Top Story: James Garner Becomes 8 Simple Rules Regular
Touchstone TV, the producers of ABC's 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter, has signed veteran actor James Garner as a regular to its sophomore comedy. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Garner will appear in all remaining episodes of the season as Grandpa Jim, the father of Katey Sagal's character, the widowed Cate Hennessy. He has guest-starred in all episodes of the show to date, starting with the emotional Nov. 4 one-hour segment, the first episode without star John Ritter, who died of a heart ailment in September. His character came to support Cate and three teenage grandchildren as they dealt with the realities of becoming a single-parent family. The 75-year-old Garner, who took a fall on the set of the show last week and bruised his hip, is set to return to 8 Simple Rules Jan. 5 in an episode guest-starring David Spade, who signed on to do a multiple-episode arc.
Maverick Films Launches Screenwriting Competition
Madonna and Guy Oseary's Maverick Films has teamed with online script scouting service ScriptShark--a division of Baseline/Filmtracker, which is owned by Hollywood Media Corp., Hollywood.com's parent company--to launch the Maverick Blueprint Screenwriting Competition. According to Variety, the grand prizewinner will receive $10,000 and a 12-month option with Maverick. The second place winner will receive $5,000 while third place will get $2,000. All three winners will also receive the opportunity to sign for management representation with Concept Entertainment. The deadline to enter the contest is Feb. 29.
CBS May Air Jackson Special
Michael Jackson Number Ones, CBS' Michael Jackson music special that was scrapped last month when child molestation allegations against the singer surfaced, may air after all. Sources told The Hollywood Reporter Tuesday that the network is considering a January airdate for the hour-long retrospective, which was originally scheduled for Nov. 26 in conjunction with the release of Jackson's greatest hits album, Michael Jackson Number Ones. TV news circles were also abuzz yesterday about Jackson possibly sitting down for an interview with Ed Bradley of 60 Minutes next month.
Bruckheimer Shows Dominate Primetime Ratings
CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Without a Trace and CSI: Miami-- three different shows produced by Jerry Bruckheimer--were the three most-watched programs on prime-time television last week, giving the network a win in the week's ratings race. Cold Case, a fourth Bruckheimer show, was ranked ninth in last week's prime-time numbers, compiled by Nielsen Media Research. The top shows for the week of Dec. 15-21 were: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, CBS, 24.7 million; Without a Trace, CBS, 19.4 million; CSI: Miami, 19.2 million; NFL Monday Night Football: Philadelphia at Miami, ABC, 18.8 million; Everybody Loves Raymond, CBS, 18.1 million; Two and a Half Men, CBS, 14.8 million; NFL Monday Showcase, ABC, 14.3 million; Cold Case, CBS, 14 million; Primetime Special Edition, ABC, 13.9 million.
Recording Academy Chooses Lifetime Award Recipients
Recording artists Van Cliburn, the Funk Brothers, Ella Jenkins, Sonny Rollins, Artie Shaw and Doc Watson will receive lifetime achievement awards at next year's Grammy Awards ceremony, The Associated Press reports. Jazz producer Orrin Keepnews, songwriting duo Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and pianist/radio host Marian McPartland will receive Trustees Awards. Both recipients of the special merit awards will be officially acknowledged in a ceremony during a weeklong celebration leading up to the 46th annual Grammy Awards ceremony, set to take place Feb. 8 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. The show will be telecast live on CBS.
Springsteen Top Concert Earner of 2003
Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band ruled the concert business in 2003, raking in a whopping $115.9 million for 47 concerts, including 13 stadium shows in the New York area, the AP reports. The numbers, released by the concert industry trade publication Pollstar, aren't final yet, but editor Gary Bongiovanni predicts 2003 will be the fourth record-setting year in a row with around $2.4 billion in concert business. Bongiovanni said that's largely because fans have accepted higher ticket prices for big-name acts, particularly veterans. Rounding out the Top Five earners for the year were Celine Dion, the Eagles, Simon & Garfunkel and the Billy Joel-Elton John double bill, all of which charged more than $100 per ticket on average.
Academy Award Winning Animator Dies
Academy Award winning animator Wah Ming Chang died Monday in Carmel, Calif., at the age of 86, the AP reports. Born in Honolulu, Chang moved to San Francisco in the early 1920s. Chang was instrumental in creating a stop-motion animation production of The Three Bears, and he also designed costumes for the film The King and I, created masks for Planet of the Apes and made Elizabeth Taylor's headdress in Cleopatra. But it was his work on the 1960 feature The Time Machine that earned him an Oscar for special effects. Chang married Glenella Taylor in 1941 in Texas, since California law at the time did not allow marriage between a Chinese and a Caucasian. Taylor, his wife of nearly 60 years, died in 1997. Chang is survived by a half-sister and several nieces and nephews.
Comedian Lenny Bruce Gets Posthumous Pardon
Comedian Lenny Bruce, who died of a drug overdose in 1966 at the age of 39, was pardoned Tuesday for a 1964 obscenity conviction over a raunchy, irreverent monologue at the Cafe Au Go Go in New York, Reuters reports. New York Gov. George Pataki issued what his office said was the first posthumous pardon in the state's history: "Freedom of speech is one of the greatest American liberties and I hope this pardon serves as a reminder of the precious freedoms we are fighting to preserve." A group of lawyers and comedians, including Robin Williams and The Smothers Brothers, petitioned Pataki earlier this year, saying the posthumous pardon would help set the record straight on the career of a man who helped transform comedy.
Role Call: Stormare To Play Satan in Constantine
David Letterman Is New Dad at 56
After his absence from The Late Show on Monday night, late-night talk show fixture David Letterman returned on Tuesday and announced that he had become the proud father of a nine-pound baby boy. "I could never imagine being a part of something that turned out this beautiful," the host said on his show Tuesday. Letterman and his girlfriend, Regina Lasko, named their child after Letterman's father, Harry Joseph Letterman, who died at 57. "So God bless Dad and God bless Harry," he said. Tuesday's Top 10 list included the reasons Letterman was excited to be a father. Number one: "There is now tangible evidence that I have had sex."
"8 Simple Rules" Without Ritter Tops Primetime
The controversial episode of ABC's hit sitcom 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter addressing the tragic loss of star John Ritter, who died suddenly in September of a heart condition, was the No. 1 primetime program Tuesday, AP reports. The episode started with the Hennessy family going about their daily routine until they get the news that dad Paul Hennessy (Ritter's character), had died of a heart attack while at the grocery store. TV personalities James Garner and Suzanne Pleshette made guest appearances as Paul's in-laws.
New Reality Show To Look for Future Porn Stars
The latest entry into the realty TV frenzy will introduce a whole new world. According to AP, California gubernatorial candidate and adult film star Mary Carey, along with a few other adult film stars, will host a new on-demand and pay-per-view only reality series that will attempt to find the next great porn star. Set to unfold over seven one-hour episodes, the series will follow 28 women as they compete for a one-year contract with a major adult film label and a cash prize of $100,000. "It's going to be an R-rated version for pay-per-view," said Silhouette Productions CEO Harry Feingold. "It's like Paradise Hotel, when they go behind the scenes. Everybody wants to know what's going on. Well, here you see it," he continued, referring to Fox's seduction-centered reality series.
Mel Gibson To Produce, Provide Inspiration for New Sitcom
Reuters reports that Oscar-winning actor Mel Gibson will team up with ABC to develop a new family comedy about raising a large family. As the father of seven children, Gibson should have an endless source of inspiration for the show, which will be co-executive produced by Emmy winning Simpsons producers Julie Thacker and Mike Scully with Gibson's company Icon Productions. Thacker and Scully, a husband-and-wife team who also have a fairly large combined family, pitched the idea to Gibson. "Mike and I decided to do a comedy about five boys because we have five girls, and trust me, there's nothing funny about that," Thacker quipped.
NBC On Top in Ratings Race
With baseball now long gone and Fox struggling with its new fall lineup, the door was left open for another network to take over the lead in the battle for television ratings. After some key lineup changes, NBC dominated the ratings race for the week ending Nov. 2, with a resurgent ER as one of the week's top shows. Reuters reports that with November sweeps under way, NBC looks set to run away from the competition, especially after Fox's cancellation of Skin and the unremarkable premiere of Arrested Development. ABC's According to Jim and Hope & Faith were strong shows for the week, as was the airing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown on ABC, which drew its largest audience since 1991. The CBS special CBS at 75 attracted a noteworthy audience on Sunday, helping it to a second place finish for the week. The news wasn't all bad for Fox, however, with the season premiere of the always popular The Simpsons as well as its hit drama The O.C., which returned with its highest rating yet.
P. Diddy Awarded Athlete of the Week Honors
After successfully completing the New York City Marathon and raising some $2 million for charity, hip-hop big shot Sean "P. Diddy" Combs has been named Athlete of the Week by USA Track & Field, AP reports. In his very first attempt at the 26-mile run, Combs completed the race in a respectable 4 hours, 14 minutes, 54 seconds, going the entire time on an injured right knee. "We sat a bar and we crushed that bar," the rapper said. "This is just a start. This wasn't a publicity stunt." Proceeds from P. Diddy's fund raising efforts will go to New York City schools, the Children's Hope Foundation, and Daddy's House Social Programs. Major contributors to his cause included New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, fellow rap artist Jay-Z, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez.
Slick Rick Could Be Released
According to Reuters, following a ruling by a federal judge that reversed a 1997 decision by the Bureau of Immigration Affairs to have him deported to the U.K., rap star Slick Rick is set to be released from his detention with Immigration and Naturalization Services. Charged with attempted murder in 1991, Ricky Walters served two years in prison, and was jailed again by the INS while awaiting deportation, which U.S. law requires for any foreign national who commits a felony in this country. In 1995, Immigration Affairs issued a waiver allowing Walters to be set free and remain in the country, considering, among other things, his family matters, rehabilitation and recording career. However, he was arrested in May 2002 in Miami and charged with self-deportation and illegally re-entering the country after performing aboard a Caribbean cruise ship in international waters. On Monday, Judge Kimba Wood determined that this latest incarceration denied the rapper due process and reinstated Immigration Affairs' original 1995 decision.
Big Names Return to "Producers"
After much speculation, stage and screen actors Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane will return to claim their original roles in the Mel Brooks musical, The Producers
It's never easy to gauge the true tastes of American audiences when it comes to what they watch and listen to.
The nominations for the 28th Annual People's Choice Awards--sponsored by the Gallup Organization--were announced on Tuesday and some surprising picks lead the pack. Actor Jason Alexander (of ABC's axed sitcom Bob Patterson) received a nod as favorite male performer in a new television series, and the high-octane flick The Fast and the Furious scored a nomination as well.
Here's the complete rundown of those nominated for the upcoming ceremony to be held Jan. 13, 2002 in Pasadena and broadcast on CBS:
Motion Picture: The Fast and the Furious, Pearl Harbor, Shrek
Motion Picture Star in a Comedy: Jim Carrey, Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller
Motion Picture Star in a Drama: Tom Hanks, Anthony Hopkins, Denzel Washington
Motion Picture Actor: Mel Gibson, Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington
Motion Picture Actress: Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Lopez
Television Comedy Series: Everybody Loves Raymond, Frasier, Friends
Television Dramatic Series: ER, Law & Order, The West Wing
Male Television Performer: Drew Carey, Kelsey Grammer, Ray Romano
Female Television Performer: Jennifer Aniston, Oprah Winfrey, Calista Flockhart
Male Performer in a New Television Series: Jason Alexander, (Bob Patterson), Scott Bakula (Enterprise), Damon Wayans (My Wife and Kids)
Female Performer in a New Television Series: Ellen DeGeneres (The Ellen Show), Kim Delaney (Philly), Jill Hennessy (Crossing Jordan), Reba McEntire (Reba)
Male Musical Performer: Garth Brooks, Tim McGraw, George Strait
Female Musical Performer: Faith Hill, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez
Musical Group: 'N Sync, Backstreet Boys, Dixie Chicks
What will September bring?
Plenty, say the major TV networks as they begin their weekly series of meetings in New York known as the TV "upfront," hyping their 2001-02 TV schedules to advertisers. As much as 80 percent of next season's ad inventory is bought during this time.
NBC and the WB have announced their lineups, with ABC scheduled to make its presentation Tuesday.
NBC will shake things up a little. It has lessened its sitcom load by scheduling only eight comedy series, including three new sitcoms, the lowest the network has aired in two decades. Gone is the Sunday night movie, an NBC staple since the mid-1970s. It also is banking on its new primetime game show, The Weakest Link, to prosper. The Anne Robinson-hosted quizzer will remain at 8 p.m. Mondays while a second serving will now air at 8 p.m. Sundays.
A new sitcom with much to prove is Inside Schwartz, about a sports fan (Road Trip's Breckin Meyer) whose thoughts are revealed through conversations with sports figures. NBC will air it at 8:30 p.m. Thursdays following Friends, a time slot notorious for such failures as Jesse and The Single Guy. The series comes from the creators of Just Shoot Me and Mad About You. NBC is looking to combat the dent CBS' Survivor put in the famed NBC Thursday Must-See TV schedule, which was once virtually unbeatable with Friends kicking off the night. The rest of Thursday will remain the same with Will & Grace, Just Shoot Me and ER.
NBC also will add three new dramas, changing the schedules on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays while keeping Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays intact.
Mondays will lead off with The Weakest Link, with Third Watch moving to 9 p.m., followed by a new drama series, Crossing Jordan, with Jill Hennessy as a female coroner.
The new sitcom Emeril, to air 8 p.m. Tuesdays, stars the TV chef Emeril Lagasse in a "show-within-a-show" scenario. And in the 9:30 p.m. spot will be the last new sitcom, Scrubs, about hospital interns, from the makers of Spin City.
On Sundays, another extension of the Law & Order franchise, called Law & Order: Criminal Intent, will air at 9 p.m. UC: Undercover, about an elite unit at the U.S. Justice Department, will follow at 10 p.m.
Say goodbye to DAG, which starred Delta Burke and David Alan Grier; The Fighting Fitzgeralds, with Brian Dennehy; and the popular 3rd Rock from the Sun, which is in its final season.
Midseason candidates include a new comedy with Seinfeld's Julia Louis-Dreyfus; another new sitcom, What Are You Thinking, starring Hank Azaria; and Leap of Faith; from the creators of HBO's Sex in the City.
Losing Buffy the Vampire Slayer to UPN was a major defection for the fledging WB. Now one of its other popular shows, Charmed, also may go through some unexpected changes.
The WB picked up Charmed for a new season, but Shannen Doherty, one of the three witches/sisters who call themselves "the power of three," is leaving the show after three seasons.
"We have had a long and prosperous relationship with Shannen and we didn't want to hold her back from what she wanted to do," Spelling Television, Charmed's producer, released in a statement. "We wish her all the best and much continued success."
"We hope to see her back on the network in the future," the WB added in its statement.
This is not the first time that Doherty has walked away from an Aaron Spelling-produced show. In 1994, Doherty fled Beverly Hills, 90210. Spelling welcomed Doherty back with open arms in 1998 when he cast her in Charmed.
Nan Sumsky, Spelling Television's director of series publicity, said Monday that it was unclear whether Doherty will be replaced. The show's two other costars, Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs, will return.
"It would be hard to have a 'power of three' without a third," Sumsky added.
Still, the WB has negotiated multiple-year deals with four of its top-rated series: Dawson's Creek, 7th Heaven, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Felicity. The network also is keeping the Buffy spin-off Angel, but did not renew its option with the sci-fi show Roswell. UPN is now in serious negotiations to pick up Roswell.
New shows to be added to the WB's fall schedule include: Deep in the Heart, a sitcom starring Reba McEntire, and Smallville, a drama about the young Superman mythology. The WB also will launch a "reality wheel" on Sundays, with two new shows, Lost in the USA and No Boundaries.
Popular, Jack and Jill, Grosse Pointe and The Jamie Foxx Show, which recently aired its final episode, will not return.
Possible ABC fall schedule
Looks like ABC is weaning itself off of the Who Wants to be a Millionaire juggernaut, now that the writers strike has been averted. The Regis Philbin-hosted game show will now just air twice weekly come the fall.
The Alphabet Network is adding a variety of new and returning shows, with reality, sitcom and dramas among them. A few new sitcoms are planned, including Bob Patterson, about a motivational speaker, starring Jason Alexander, and a Jim Belushi-led family vehicle. There also will be a new Steven Bochco drama, Philly, starring Kim Delaney, to compliment the return of NYPD Blue. ABC also is relying on its reality programming, bringing back another installment of The Mole and a new show, The Runner. ABC will make its announcement Tuesday.