''Entertainment Tonight,'' Jerry Springer, and Showtime made news the week of May 15, 1998


Mary Hart’s voice isn’t the only thing about Entertainment Tonight that’s causing people fits. Access Hollywood executive producer Jim Van Messel (who previously ran ET) is absolutely apoplectic about the hardball tactics his former employer is using to get exclusive interviews.

In a letter sent to Hollywood publicists, Van Messel accused ET of threatening to boycott any celeb who works with Access. ”The argument offered is that Access Hollywood‘s ratings are dismal,” wrote Van Messel, who went on to spell out the warning, namely that cooperating with Access isn’t worth the consequence of ET ”avoiding coverage completely.” Neither Van Messel nor ET would comment on the letter, but it’s no wonder the competition is getting ugly — this season, almost all the entertainment magazine shows are struggling. Although it still dominates, ET has lost more than 100,000 viewers. The two-year-old Access is down 1 million viewers. The only show on the upswing is Extra, whose audience increased by 1 million.


Jerry Springer, whose bosses want him to tone down his fight-filled gabfest, still has at least one more contentious dysfunctional family in his future: The Simpsons. Springer will make a guest appearance with Homer et al. in an episode for next season’s November sweeps. The Simpsons‘ crew flew to Springer‘s Chicago set last week to record his bit. Meanwhile, don’t look for a touchy-feely Springer anytime soon. He taped a bunch of fist-flying May sweeps episodes before the recent controversy blew up; plus, the host recently told Howard Stern he had no plans to change the show’s content.


Showtime picked up Adrian Lyne’s controversial feature film Lolita and plans to air it jointly with the Sundance Channel this August.