William Asher, who directed widely popular episodes of such classic TV shows as I Love Lucy and Bewitched, died Monday at a board and care facility in Palm Desert, Calif., according to USA Today, at the age of 90 years old. Though no cause of death has been officially given, Asher's wife, Meredith, says that he died of complications from Alzheimer's disease.
But Asher managed to leave quite an incredible mark on the world, making generations of fans laugh time and time again. His association with Lucy stars Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz began when he directed the pilot of Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks for their Desilu Studios. This led to him heading at least 100 episodes of 'Lucy,' including the classic “Job Switching” episode, in which which Lucy and Ethel are seen working in a candy factory and unable to keep up with the chocolates being sent down the conveyor belt that they are supposed to be wrapping.
Asher also produced and directed episodes of another popular hit television show, Bewitched, which starred his then-wife Elizabeth Montgomery as a witch. During that time, he was nominated for four Emmys for directing and producing, winning once for directing. So even though he may be physically gone, his endless contributions to entertainment will never be forgotten.
Aside from his wife, Asher is also survived by Liane Sears and Rebecca Asher, sons Brian, Bill Jr., Robert and John, four stepchildren, nine grandchildren and eight step-grandchildren.
[Photo credit: Wenn.com]
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Top Story: Stewart Resigns Chief Post
A week or so after being convicted of obstructing justice in her shady stock trading case, Martha Stewart has resigned as director and chief creative officer of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., Reuters reports. The New York-based media and merchandising company said Stewart will remain with the company in the new post of founding editorial director, and will report to Sharon Patrick, Stewart's successor as chief creative officer. The company has suffered from a considerable loss in business, with its stock down dramatically, advertisers fleeing from her flagship magazine and the cancellation of her TV show on many stations. Martha Stewart Living said in a statement that Stewart will continue to provide "creative inspiration" for new products and would author two pending books on keeping house and baking. It also said she would provide input on "the continuing evolution" of the company's brand name and on strategic issues.
Presley "Saw Things" During Marriage to Jackson
Why did she do it? The Associated Press reports Lisa Marie Presley told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.'s talk show Enough Rope recently that she "saw things she could do nothing about" during her brief marriage to Michael Jackson, who is facing child molestation charges, but refused to elaborate. Presley said she felt "powerless in a lot of ways, in terms of ... realizing that I was part of a machine, and seeing things going on that I couldn't do anything about. And don't ask me what sort of things, because I'm not going to answer. But just stuff." Presley, who is in Australia promoting her own singing career, was married to the pop star from 1994 to 1996. Asked how she felt about Jackson now, Presley replied: "It's really bizarre, I feel nothing."
Ross's Time Is Documented--in Her Diary, At Least
Although an Arizona court is ordering her to return to serve jail time, singer Diana Ross claims she has already fulfilled the state requirement to spend 24 consecutive hours in jail on her drunken driving sentence, AP reports. "I think we actually have proof from her," Jim Nesci, an attorney for Ross, told AP. "She documented it in her diary." Tucson City Court Magistrate T. Jay Cranshaw found that Ross failed to serve 24 consecutive hours as required by Arizona law, but instead spent 47 hours in the custody of Greenwich police over a three-day span-with her longest stay from 8 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next day, 22 hours. Cranshaw has ordered Ross to return to Tucson "to serve 48 consecutive hours in the Pima County Jail" and has scheduled an April 1 court hearing on her sentence, AP reports.
Britney Stinking Up the Place
Cosmetics giant Elizabeth Arden Inc. has signed a deal with Britney Spears to develop her own fragrance, Reuters reports. Under the licensing deal announced Friday, the 22-year-old pop princess will develop and market her own line of fragrance, skincare and color cosmetics. The company will launch the fragrance first, in high-end department stores this fall. "[Spears] is a talented, fashionable woman who appeals to a young and international consumer base." Paul West, president of Elizabeth Arden, said in a statement. Financial terms were not disclosed.
Apprentice Hopefuls Line Up
Now gearing up for its second season, hundreds of applicants showed up outside NBC's Burbank, Calif., studios Saturday in hopes to land a spot on the hit reality show The Apprentice, AP reports, a show in which billionaire Donald Trump chooses only one person at the end to join his staff. More than a dozen casting calls will take place in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Miami and San Francisco.
Rooney Thinks He Knows Who's "Wacko"
60 Minutes staple Andy Rooney got a flood of mail in response to his on-air commentary Feb. 22, in which he called The Passion of the Christ director Mel Gibson a "wacko," AP reports. It's the biggest viewer response ever to a segment on the CBS newsmagazine, which has been on the air since 1968, a spokesman told AP. "I think the mail was a good indication of how bitterly divided our country is right now," Rooney said on his Sunday 60 Minutes commentary. "I hope I'm not contributing to that--even though I'm right and everyone else is wrong."
Role Call: Broderick, Parker Chew on Candy; Swayze Wants To Dance; Hawke, Fishburne Go on the Assault
Real-life marrieds Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker are joining forces for the first time on Strangers With Candy, a big-screen treatment of the hit Comedy Central show, which starred Amy Sedaris. The show, which aired for three seasons on Comedy Central, starred Sedaris as a frumpy and unattractive outcast who returns to high school after 30 years of hard living on the streets and in prison. According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was unclear which roles Broderick and Parker would play…Patrick Swayze and his wife, Lisa Niemi, are finally bringing their pet project One Last Dance to the big screen. The trade paper reports the couple is set to star and produce the film based on the award-winning play they created in the mid-1980s. It finds the two as former stars of a New York dance company who are brought back together in hopes of saving the company after the death of its artistic director…Ethan Hawke and Laurence Fishburne are set to star in Assault on Precinct 13, a remake of the 1976 John Carpenter film. According to the Reporter, the film is set on New Year's Eve, in which a mobster (Fishburne) is temporarily incarcerated at a soon-to-be-closed down police station. As a rogue gang tries to free him, a cop (Hawke) must command a crew of policemen and prisoners to defend the station. The film will also star Gabriel Byrne and
Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne renewed their wedding vows during a New Year's Eve party at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Hundreds of guests were on hand to watch the couple tie the knot again, including Justin Timberlake and Chris Rock. Sharon and Ozzy were first married on July 4, 1982, and had originally planned to renew their vows on their 20th anniversary but plans were delayed because of Sharon's battle with colon cancer. According to People.com, Sharon's father and former Black Sabbath manager, Don Arden, escorted her down the aisle while daughter Kelly served as a flower girl. The 1970s group The Village People provided the music for the celebration.
Singer Diana Ross, who was arrested Monday for allegedly driving under the influence, said she was trying to rent a video and got lost when police stopped her, The Associated Press reports. Tucson Police stopped the singer at a Blockbuster video store, where she had pulled into a handicapped space, after someone reported seeing a vehicle swerving on the road. She twice denied she had been drinking and insisted she had gotten lost trying to rent a video.
A man who found Robert Redford's credit card near a convenience store in Orem, Utah, close to the actor's home and his Sundance resort, tried to extort signed memorabilia in exchange for the plastic, the AP reports. The man called the resort to report he'd found the card and was offered free ski lift passes and dinner for two to return it. When he insisted on signed memorabilia instead, the staff balked and called the police, who then traced the call and went to the man's home to retrieve it. Ah, the wonders of *69.
Twentieth Century Fox has postponed the release of the Heath Ledger starrer The Sin Eater because of some unintentionally funny special effects. The film revolves around a young conflicted New York priest (Ledger) investigating the case of the murdered French ambassador whose corpse is covered with mysterious Aramaic symbols. A post-production insider, who spoke to Variety on condition of anonymity, said the effects depicting sins flying out of the human body looked "like calamari." The occult thriller, which was slated for release Jan. 17, will now get a possible late-summer debut under its new title, The Order.
Screen Actors Guild president Melissa Gilbert said in her end-of-the-year message to the 98,000 SAG members that the union will make nice in 2003. According to Variety, Gilbert emphasized nonconfrontational, conciliatory approaches to key issues and a smooth relationship with other Hollywood guilds. Gilbert recapped the outlook for upcoming negotiations of commercial contracts by saying, "Negotiating fair wages and working conditions is the primary commitment of SAG." The current pact expires Oct. 30.
A Montana man who legally changed his name to "Jack Ass" in 1997 as a crusade against drunk driving has sued media giant Viacom Inc., claiming its MTV show and feature pic, Jackass: The Movie, defamed his character. The suit, filed in November in Montana, claimed Viacom was "liable for injury to my reputation that I have built and defamation of my character which I have worked so hard to create." Mr. Ass, born Bob Craft, changed his name six years ago after his brother and a friend were killed in a car crash--theirs being the only vehicle involved. The suit, according to Reuters, asks for $10 million in damages.
Cable news networks CNN, Headline News, MSNBC and CNBC suffered double-digit drops in their year-end ratings compared to last year, according to Nielsen Media Research. In 2001, viewers depended on the television for updates on post 9/11 events--making a possible war with Iraq an enticing thing for the networks. Variety reports the only news cable network to experience growth last year was Fox News, which has become the prime peacetime network cable news destination.
Tom Hanks made a surprise stage appearance at Vermont jam band Phish's sold-out concert at Madison Square Garden on New Year's Eve, which had fans shelling out more than $1,000 to get into the show, the AP reports. The band formed in the early 1980s and built a fan base through constant touring, becoming a top-grossing concert act by the mid-1990s. In 2000, exhausted from 17 years on the road, Phish announced they were calling it quits for awhile. The concert ended their two-year hiatus and kicked off a run of winter shows.
The series, set in Los Angeles, relates the misadventures of Liza Hammond, mother, widow, and traveling lecturer, as she struggles to divide her time among work, home, and her twin daughters, Jenny and Mary.