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TV STUFF: Unhappy 'Ally McBeal'?

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

First Billy. Then Georgia. Next … Ally?!? Say it ain't so.

OK, it ain't so.

While "Ally" star Calista Flockhart goes the way of most rich-and-bored TV stars in the pages of the new W magazine, saying she "might be tired of the part … [and would] love branching out into other directions," reps for the actress insist that she's not angling to get out of the hit primetime Fox show.

Flockhart "is perfectly happy as Ally," her reps tell today's New York Daily News.

"Ally McBeal" is heading into the home-stretch run of its third season. Before the year is out, the legal-eagle comedy-drama will say goodbye to original cast members Gil Bellows (as Ally love Billy Thomas) and Courtney Thorne-Smith (as Billy's estranged wife Georgia Thomas).

TALKED OUT? It looks like curtains for would-be daytime talk shows fronted by Martin Short and Roseanne. Trade paper reports today say that staffers for Short's first-year program have been told they'll be out of jobs when the season ends in April. "Roseanne," meanwhile, has been on life support ever since a contingent of big-market NBC stations relegated the show to lousy, late-night time slots just before its second fall season. (Short's show also airs in night-owl time slots in many cities.) Officially, reps for "The Martin Short Show" say "no decision" has been made about bringing the talker back. (It's not nice to ax stuff during Lent.)

THE ALL-NEW OPRAH? John Stossel is about as opposite of Oprah Winfrey as you can get. He's white, he's a guy, he's got a moustache. Still, the buzz is that Stossel, best known to newsmag junkies for his reports on ABC's "20/20," is the heir apparent to the talk queen. Daily Variety says Stossel's in line to get his own hour-long syndicated talker by fall 2001. The producer? Oprah's producer -- King World. The thinking is, Stossel would have a running start to move into Oprah's time slots should the talk queen decide to hang up the mike when her contract expires after 2002.

HAPPY AND GAY? Advice guru Dr. Laura Schlessinger -- under a roaring fire from gay activists who are lobbying Paramount to drop her planned TV talk show because of perceived homophobic comments on her national radio show -- has finally dropped the "S" word ... as in she's "sorry." "… Some of the words I've used have hurt some people, and I am sorry for that," Dr. Laura said in a statement issued Friday. The doc said she merely was talking in a "clinical context," which in no way reflected her nonclinical judgment. That's her story, anyway. Reaction from said gay activists was (and we're paraphrasing here): Uh-huh.

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