John Spencer, The West Wing
Question: I am sure this is your one millionth e-mail regarding the shocking death of John Spencer. I have enjoyed his work since L.A. Law. I know it may be premature and difficult to speculate, but how do you think The West Wing will deal with this? I would like to see them show respect for his death and pay tribute to Leo in a meaningful way. Simply recasting him may be better for the story line, but it would be a shame if the show did not address this loss. Wouldn't it be wonderful if this could be turned into a powerful episode? The loss of Mrs. Landingham paved the way for a very heartfelt performance from Martin Sheen. Thoughts?
Answer: There was quite an outpouring of mail over this very sad situation, and I don't envy the West Wing producers as they deal with this crushing blow, since the show is already limping off into the sunset. John Spencer was the epitome of a character actor, and Leo McGarry was his crowning role, a character of great authority and moral heft whose
The cast of Hill Street Blues
Question: I've been thinking of Hill Street Blues lately and it is driving me nuts that I can't remember the name of my favorite character. He was played by Bruce Weitz and I think his first name was Mick, but they always called him by his last name. He was a wonderfully eccentric policeman — scruffy and tough, with a heart of gold — and received frequent phone calls from his mother. Can you help me out? I know this will continue to bother me till I find out!
Answer: That would be Det. Mick Belker, who was quick with a growl, just as willing to bite a perp as book him, and, by the looks of him, not on friendly terms with showers or razors. I'd imagine Weitz would consider it a compliment that you remember his name rather than his character's, but he did memorable work on the series. During Hill Street's January 1981 to May 1987 run
Question: Could you have overhyped Lara Flynn Boyle's death scene on Las Vegas any more? That in no way compared to Rosalind Shays' shafting on L.A. Law.
Answer: Technically speaking, it was exec producer Gary Scott Thompson who did the hyping. I merely provided him the forum to do it in. That said, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I, too, was a little let down by Monica's big blow-off. It sounded much better on paper than it looked on-screen. And the cheesy 1970s Superman special effects didn't really help matters. That said, on a purely camp level, it was pretty damn funny watching an actress who has spent much of her career deflecting anorexia rumors get swept off her feet by a gust of wind.
Are their days numbered?
Question: You have to tell us who's dying on Las Vegas!
Answer: Um, no I don't, Brit. I do, however, have to tell you that contrary to widespread rumors — not to mention an item in last week's AA — the major character that dies this month will not be murdered. But said death will come as a major shock. "I'll give you two words: Rosalind Shays," teases executive producer Gary Scott Thompson, referring to the L.A. Law villainess who famously fell down an elevator shaft in 1991. "I'm not saying it's an elevator, but it's completely unexpected." And trust me: That's not mere hype. Gary described the scenario
This isn't a complaint, just an observation: So far this season, even more than the first two, the plot is just a very loose structure on which to build a bunch of silly jokes. George Sr.'s under house arrest and wants to plead not guilty at his upcoming hearing because he was really just a patsy for some Brits who set him up to build houses for Saddam Hussein. And somehow this premise gives us an opportunity to see George prefer prison to his wife's frisky advances; Gob plan an elaborate "protestacular" outside the courthouse; Tobias try out wigs and hair plugs in an effort to prove he's leading-man material for Gob's "prostaticular"; the whole family act like crazy "chickens" to make fun of Michael; Lindsay getting the only vehicle that could top the jet stairs, the cabin trailer; and a legal system in which you can hire TV lawyers like Andy Griffith or L.A. Law's Harry Hamlin to sit at your table and help your case. And then there's Michael's fateful
Actor Alan Rosenberg was elected president of the Screen Actors Guild on Friday. The former L.A. Lawman succeeds Melissa Gilbert, who opted not to seek a third term. Rosenberg's first order of business will be to secure a higher share of DVD revenues for actors. After that, he'll focus on priority No. 2: finding Susan Dey.
Call me crazy, but I love series premieres. There's always so much hope. So much promise. Then, of course, you have to actually watch the episode. This one's OK, but far from perfect — I'm not totally sold on this Odd Couple concept. Jason Payne (Chris O'Donnell) goes into a full-on nervous breakdown after his wife (Krista Allen) throws him out for not being there for her or their son. Russell Shultz (Adam Goldberg) suffers from some sort of inexplicable rage disorder. The two lawyers end up working together. Why? I'm really not so sure. The doctor at the hospital says it's a sponsor-type thing, but the reasoning is really kind of weak. And then there's the fact that O'Donnell's character seems like he went from zero to breakdown in record speed, but whatever. It's good to see the former Boy Wonder spending some quality time with us in TV Land. And it's always good to see Goldberg in one of those seriously off-kilter roles we've
Laurence Hall Matheson: 1971-2005. Certainly one of the quickest opening death scenes ever. Less than 30 seconds in, a dude is mauled by a cougar and I'm the one scared to death. Nice fade into a close-up of Nate being taken away on a stretcher. I loved how David, being the smart brother, chose not to tell Brenda that Nate was with Maggie when he collapsed. Awkward moment No. 1: Brenda showing up at the hospital and seeing Maggie there. Claire to David: "Why is she here?" David (whispering): "Later." Such a perfect brother-sister scene. Meanwhile, back at the campfire, Ruth is about to have sex with Ed Begley Jr., I mean, Hiram. Awkward moment No. 2: Brenda's conversation with Maggie at the hospital after the neurosurgeon (played by Michele Greene from L.A. Law, don't ya know) gave the Nate update. But back to Ruth: The comic highlight of the episode was, of course, the dream sequence shootout , with Ruth taking down all her former amours with a rifle. Too funny
It just wouldn't be a Television Critics Association press tour without a Fox reality-show controversy.
So while the rest of America hasn't thought much lately about American Idol contestant Corey Clark's charges that he had a sexual relationship with Paula Abdul and that she gave him a few pointers to help him advance in the competition — the story was alive and well among the reporters who showed up Thursday to hear Fox entertainment president Peter Liguori's press-tour debut.
Liguori said the Clark-Abdul matter was being investigated by an "independent counsel." Not a great choice of words. Independent counsel conjures up visions of Kenneth Starr, Archibald Cox, stained blue dresses and Oval Office tapes. (He meant "outside counsel," we were told later. A Fox insider said the place has been crawling with lawyers looking into the matter.)
So the questions kept coming from
Half-Pint is outta there. Former Little House on the Prairie denizen Melissa Gilbert has announced that she won't be seeking a third term as president of the Screen Actors Guild, Variety reports. Vying to fill her seat of power are — and I only wish I were funny enough to be making this up — Morgan Fairchild, Robert "Knock it off… I dare ya" Conrad and Alan Rosenberg (who played the same attorney on both L.A. Law and Civil Wars).