Blonde athletic Australian actor Daniel Lapaine made his film debut with a most auspicious role in 1994's comedy hit "Muriel's Wedding". As the expatriate Olympic swimmer who's waiting at the end of t...
White House scandal, suburban weirdness, murder. ...
Nope, this isn't a rundown of the hourly news. It's some of the more juicy, ratings-grabbing tidbits the networks have masterminded for the famed (or infamous) February sweeps.
For the next 28 days -- from today until March 1 -- our TV nation will be bombarded with special programs concocted to induce ratings, the better to spike ad rates for the upcoming season.
From cameo appearances to splashy adventures to tabloid melodrama, the networks have pulled out all their stops to keep viewers complacently glued to the tube. Needless to say, the revolution will not be televised during the sweeps period.
Here are some of the sweeps hopefuls that caught our eyes:
"Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" (Feb. 13 and 16, CBS) -- The four-hour "setting-the-record-straight" historical dramatization chronicles the "love story" between President Thomas Jefferson (Sam Neill) and his slave Sally Hemings (Carmen Ejogo).
"Perfect Murder, Perfect Town" (Feb. 27 and Mar. 1, CBS) -- The four-hour mini-serialization of the disturbing murder mystery of kiddie beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey in a moneyed Colorado town. Marg Helgenberger and Ronny Cox co-star.
"Mary and Rhoda" (Feb. 7, ABC) -- Comeback kids Mary Tyler Moore and Valerie Harper reprise their 1970s sitcom selves as Mary Richards and Rhoda Morgenstern in this TV movie about two older women starting over in the Big Apple.
"The 10th Kingdom" (Feb 27-28, Mar. 1 and Mar. 5-6, NBC) -- A mishmash of fairy tales, this 10-hour uber-fantasy finds a NYC waitress (Kimberly Williams) and her deadbeat father (John Laroquette) stumbling into an alternate dimension. There, they battle a wicked queen (Dianne Wiest), save a deposed prince (Daniel Lapaine) and tread through other similarly identifiable fairy tale scenarios.
"Flowers for Algernon" (Feb. 20, CBS) -- In the adaptation of Daniel Keyes classic tale, Matthew Modine plays the mentally challenged lead character who becomes super intelligent as the result of a scientific experiment.
"Friends" (Feb. 3, NBC) Golden Globe nominee Reese Witherspoon ("Election") becomes an honorary "Friend," beginning a guest stint on the hit sitcom as Jennifer Aniston's little sister.
"Law & Order" (Feb. 9, NBC) -- Michael C. Williams, aka the guy who played Mike in "The Blair Witch Project," is slated for a guest appearance on the popular legal drama as the father of a dead baby in the episode titled "Mother's Milk."
"The Simpsons" (Feb. 13, Fox) -- Marge Flanders, compulsively perky wife of the compulsively perky Ned Flanders, will reportedly be killed off for (what else?) higher ratings.
"Sports Illustrated Swimsuit 2000" (Feb. 26, TNT) -- In the vein of "Baywatch" minus the attempt at a narrative, this one-hour special promises to provide behind-the-scenes coverage of the sports mag's annual swimsuit issue. Damon Wayans and a surprise guest will host.
Cast as the prince in the big-budgeted NBC miniseries "The 10th Kingdom"
Had small role as the club's bouncer in "54"
Reteamed with Danes with a breakthrough screen role in the drama "Brokedown Palace"
Appeared in the New Year's Eve comedy "1999" (aired on the Independent Film Channel)
Featured as Claire Danes' older brother in "Polish Wedding"
Co-starred in "Dangerous Beauty"
Acted extensively on stage in Sydney, Australia before beginning a film career
Appeared in the action thriller "Double Jeopardy", starring Tommy Lee Jones and Ashley Judd
Feature acting debut as the groom in "Muriel's Wedding"
Had featured role in the British-made "Elephant Juice" alongside Emmanuelle Beart
Blonde athletic Australian actor Daniel Lapaine made his film debut with a most auspicious role in 1994's comedy hit "Muriel's Wedding". As the expatriate Olympic swimmer who's waiting at the end of the aisle in the titular event, he capably played a multi-dimensional character in a small but pivotal role. After this performance, the actor virtually disappeared from films, returning to a successful stage career. In his native Sydney, Lapaine had previously starred in productions of "Hamlet", "Richard III" and the one man show "Island". A playwright as well as an actor, he has seen several of his writings produced on the stage, including "Cloud Cuckooland" and "The White Room". A small role in the little seen comedy "1999" (1997) marked his return to the big screen, followed by supporting parts in the vastly different period pieces "Dangerous Beauty" and "54" (both 1998). After a vibrant performance as Claire Danes' older brother in the engaging "Polish Wedding" (1998), Lapaine re-teamed with the actress, this time as her betrayer, in the drama "Brokedown Palace" (1999). Playing the charming and handsome Australian drug-smuggler who lands two Midwestern American teens (Danes and Kate Beckinsale) in a Thai prison proved to be a breakthrough role for him. Lapaine was also featured in the action thriller "Double Jeopardy", starring Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones.
Australian pop star; reported to be dating c. 1998