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Question: My son asked me a ...

Question: My son asked me a question that he says he asks quite often as an icebreaker in conversations as he travels around the country. Unfortunately, I could not respond with an answer. The question is, what are the names of the two Muppet characters that sat in the balcony, the ones portraying old men? My son Brian states that no matter how many people he asks, he fails to receive an appropriate answer. Can you help?

Televisionary: Hey, if I couldn't, I'd be out of here tout de suite! My boss says he's just dying to give my cubicle to somebody more pleasant. (Like a day full of my unique crankiness isn't a dream come true?)

And speaking of cranky, the two malcontents in the Muppet Show balcony were named Statler & Waldorf and were voiced by muppeteers Richard Hunt and Jim Henson. As long as your son doesn't bump into one of my readers over drinks (Hey, all he has to do is avoid maybe six people worldwide), he can continue to read more

The Shot Heard 'Round the World


Not since NBC's The West Wing staged an assassination attempt on President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) in last May's season-ender have critics been so bent out of shape by a cliffhanger: On Felicity's winter finale last month, Molly's (Sarah-Jane Potts) strung-out beau, James (Eddie Cahill), crashed Felicity's (Keri Russell) Christmas soirée and shot one of the partygoers. However, before the identity of the victim was revealed, the screen went black and this message appeared: To Be Continued April 2001.

"An otherwise excellent episode of Felicity came to a bad end," writes critic Matt Roush in this week's TV Guide. "The stunt was a real letdown for a show that usually avoids such hokum." Adds Ed Martin, editor of The Myers Programming Report, an industry newsletter: "It was entirely off base for this read more

Roswell Obit: R.I.P., Ms. Topolsky


Although on Roswell the laying of hands by an outer-space adolescent can heal gunshot wounds, Julie Benz isn't hopeful that there is a resurrection in store for her high school guidance counselor/FBI alien hunter character, Ms. Topolsky.

"I guess I could get that call — a WB exec recently told me they're still working on a way to bring me back," she tells TV Guide Online, then adopts a skeptical tone. "I was like, 'Okay.' I don't see how they could do it."

The actress — whose blood-sucking Buffy the Vampire Slayer alter ego Darla, ironically, was given a new lease on life this year by sister show Angel — even refuses to be buoyed by the fact that, after Ms. Topolsky "died" in a fire, her body was never found.

"They're so far removed from that storyline that to get back to it now read more

Will The Mole be a Survivor?


Talk about a big money question: Can The Mole's equation of 10 contestants plus $1 million equal Survivor-like numbers? ABC certainly hopes so, especially since its crown jewel — Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? — has lost some of its ratings luster this past season. But producers insist that The Mole — premiering Tuesday at 8 pm/ET — is not just another Survivor clone.

"I think the show will have its own life," Mole executive producer Scott Stone tells TV Guide Online. "This show appeals to a slightly different audience, [those] interested more in mysteries than reality shows, which are basically popularity contests."

The Mole follows ten contestants — ranging from a 63-year-old retired New York City cop to a 23-year-old medical school applicant with "nasty gas" — as they try to complete a series of mental and physical challenges. After each test, money gets placed into a communal po read more

Katarina Witt Sounds Off on Divas


Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Katarina Witt, who's producing and starring in her second Divas on Ice special for NBC (Saturday 4 pm/ET), insists the world of figure skating is a much friendlier place than that depicted eight years ago in the notorious Tonya Harding&#150Nancy Kerrigan incident.

"That was the only one [of its kind], and it still stuck in people's minds," she tells TV Guide Online. Like most pro skaters, the German-born Witt isn't particularly comfortable discussing the rivalry that eventually led to Kerrigan getting her knee smashed by a hired thug. "[That] was really one thing that happened eight years ago, and it's time to get over with it. Basically, it's a very friendly environment. We love the sport, and most of us try to represent it in the right way."

Kerrigan will be among the skaters joining Witt on the Divas special, which also will feature performances by Ekatarina Gordeeva, Surya Bonaly, Nic read more

VANILLA ICE JAILED

Rapper Vanilla Ice was arrested Wednesday following an apparent domestic dispute with his wife Laura, The Associated Press reports. Vanilla (aka Robert Van Winkle) — who was released on $3,500 bail after spending the night in a Florida jail — placed his hand over his wife's mouth "to shut her up" as they were driving in Davie, Fla., police said. The 32-year-old admitted to ripping out some of her hair, but insisted it was to keep her from jumping out of the truck's window. (Maybe he was threatening to play Ice Ice Baby.) read more

DON'T TRUST INSTINCT

MGM reportedly is on the verge of taking an ice pic to Basic Instinct 2. According to Variety, the sequel to the hit 1992 thriller starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone was to begin rehearsals mid-February with Stone reprising her role as a psycho-novelist. But the film's backers can't seem to agree on a male lead (Douglas wanted no part of the follow-up) and the dispute is threatening to kill the project. Stone's spokesperson, Cindi Berger, insists that her client — who was to receive $15 million for her Basic work — is not throwing in the towel just yet. "As far as I know, Sharon has a deal to make this movie," she tells columnist Liz Smith. "She is away right now training for it. She is excited and ready to go." read more

Madness: The Final Frontier?


In space, nobody can hear you scream. But for fans of the offbeat sci-fi drama Farscape, rest assured that their distress signal has been received and relief, in the form of new episodes, is about to arrive.

"Poor John!" sighs series-lead Ben Browder, as he reflects on the fate awaiting his alter ego, stranger-in-a-strange-land John Crichton, when the last four installments of the second season begin airing tonight at 9 pm/ET on the Sci Fi Channel.

Since having his brain altered by leather-faced baddie Scorpious, Crichton has all but abandoned his quest to find a way back to Earth, favoring attempts to regain his sanity. "His journey into darkness started a long time ago, and that's a bold thing for the writing staff to do to [a] main character."

Whether or not Crichton gets his marbles back, many fans are hoping that by season's end he will finally utter those three all-important words to his favorite sparring partner, alien hottie Aeryn (Claudia Black read more

A Who's Who of Survivor: The Australian Outback


They are moms and soldiers, aspiring actors and small-town teachers. But as of Thursday morning, they will forever be known as the contestants of Survivor: The Australian Outback. On CBS's The Early Show, the identities of the 16 contenders competing for the million-dollar jackpot in the deep river canyons and scorched-earth region of northeastern Australia were revealed to the world, and already standouts are emerging. The Early Show's Julie Chen and Mark McEwen both seemed to favor former cop/tough lady Maralyn Hershey. "She looks like the Rudy of this group," remarked Chen. "She seems like a survivor."

When the follow-up to the most successful summer series in TV history debuts on January 28 (following the Super Bowl), viewers will find the competitors split into two teams — the Ogakor and Kucha, named after aboriginal words for freshwater crocodile and kangaroo. Here are the names and backgrounds of each player, along wi read more

BYE GEORGE

George magazine — the monthly entertainment-politics hybrid founded by the late John Kennedy Jr. — will fold in March, Inside.com reports. Despite a 25 percent upkick in circulation last year, the magazine was still losing millions of dollars as a result of a softening advertising market. The February issue has been postponed and will be replaced with a special February/March commemorative edition, described as a tribute to Kennedy. read more

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