Today's News: Our Take


BETTE BROUHAHA

Jeffrey Lane — the creative force behind CBS's troubled Bette — has stepped down as co-executive producer, but will remain on board as one of the show's writers. The New York Daily News reports that the move came as a result of friction between Lane and the show's star, Bette Midler. A network rep, however, says the split was an amicable and mutual one. read more

Question: I have heard a ...

Question: I have heard a rumour that there is a new television series produced or directed by Steven Spielberg. It's supposedly about a group of solidiers in the Second World War. Is there such a thing in production?

Televisionary: Sounds like HBO's Band of Brothers, which is now slated to debut on the cable network in September.

Spielberg and Tom Hanks, who oversaw HBO's excellent From the Earth to the Moon, are executive producers of the mini-series. It's based on Stephen Ambrose's non-fiction book about the 101st Army Airborne Division's Easy Company, which parachuted into France on D-Day and took Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, Bavaria. Carrying a reported budget of $120 million and featuring such actors as Kirk Acevedo, Neal McDonough, David Schwimmer and Donnie Wahlberg, the 10-part series follows the unit from boot camp to their taking of the Fuhrer's mountain chalet.

Look for a Septembe read more

ALLEN WANTS TO BE SOMEBODY

Tim Allen is a signature away from starring in the comedy film Joe Somebody, to be directed by John Pasquin — who also directed Allen in Jungle 2 Jungle, The Santa Clause, and TV's Home Improvement. read more

Question: Was there a family ...

Question: Was there a family western TV series called The Monroes? There were three kids who lost their parents when their covered wagon's wheel broke and both mom and dad were swept downstream and killed. The oldest brother then took care of his siblings. It had to be at least 20 to 30 years ago. Please respond soon. This is driving me nuts!

Televisionary: Ah, it's always about sanity, isn't it? The readers'. Mine. Well, let's at least ease your troubled mind.

Yes, The Monroes related the doings of five orphans whose parents drowned on the way to claim land in the Wyoming Territory in 1876. Eighteen-year-old son Clayt (Michael Anderson, Jr.), and 16-year-old daughter Kathy (Barbara Hershey) led their twin brothers, their younger sister and their dog to their claim and set about making a life for themselves.

Problem was, that land was coveted by the evil Major Mapoy (Liam Sullivan), who wasn't about to let those snotty kids read more

Question: I have been an avid ...

Question: I have been an avid reader of your column and note that in the past you gave out information (artist and title) on a song played during a Volkswagen car commercial. I recently saw an Audi commercial with a tune sung by a female singer that I found uplifting. The commercial has a father and young daughter driving together. There is a voiceover where the father says something about wanting to preserve the moments he spends with his daughter. The commercial ends with the message: "Take the Detour. Audi." I would appreciate it if you could give me the artist and title of the song and let me know if I can buy it anywhere. Thank you in advance for your time and effort. — Alex

Televisionary: No problem, Alex. As a regular reader (I'll assume it's because you like the column?) you know I'm a sucker for these questions, particularly the auto ones. As has been pointed out recently, these days TV spots serve up far more interesting music than the radio or MTV do.

Th read more

Question: My brother and I ...

Question: My brother and I are tired of hosting the big family holiday dinners. Up until now we split Thanksgiving and Christmas, but whoever's right on this has to do both next year. On All in the Family, what was Archie Bunker's job? I say dock worker and he says he owned a bar. Whose wife has to cook two turkeys? — Party pooper

Televisionary: Fellas, you mean to tell me you hate making your home a vessel for holiday cheer so much you're wagering on it? (Wait, scratch that guilt trip. The missus and I are the world's lousiest hosts — a case of Old Milwaukee and a bag of pretzels is about all we can manage — so I can't shame you there.) But you mean to tell me your better halves will be the ones to pay for this little tiff? Such tomfoolery wouldn't pass muster at Chez Televisionary, I assure you.

Truth is, you're both right. When the CBS series debuted in January 1971, racist Queens curmudgeon Archie (the great Carroll O'Connor) toiled read more

Poppy Montgomery's Blonde Ambition


Just about every actress fantasizes about playing screen legend Marilyn Monroe, and for Poppy Montgomery, that dream came true — until she saw herself in a mirror. "I felt like a drag queen," Montgomery, who plays the American icon in CBS's upcoming four-hour miniseries, Blonde, said at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. "I was like, 'Oh, my God, this is awful.'"

CBS's Blonde — which is slated to air during May sweeps — is sure to prompt as much discussion as the Joyce Carol Oates fictional Monroe biography on which it's based. Also starring Ann-Margret, Home Improvement's Patricia Richardson, Kirstie Alley and Patrick Dempsey, the story follows young Norma Jean Baker from her difficult childhood to the mega-stardom and drug addiction that ultimately dragged her down.

However, it's anyone's guess whether Montgomery herself will have worked up the nerve read more

JENNIFER LOPEZ'S TOKEN OF AFFECTION

Her love may not cost a thing, but that doesn't mean Jennifer Lopez isn't spending a pretty penny on her beau Sean "Puffy" Combs. InStyle magazine reports that the actress has given her troubled boyfriend a $40,000 diamond pinkie ring to wear at his upcoming trial for weapons possession. Says Lopez, "I believe in unconditional love and doing things for people you care about." Puffy heads to the courtroom on Wednesday. read more

Lords to Detractors: Have Mercy


It isn't easy being Traci Elizabeth Lords. The actress has killed in fare as diverse as the John Waters musical Cry-Baby and Stephen King's The Tommyknockers miniseries, yet her past in adult films refuses to die. In fact, just last week a major entertainment magazine made sport of her by bringing up an old quote regarding her Oscar aspirations.

"It can be a downer," she tells TV Guide Online. "But if people need to make you part of the joke, you have a choice — you can laugh with them, or you can fight. That just seemed like a time to shrug."

While Lords chose not to engage in that particular battle, she still intends to win the war — which is why she's strategically begun using her middle name. "I was saying, 'I am Traci Lords, but I'm more than somebody who used to be a teenage porn star,'" explains the former Norma Kuzma. "I've paid my dues, and I want to be known for more than that."

Lords's latest gig — kick read more

Did the Nasdaq Sink The Street?


Think Wall Street's dramatic nosedive has you down? Well, it could be worse: You could be Darren Star. The writer/producer of HBO's red-hot Sex and the City and the WB's Grosse Pointe believes falling stocks may have led Fox to cancel his steamy Blue-Chip soap The Street.

"I think the show was a victim of a horrible timeslot and a crashing stock market — which certainly didn't help its future prospects in terms of the network looking at the show and saying, 'Hmmm, what do we have invested here and do we want to stick with this?'" Star tells TV Guide Online. "But I think the number one [problem] was the fact that we were up against The West Wing."

Considering The Street's formidable competition — in addition to NBC's Emmy-winning White House drama, the show had to battle ABC's read more

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