On the Air
The latest news from the TV beat
‘Shoot’ for the ‘Star Wars’
If you tune in to Just Shoot Me and see George Lucas sharing screen time with David Spade and George Segal, it’s no Jedi mind trick: The Star Wars overlord will indeed make his television acting debut during an upcoming episode of the NBC officecom in which Finch (Spade) is obsessed with meeting his hero. The producers doubted they could nab the reclusive Lucas for the role (the director’s main thespian credit was a tiny part in 1994’s Beverly Hills Cop III) but they asked him anyway; turns out, he’s a Shoot fan. Lucas taped his scene on Oct. 21, even throwing a stunt punch. (”He told our director, ‘Now, if you take a couple of frames out of this, it’ll speed it up and make it look more effective,”’ notes Shoot executive producer Judd Pillot.) ”His acting was through the roof,” adds Spade. ”He nailed it…. And then we put up a card table and formed a line for autographs. It was pretty bad. He spent more time giving autographs than he did doing the show.” — Dan Snierson
Failure Is an Option
The TV-show graveyard is about to get a whole lot more crowded as the networks begin to decide which of their freshman class should receive immediate burial. Almost every net has prime candidates for cancellation: CBS is waffling on Presidio Med (No. 72) and giving the evil eye to Bram and Alice (No. 69), while ABC — which already dropped That Was Then and Push, Nevada — is keeping a death watch over MDs (No. 76). Fox’s girls club (No. 79) is a goner, and the future looks grim for Firefly (No. 87) as well as UPN’s Haunted (No. 109) — though both nets insist they’ll give the latter two shows more time to find an audience. The real disappointment for net execs this season has been how poorly shows from high-wattage production teams like Frasier’s Christopher Lloyd and Joe Keenan (the folks behind Bram) and ER’s John Wells and Lydia Woodward (the perpetrators of Presidio) are doing. Still, the high-profile underachievers may get a reprieve thanks to their creators’ previous successes. Says one Big Four exec, ”If you like the show even though it’s not doing well, but it’s done by people who know what they’re doing, it’s easier to stick with it as opposed to sticking with people…who don’t have the proven track record.”
AND SO ON…
First, the good news: After posting decent gains in the key demographics (up 6 percent among 18- to 34-year-olds) and total viewers (up nearly 5 percent) this season, CBS’ Big Brother will likely return for a fourth season next July, says CEO Leslie Moonves. The Eye has already received hundreds of inquiries from fans wanting to become housemates. As for the bad news: Julie Chen will probably continue as host…. The second season of American Idol is shaping up to be more girlie than Ryan Seacrest’s wardrobe. On top of adding New York City hip-hop deejay Angie Martinez to the judges’ panel, producers have also asked first-year contestant (and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader) Kristin Holt to join the show as a correspondent. ”She’ll do some behind-the-scenes stuff on the road,” explains Seacrest (who will likely serve as the sole emcee). ”Kristin was a lot of fun — bubbly and energetic. People really took to her.”… Lena Olin isn’t the only veteran film actress gracing Alias this season: Faye Dunaway has signed up to guest-star in three episodes starting in December or January. She’ll play the head of counterintelligence for the Alliance, dispatched to SD-6 to investigate who has been sending Sloane messages from his presumed-dead wife, Emily.