Today's News: Our Take


Midler Addresses Bette Crisis


Despite rumors that her TV hubby was fired, Bette Midler insists that Kevin Dunn — who played her better half on CBS's Bette — requested to be let out of his contract.

"Kevin wanted to be let go," the Divine One tells TV Guide Online. "He wasn't happy with the material. I thought he was a terrific husband, but he didn't like what he was doing. Rather than make him suffer through the rest of his contract, it seemed better to release him and let him find peace and happiness somewhere else."

Dunn made his final appearance on Jan. 3, and Midler admits she's in no hurry to recast. "I'm not looking for someone," she says, "but I do gather that the audience likes a male presence working with me. I understand that.

"I'm just very nervous about getting involved with an actor I'm not sure of," Midler continues. "I'd like to have a different Roy on every episode: One week it could be Martin Short read more

EVERYBODY LOVES REBA

Country diva Reba McEntire — currently starring in Broadway's Annie Get Your Gun — is headed to the small screen as the star of her own sitcom. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the Grammy winner will play a "junior league" Southern mother of three in an as-yet-untitled family comedy pilot for the WB. read more

IT'S A BOY!

Pop diva Celine Dion gave birth to a baby boy this morning in Palm Beach, Florida. Rene-Charles arrived three weeks ahead of schedule and weighed in at 6 lbs, 8 oz. It's the first child for Dion and her manager-hubby Rene Angelil, who conceived the baby through in vitro fertilization. According to a statement released by the singer's rep, both mother and child are "doing marvelously well and are in perfect health." Dion is in the midst of a three-year career sabbatical. read more

SHORT CUTS

Frankie Avalon will guest star on the Feb. 23 episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch... Valerie Harper and Howard Hesseman will play the divorced parents of Steven (series regular David Alan Basche) on the Feb. 6 episode of NBC's new comedy Three Sisters... Italian filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis (who produced the upcoming Hannibal) will receive the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award at this year's Oscar ceremony on March 25. — Michael Ausiello read more

UPRISING AT NBC

NBC is planning an ambitious miniseries about the World War II Warsaw ghetto uprising starring Leelee Sobieski, James Woods, Hank Azaria, David Schwimmer, Stephen Rea, Sadie Frost and Donald Sutherland, Variety reports. Initially conceived as a feature film at Warner Bros., Uprising begins shooting in March and will likely air sometime next season. read more

GELLAR SLAYS REPORT

A "humiliated" Sarah Michelle Gellar is retracting comments she made claiming she planned to quit Buffy the Vampire Slayer if the WB series moved to another network. "I'm not going anywhere, and I can't stress that enough," Gellar told the Los Angeles Times. "I just said it in passing, and it was only meant to show my appreciation and support for the WB. But Fox [the show's producer] has been very good to me too. I intend to stay with Buffy no matter what." The WB's contract to air Buffy expires at the end of this season, and renewal talks between the network and Fox have reportedly stalled over money — leading to speculation that Fox may move the show to its own network. read more

ARE THEY OR AREN'T THEY?

A spokesperson for Jennifer Lopez is denying a report in the New York Daily News that the singer/actress has split with her rapper beau Sean "Puffy" Combs and is now dating a dancer from her new video. "They have not broken up," said her rep. "They are absolutely together." Appearing today on Live with Regis, Lopez was asked whether she and Combs are still an item, and she replied, "Yeah." read more

REESE GOES HUNTING AND FISHING

Reese Witherspoon will star in the film adaptation of The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing, Melissa Banks's best-selling book of short stories, USA Today reports. In addition to starring in the project, Witherspoon will also serve as a producer. read more

Angel Vamp: Talent's in Her Blood


Intense training and sheer nerve may not be all that have enabled Juliet Landau to give such frightfully funny performances lately as Drusilla, the blood-sucking ex-lover of the title vampire on Angel — talent is in her genes. But the daughter of Oscar winner Martin Landau and Barbara Bain (co-stars on the 1960s Mission: Impossible series) initially had no intention of going into the family business.

"I never thought I'd do it," the former ballerina tells TV Guide Online. "I thought, 'I'm a dancer, that's their thing.' Then I took an acting class and loved it."

Now that the junior achiever has put one foot in front of the other careerwise, she longs to perform alongside her parents. And while being cast by Ed Wood director Tim Burton opposite Dad's Bela Lugosi afforded her the chance to work with him, she never got to actually speak to him on-screen. "In a reenactment of [Wood's grade-Z flick] Bri read more

Tesh and Costas Call a Truce


Bob Costas — one of the most eloquent broadcasters of our time — is eating his words. The multiple Emmy winner says he regrets panning John Tesh's performance as host of the gymnastics competition at the 1996 Olympics.

In Playboy's October issue, Costas said: "I think most reasonable people would say the gymnastics coverage during the last Olympics was at times beyond parody... John Tesh is a nice man. And I applaud him for his TV and musical endeavors. He is a talented guy. But, oh man, those gymnastics."

Upon instant replay, Costas admits his comments crossed the line. "I'm a guy with a point of view, and I'm not afraid to express it, but I'm not the sort of guy who takes personal shots at other people, and I felt bad about that," the longtime NBC sports announcer tells TV Guide Online. "Regardless of whether John's approach would be the approach I would prefer or not, I have no desire to hurt his feelings, and I wrote him a note of apology. read more

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