On the Air
The latest news from the TV beat, including Billy Campbell, Sela Ward and Bryant Gumbel
While Once and Again fans cling to the past (they plan to flood ABC with baby gifts for Rick and Lily’s unborn child in a futile attempt to reverse the show’s cancellation), the cast is already looking toward the future. Billy Campbell and Sela Ward have their eyes on the big screen: He’ll play a wife beater later this month in Enough with Jennifer Lopez, and Ward will join Billy Bob Thornton in Behind the Badge this winter. Evan Rachel Wood (Jessie) will appear on the May 8 West Wing as C.J. Cregg’s (Allison Janney) niece, Jeffrey Nordling (Jake) has been cast as a war correspondent in the NBC pilot War Stories, and Ever Carradine (Tiffany) will play a young married in an ABC comedy under consideration for fall. As for creators Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, the duo have a commitment to develop more shows for ABC, but will take time out to produce The Last Samurai with Tom Cruise. Like ABC, they’ve received hundreds of letters and e-mails from crushed viewers. ”It’s surprising that a show, [which] from the network’s standpoint has such low numbers, managed to attract such a loyal audience,” says Herskovitz. ”It’s just been so moving.”
A Host of Possibilities
And now for something completely different. That’s what news observers suggest CBS do to turn the tide on the third-ranked Early Show. With Bryant Gumbel set to leave by summer, CBS should ”go get a Bill O’Reilly or a Geraldo Rivera,” says one morning news vet. ”Or maybe go with three women and make it like The View.” To help generate ideas, CBS snagged former acting Today exec producer Michael Bass to replace Steve Friedman as Early’s senior exec producer. (NBC sources say Bass was favored to replace wunderkind Jeff Zucker as Today‘s exec producer last year but was snubbed for Jonathan Wald.) But when it comes to replacing Gumbel, Bass certainly has his work cut out for him. ”It’s hard work finding people who can do these jobs,” says the news vet. ”NBC was incredibly lucky that Katie and Matt walked through the door 10 years ago.” Hey, don’t forget Al Roker!
And So On…Leave it to The X-Files to serve up perhaps the weirdest TV plot of the season. In the May 12 episode, Doggett (Robert Patrick) and Reyes (Annabeth Gish) encounter a lonely man who uses his psychokinetic ability to replicate the Brady Bunch house inside his own home. The production crew painstakingly re-created much of the Brady domicile (including the living room and kitchen) while look-alikes were cast as Carol & Co. ”The strangest thing about it,” says Files exec producer Vince Gilligan, who wrote and directed the episode, ”is how uncomedic it actually is. It’s much more emotional than you’d think…. Hopefully, that’s good.” — Dan Snierson
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