Jerri was alw read more

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