Today's News: Our Take

Beware the Anti-Ed

C'mon, folks. Cut John Slattery some slack. It's not his fault that his new Ed character, testy high school principal Dennis Martino, has stolen away teacher Carol Vessey from the romantic comedy's title sweetheart. He is simply an actor performing the material that he is given. Of course, he doesn't have to enjoy it quite so much.

"People always say, 'Oh, we saw you on Ed — you're kind of a [expletive],'" he tells TV Guide Online, clearly tickled. "But I'd much rather play an a--hole than somebody that you're worrying about whether or not [viewers] are going to like you. That's the kiss of death."

That being the case, Slattery must always love his work — trouble seems to follow wherever he gets hired. On the short-lived post-WWII drama Homefront, he played Al Kahn, a smooth-talking labor leader who knocked up the series read more

Ryan Phillippe: Reluctant Pinup

What red-blooded American male would complain about being a teen lust object? Well, there's Ryan Phillippe, for one. A creature of contradiction, the pouty-lipped actor has always yearned to be taken seriously — while paying the bills with splashy, campy teen fare like Cruel Intentions and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Now, at the ripe old age of 27, he's edging toward making peace with the consequences of his career decisions.

"When I was 23 and 24, they wanted to associate me with these teen things, and I felt like, 'I can do more than that!'" says Phillippe. "It gets to be a little frustrating because throughout my career, I've [also] done independent films. What I end up having to do is make those decisions that prove [my abilities] to people. The movies I've done in the past three years are quite diff read more

Question: Could you please ...

Question: Could you please tell me and my lunch buddies who played the guy in the yellow raincoat on Laugh-In who rode a tricycle that usually tipped over? My friends say it was Arte Johnson. I say it was just about anyone, since you couldn't see their face. Am I wrong or was this one of the ensemble players? Please let me know soon; my trivia kingdom may be crumbling. — B.D. English, Freedom, Pa.

Televisionary: Your trivia kingdom stands strong, B.D. For the definitive answer on this I went straight to the source, former Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In executive producer George Schlatter, who said the wacky Johnson was but one of the people who donned the slicker for the oft-repeated tricycle pratfall. According to Schlatter, it was often Johnson, castmate Alan Sues or a variet read more

Question: Who was the new ...

Question: Who was the new lady lawyer character on The Guardian last night (the one with the dark hair who is his new boss)? She looked very familiar, but I could not remember what other shows or movies I saw her in recently. Thanks for your help. — Kenneth F.

Televisionary: Louisa "LuLu" Archer, the new boss lady overseeing attorney Nick Fallin (Simon Baker) at his Legal Aid gig on the hit CBS show, is played by Wendy Moniz. If she looks familiar, you most likely caught her during her gig on The Guiding Light or during the latter days of the recently retired CBS series Nash Bridges.

And before anyone else asks, the arch-rival trying to poach the top talent at Nick's law firm in that episode was played by James B. Sikking, whom you probably remember best from his turns as Lt. Howard Hunter on the classic Hill Street Blues and as Dr. read more

Question: On the '60s show ...

Question: On the '60s show Run for Your Life, why was Ben Gazzara running? — Myrna U.

Televisionary: Why, to squeeze as much living into the short time he supposedly had left, Myrna.

On the show, which launched on NBC in September 1965, successful attorney Paul Bryan (Gazzara) was given two years to live before an incurable disease killed him, so he closed up shop and hit the road in search of fun and deeper meaning. Did he find it? Well, when the series ended in 1968, Bryan had been galavanting around the world for three years and was still going strong, so he obviously found something.

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NYPD Blue Recast Crisis!

Producers of NYPD Blue are hoping the third time's the charm when it comes to casting the show's new female detective. After two unsuccessful attempts at filling the role — first with newcomer Rosa Arredondo and next with Beverly Hills, 90210 grad Vanessa Marcil — they've now recruited big-screen siren Jacqueline Obradors to play Latina cop Rita Ortiz. The star of Six Days, Seven Nights and Tortilla Soup, who debuts in tonight's episode (at 9 ET on ABC), tells TV Guide Online that she's relieved to have made it this far.

"Let's put it this way, I didn't sleep a wink the night before my first day," she admits. "I had to get up at t read more

Question: Last night the ...

Question: Last night the dinner discussion was Pee-wee's Playhouse and we were trying to recall who was who on the show. We remembered that Samuel L. Jackson was the cowboy, but was he also the King of Cartoons? Phil Hartman was the Genie, but who made up the rest of the cast? Also, wasn't the show cancelled after Paul Reubens's arrest in Florida? It was a great show (except the cartoons were rather dumb, in our opinion). Thanks. — Laura F., St. Louis, Mo.

Televisionary: One can only hope your food was better than your memory, Laura, for your facts are just slightly off (though I commend you on your taste — the show was indeed great and I'm betting you folks make for an entertaining dining experience).

Since there were way too many characters and cast members for my fingers (and your eyes) to cover in this column, I'll just hit the most recognizable players. First off, you've fallen victim to the same phenomenon that, according to re read more

Michelle Pfeiffer's Mommy Woes

In I Am Sam — in limited release Dec. 28 — Michelle Pfeiffer plays a gorgeous, no-nonsense lawyer who pulls out all the stops to help a mentally-challenged man (Sean Penn) retain custody of his seven-year-old daughter. Problem is, she can't seem to balance her own career and family. Naturally, this begs the question: How does Pfeiffer handle such a juggling act in real life?

"Oh, perfectly," she jests to TV Guide Online. Really? Is it that difficult to ensure that Claudia Rose, nine, and John Henry, seven — her kids with TV producer David E. Kelley — are properly clothed, fed and schooled? "You know, you have 'bad mommy' d read more

Meet the Barenaked News Lady

When it comes to uncovering the bare facts, the Naked News beats the pants off the competition — literally. The saucy Toronto-based program — which claims to have an audience of over six million viewers — features an all-nude team of male and female newscasters who report on entertainment, sports, weather and, of course, international affairs.

Launched in December 1999 as an Internet news delivery service, the show is now streaking its way to American television via In Demand's pay-per-view network. Says Kathy Pinckert, director of public relations for Naked News: "It's the news like you've never seen it before." She's not kidding.

Each edition of Naked News begins with lead anchor Devon Caldwell slowly undressing as she reads current events. Caldwell was a college student who had taken time off to "build a nest egg to cover tuition costs" when she joined the Naked News team. "I was working full-time in a read more

The Learning Channel's First Sex Symbol

If there is one thing that folks probably expect less from The Learning Channel than a series that creates buzz, it could only be a personality who generates heat. But both have been delivered in a big way by Trading Spaces, the undeniably addictive little reality program that showcases resident carpenter Ty Pennington's handsome mug and hacksaw-sharp wit.

Is the Atlanta, Ga., businessman ready to become the thinking couch potato's sex symbol? And how. "I'm going to be [TLC's] Schneider [the womanizing handyman of One Day at a Time]," he tells TV Guide Online with a laugh. "It's funny — I'm just being the same sarcastic idiot that I've always been, only now I get to share it with a lot more people.

"I've always been a ham and I've always made things with my hands," he adds, "so this is really a perfect gig for me."

TLC will say. Largely due to Pennington's popularity, Trading Spaces — in which neighbors team up with read more

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