Today's News: Our Take


Question: Who starred in the ...

Question: Who starred in the TV series Laramie in the late '50s or early '60s?

Televisionary: That'd be John Smith and Robert Fuller, pahtnuh.

Smith played Slim Sherman to Fuller's Jess Harper in the series, which ran on NBC from the 1959 to 1963. It took place in Laramie, WY, and centered on a combination ranch/stagecoach station run by the two leads.

Legendary singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael was on the show for a spell, playing head ranch hand Jonesy, as was veteran actress Spring Byington, who kept the men in line as housekeeper Daisy Cooper.

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Question: Oh, wise one... ...

Question: Oh, wise one... please save my sanity and tell my brother he's mean. I remember Jonathan Winters hatching out of an egg on Mork & Mindy. He says it's just another one of my dreams. Is he being stupid? — Vivian

Televisionary: Tell him I said to knock it off.

In what I believe to be one of TV's strangest and most ill-advised experiments, the producers cast Winters, a veteran comedian and hero to Mork star Robin Williams, as Mork and Mindy's son, Mearth. I don't know about you, but, merely being an occasional fan of the show, I'll admit I was freaked to see Winters as the couple's son, especially when he pulled that unsettling baby act. It wasn't amusing; it just made me feel kind of icky.

From where I sit typing, that kind of thing was a problem for the show almost from the start. Undeniably a huge hit for ABC when it launched in the fall of 1978, Mork & Mindy was a spinoff of Happy Days, a show in read more

Buscemi Goes to Jail


Steve Buscemi says he had no intention of including real convicts as extras when he set out to direct the gritty prison drama Animal Factory, hitting theaters Friday. But the hardened criminals quickly won over the Fargo star when he went to scout locations at Pennsylvania's Holmsburg State Prison.

On his first day at the prison, Buscemi was blown away to find that virtually every inmate had seen him in the 1997 action pic Con Air. What the actor didn't realize at the time was that prison officials had screened the pic in the big house just prior to his arrival. Nevertheless, a bond was formed and the inmates were hired.

"We were really respectful of them, and certainly it was great for the actors to be able to have those guys to mix with," says Buscemi, who appears in the film alongside Willem Dafoe, Edward Furlong, Mickey Rourke, Tom Arnold and John Heard.

All of the real cons appearing in the movie are no read more

ALI KNOCKED OUT?

The buzz in Hollywood is that Ali, the Muhammad Ali biopic starring Will Smith, may be down for the count. According to Variety, the folks at Sony are concerned that costs are ballooning out of control on the project currently budgeted at $105 million. An emergency meeting to discuss the matter with director Michael Mann (The Insider) is slated for today. read more

Slater For Clinton!


Christian Slater says it's high time the United States elects a female vice president. And the actor — who currently can be seen in the political drama The Contender, opposite Joan Allen and Jeff Bridges — knows just the lady for the job.

"I've met Hillary Clinton, and I find her a great example of a woman who has been able to survive a lot," Slater tells TV Guide Online. "Surviving in the political area, or any public arena, is really difficult. You either sink or swim. I think Hillary is a beautiful example of a woman who has been able to rise to the occasion."

Well, Slater is well versed in the pressures of living in a fishbowl. The actor's earlier struggles with drugs and alcohol, not to mention his numerous arrests, made headlines and earned him a reputation as a bona fide Hollywood bad boy. But that was then...

"My life has changed in so many ways that it has been kind of miraculous," marvels the 31-year-old, who earlie read more

WINSLET DELIVERS

Kate Winslet gave birth to her first child, a daughter, with husband Jim Threapleton on Thursday. The 25-year-old Titanic actress married Threapleton, who directed her in Hideous Kinky, in November 1998. read more

Wil Wheaton Grows Up


With his days as a child star and a rebellious teen well behind him, former Stand by Me kid Wil Wheaton is busy reinventing himself as a comic actor.

"I've always been told by people that I'm funny and that I have a good sense of humor and that I should take some of the passion I have for serious things and apply it to comedy," says Wheaton, 28, who's been popping up lately onstage at L.A. improv spots such as ACME Comedy Theatre and Theatresports. "I took some comedy classes and workshops, and I took to it very quickly. I found that it was something not only that I enjoyed doing but that I was good at."

Comedy isn't the only thing keeping Wheaton busy — he's also raising two stepchildren, ages 9 and 11, with wife Anne. "It's always a really intense game to see who gets to play me in the Star Trek Monopoly game," jokes Wheaton, best remembered by TV audiences for his role as Cadet Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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ISAAK'S MINNIE CASTING COUP

Minnie Driver will play herself in an episode of Showtime's upcoming series The Chris Isaak Show, slated to debut in spring 2001. "I hope at some point to be wrestling with her," Isaak jokes to TV Guide Online. "A lot of times they can't use the footage, but it's worth shooting. It's good for me." Loosely based on Isaak's life, the one-hour show will feature a mix of fact and fiction. read more

MISS AMERICA FLOPS

Miss Hawaii, Angela Baraquio, was crowned Miss America 2001 Saturday night before what may be the smallest television audience in pageant history. The 24-year-old elementary school teacher danced a hula during the talent competition and chose "character education" as her platform issue. Despite attempts to reinvent the pageant for a new generation (co-hosts Donny and Marie Osmond sang a techno version of the trademark Miss America song), the ABC telecast attracted just 12.4 million viewers, down from last year's record low. read more

SHORT CUTS

Teenyboppers 'N Sync will play themselves in an episode of The Simpsons, to air early next year, People reports.... JAG creator Donald Bellisario is developing a CBS drama about the U.S. Supreme Court for next season, says The Hollywood Reporter.... The trade paper also reports that Party of Five creators Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman will produce a one-hour medical drama for CBS, to debut next fall. — Michael Ausiello read more

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