For those of you clamoring for the latest news on what’s going on in TV Land, welcome to the Daily’s new television dish, detailing anything and everything in the world of television – news, ratings, guest stars, you name it.
Legal Biz – First thing’s first, two prominent television figures are heading to court. Howard Stern has beat hotornot.com to the punch. While the creators of the website were considering suing ABC over “Are You Hot? The Search for America’s Sexiest People,” Stern has filed a $100 million lawsuit against ABC and the producers of the show for copying “unique aspects” of a radio segment in which members of his crew and guests evaluate the bodies of in-studio contestants. Before ABC’s program debuted, Stern was in talks to develop a TV series based on his radio segment, but once “Are You Hot?” aired, talks for his own TV show fell through, the lawsuit said. Just when we thought all the blame had been allocated to ABC, reality television and the American public, Howard Stern has to come along and take a piece.
Elsewhere in the justice system, the future James Gandolfini/”Sopranos” legal battle might be solved before it even starts. After Gandolfini filed suit last week saying he wasn’t properly notified by HBO that there was going to be a fifth season of “The Sopranos,” HBO fired back this week with a countersuit, delaying the scheduled start date of production on the fifth season. Flying in to possibly save the day is show producer Brad Grey. Even with a disappointing 4th season, we must hope Grey can successfully broker a peace. Otherwise, what are they going to do, make viewers wait 14 months for it? Oh, wait …
Got Any Gum? – Meanwhile, David Letterman is apparently not ready to return to his late-night hosting duties. Over the past few weeks, such stars as Bruce Willis, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell have filled in for Dave as he recuperates from a case of the shingles. Though Dave was expected to be back this week, his doctor ordered more recovery time. As a result, “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Brad Garrett, comedian Tom Dreesen and Bonnie Hunt will take over hosting duties Monday through Wednesday, with reruns airing Thursday and Friday due to the NCAA Tournament.
Timmay!! – “South Park” returns with all new episodes starting tomorrow night on Comedy Central at 10 p.m. If only the world of politics could offer something to satire.
Sweeps Stars – Finally, though there is still a month or so to go before the networks start amping things up for May sweeps, there is already much to look forward to, especially in terms of creative casting. Macaulay Culkin will make his sitcom debut with a guest appearance on “Will & Grace” later this spring as a divorce lawyer. Matthew Perry will try and showcase his acting chops on “The West Wing” in late April, taking a break from his “Friends” role to play a Republican lawyer interviewing for a White House associate position underneath our favorite president, Josiah Bartlet (Martin Sheen).
In addition, Steven Bochco is apparently keeping his promise to Kim Delaney. After leaving “NYPD Blue” to star in her own legal drama “Philly,” last fall, Bochco agreed to let her rejoin “Blue” if “Philly” tanked. It did, and because her stint on “CSI: Miami” didn’t last, Delaney will be back on “NYPD Blue” starting in May. It’s unclear at this point whether her return will be permanent.