Today's News: Our Take


Liza Minnelli remains in serious condition in a Florida hospital where she is suffering from encephalitis, a potentially deadly inflammation of the brain. Neurologist Maurice Hanson said the 54-year-old entertainer appeared to be out of danger. "She was quite sick and in very serious condition," he said, "but is now recovering well, and we expect to release her in a few days." read more


For the first time in seven years, Madonna is going on tour. The pop superstar — whose latest CD, Music, is holding strong at No. 6 on Billboard's top 200 album chart — will play New York's Roseland Ballroom on Nov. 5 and the Brixton Academy in London on Nov. 28. According to MTV News, tickets to the Big Apple gig, which will also feature a DJ set from former Jane's Addiction/Porno For Pyros frontman Perry Farrell and British singer Beth Orton, are free and will be given away via radio contests in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In a statement, Madonna said she sees this as "a chance for me to get my feet wet on the stage again and a way to say thank you to an intimate group of my fans for all their support over the years." read more


Former Pee-Wee Herman Paul Reubens will host the TV version of the hit CD-ROM game You Don't Know Jack after all, Variety reports. Reubens had backed out of the long-in-the-works ABC game show to pursue other interests, but producers found a way for the actor to juggle Jack as well as additional projects. read more


Game 1 of the Yankees-Mets subway World Series Saturday night on Fox garnered a 41.3 rating/63 share in New York, not a 49.1/63 as TV Guide Online incorrectly reported. — Michael Ausiello read more


NBC's planned reality series Destination Mir is still a go for next fall, despite a Russian official saying the aging space station will crash into the Pacific Ocean in February unless enough private funding can be raised. The project — from Survivor brainchild Mark Burnett — revolves around a group of would-be cosmonauts and culminates with the winner being blasted off to Mir. NBC insists that "the series will continue as planned." read more


Robert Downey Jr. isn't the only troubled celeb seeking refuge on Fox's Ally McBeal this season. Anne "my spaceship awaits" Heche will appear in three episodes of the David E. Kelley dramedy in January, playing a flirtatious client of Cage's (Peter MacNicol). According to USA Today, Ellen DeGeneres's ex will begin filming the story arc this week. read more

Question: Please settle a bet ...

Question: Please settle a bet between my daughter and me. We both know that Kyle Secor played Det. Bayliss on the TV series Homicide: Life on the Street. However, I say he also played the older love interest to Neve Campbell on the TV series Party of Five. I believe this was after his stint on Homicide. My daughter says it can't be him because Party of Five was on at the same time as Homicide and the 'older guy' was way too young/good-looking to be Kyle Secor. Which one of us is right? (A trip to Vermont is riding on this one!) Also, what might we be seeing Kyle doing next/now on TV or in movies? He seems to have vanished from the screen! I hope you can settle all of this for us! So, could ya, please? I'll owe ya one, like, some maple syrup from Vermont? A teddybear? Thanks. — Melissa & Linda

Televisionary: Now, now — bribery will get you nowhere fast, ladies. At least not anymore. One time I accepted the g read more


Matthew Broderick will play the title role in a TV version of the Tony-winning Broadway musical The Music Man, Variety reports. The three-hour telepic will air sometime next year as part of ABC's Wonderful World of Disney. Broderick's wife, Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker, reportedly is being wooed to play the librarian who falls for Professor Harold Hill (Broderick). read more

Question: In the Mary Tyler ...

Question: In the Mary Tyler Moore episode about Chuckles the Clown's funeral, can you tell me which writer was responsible for the eulogy line that went, "A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants?"

Televisionary: That line came from writer David Lloyd, who penned the "Chuckles Bites the Dust" episode and picked up an Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series Emmy for his trouble. Quite deservedly, too. For the most part, they sure don't write 'em like that anymore.

TV Guide honored that episode, which aired in October 1975 (during season six), with the No. 1 spot on its "100 Greatest Episodes of All Time" list in 1997. And while I have a hard time assigning specific ranks to such things, it definitely belongs on a roster of TV's best.

For those who don't know the setup: WJM's children's-show host, Chuckles the Clown, is named grand marshal of the circus parade and dies after showing up dressed as Peter Peanut. "A rogue elephan read more


George W. Bush shouldn't count on the support of filmmaker Nora Ephron (You've Got Mail; Sleepless in Seattle) during the upcoming presidential election. Ephron — whose latest film, Lucky Numbers, finds John Travolta playing vapid TV weatherman Russ Richards — says Bush is a perfect example of style over substance. "If George Bush wins, it's because he is just like Russ Richards in this movie — he's a guy who's mostly telegenic," she groans. "He's not talented. He's not smart. He doesn't know anything." read more

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