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Once and Again...Once Again


contributed by Elizabeth Angela, Debbie Marshall and others
compiled and gathered daily by Sue Kaliski

This page contains current feature articles related to the show,
cast, directors, etc. Feature articles, from past months, can be
found in Articles Archives.

Lily Speaks
The star of 'Once and Again' on acting, motherhood and bad decisions at ABC

By Ramin Setoodeh

This season, Sela Ward will put some heat back in TV's "House" as an old flame who returns in Dr. Gregory House's life. On the big screen, the actress is known for her supporting roles—she was Harrison Ford's wife on "The Fugitive," a seductress in "54," Richard Gere's bar companion in "Runaway Bride, " the mom in "Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights" and Dennis Quaid's wife in "The Day After Tomorrow." But it's on TV where the 49-year-old actress has made her mark. Ward picked up two Emmy's—one for the drama "Sisters" (which aired in 1991), and another for the cult favorite "Once and Again" (1999), as a divorced mom named Lily who found love again with Rick Sammler, played by Billy Campbell. The first two seasons of "Once and Again" are now on DVD (it also starred Shane West and Evan Rachel Wood). Ward spoke to Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh.

The fans of "Once and Again" loved the show. They even bought a billboard asking ABC not to cancel it.
They did. I can see it struck a chord with people—they saw lots of hope and possibility in life. Half of our country is divorced. That's a lot of people.

What happened? It was still canceled.
Well, the whole regime at ABC changed. They put us in seven time slots in three years, which is just sure death for any show. It wasn't handled well the whole time we were on the air. So I think it just wasn't a very smart decision on the network's part. That's unfortunate because I think it had a really strong fan base and following. If they had just found an ideal time spot and stuck to it I think the show would have done really well. Do you miss the character at all?
You know I do. I love her. I love Lily. I had so much fun playing her. She was really coming into her own. I thought I had a lot more life left to live in that show.

It took so long for the second season to come out on DVD. Are we going to get the third season, too?
Yeah. They just had a group—whoever they could scrounge together around the studio—to narrate the very last episode.

You've said it's very difficult being in a one-hour drama and raising kids at the same time. Do you still feel that way?
I do. If I were to sign up for an hour show for six years, my kids would be in college by the time I finished. I don't know that's a choice I would make, only because I value my time with my children, particularly these years. My son has one more year before he starts junior high school and my daughter's in the second grade and to me these are just such magical years and important years to be there for them. So that's my priority more than my career at just the moment.

But you are on "House" now. You've signed up for seven more episodes?
Yeah, a total of nine. It's a hard show to have a love interest kind of thing going because it's not a relationship show. It's a procedural show. I would be hard-pressed to play a doctor or a lawyer because of all the medical jargon or legalese that one has to say.

But you have such great chemistry with Hugh Laurie [who plays Dr. Gregory House]? Where does it come from?
Oh, well, thanks. I just think that's one of those things like with people in general, you know, whether it's a best friend, or a lover, or a teacher. You just have chemistry with some people and others you don't. [Laughs]) And it's always a really good thing when you do.

Where do you keep your Emmys?
The bookshelf of my library.

When "Once and Again" started, you said it was very hard to get a role in Hollywood as an actress over 40. Do you still feel that's the case?
In features, it is. It's very, very skewed; it's a very young market. You know, there's the token girlfriend or the token female in the piece. But for real meaty, meaty roles, you see all sorts of feature actresses coming back to television today. So I think there is a lot of possibility for women in that medium.

What are you planning on doing next?
I'm working on developing a show myself. The only thing I can say is that it has to do with southern women.

What's the hardest part of being a career mom?
Finding the balance. I'm a very ambitious, career-driven woman. I enjoy that. It's very important to me to be creatively gratified. I think it's important for a lot of women and yet I cherish my children dearly and want be involved in their lives, and family's very important to me. I think it's the struggle of our years at the moment.

Do your kids watch you at all on TV?
Certain things. They watched "The Day After Tomorrow." They watch "House," they love that. They haven't really seen a lot of "Once and Again," because they haven't been old enough to understand that this is acting. It would be very strange to see their mom married to this other guy and that whole number. __ (August 21, 2005)

© 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
© 2005

Watch with Wanda

Once & Again Once Again: Two tasty treats this week for fans of the dearly departed Once & Again. Though, sadly, neither is a surprise renewal by ABC. Harrumph.

Everyone who attends this Monday's chat is automatically entered to win the newly released Once & Again DVD Collection first-season six-disc set. (Read the rules here.)

Plus, you'll get a little extra info from that dreamy D.B. Woodside (now Principal Wood on Buffy) on what would have happened. In case you don't remember, Woodside played Henry Higgins, the love interest and physical therapist for Susanna Thompson's character, Karen Sammler.

"We would have ended up together," he revealed. "I know we would have eventually gotten married, and it would have been beautiful. Really beautiful."

Does he wish the show would have continued? "Definitely, yes," said Woodside. "I wish ABC could have given the show just one more year. Because I know the producers had some amazing things ahead. Susanna and my storyline was left hanging. We kind of had that final romantic tableau where we're kissing on the Little League field. And then nothing.

"Still, I feel fortunate to have been a part of the show and the incredible cast. The writers were just so incredibly talented. Winding up as one of the characters' love interest, that's kind of cemented in TV land forever. ABC has been so good to me."__E!online (December 13, 2002)

Interview with Marshall Herskovitz

THE "ONCE AND AGAIN" DVD boasts 22 episodes of the TV series on six discs in a nice box set . . . but there are no extras. And that is at least a little annoying to Marshall Herskovitz, who was a producer, writer, director -- and even an actor -- on the show.

"We weren't asked," Herskovitz said during a telephone interview from his office in Los Angeles. "We were a little upset. We feel it's a shame and a missed opportunity."

The "we" he refers to includes his partner Edward Zwick, with whom he has created some fine films ("Traffic," "Legends of the Fall," "Glory") and terrific TV ("thirtysomething," "My So-Called Life").

And he's right, of course. "Once and Again" was a great show about the travails of divorce, dating again, single parents raising children, etc. And hearing more about how it developed, interviews with stars Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, perhaps an audio commentary for the pilot, would have been a nice bonus.

Still, as it is, 22 episodes of a program this good is nothing to sneeze at. And Herskovitz says he's grateful that Disney and ABC decided to release the first season. "ABC felt there would be interest in the show on DVD, and they wanted to do it sooner rather than later." ("Once and Again" aired for just three seasons, starting in the fall of 1999.)

Currently, Herskovitz and Zwick are working on a movie starring Tom Cruise, "The Last Samurai," which will be released next year. But they enjoy episodic television. "I think it's different for movies and televison. There's a real problem in the movie business with writing. People who don't understand writing have too much power in the decision-making process. You see a lot of flms come out that are not well-constructed and well-written.

"In dramatic TV, most executive producers are now writers. Writers are extremely powerful in television. David Kelly ('The Practice,' "Boston Public') and Aaron Sorkin ('The West Wing') are wonderful writers who control every aspect of their television shows."

Herskovitz said he and Zwick had remarkable freedom at the network. "We have had a very good relationship with ABC. Television people don't have time to lie; they tell you the truth.

"ABC was truthful with us all along. We knew we almost didn't come back for a third season. We were in danger of not finishing the year, and we knew that from the first week of that season.

"They said we were probably not going to produce all the shows. They discussed it with us, and we really needed 19 episodes (during the final season) to finish the stories we had set out, and that was their concession to us."

By the way, for the record, that acting thing happened in episode 17 (on Disc 5), when Herskovitz did an unbilled cameo as a doctor. ___ The Deseret News (December 6, 2002)

Powerhouse duo keeps the TV faith despite pink slips: Herskovitz and Zwick create sensitive shows

By Liane Faulder

After a string of hits that were also misses, Marshall Herskovitz could be rightly miffed with a large slice of the television viewing audience.

Though his shows of the last decade or so -- Once and Again, My So-Called Life, Relativity and thirtysomething -- were award-winning and critically acclaimed, none lasted longer than a good cry. That's because they were too clever, sensitive and bereft of breasts to attract all but the most discriminating of the viewing public. But Herskovitz isn't bitter.

"We don't take it personally," says the veteran producer and director, using the royal "we" to include his creative partner of 25 years, Ed Zwick. "If you do a moderately successful TV show, you have 10 million people watching a week. The fact that we had eight and not 10 does not depress me. You're still reaching them every week."

He's still game to try again. This time, there are two pilots in development with ABC. If Life With Bonnie is any indication, it's the perfect time to approach the struggling network with something good. Executives are clearly willing to take risks and that tiny, tender portion of the audience that loves Zwick and Herskovitz has been hungry since Once and Again signed off at the end of last season.

The first season of the semi-popular series, starring Sela Ward and Billy Campbell, has just been released on DVD, which is why Herskovitz is doing interviews. He's squeezing in calls while on the set of The Last Samurai, the movie he is producing with Tom Cruise. Though Herskovitz is reluctant to give any details about his new TV projects, both are relationship dramas. One takes place at the office. The other is a distinct departure from the Herskovitz/Zwick model.

"Everything we do concerns relationships, that's who we are, but it's very different for us and we have high hopes for it," he says. No word on when the shows will debut.

You can't talk to the warm and articulate Herskovitz without wondering why he hasn't managed to garner the status of a Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI) or a John Wells (ER)-- mega-producers whose work hauls in 20 million viewers on a middling sort of day. There's a tendency to dismiss the efforts of those types as less worthy because they rely on blood and bullets, instead of words and wondering. Herskovitz says there's plenty of room for both.

"Most people look to television for something different," he reflects. "Our shows are emotionally demanding in a certain way. Not everybody wants that after a hard day and I don't say that with any criticism. People want TV to take them away from their cares and that's a perfectly good role for television. It's just not something we feel particularly qualified to do, that's all."

So in between runs at the Emmy for Most Thoughtful, there's movies like Traffic, I Am Sam and Legends of the Fall, which Zwick and Herskovitz do in tandem. They are in no rush for a prime-time push, even though ABC may be feeling more than a little pressure to produce.

Though the network got through the November sweeps with some semblance of stability, it badly needs a flagship drama to boost its prime time offerings.

After all, NYPD Blue can't go on forever.

"At various times in our careers, we've been at networks that were in trouble in one form or another. It's been good for us, I'm embarrassed to say, because we tend to have a little more freedom and can set our own agenda to some extent." __ Edmonton Journal (November 22, 2002)

Evan Rachel Wood: Byting into the Secrets of Success

By Carrie Bell

Most teenagers spend their summers soaking up the sun, wasting their minimum wages at the mall or developing PlayStation thumb. For 15-year-old Evan Rachel Wood, this summer was all about work.

Starry sights: Watching an American idol in action in Simone.

In August alone, Once and Again's troubled teen appears in two films. In the Hollywood cyber-send-up Simone, she's Al Pacino's tech-savvy daughter, and in the touching family drama Little Secrets, she has the hots for 7th Heaven's David Gallagher.

Wood has also completed production on a third flick, Thirteen with Holly Hunter. But the hectic schedule is nothing new for the home-schooled North Carolina native, who has been acting "since words started coming out of my mouth."

She stole the show at her parents' regional theater company before heading west at age nine and winning parts in Practical Magic, Digging to China and the TV drama Profiler.

Her well-padded résumé set us to wondering...

Does all work and no play make Evan a dull girl?

"It's been harder and harder to be able to just hang out with my friends. Free time seems scarce these days, but I do have a good time whenever I get a chance. I like talking with my friends, shopping, listening to No Doubt. I have a black belt in tai kwon do. I got into it just for fun, but it became really meditative and spiritual."

How'd she get from the Tar Heel State to Tinseltown?

"I didn't really decide to move to Hollywood and pursue acting. My parents got separated, and my mom decided to move out here. I wasn't happy that my parents split up, but I figured now that I was in L.A., I might as well audition for stuff. I was making the best out of a bad situation. My first big break was Practical Magic. Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock are good role models. I lucked out to work with them early on."

Did working with A-listers like them prepare her for Al Pacino?

"Working with him was amazing--everything you could imagine it to be. He's so focused, I mean, even after they yell 'cut,' he stays in character. There was this scene where Al was opening a coffin and about to be arrested for killing his digital star, and the lid fell on his head.

"The actor who was playing the cop thought that meant we were cutting. Al just kept going, and the guy was flustered and kept apologizing. Finally, Al pulled his head out of the coffin and yelled, 'Will someone arrest me already?' "

Little Secrets is more on the serious side.

"Definitely. It's about a young violinist named Emily who has a stand kind of based on Charlie Brown and the whole 'doctor is in' thing. Everybody comes to her for advice or if they have secrets they need to get off their chest--for a small fee. Two boys move in next door and things start to fall apart. But it's a nice movie you can see with the whole family."

Speaking of family, is she missing her friends from Once and Again?

"It is a little weird not to be going back to work this time of year. I was there every week for three years. My mom and I drove past the set yesterday, and we almost drove in the driveway out of habit. I miss it already. I learned so much from that show. They were like a second family. I got really comfortable with the process. I guess it was just meant to be. And I still keep in touch with everyone, like Shane [West] and Julia [Whelan]."

Is there anything left to accomplish?

"I'm just getting started! I would love to work with Jodie Foster, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Robert De Niro. If I was going to pick a costar based on looks, I'd like to play Orlando Bloom's girlfriend. He's so cute, and I loved Lord of the Rings."__ E!Online (August 2002)

Teen's career takes off

Raleigh native has a dozen movies to her credit; 2 playing now


Evan Rachel Wood had a stroke of unexpected good luck this spring: "Once and Again," the well-received show on which she played thoughtful teen Jessie Sammler, got the ax from ABC.

That would give most actresses unemployment jitters, but the Raleigh native is bouncing into a full-fledged film career. She has the lead in "Little Secrets" and third billing (after Al Pacino and Catherine Keener) in "Simone" -- both of which opened Friday.

The wraith-thin actress turns 15 Sept. 7. Though she lost the "Interview with the Vampire" part of child vamp to Kirsten Dunst in 1994, she soon earned recurring roles on TV's "American Gothic" and "Profiler." With a dozen films behind her, including the upcoming shocker "Thirteen," Evan has entered the gray zone between child actor and adult thespian.

"I've pretty much been treated as a little sister or a daughter by people on the sets until `Thirteen,' " she said by phone from Los Angeles. "I guess, because of the material in that movie, people viewed me as an adult and treated me differently. I think people view you in terms of your parts.

"Catherine Hardwicke's script doesn't shy away from anything. You have two girls that age (13) doing lots of drugs and boys and everything that girls and guys are surrounded by in society. People don't want to believe this is going on, so it'll open a lot of eyes. I think if kids watch this, they'll understand the consequences and know this could happen to them."

Evan may be the least likely human being in her age group to succumb to those temptations. She has learned discipline all her life: from father Ira David Wood III, who directed her in productions at Raleigh's Theatre in the Park; from mother Sara Lynn Moore, who now lives with Evan in California; and from instructors of tae kwon do. (Though she's 5-foot-2 and just 88 pounds, Evan's a black belt. So's her mom.)

"When I was really little, I went to ballet but didn't like it. I was a tomboy, so Mom found a tae kwon do place near our house. It's more than self-defense skills; it's learning about meditation and having respect for your elders."

The respect runs both ways nowadays. Evan says she's mostly had "good luck with directors, who trust me. It makes me mad to hear people on a set say, `Oh, look at the performance that director is getting out of Evan.' (Younger) actors don't usually get a lot of credit; people think the director is giving us line readings. But it's collaborative. We're putting in as much work as they are."

She learned her craft at Theatre in the Park, starring in plays as demanding as "The Miracle Worker" (playing Helen Keller) alongside her mom, dad and older brother Ira. (He's now an actor, too. Oldest sibling Dana has become a musician in Missouri.)

Poise onstage and off has set Evan apart from the crowd. Sometimes, she says, "It's kind of hard for me to fit in with people my age or act like everybody else. Because I was raised more with adults than kids in the theater, I had different outlooks on life, different tastes in music and movies.

"In my family, my opinions mattered. My parents understood I was working just as hard as the adults. On movie sets, being a kid might actually be harder than being an adult. When you're not working, you have to go to school and go through all the things a teenager has to go through."

Not many teenagers have read opposite Annette Bening for a proposed remake of "Freaky Friday," in hopes of inheriting the Jodie Foster part. Not many would get plum roles in Los Angeles but still think of themselves as a North Carolinian: "I like to drop back and replant my roots when I can. It's so beautiful; that's where I'd want to raise my family."

And not many, after passing through "a brief astronaut phase" as a kid, quickly realized show business would suit them for life.

"My parents always supported me in that but gave me the choice," she says. "I can't think of anybody I could trust more to help me make decisions (about work), but I chose for myself.

"I'm kind of independent, kind of stubborn. If I'm working with a character, I don't like to ask for help unless I really don't understand something. I guess I'm comfortable with the acting process; it's kind of second nature now." __Charlotte Observer (August 2002)

A growing phenomenon


LOS ANGELES - Awkward stages are never fun. And for child actors growing up on the big screen, every step is magnified in front of millions of people. So it makes sense when 14-year-old Evan Rachel Wood says Jodie Foster is her biggest role model.

"She is very down to earth, strong and very nice," says Wood, who has two movies, "Simone" and "Little Secrets," opening Friday, as her career shifts from TV, where she appeared on the recently canceled "Once and Again."

"And," she adds, in a comment that makes her seem 14 going on 30, she wants to emulate Foster professionally, as well: "I'd also love to direct one day."

Like Foster, Wood began acting when she was a little girl. And now, like Foster years ago, Wood is facing the pressures of making the transition from child star to adult actor.

"It's kind of awkward," says the 5-foot-2 Wood. "When you're a kid, they think the director is doing all the work. The older you get, the more people realize you're doing it on your own. You get treated with more respect, but at the same time they still treat you like a kid. It's weird - you're not quite an adult, not really a child."

So far, being on the verge of womanhood is not getting in the way of Wood's career. In Blair Treu's independent feature "Little Secrets," Wood has her first lead role in a film: as Emily, a musically gifted preteen who deems herself keeper of secrets among the children in her neighborhood one summer while learning how to entrust others with secrets of her own.

"It's a sweet movie that isn't corny," says Wood, sounding again like a seasoned performer. "It's a nice family movie, with some good drama."

From 'Secrets' to satire

While "Secrets" is geared toward a younger audience, "Simone" aims for adults. In this film, directed by "The Truman Show's'" writer, Andrew Niccol, Wood provides some moral balance as the daughter of Catherine Keener and Al Pacino, a director whose leading lady is a computer-generated "actress."

"We always joke that she's the child actress playing the adult in the film," says Niccol. "She's frighteningly good."

"I loved the whole idea of 'Simone,'" adds Wood. "And the possibility of poking fun at the business."

She's happy that the two movies offer audiences a chance to see her stretch.

"It's good to have many different colors and just to do as many different things as you can," she says. "If you start playing the same thing over and over again, it gets old. You can't get scared and nervous. It will eat you alive. You have to fight and be strong."

More wise words from a young actress, but, after all, she has already tackled such issues as eating disorders and bisexuality in "Once and Again."

"This is a girl who was just born older," says Treu. "Yet, she's still able to maintain that sweet side. She's very much a pro. There is no reason why she won't be a major star."

Even Pacino was impressed.

"Al would look at her, look at me and just nod," says Niccol, likening Wood to Natalie Portman of "Star Wars: Episode I." "There is always something going on in [Evan's] eyes. There's an intelligence behind them."

Born in 1987 in Raleigh, N.C., Wood grew up the youngest of three children in a family of actors. Her training began as soon as she could walk, thanks to her father, Ira Wood, who runs the Theatre in the Park company in Raleigh.

Dad directed her in roles like Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker." Wood's mother, Sara, and brothers Ira and Dana (now a musician) also performed there. Several years ago, the company's production of "A Christmas Carol" served as the stage debut of Frankie Muniz, who went on to "Malcolm in the Middle."

When Wood's parents divorced in 1997, her mother, Sara Lynn Moore - an acting teacher who has played small parts in movies and TV shows - moved Wood and brother Ira to Los Angeles to pursue their careers. Wood landed roles in two 1998 projects: "Practical Magic" with Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock and opposite Kevin Bacon in Timothy Hutton's "Digging to China." Her breakthrough came with "Once and Again" - on which Ira occasionally guest-starred. Next up is the movie "Thirteen" with Holly Hunter.

Acting for herself

Billy Campbell, Wood's TV dad from "Once and Again," credits Wood's mother as a big reason why the teen is so level-headed about the business.

"Sara has encouraged Evan to be independent and to think for herself," he says. "Evan has got her head on her shoulders and her feet on the ground, and it has a lot to do with her mom."

Although it seems as though Wood should have no spare time, she has managed to earn a black belt in tae kwon do and occasionally does something just for fun.

"I like to hang out with my friends and be a stupid kid sometimes, walk barefoot on the grass," she says.

Asked if there is a special someone in her life right now, Wood's voice rises an octave: "No way!"

Gee, maybe she's 14 after all.__ New York Daily News (August 19, 2002)

Starring Evan Wood

She's not quite 15, but Hollywood has already discovered this actress who got her start at Raleigh's Theatre in the Park
By ORLA SWIFT, Staff Writer

RALEIGH - Evan Rachel Wood stands transfixed by a window in a dark corner of Theatre in the Park. This is her moment, the spectacle she has been craving for ages.

"Look!" she exclaims, pointing to a long lightning bolt that connects Earth to sky for what feels like minutes. Then, "Kablam!" the thunder cracks, punctuating the rat-a-tat of rain on the window pane. Evan stares, marveling at the theatricality of it all, and briefly her big blue eyes enjoy a role reversal that has become increasingly rare in the last few years, the chance to be a spectator.

Ever since Hollywood discovered Evan Rachel Wood, those eyes have been the source of drama, and lots of it. From the television series "Once and Again" to the forthcoming Al Pacino film "Simone," the 14-year-old Raleigh native has had little time lately to kick back and enjoy a hot Southern storm. Even this two-week hiatus in Raleigh isn't without drama; she has just been named "tortured teen" extraordinaire, landing on the "it-list" in Entertainment Weekly's "The 100 Most Creative People in Entertainment" special issue. In a full-page color spread on magazine racks across the nation, there's Evan, offering show-biz advice and discussing the music she likes and what it was like to work with Pacino.

Just days after her Raleigh jaunt, she's scheduled for a screen test opposite Annette Bening for a remake of "Freaky Friday" that's set to begin filming in the fall. Then it's off to rehearsals with Holly Hunter for an indie film called "Thirteen," an autobiographical tale co-written by a 13-year-old girl. After that, she'll join Jena Malone for a film called "Pretty Persuasion."

Marshall Herskovitz isn't surprised at Evan's success. The executive producer of "Once and Again" -- as well as the older series "My So-Called Life" and "Family," both of which starred pensive and popular teen idols --Herskovitz knows what a young actor needs to transfix an audience. Evan has it.

"She has a sort of God-given quality that allows you to believe that you are seeing into her soul when you look into her face," Herskovitz says. "That's not something you can learn. It's either there or it isn't."

Evan has learned much about acting, though, and many of those lessons took place in the very theater where she's now huddled, enjoying the rain and reminiscing. She has learned by sitting in the TIP audience watching her father, Ira David Wood III, perform in countless plays.

On this night, it's "On Golden Pond," which Evan has seen four times already during her two-week hiatus from Hollywood. She notices the nuances, the changes in her father's performance and audience reaction from night to night. She likes noting these things, discussing them afterward as her father removes his makeup, talking about what worked, what didn't. She loves watching people watch her father, too.

When you're acting for a television camera, she says, you forget what an audience feels like. You forget you even have one.

Early performances
Before the cameras first captured her in the 1994 television drama "In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride and Madness," Evan's only audience was right here at Theatre in the Park. And her only director was dad. Acting was truly a family affair back then, with Evan's mom, Sara Wood, and brother Ira often on stage right by Evan's side.

Evan's debut was at age 3 as a rabbit in a play called "Briar Patch," which required little from her except to sing a few tunes and scuffle with the other rabbits, including Ira, who is now 17 and also an actor.

Even in those early TIP shows, Evan recalls, the atmosphere was serious and all actors were expected to behave professionally, including the director's little girl. Still, it all felt quite natural, she says, not nerve-racking. "It was just something you figured everyone did."

Evan had to dig far deeper when she reached star billing at TIP, portraying the young Helen Keller in "The Miracle Worker," with her mother as Annie Sullivan and her father directing. Evan was only 8 then, but the critical acclaim she received from that performance proved she'd already learned the difference between playacting and acting. The News & Observer said her performance was "unforgettable. ... The breakfast room scene where she is finally forced to eat from her own plate and to fold her napkin is a masterpiece of sustained acting."

"It was a lot of hard work, a lot of rehearsal," Evan recalls of that first star turn. "I was in basically every single scene. I was one of the main people it focused on. So there was more pressure. I guess that was the first time it was really like a craft."

Herskovitz praises Evan's parents for the dramatic skills they taught her. "Usually, it's a hindrance," he says of the theatrical training many aspiring child stars boast of on their resumes. "In her case, it's a benefit."

Just a year later, Evan began landing screen roles with regularity. She scored an episode of "Touched by an Angel" and had recurring roles in "American Gothic," which was filmed in Wilmington, and "Profiler." She was cast in made-for-TV movies, and she quickly advanced to major films, including "Digging to China," with Kevin Bacon and Mary Stuart Masterson, and "Practical Magic" with Stockard Channing, Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. And major defeats, like losing a role to Kirsten Dunst in the Tom Cruise film "Interview With the Vampire."

By then Evan and her mother had moved to California. She clearly had a future in the business.

The breakthrough

"Once and Again" premiered in 1999 on ABC with a gush of critical praise. The series, with Billy Campbell and Sela Ward at its center, gave Evan her breakthrough role.

From 1999 until this year, she played Jessie Sammler, a daughter of divorced parents who must contend with her father's remarriage as well as the everyday angst of being an adolescent. It was a poignant and riveting drama, praised by critics and fans alike.

Evan didn't have to reach far to find Jessie's pain. Her own parents had split up, and she was living a continent away from her father and brother. The series' plot lines were make-believe, but Evan's grief was real, and it often emerged through Jessie's tears.

Evan recalls one especially heartbreaking scene with Campbell, her television dad, from the first season.

"I was asking if we'd ever be a family again and telling him how the divorce was affecting me and everything, and he was telling me how it was affecting him," she says of their characters. Suddenly, Campbell broke down and cried, and so did Evan. "It became so real. It was just, like, they yelled, 'Cut!' and we were standing there hugging and crying, really into it."

Divorce was just the beginning of Jessie's "Once and Again" woes. By the time the series ended this year, Evan's character had been at the center of three dramatic plot developments: anorexia, a romantic attraction to a female pal, and her mother's clinical depression and near death from an auto accident. That's an awful lot for a young actress to pull off, but Herskovitz had confidence in Evan's chops.

"I think it's only when you start to work with someone that you begin to see what the depth of their resources are," he says. "I haven't really found her limits. ... She is remarkably truthful as an actor, which is very rare at that age -- to understand what it is to tell the truth emotionally. In that sense, she can do no wrong. Whatever she does is interesting and real."

When "Once and Again" was slated for cancellation, fans and critics rebelled, claiming that ABC doomed the series by moving it around to different time slots every time a fan base built. Fans circulated petitions, critics slammed ABC in print, but to no avail.

Still, Evan left the series in a blaze of glory, most notably with Jessie's homosexual dalliance, which Evan handled with her trademark subtlety and poignancy. Fans approached Evan in the streets and sent her letters thanking her for her performance. Detractors called it offensive, griping and debating in online forums. One Virginia ABC affiliate refused to air the episode that featured the girls' first kiss.

"That made me so mad," Evan says of the censorship. "I know some people who'd say, 'Well, they can't show that, it's a sin, and you don't want to encourage other people to do it.' And I'm like, 'OK, take off all the murder, take off all the rape, you know, because, God knows, somebody might see that and they might want to go and do it, so take that off, too.' Heaven forbid we show two people falling in love. It's terrible."

As for filming the romantic scenes with co-star Mischa Barton, Evan says she and Mischa didn't give it a second thought. "I wasn't weird about it at all. It was just like a storyline with a boy."

As for the series ending, Evan thought that was unfair, too. But she's moved on, grateful to have had the series, despite its brevity.

"I got really lucky on that show. It was a great learning experience," she says. "I'd never done anything that intense before."

The big screen

To date, Evan has been most visible from her television work. And not just for "Once and Again." In May she guest-starred in an episode of NBC's "The West Wing" as C.J. Cregg's niece.

Soon, though, her work as a film actress will be in view with the opening of "Simone" on Aug. 23. Written and directed by Andrew Niccol, who wrote "The Truman Show," the new film concerns a producer who creates a digital actress to star in a film. Evan got third billing after Pacino and Catherine Keener.

And what about Pacino? Oh, yeah, she says. Working with him was intense. She filmed the movie a couple of years ago, but she still recalls how awed she was to work with such a master.

"I wouldn't approach him, I was so nervous at first: 'Al Pacino, one of the greatest actors of all time,' " she recalls of her first days on the set. "But once you get to know him, he's just the sweetest person in the world. He really takes care of actors and makes sure that everybody is all right and comfortable."

The possibility of starring in a remake of the 1976 hit film "Freaky Friday" is also daunting, as it would require that she redefine a role made famous by her idol, Jodie Foster, when Foster was Evan's age. Evan loved Foster in that movie, but she vows not to watch it again if she nabs the role, for fear of mimicking Foster.

As for the Holly Hunter movie she's filming now, Evan describes it as a horror movie of sorts for teens and parents alike. Evan plays Hunter's daughter, a wild child who has just discovered the thrills and perils of sex, drugs and living life unleashed.

"It's meant to open the eyes of parents, and it's meant to really scare kids into not getting involved with that stuff," Evan says of her character's dangerous escapades. "It shows her changing and shows her getting involved with these kids and then she's at this great point and it all just crashes down and blows up in her face and everything goes wrong."

Evan confers with her mom on all film possibilities, as she burrows through the ever-growing towers of scripts that pile up on her bedroom floor. She wants to choose wisely, doesn't want to do anything too stupid or fluffy.

"I mean, I love sweet movies, or a romantic comedy or something," she says. Where she draws the line is at "over the top" fare, "like a movie about, like, a killer snowman, something like that."

Some people might consider "Pretty Persuasion" worse than a killer snowman flick. "It's kind of bad," says Evan, likening the film's mean-spiritedness to "Heathers," in which Winona Ryder played a malicious high school student who kills her classmates but makes the murders look like suicides. In "Pretty Persuasion," Evan and Malone will play two students who exact revenge on a teacher they dislike by falsely accusing him of sexual harassment.

"It's got an interesting sense of humor," she says. "It's kind of a comedy, and it's like, 'This is funny, but should I really be laughing at this?' "

Evan's no stranger to creeps, or the idea of them. Her mom screens her fan mail, sifting out all the weirdos. As for Web surfing, Evan is well aware of the dangers therein, having filmed a "Touched by an Angel" episode in which her character falls prey to a pedophile masquerading as a teenage boy. Evan's character narrowly escapes a sinister fate. Evan shrugs off the episode's dark overtones, noting that the actor who played the villain was a really nice guy. But she confines her own Web surfing to e-mails and the occasional anonymous online card game.

Evan hopes to head back to the East Coast someday, whether it's to land her dream role on Broadway as Eponine in "Les Miserables," or to study drama at New York University.

Living in California, she misses her dad, but she speaks to him often on the telephone. And throughout the run of "Once and Again," she sent him secret signals. Carol Wood, her aunt, had given her a ring. Whenever Jessie touched it on her finger, twisting it around, it was Evan's way of saying, "Hi, Dad. I'm thinking of you." __ (July 28, 2002)

Why TiVo When You Can DVD?

by Monty Ashley - July 19, 2002

Buffy, sure. Sopranos, right. But Sanford and Son?

On November 5, Disney will release the full runs of Sports Night, Once and Again, and Felicity on DVD.

Felicity isn't all that surprising. I never watched the show myself, but I'm told that it had a wide-ranging fanbase who liked the show for many reasons, including the characterization, romantic troubles, and Keri Russel's kicky hairdo. There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth when Felicity finally went off to college, or graduated from college, or got married, or whatever happened in the finale. I wouldn't be surprised if people rended their garments and flung themselves off buildings when they realized they were facing a world without Felicity. So the DVD release is just a logical cash-in by Disney, who are known for their cashing-in ability.

However, the other two shows together lasted a total of five seasons. Disney's stooge-network ABC put a bullet in Once and Again's brain just three months ago, and now they've turned around and decided to reward the small (but very, very vocal) audience with a DVD?

The Sports Night situation is even stranger. It lasted two seasons, and its last new episode was broadcast two years ago. Aaron Sorkin has moved on to the somewhat-more-successful The West Wing and seems to be trying to put the whole experience behind him, if you don't count the occasional recycled dialogue and plots. Comedy Central showed Sports Night reruns with impressive zeal for a few months, but eventually decided that foul-mouthed puppets were the way to go. And yet, as though an answer to a prayer (or online petition), Sports Night fans with $80 can have all the episodes for their very own.

This is part of a general trend toward rereleasing TV shows on DVD. Not only current shows like Buffy and The Sopranos are getting the treatment; following in the steps of M*A*S*H and Star Trek: The Next Generation, old classics are about to get the digital treatment. No, old classics. On August 6, The Jeffersons and Sanford and Son step out of Nick at Nite and into your DVD player.

Naturally, I view this as a very positive development. Some of my favorite shows were cancelled before their time. In fact, pretty much all of my favorite shows met criminally early demises. And now it looks like the networks are going to start throwing us niche fans the occasional bone. Who's to say where it will all end? The A-Team seems possible. How about Max Headroom? Or Misfits of Science? Heck, I bet there'd be a market for a Square Pegs DVD. That thing would sell like hotcakes.

The crazy thing is that it's hard to write a punchline here. I certainly wouldn't bet against a Square Pegs DVD. If Sports Night and Once and Again can get new lives after cancellation, there are no limits. And I, for one, can't wait. Heck, maybe someone will finally get around to giving a DVD release to It's Your Move. __ (July 19, 2002)

Toughening up: Once and again, Marin Hinkle moves away from playing fragile characters

By Catherine Foster, Globe Staff, 7/12/2002

STOCKBRIDGE - With her long, lean dancer's body and delicate features, actress Marin Hinkle looks as if she'd be most comfortable playing fragile, vulnerable, eccentric women. And that's how she's most often been cast. But this summer, the actress has taken on two roles, neither of which are fragile. Right now, at the Berkshire Theatre Festival she's playing the lead in "Miss Julie," August Strindberg's story of a nobleman's daughter who has an obsessive love-hate relationship with a servant.

Later on, she'll play a small role in "God of Vengeance" at the Williamstown Theatre Festival as a prostitute who falls in love with her boss's respectable daughter.

She's best known from the recently canceled TV show "Once and Again," in which she played Sela Ward's complicated single sister, Judy.

Sitting on a bench outside Berkshire's Unicorn Stage, Hinkle says she's enjoying finally getting roles with some toughness to them.

"There's an edge to both these roles," she says. "And loneliness, that's a common quality in these women. I'm enjoying finding roles that have lots of contradictions to them. With 'Miss Julie,' at first you think she is manipulative, but then you realize that she also is looking for love and connection."

Playing Miss Julie has been something of a challenge. "I've usually played roles where it's been easier to find more empathy with the character," she says. "Miss Julie is a bit despicable. When we started, I was frightened of her. I'm embarrassed to say I'm still frightened of her."

Her director, Anders Cato, says, "That's a true artist speaking. She always says she has many fears. But she's one of those actors who grows tremendously when she steps up onstage. It's an extraordinary performance; so truthful, so passionate and fearless."

The 1888 play was adapted by Craig Lucas. "When we worked on it," says Cato, "we asked ourselves, 'How do we make it modern so that the audience can understand the tragedy?' The social conditions and the class structure have changed. And the essence of tragedy has been lost because we sidestep everything with a joke. So we said we'd have to find actors who can be fully inside of these moments and not be afraid to experience the fullness of the tragedy. And Marin did that in a way that I couldn't have dreamed of."

Hinkle, who was raised in Newton, got her first glimpse of her future career when the family was living in Italy for six months. "My mother said I was 'a little hyperactive,'" she says with a wry smile. "She threw me into a ballet class when I was 5. I really loved it - my imagination ran a little wild." Hinkle kept studying when they returned home, appearing in the Boston Ballet's "Nutcracker Suite" numerous times.

At the same time, she was also involved in plays, thanks to an elementary schoolteacher, Aline B. Shader, who had a big impact on her and several others at the school. "She's the reason I'm here," Hinkle says. When she injured her Achilles tendon at age 16 while dancing, she turned to acting. She enrolled at Brown University.

She watched how older classmates Tim Blake Nelson ("Minority Report") and Laura Linney ("The Crucible," "You Can Count on Me") pursued their craft. Her desire to get more training led her to New York University to get an MFA in theater.

"I'm not a very gutsy person," she says. "I'm not the type that says, 'Hey, world, I'm going to wear the right clothes and be ready for the life of an actor.' I needed to be taught. They teach the right roads to get an agent. I had quite a struggle at first. And it taught me what it was going to mean to be an actor in the long haul. I did 10 or 15 plays in regional theater: 'Romeo and Juliet,' 'The Cherry Orchard,' 'Uncle Vanya.'" Then she fell in love with Randall Sommer, a lawyer. They tried a long-distance relationship, but when he asked her to come back to New York, she did.

"I was scared," she said. "It's so competitive. But I needed to do it. I needed people to see my work in order to get more work." Hinkle understudied on Broadway in "The Tempest" with Patrick Stewart. Out of the blue, a call came to take over a role in "A Thousand Clowns," with Judd Hirsch. With a few days' notice, she made her Broadway debut.

Then she got the call to come to Hollywood to test for "Once and Again." She and Sommer moved to Los Angeles. "With a TV contract, you do it until they say stop. Then they said stop." Hinkle says she's grateful to have landed for her first TV series one that dispelled all the stereotypes about television series and the actors in them.

"I've always been drawn to the sense of community in the theater and was afraid that the TV show wouldn't have that," Hinkle said. "But the producers, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz ("thirtysomething," "My So-Called Life"), fostered a family feeling among the actors, writers, and crew. It was such a well-written and passionate show, and I feel so fortunate to have been in a show that connected so deeply to the audience."

Now that she's in her 30s, she says life in Hollywood is getting more difficult. "The emphasis on youth is so intense there. I'm too old for girls' role - now I'm more the sister, the oddball, the friend."

Hinkle leans back on the bench and looks out at the rolling Berkshire hills. "I feel at home in Western Massachusetts because of the people and values," she says. "I told Nicholas Martin [artistic director of the Huntington Theatre Company and also a director at Williamstown], 'I'll play a tree, a pirate, a blade of grass to be back in my hometown.'"

"Miss Julie" runs through July 20 at the Berkshire Theatre Festival's Unicorn Stage, Stockbridge. 413-298-5576; www.berkshiretheatre. org. __ Boston Globe (July 12, 2002)

No more Mr. Nice Guy: Billy Campbell relishes ruthless role at Cape Playhouse


Billy Campbell had had enough of playing nice-guy roles for a while. So this summer, the actor who played sensitive single dad Billy Campbell, who played a sensitive divorced father on the TV show "Once and Again," says his role as an ambitious candidate in a revival of Gore Vidal’s "The Best Man" shows politics as usual.

And Campbell is having fun.

"I never thought in my wildest dreams that anyone would let me do something like the part in 'Enough,'" he says. "I jumped at the chance. I leapt at the chance. I've played sort of exclusively nice guys in my time, and I was sort of itching to do something else."

Campbell's credits include his film debut as "The Rocketeer" hero; Moses in the NBC miniseries "In the Beginning"; Dr. Jon Philip Fielding in Showtime's "Tales of the City"; Steven Carrington's lover in "Dynasty"; TV detectives; parts in several historical TV and feature films; and many Shakespearean stage roles.

But it was playing Rick opposite Sela Ward as 40-something lovers trying to blend complicated families that won him, in 2000, the People's Choice Award for Favorite Male Performer in a New Series; and nominations for that in TV Guide Awards and for a Golden Globe as Best Actor in a Drama Series.

Campbell, 43, loved working with the acclaimed cast, but was ready to move on. "I've got to say Rick Sammler was - as much as I loved the part and loved the show - he was kind of a remarkably passive character. That's not the most fun to play. The chance to do bad guys is great," he says. "Bad people have more options for behavior. They can behave any way they want to."

"The Best Man" revives a 1960 Gore Vidal play about a pPresidential nominating convention. At Cape Playhouse, William R. Moses plays a high-minded intellectual candidate; Campbell plays his rival in a clash of ideals and methods. Also in the cast are Gil Rogers, Celia Weston and Anita Gillette.

The 1960 script is "absolutely pertinent" today, Campbell says. He refers to recent corporate scandals to bear out a line about the real criminals being political contributors who put candidates in office.

"It's the same game," he says, noting Vidal's script shows there is no place in politics for intelligent statesmen concerned about people. Campbell isn't shy about his opinions, lumping "politicians in general" in with his Sen. Joseph Cantwell and Richard Nixon, reportedly the model for that character.

"They're all crooks. Politics is one of the biggest crime organizations going." He cites Civil War writer Ambrose Bierce'scq definition of politics as "a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles."

Politicians are "all up there on TV pretending to have different principles, when they're really out there to get their piece of the pie."

Campbell was "delighted" to grab this juicy role, but also to return to the theater. He's especially happy to have rehearsal time - "something that's sorely lacking in TV and film."

"Mostly, what ends up on the (TV) screen is the first run-through," he says, and describes how "Once and Again" episodes were shot just a day after getting a script. "They start shooting and you've never yet had a rehearsal. It's absolutely frustrating." That pace can lead to "safe acting," he says. "Without having rehearsals, you haven't explored what kind of behavior, what kind of choices are possible for the characters in any given moment. You've just chosen one, and it's a pretty safe one because it's going to be there for the rest of your life."

On the other hand, he adds, "it's kind of exciting to shoot six scenes a day and just (go) barreling through the material."

Campbell seems to have a dichotomy of viewpoints on several aspects of "Once and Again" and his Rick. Campbell was sad the show ended "because I was close to all those people and I miss them dearly. ... I am and will be eternally grateful for having been on that show and worked with those people."

Yet he was "kind of relieved" the show ended because "three years is just enough for me" on a TV show.

"I'd rather move on to different jobs, see different places and meet different people. Doing a TV show is a bit like working in a sausage factory. No matter how good it is, it's still a sausage factory. You're grinding it out and it grinds out everybody's best intentions. Writers get sucked dry, the actors get sucked dry and the crew gets sucked dry."

Cast members were pleasantly surprised the critically acclaimed, yet low-rated, show lasted as long as it did, but Campbell was frustrated with how it was treated by ABC. "Seven time slots in three seasons must be a record of some sort. For all the talk about how much they loved the show, they didn't really put any muscle behind the show. ... They sold us down the river several times."

He believes it was the high quality of writing that set the show apart. "Our show was the short-story show of television ... about the quiet moments, the quiet epiphanies of family life. It was a different kind of thing - like haiku television. I'm not sure TV audiences - most of them - are appreciative of that."

Campbell calls Rick his "my kind of guy," someone whom he would befriend in real life. But the character's passivity rankled him, and he suggested line changes to make Rick more active. "I didn't make nearly as many changes as I should have."

He called Rick "the King of the Hyphens" because his dialogue was peppered with lines that were cut off - shown in double hyphens in a script - by other, more strong-willed characters. "I spoke more lines with double hyphens than anyone in the show, probably (than anyone) in the history of television," he says. "Why not write something for him to actually say, then cut him off? ... I just wanted Rick to be more active. It was hard to play that."

Campbell isn't interested in more TV soon, but eventually might like to return on a riskier cable series. His ideal is movies like "Enough," though that was a box-office disappointment. The film about a wife who fights back against her abusive husband "was never meant to be a deep discussion of domestic abuse or anything, it was meant to be a potboiler, but a well-made potboiler. ... I thought it was a fun movie."

He muses if competition was too tough or if "old J.Lo may have exposed herself, so to speak, so much that people weren't interested."

How was Lopez to work with? "She was terrific. I was sort of prepared for anything. I heard the things you sort of hear ... but she was never anything less than professional around me."

Campbell also would like to do more theater, but if no immediate offers turn up after "Best Man," he hopes to go to Norway. A history buff, Campbell has applied for a job as a Tall Ship crew member.

Last summer, he paid to work as a trainee during the 2001 Cutty Sark Tall Ship Race from Antwerp. His job included hauling ropes, setting sails, keeping watch and working in the kitchen and latrines.

Campbell can't wait to do it all again. For this stage, TV and film star, that tough manual labor on a three-masted, square-rigged Tall Ship was "the coolest thing I've ever done in my life."

On Stage

What: "The Best Man"
Written by: Gore Vidal
Starring: Billy Campbell, William R. Moses, Gil Rogers, Anita Gillette and Celia Weston
Where: Cape Playhouse, Route 6A, Dennis
When: 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; starts Monday, July 15 and runs through July 27
Tickets: $20 to $38
Box office: 508-385-3911 or 877-385-3911

__ (July 11, 2002)

TV Gal Bestows Some Awards

by Amy Amatangelo

Reason to Stay Mad at ABC

Some of us have some serious anger management issues with the alphabet network for its shabby treatment of "Once and Again." My wrath (which began with the cancellation of "Sports Night") has been curbed by the arrival of "Alias," but I'm still peeved that the network won't be doing any sort of Emmy campaign for "Once and Again." This means there won't be any promotion for two of the best hours of television last season -- "Gardenia" (where Karen was struck by a car) or "The Gay-Straight Alliance" (where Jesse began to explore her feelings for Katie). Bad ABC. Very bad. __ (June 24, 2002)

EW IT Tortured Teen II: Evan Rachel Wood

AGE 14

WHY HER? The ''Once and Again'' girl broke hearts with her angelic voice, warming smile, and her character's struggles with anorexia and her budding, confused sexuality. Why did they cancel this show again?

CAREER HIGH Working with Al Pacino in the upcoming flick ''Simone.'' ''It's Al Pacino, and he's this guy with a rough voice who's being so nice and sweet to you.''

ON HAVING 'IT' (OR NOT) ''I went out for this movie, 'Digging to China,' and they told me I didn't have 'it.' I said to myself, Oh no, I'm so screwed, I don't have 'it.' [She must have had something, because she got the part.] When I got 'Once and Again,' I figured I had 'it' back.''

ROLE MODEL Child actress-turned-director Jodie Foster

BEST ADVICE ''Don't make the business make you grow up too fast. Mom, who was it who told me that? Oh yeah, Henry Thomas at Sundance.''

WORST ADVICE ''I had to do a scene in a terrible movie, and my best friend was supposed to have drowned. I didn't know how sad I should be, and the director said, 'Act like you just lost a baseball game.' I was like, 'What? I don't play baseball.' So I had no emotion at all.''

MUSIC SHE'D TAKE TO A DESERT ISLAND Alanis Morissette, No Doubt, Nirvana

NEXT Feature films ''Simone,'' ''Little Secrets,'' and ''Thirteen,'' with Holly Hunter __ (June 23, 2002)

And the Emmy Could Go to: Supporting Drama Actors Worthy of the Statuette

By Marc Berman

Here is a continued look at the shows and performers worthy of Emmy attention this season. Today's pick: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

-Should Be Nominated:
Mark-Paul Gosselaar (NYPD Blue)
Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under)
Richard Schiff (West Wing)
Shane West (Once and Again)
Bradley Whitford (West Wing)

-Probably Will Get Nominated:
Victor Garber (Alias)
Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under)
Richard Schiff (West Wing)
John Spencer (West Wing)
Bradley Whitford (West Wing)

Once again, thanks to the absence of The Sopranos (Michael Imperioli and Dominic Chianese were nominated last year), the door is more open to new, and perhaps more deserving faces this season. And although it would be nice to see Shane West of ABC's shouldn't-be-defunct Once and Again or Mark-Paul Gosselaar from the same network's NYPD Blue on the list of nominees, even without the TV mob in the mix finding a spot opposite the West Wing trio will be no easy feat. Sorry, Mr. Gosselaar, Saved by the Bell is still a memory fresh in people's minds. Since I was bombarded with e-mails from fans of HBO's Six Feet Under wondering why I forgot to list the show in the Outstanding Drama mix, here's one category I won't forget. Michael C. Hall ... come on down. And since there is more to ABC's Alias than just Jennifer Garner, Victor Garber could be a sleeper.__ (June 17, 2002)

Underdog shows deserve a second look

[snip] Once and Again, ABC

For three seasons, "Once & Again" has felt like network television's best-kept secret. Fans and critics are passionate but, excepting a win for lead actress Sela Ward, the delicately crafted show has been virtually ignored by the Emmys.

This year, ABC axed the show in March and won't be running an Emmy campaign despite the net's otherwise lackluster creative season.

Creator Marshall Herskovitz is philosophical about the Emmy snubs, noting, "We've always at least been nominated. It was disappointing that the show itself and most of the performers were not nominated but it was reflective of the overall picture. We had this incredibly loyal small audience and were never able to break out into something broader. We just saw this as a manifestation of that."

Highlights this season included eps "Gardenia," in which Karen (Susanna Thompson) is struck by a car, and "The Gay-Straight Alliance," dealing with teenage Jessie (Evan Rachel Wood) realizing she's gay.

TV Guide's Matt Roush is mystified by the Emmy blindness and mentions Thompson as particularly deserving: "How much better could (Emmy voters) expect someone to be than Susanna in those episodes. The depth of her performance through her depression, accident and rehabilitation was remarkable. The fact that she has yet to receive a nomination just shows the fallacy of these awards institutions."

He continues, "The Emmys, which should be acknowledging quality not reputation, continue to nominate shows like 'Law & Order' and 'ER' on subpar seasons when shows like 'Once & Again' exist. It's just really not fair."__ (June 14, 2002)

The Programming Insider

By Marc Berman

And the Emmy Could Go to:

Supporting Drama Actresses Worthy of the Statuette

With the annual Emmy nomination ballots mailed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences last Monday here is a continued look at the shows and performers worthy of Emmy attention this season.

Today's pick: Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

-Should Be Nominated:

Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under)
Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under)
Leslie Hope (24)
Allison Janney (West Wing)
Susanna Thompson (Once and Again)

-Probably Will Get Nominated:

Tyne Daly (Judging Amy)
Rachel Griffiths (Six Feet Under)
Leslie Hope (24)
Allison Janney (West Wing)
Susanna Thompson (Once and Again)

Let's be honest, if Tyne Daly sneezes on camera she gets an Emmy nomination, so there is every reason to believe she'll be back in the mix this year. And, yes, the worthy (and two time winning) Allison Janney and recent Golden Globe winner Rachel Griffiths are likely to make the grade as well. But if there is one actress worth awarding the Golden gal to it's Susanna Thompson, whose subtle and emotionally wrenching performance as the confused Karen on Once and Again breathed life, and plenty of it, into the should-not-have-been canceled series. If Susanna walks away empty handed, my second pick is Leslie Hope of Fox's 24. Opposite TV hubby Kiefer Sutherland this was perhaps the most dramatic TV couple since real-life marrieds Mark (William Daniels) and Ellen Craig (Bonnie Bartlett) on St. Elsewhere. Note to Emmy voters: Both Daniels and Bartlett won the Emmy for the 1985-86 season. Could Sutherland and Hope be next?__ (June 14, 2002)

TV Scoop

by Kimberley Potts

Everything's Comin' Up Emmy: Four words I bet you'd never expect to see mentioned in the same sentence: Michael, Chiklis, Emmy and nominated. Not that the Daddio survivor is a shoo-in, by any means. Though his FX corrupt-cop drama The Shield is good in a Sopranos kinda way, FX is no HBO--especially in the minds of those HBO-lovin' Emmy voters.

Still, with ballots for Emmy nominations shipped out to voters this week (actual nominations for the September 22 ceremonies will be announced July 18), it's time to start pondering such matters. So, this week's Scoop is devoted to my Emmy wish list, which I'll kick off with a nod to Chiklis as one of the statue-worthy stars of the just-concluded season. Here's the rest of my rundown of who should win--and who most likely will win.

[snip to O&A content]

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama: Again, no Lorraine Bracco or last year's winner, Edie Falco. Those who should be nominated: Alias' Jennifer Garner, Once and Again's Sela Ward, Felicity's Keri Russell and ER's Maura Tierney, not to mention Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Sarah Michelle Gellar (who sits with E!'s Jules Asner for a very, well, revealing episode of Revealed at 10 p.m. Wednesday). Who should win: Ms. Garner. Not only did she become the kick-ass-iest chick on the tube (sorry, Buffy), but, as she herself alluded to when she nabbed a Golden Globe, who woulda thunk anyone from the cast of Dude, Where's My Car? (not to mention that lame Jennifer Love Hewitt drama Time of Your Life) would be worthy of any award, save a Razzie?

Who will get nominated? I'm betting it'll be Garner; Ward; Leslie Hope, from 24; Marg Helgenberger, from C.S.I.; and Amy Brenneman, from Judging Amy. Ward will get her third Emmy (and, hopefully, a better outfit than that awful getup she sported at the Golden Globes).

[snip to O&A content]

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama: Once and Again's Susanna Thompson, Julia Whelan and Evan Rachel Wood; Lauren Ambrose, from Six Feet Under; and Charlotte Ross, from NYPD Blue (who was not only one of the original Zoom kids but has survived many a bad series, including 1997's mercifully short-lived Pauly Shore "comedy," Pauly). Who should win: It's hard to choose among those incredible Once and Again stars, but I'm going with Wood (trivia: She's 007 Roger Moore's niece). She beautifully handled more than her fair share of teen angst with her character's eating disorder and crush on a female classmate.

Who'll really get the nod? The West Wing's Allison Janney (last year's winner); Tyne Daly, from Judging Amy; Ambrose and Rachel Griffiths, from Six Feet Under; and ER's Maura Tierney. (I think she belongs in Lead Actress contention, but maybe that's just me.) Janney will win again. (June 8, 2002)

And the Emmy Could Go To... Dramas Worthy of the Statuette in 2001-02

By Marc Berman

With the annual Emmy nomination ballots mailed by the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences on Monday, it's time to take a look at the shows and performers worthy of Emmy attention this season. Today's pick: Outstanding Drama Series.

If you are surprised by the absence of HBO's The Sopranos, since the fourth season will not begin until this September (the Emmy rules state that only programs airing between June 2001 and May 2002 are eligible) Emmy will not be calling on the mob drama this year.

-Should Be Nominated:

Law and Order (NBC)
Once and Again (ABC)
24 (Fox) The West Wing (NBC)

-Probably Will Get Nominated:

Law and Order (NBC)
24 (Fox)
The West Wing (NBC)

-If there was Room for a sixth nominee in the Drama Category:

The Shield (F/X)

Thanks to the absence of The Sopranos, there is well-deserved hope that Fox's 24 or dark horse The Shield will make the Emmy grade. Although it would be nice to see ABC's Once and Again go out in a blaze of Emmy glory, aside from perennial nominee Sela Ward (who even managed to take home the trophy for NBC's sappy Sisters) and perhaps Susanna Thompson (as Outstanding Supporting Actress) a nod in the Drama series category is unlikely. And that's a shame given that the over dramatics of NBC's tired ER is likely to still be recognized. In the world of the Emmys familiarity is often more recognized than quality.

As for NBC's Law & Order, keep your eye on a potential 11th consecutive Emmy nomination as Outstanding Dramatic Series. Does anyone remember the last time a veteran drama held up in both ratings and quality after 12 years on the air? I can't.__ (June 7, 2002)

Insightful Notes, Now for the Votes

What are America's most influential critics saying this Emmy season? Awards historian Tom O'Neil reports his annual survey.

By Tom O'Neil

Emmy nominations are announced July 18. After that, who knows? Maybe we can expect:

  • To see a few lucky stiffs. Most TV critics believe that Six Feet Under will loom large among new series contenders.
  • To see some fortunate flexibility: versatile new talent in shows like 24, Alias, Scrubs and The Bernie Mac Show.
  • To hear gasps of, "Hey, who bumped off The Sopranos?!" The hit HBO mob series sleeps with the fishes this season because its last new episode aired May 20, 2001 -- eleven days before the Emmy eligibility period. Expect Tony & Co. back next year, however.
  • To see returning favorites that had another strong year. The West Wing "deserves another term," insists Entertainment Weekly writer Lynette Rice, while The Practice is "definitely appointment viewing."

    Sizing up the past TV year, Associated Press reporter Lynn Elber gives it "a mildly enthusiastic thumbs up," adding, "I think we saw some brave new shows that took interesting chances creatively and introduced compelling new actors." But she wonders how those rivals will play at the Emmys. "The shows that tried to do something new -- like 24, The Shield and The Andy Richter Show -- didn't find favor with big audiences," she says. "It'll be interesting to see what shows up on voters' radar screens."

    What were the best TV shows of the past season? According to USA Today critic Robert Bianco, they were 24, Once and Again, Alias, Gilmore Girls and Friends.

    "It was a good year for dramas," he says, "but a weak one for sitcoms." He makes a few exceptions to the judgment, though: "Friends deserves a nomination and deserves to win. It's rare that we see a show rally so strongly this late in its run. Jennifer Aniston and Matt LeBlanc were brilliant. Both of them should be recognized. A nomination for The Osbournes would certainly be interesting if it could be counted in the sitcom category." At last report, however, it appeared The Osbournes would be classified as reality programming.

    The sitcom category witnessed the launch of several other hit series and stars. "Bernie Mac has certainly made a splash and certainly has a chance to get some acknowledgment," Elber adds.

    Scrubs "has earned the right" to a comedy series nomination, according to TV Guide critic Matt Roush. "It's a smart ensemble that's put together in a very inventive way." He does note, however, that it has "one drawback that may hurt it. There's a sort of frat boy sensibility to the show that may turn off some older voters who think it's just about kids trying to find places to make out in a hospital." Roush also points to Reba McEntire as "a breakout new TV star, giving the WB its first hit comedy -- that combination could make her an Emmy contender."

    Among new drama series, Roush believes that Six Feet Under "will take over the presence this year that Sopranos had last year. It's like Emmy bait. It's quirky and well acted, and sometimes it's precious and full of itself, but that's OK because voters love that. It feels important because it deals with the big issues of death and life. I think it's a slam dunk that Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall and Rachel Griffiths -- and possibly Lauren Ambrose -- will all get acting nominations.

    "I'm fascinated to see how a show like 24 measures up," Roush adds. "It definitely should get acknowledged. It pulled off everything it set out to do, except to attract a huge audience. But audience aside, I think it demonstrated a terrific new way to construct a narrative for television that built in cliffhangers and used split screens to show you the same thing from multiple points of view. It racheted up the suspense and tension like nothing else I've ever seen."

    24 star Kiefer Sutherland -- plus Alias topliner Jennifer Garner -- were among the season's new talents to win Golden Globes in January, and that often gets the attention of Emmy voters. "Sutherland and Garner both pulled off big surprises at the Golden Globes and now have earned the right to get Emmy nominations, even though they perform the kind of roles that traditionally don't get noticed," Roush says. "They play action heroes, but ones with a complex emotional subtext. That's something you don't see very often." Bianco believes that 24 and Alias deserve to nab bids for best drama series "just because they're so entertaining."

    "The Education of Max Bickford has a blue-chip cast that came to TV with Oscars in their pockets," Roush adds. "We might see a surprise nomination for Richard Dreyfus or Marcia Gay Harden." reporter Mike Ausiello wouldn't be surprised to see Jill Hennessy of Crossing Jordan cross over into the ranks of Emmy contenders. In fact, he calls her "a shoo-in" because she's "the star of a female-driven drama series that's a hit on NBC. Add all of that up and it virtually guarantees an Emmy nomination. She's lucky to be competing in a category where there will be at least two major openings thanks to the absence of Sopranos actors Edie Falco and Lorraine Bracco."

    All of that fresh TV talent must compete against longtime Emmy faves that have excellent odds to return. Law & Order -- "the rock of TV," says Elber -- already holds the record for scoring the most consecutive nominations for best drama show (ten). If it returns, it'll tie the tally of Cheers and M*A*S*H. Elber thinks that its chances are good, since Law & Order "always seems to find interesting ways to deal with ripped-from-the-headline stories with fresh twists."

    Earlier this TV season, Elber was skeptical that The West Wing could retain its Emmy heat. "I thought it would be really hard for Aaron Sorkin to make that show relevant in the post-September 11 environment," she says. "I thought that the plot line of a political skirmish over a president who lied to the American public" -- which had been introduced before tragedy hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon -- "would not resonate and might consume the show this season. Instead, he dealt with that quickly, neatly and interestingly and moved on to focus on the kind of things that have made that show such a solid drama -- social issues and glimpses into the psychology and daily lives of the characters."

    Weighing in on other Emmy stalwarts, Elber believes that The Practice had "a pretty good year" and that NYPD Blue was "solid." USA Today's Bianco credits Blue's creative heft to a recent cast addition. "Mark-Paul Gosselaar really deserves a nomination for revitalizing NYPD Blue when everybody went into this year thinking it would be the show's last," he says.

    The past TV season turned out to be another ratings disappointment for Once and Again, once touted on the cover of TV Guide as "The Best Show You're Not Watching."

    "Once and Again deserves some kudos, especially for the young cast members like Evan Rachel Wood, Shane West and Julia Whelan," says Entertainment Weekly's Rice. Bianco singles out Susanna Thompson as deserving of special notice, too.

    Other actors singled out by critics include Anthony Edwards and Eriq LaSalle, who exited ER "with aplomb," says Rice. Edwards' character was felled by a brain tumor, an affliction that could've tempted the actor to strain for histrionics, but Elber applauds Edwards for "underplaying it so nicely that you caught the humanity of that character."

    Also on the critics' list: Denis Leary (The Job), CCH Pounder (The Shield), Victor Garber (Alias) and the perennial Emmy outsider despite a legion of rabid fans -- Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

    "Maybe Gellar will finally get a nomination this year since the competition is less fierce without the Sopranos women competing," says's Ausiello. "That would be a bit ironic because the show itself is not at the top of its game since it moved to UPN from the WB. One episode does deserve writing and directing nominations for Joss Whedon, though -- the musical episode. It was brilliant -- one of the best hours on TV -- and Sarah was magnificent in it."

    Another star who's also failed to score a bid for best drama series actress recently despite heavy lobbying by critics -- Lauren Graham of The Gilmore Girls -- will not be eligible for that this year. The reason: the show's producers are "taking the Ally McBeal tack," according to Elber. They're submitting the show as a comedy.

    As a result of that strategy, "The Gilmore Girls has every chance of making a real splash at the Emmys," insists Roush. "As a drama, it's not weighty enough to participate alongside the West Wings. It should do better in the comedy categories -- that's where Lauren Graham can emerge big time."

    Gilmore Girls will compete against last year's comedy champ Sex and the City, which, ironically, "could compete in the drama series races," Roush notes. "It was a more dramatic show this year." Their fiercest rivals may be past champs Will & Grace and Frasier plus the program Roush hails as "the best comedy on the air, week in and week out -- Everybody Loves Raymond." Roush is also a fan of Malcolm in the Middle. "Jane Kaczmarek, Frankie Muniz and Bryan Cranston all deserve nominations," he insists.

    What about the one show that consistently runs off with the ratings --CSI? The critics are divided on how the hit program -- which was not nommed for outstanding drama series last year --- will fare. "It's really a terrific mainstream series -- a great police procedural, but the characters are rather thin," Roush says. "It gets under the skin, but it doesn't really dig very deep in terms of emotion. It's hard to say what Emmy voters think of it. Will they want to give a nomination for best drama series just to reward it for being such a breakthrough hit? Maybe."

    What about long forms? "The battle of the miniseries is likely going to pit Band of Brothers against Dinotopia," predicts Bianco. Roush expects HBO telefilms to do well this year, as they usually do, with offerings like The Laramie Project, Shot in the Heart and The Gathering Storm. He also cites A&E projects like Shackleton and counts a long list of other worthy features. "I suspect that these categories will look like they usually do -- like the History Channel brings you a night at the movies," Roush says.

    And once all of the nominees are known, the voting is done and the envelopes are opened on the night of September 22, who'll go home with Emmy Awards?

    Predicting winners this year is "especially tough," says Elber. When last year's Emmy ceremony was held after the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, the votes had long been counted. "We're all different people now thanks to a tragedy we witnessed on TV. We think differently -- and we'll never view TV the same again," Elber adds. "We have to wonder: Will this be a different Emmy year now that we're in this anticynical, post-September 11 mode?" __ Emmy Magazine (June 2, 2002)

    TV Guide Emmy Wish List

    [snip to O&A mentions]
    Claudia Black (Farscape)
    Jennifer Garner (Alias)
    Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
    Keri Russell (Felicity)
    Sela Ward (Once and Again)

    Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under)
    Leslie Hope (24)
    Mary Louise Parker (The West Wing)
    Charlotte Ross (NYPD Blue)
    Susanna Thompson (Once and Again) __ (June 3. 2002)

    Change Of Seasons

    By Matt Roush

    Hope dies hard. So I was reminded as I walked past protesters gathered on a Manhattan street outside ABC's recent fall-season presentation to advertisers. Their demand: for Once and Again, the much-loved but little-watched romantic family drama, to return.

    Bless their frustrated hearts.

    Surely they knew that ship sailed (or, rather, sunk) months ago, a victim of ABC's neglect and abuse. Judging from clips of new series screened by the networks, little on the horizon will fill the emotional void. I'm willing to be surprised, but not counting on it.

    The focus for fall will be on retro, schmaltzy family warm-fuzzies and high-concept crime or medical dramas. A few gems may yet emerge from this ordinary-looking pile. We can always (gulp) hope. [rest snipped] __ (June 3, 2002)

    Campbell: 'Once and Again' cancellation like stake in heart
    By Scripps Howard News Service

    Billy Campbell, one of the stars of "Once and Again," is dismayed by the way his ABC show was handled by the network. "They can't even kill us with dignity," he says. "We've had seven timeslots in three seasons. I don't know if that's a record, but it's gotta be close. Then they cancel us publicly and apparently on the same day they cancel us, they call the studio and say, 'Don't knock down the sets, don't release the actors and why don't you work us up a tentative budget for year four.' I'm just, 'Well, why don't you just drive the stake in the heart, or don't!' "

    They did drive the stake in his heart. The show is officially canceled. Watch for Campbell to change his stripes big time in his newest film, "Enough." __ Chattanooga Times/Chattanooga Free Press (June2, 2002)

    Billy Campbell: No More Mister Nice Guy

    by Laura Grover

    Billy Campbell breezes into our interview, fresh off the road from a day trip with friends to a vintage trailer show--Airstreams and the like--in anticipation of owning his own, which is currently being customized. Tall, lanky, at ease--despite a professed penchant for self-consciousness--and an engaging conversationalist, Campbell is, well, a very nice guy.

    For the last three years he has been known to millions of television viewers-- apparently not enough millions, a rabidly loyal following notwithstanding, to save the Ed Zwick/Marshall Herskovitz-created show from ABC’s axe, however--as the very, very nice, recently divorced Rick Sammler on "Once And Again." Over the series’ run, Campbell’s character wooed and married newly single mom Lily Manning, played by Sela Ward. As a veritable poster couple for forty-something love the second time around, they anchored an exquisitely crafted 'grown up' drama spotlighting a singularly realistic depiction of the complexities of modern family life. The unfolding of Campbell's relationship with Ward was the show's main narrative, but its development was brilliantly underscored by a flawless ensemble cast including an astonishingly effective team of young actors playing the 'yours' and 'mine' kids swept up in the wake of their parents' romance.

    While Campbell's character's sensitive powers of persuasion did in fact get him what he wanted on the show--namely Ward --the actor himself often wished the part had been conceived with more assertiveness. In his latest role, as Jennifer Lopez's perversely twisted husband in Sony Pictures' Michael Apted-directed thriller Enough, Campbell gets his wish and then some, villainously flexing all his aggressive muscles as he morphs from dream man to nightmarish brute in the blink of an eye. This inspired bit of against-type casting, along with an equally incongruous supporting turn from Noah Wyle, lends yet another layer of tension to the film's emotional clout. It's not giving anything away--one of the film's mantras, after all, is "Self defense isn't murder"--to say that in this case, Campbell's character most certainly does not get what he wants once Lopez takes action. Campbell, however, definitively busts loose from his nice guy shackles in an extremely potent and menacing about-face performance.

    When not absorbed in his favorite pursuits of traveling, reading, and painting (an accomplished artist, he's currently doing watercolors), Campbell has steadily worked over the course of a twenty-plus-year career. His first high-profile part was on the now camp-classic Aaron Spelling soap, "Dynasty"; other television highlights include major roles in the acclaimed mob drama, "Crime Story," the short-lived but fondly remembered "Moon Over Miami," and the PBS telefilms based on Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City novels. Campbell's first lead film role was in 1991's comic-book-based cult favorite The Rocketeer, in which he co-starred with then-ingenue Jennifer Connelly; the Francis Ford Coppola-directed Bram Stoker's Dracula followed soon after.

    Campbell's hope is that Enough will lead to more big-screen roles, and on a recent Saturday afternoon, he sat down with Venice to talk about why bad guys have more fun, strategic uses for a hangover, and why he wants to hug Johnny Depp, among other things.

    Venice: I see the fan-sponsored billboard imploring ABC to bring back the show every time I drive home. Were you hoping "Once And Again" would be saved?

    Billy Campbell: I was squarely on the fence. It was the most wonderful place to work, so in that sense I was sad to move on. But as much as I loved everyone and everything, it wasn't always as fulfilling as I'd have liked, because my character was so remarkably passive. Sometimes that's not as interesting as it could be. The best example I can think of is this--it's a minor thing, but it's emblematic: There was a time when I was at home with Lily and she was working on her computer on the couch and I'm nuzzling up to her. She says, "I really have to get this work done," and my line as written was 'Do you want me to leave?' Outwardly, there's nothing wrong with it, but it was just one more entirely passive response. My argument was, why couldn't they have written what I changed it to, which was 'You don't want me to leave.' You see how superficial it seems, but it's a complete difference.

    And the other side of the fence?

    I only mention what I did to be honest, but I absolutely have a sense of it as being not even a ripple in what was totally a wonderful lake. I truly can imagine its having been the best job of my life. I can't imagine ever having an experience like that again, even in film.

    How did you get to be Rick Sammler?

    I'd done a pilot for Marshall in Ireland. A medieval family drama, believe it or not--hard to imagine it didn't get picked up. I guess he had me in mind when ["Once And Again"] came up, and it worked out really well.

    The series finale was beautiful, especially the very end, with the cast reactions.

    It made me weep. All that stuff, where we cut, and you saw us come out and start celebrating, and the interviews, they shot it without being certain they'd use it. In the end, they decided, wait a minute, we'd be fools if we didn't, because the show is more than anything about a family, and what better way to reinforce that than by showing what a family we actually were? It was brilliant. And I can imagine the fans getting a sense that this thing they really loved for its portrayal of a family, in fact, came out of something genuine.

    That definitely came across.

    You know, last week, I took my TV family, Susanna [Thompson] and Evan [Rachel Wood] and Shane [West], to Six Flags, and we went on all the rides. You'd see people do the double takes, thinking, "Wait a minute, was that show a reality show?" It was hilarious.

    At what point in the life of the series did Enough shoot?

    It overlapped with two weeks of the end of the second season.

    How did it feel going straight from the passive guy, off to work as a big bad villain?

    Oh, it was like taking a shower.

    And what was it like inhabiting someone that evil?

    Great fun. I'd always heard playing a bad guy was fun, and I never quite understood why until I realized they have more options for behavior. There's more opportunity for counterpoint. And as much fun for me as playing a bad guy was doing a big budget movie--I'd almost forgotten what that was like. My first two films were big budget--The Rocketeer and Dracula. Since then I've done nothing but low budget. They're fun, but it's fast, and it's footloose, and you don't get a lot of takes-- certainly doing a TV series is like that, like a sausage factory; you're just grinding out the links.

    Interesting analogy.

    It's true. It can be good sausage, but it's still a sausage factory. The first day on set for Enough, the first A.D. came up to me after we'd rehearsed a scene and said, "We're gonna light now." I said I'd get in makeup and come right back, like I did on the TV show, and he said, "I don't know if I'd do that just yet, you've probably got a good two-and-a-half hours." I nearly shed a tear. I went to a restaurant, had breakfast, read my book, did some shopping, came back, got in makeup, and went to the set. That was a true joy for me.

    How did you end up being cast?

    I was at the Golden Globes, and J-Lo--

    Do you call her that?

    I do-- I think she prefers being called Jen, but I do. Anyhow, she was sitting with her agent and saw me onstage and said, "Who's that guy? Maybe he'd be good for the role in the movie."

    What a cool story.

    Honestly. So it happens that her agent is also my ex-girlfriend Jennifer Connelly's agent, and he said, "I know that guy, I can track him down easily." Suddenly there was a flurry of activity, and I'm going in to read for this movie I'd had no idea existed. When I saw the script it stopped my heart. I thought, 'You mean after three years of playing this nice guy, someone's gonna give me the chance to do this?' Not in my wildest dreams…

    And it was all J-Lo's idea!

    Not only was it her idea, but it was a canny idea. I'm not even sure she knew who I was, or that I played a good guy on TV; she just saw the look and thought it'd be right. So I guess on the part of the director and the casting people, it was a canny choice, because you don't want someone who brings bad guy baggage. It tips you off right away. I was thrilled I might actually have a chance--one, because it would be smart for them to cast me, and two, because it was J-Lo's idea and she might push for me, so I did the best job I could.

    You mean at the audition?

    Yes. It's funny, almost twenty years of auditioning, and I've never been able to predict when I'm going to have an attack of nerves. Auditioning's a process whereby you walk in not as you would if you were a vacuum cleaner salesman, with your product, but you are the product. It can be absolutely excruciating. I've learned to do things preparedly which help me to reduce the chance of nerves, one of which is to have a hangover. I literally can't get nervous. You're not worried about the audition, you're just worried about getting out of there and going to bed. It actually works. I've done this on a few occasions, and I did it for Enough. It was perfect, because my voice gets ragged and raspy, my eyes are red-rimmed, and I walk in with this attitude like 'I want to kill you so I can go home and go to sleep.'

    It really hit the spot, huh?

    I did well. The next step was going to J-Lo's house to be approved in person. Now, I've heard all the rumors about her, and I didn't have a hangover, so I'm nervous. She comes driving up from a music video she's been shooting, and I'm with the director, on the front porch. We go inside and she goes to freshen up. In my attempt to seem at ease, I got down on my hands and knees to play with her chihuahua, who was very affectionate. She came back in and said, "Careful, he's a licker," and out of my nervousness, I said, 'It's OK, I'm a licker too.' I couldn't even look at her! 'What did I just say?' I thought, and turned bright red. But it went well from there, and I was absolutely charmed. She was sweet, she was nice, she was smart. I halfway think it's a little like the Wizard of Oz; she's back there making up these rumors about herself. And it all adds to the mystique. But in person, I was nothing but charmed.

    Did you enjoy working with Michael Apted?

    I adore him. If I never had to work for anyone else again, I could be very happy. He's not just good at what he does, but he's a consummate gentleman, with a completely dry, evil sense of humor totally disguised behind this perfectly straight face.

    He certainly made an engaging thriller…

    It's a pretty canny movie in its own way. It ratchets the tension up and up and up, and every time she gets a bit of peace--boom!--something happens. I know the movie, I am the bad guy, yet when she's putting on the boots and the rings, and taping her hands up, I'm getting this funny feeling on the back of my neck-- 'You go, girl!'

    And the feeling you got watching yourself?

    Equal parts fascinating and horrifying.

    How did the acting process start for you?

    In high school, in Virginia. I was a horrible student, no attention span whatsoever! I'd start the year with plenty of energy and by week three, the only classes I was taking were the newspaper and art. Anyhow, I was goofing around in the hall outside the drama room one day, and the teacher came out and said, "OK, you're going to the principal's office right now, or you're coming in to audition for this play we're doing." I elected to audition and I got the lead.

    What was the play?

    "The Man Who Came To Dinner." I played Sheridan Whiteside. I loved it. But didn't think anything more of it until I was in Chicago a year or two later, at commercial art school, where I soon found myself to be a square peg in a round hole, because I have more of a fine artist's temperament. A friend of mine, also an artist, was taking an acting class. I joined up with that, and dropped out of school. I stayed in Chicago for a bit, and, in fact, my first professional acting job of any kind was given to me by a man named Bruce Young, who, in Enough, trains J-Lo to kick my butt.

    You mentioned The Rocketeer earlier. How'd that come about? They were seeing everybody in town for that. Everybody. It was 1990, kind of a thin time for me; I was doing some Shakespeare at the Renaissance Faire. I had long hair and a beard, and when I went to audition, I remember them thinking, "What is this guy doing here?" Months later, when they were doing screen tests, they got to their last day and only had one test scheduled, and they needed more. So, the director, Joe Johnston went back over the pages and pages of people they'd seen, pointed to my name and said, "We haven't seen that guy in ages, let's test him."

    So after you'd written it off, it came back?

    Right. I thought, 'How is this possible?' I re-read the script, then I got the comic book, and my jaw dropped, because I looked just like the guy. One of my aspirations when I was at commercial art school was to draw comic books, graphic novels-- the point being, I got the book and it was gorgeous, I loved it. The artist's name is Dave Stevens, and his work is stunning. So I cut my beard off, cut my hair just like the guy in the comic book, and I remember the day I walked into the soundstage for the screen test, the first thing I saw was Joe looking up at me. He did a double take. My heart leapt, and I thought I really had a chance, just from the way he looked at me.

    Did they hire you right away?

    Actually, even after all that, and endless waiting, they offered the movie to Johnny Depp! He ended up turning it down and they offered it to me. To this day, if I ever run into him again, I'm going to hug him.

    Your co-star, Jennifer Connelly-- Have you spoken to her since she won the Oscar?

    I have. I'll tell you something, she has such chops, and if you look carefully, you can see it from the beginning. She has a natural kind of honesty. I cried when she won. I've always loved her, and I always knew there'd come a day when her ship would come in.

    Where do you hope your ship sails next?

    I can't speculate as to what Enough will end up doing for me, but I would love for it to enable me to be in the movie-making business as opposed to TV. I'm not anxious to do more TV right now.

    And working with Ed and Marshall would be a hard act to follow.

    Right, I can't think of where you go from there. One thing I am doing is Gore Vidal's "The Best Man" at the Cape Playhouse in July. I'm excited about that. It's two weeks rehearsal in Manhattan, and then a two-week run in Cape Cod. It's blitzkrieg theater. Then, I'm wondering what will come down the road. I don't want to be too choosy, but I don't want to do just anything. To be honest, I've often taken things rather too lightly over the course of my career. I'd do projects simply based on location. My agent would say, "We got this script, it's shooting in Sri Lanka." I'd say, 'I'll do it.' She says, "No, it's really not very good; don't you think you ought to read it first?" And I'd say, 'Ok, I'll read it--but I'll do it.' And I did. I went to Sri Lanka to do one of the world's worst movies. Now, I want to do things that will take me a step further. __ Venice Magazine (June 2002)

    The Deane Scene: Actor Meredith Deane on Teen Issues and Fame
    By Kendeyl Johansen

    Can a television program help a preteen with her real life?

    It can if the preteen in question is Meredith Deane, 12, who plays Zoe Manning on the hit ABC drama Once and Again. Deane says the show gives her empathy for situations she doesn't encounter in real life. "My parents aren't divorced, so I don't face the same issues that my character on the show does, but in working through her issues I've learned how much support kids need when their parents split up," she says.

    Although Deane has fielded thorny divorce issues as Zoe, she was floored when her best friend's parents divorced. "It was so sad. And so hard for my friend, especially when her parents started dating others," Deane says. She made an extra effort to be there for her friend, keeping in touch by email, instant messaging and phone while on location in Los Angeles.

    Connecting with High-Tech

    Deane heavily relies on state-of-the-art communications since her bi-coastal lifestyle often leaves her unable to interact with friends and loved ones face-to-face -- she lives in Los Angeles for nine months while filming, and New York City during breaks. "One of the great things about being a teen in the 21st century is technology. When my mom was a kid, color TV was just coming out -- I can't imagine not having AOL," she laughs.

    And she's high-tech all the way when it comes to school, too. Her schoolwork is Fed-Exed to her weekly from NYC and then tutors help her complete assignments in California. This system sounds complicated, but it works without a hitch. "My school in New York is so great -- if I have a question on an assignment that my tutors can't answer, I just email my teachers or call them. They're always happy to help."

    So how does Deane juggle school, acting, friends and family? "I don't know," she laughs. "Actually school and acting take up a lot of time, but I can always find time to socialize," she says.

    Deane's 5-year-old brother and mom live with her in California while she's working, but her dad and 10-year-old sister live in New York, and it's hard sometimes. But Deane chats with her dad and sister once or twice every day, and her dad and sister fly out whenever they can. Or, during a break in work, Deane, her brother and mom hop the next plane to NYC.

    When together, the family enjoys visiting the park, relaxing on the beach or hitting the latest movie. (Deane loved Harry Potter, but wished it had included more of what was in the book, and she can hardly wait to see The Lord of the Rings.) Another favorite of the Deane family is Legoland, an interactive amusement park located in Carlsbad, Calif.

    Today's Teen Scene

    Deane admits that growing up today isn't easy. "Everyone has these perfect-looking idols, but in reality models and stars look so great because they're made to look that way, and it takes a lot of time and effort." She adds that looks and personality don't always match, and it's important to get to know what someone is really like.

    And Deane definitely doesn't think preteens and teens should starve themselves or binge and purge in pursuit of a mythic "perfect" body. "Try to teach your kids to eat healthy and have a realistic attitude towards weight. If they eat healthy foods and exercise, they'll look healthy, and that's what's important," she says. And she certainly doesn't rule out the occasional sugar-splurge. "My favorite treat is called 'An American Beauty' -- it's this triple chocolate cake with chocolate fudge and chocolate icing. We get it an a little deli in the Upper East Side of NYC. I've had desserts in France and Italy and nothing compares!"

    Besides body-image, many of today's teens struggle with alcohol and drug problems, and Deane knows young actors can succumb to substance abuse, but she knows it's important to stay clean. She credits her parents with giving her a good example to follow by not abusing substances.

    "Parents can't always stop their kids from taking drugs or drinking alcohol, but they definitely have influence on their child. If a child sees a parent drinking three glasses of wine and driving, they'll think that's OK, when it isn't. Kids really react to what they see, not just what they hear." She encourages parents to help their kids pick an anti-drug (something that kids can utilize in place of drugs to feel good). "My anti-drugs are my family and friends," she says. Deane knows she can always rely on them to cheer her up during hard times.

    It's Not a Date

    Deane has a network of female and male friends but her parents definitely aren't ready for her to date. "My dad says I have to be 30 to date," she laughs. "Right now I see boys as friends, people to have a good time with. My friends and I don't do things in groups with boys very often yet, but at Thanksgiving we had this youth feast at our Christian church. There were adults there to supervise us and we all had a great time." When not working, Deane loves just hanging out with her friends, eating pizza, and staying up later at sleepovers than she admits to her parents.

    Living as a celebrity is great most of the time, Deane says, but not always. Her biggest pet peeve is fans that start talking to her but completely ignore her friends. "My friends actually take it well. They sigh and hold out their hand and say, 'Hi, I'm here, too. Nice to meet you,'" she laughs.

    Lots of fans ask for Deane's advice about how to start acting. Deane offers the following advice for parents of would-be actors:

    Tell your kids to be themselves during auditions. People want to see their real personalities. Start kids out slow. Have them try out for commercials or short films. Starting out with a major role can be very stressful.

    Make sure your kids are acting because they like it. If your child finishes filming commercials or short films and they still enjoy acting, you can be confident they are doing something they like and something that will be good for them.

    When Deane gets a few minutes of alone-time she likes to crochet, needle-point and knit. "When I was 5, my family went to Saint Martin with my grandma, and one night I was bored, and she taught me to knit. A little while later, my grandma showed me how to do needlepoint and then a hairdresser on the show taught me to crochet, which is fun because it goes faster."

    Meeting new people, whether they're hairdressers or superstars, is one of Deane's favorite things about acting. "I get to spend time with amazing people and form great relationships," she says. Already, at age 12, Deane knows something that others never understand: Make-believe is fun, but wise choices and strong relationships are the ingredients for real-life "happily ever after." (June 2002)

    Danger seen in verticality as panel weighs TV trends: B'casters might miss hits by turning inward

    By Cynthia Littleton

    It was billed as a panel session focusing on the 2001-02 TV season, and thus it was inevitable that the discussion at the luncheon sponsored Thursday by the Caucus for Television Producers, Writers & Directors would revolve around the effect on the business of vertical integration and consolidation.

    "It can't be a good thing for the business - we've known that," said producer Marshall Herskovitz, who took part in the panel alongside Fox entertainment president Gail Berman, Paramount Television Production president Garry Hart, HBO original programming president Chris Albrecht and producers Vin Di Bona and Kevin Bright.

    In the hourlong session, moderated by Los Angeles Times columnist Brian Lowry, there was much talk of the danger of networks losing out on potential hits by being too focused on developing new shows through in-house channels in order to reap the economic rewards in syndication and to avoid big license fee hikes when hit shows come up for renewal. But Herskovitz sounded a contrarian note by pointing out that vertical integration doesn't automatically mean that a network will favor a show that it owns. Herskovitz and his longtime partner Ed Zwick saw their critically acclaimed ABC drama series "Once and Again," produced by Disney's Touchstone TV, fall victim to low ratings earlier this year after a rocky three-season run.

    "I don't think (network ownership) gives you the kind of protection that people assume," Herskovitz said.

    Paramount's Hart agreed, but he also asserted that ABC "probably made a mistake this year in going so much with Touchstone." ABC raised eyebrows around town during the past development season by generating the vast majority of its pilots and eventual pickups for the upcoming season through its Touchstone sibling.

    "I absolutely think (that network execs) try to put on the best schedule they can to maximize the (ad) dollars," Hart said. "But if the pool of shows you're gonna pick from is limited, then are you really getting the opportunity to put on the best schedule? If you don't open yourself up to as many voices and ideas, you can't get the best schedule."

    Fox's Berman cited the network's decision to give one of its most valuable launching-pad slots, the post-"That '70s Show" time slot, to a show that Fox has no ownership interest in, Carsey-Werner-Mandabach's "Grounded for Life," rather than one of many Fox-owned pilots that were in contention.

    "Everybody in town thought that that would be a decision made by vertical integration. But it's still our job to make the best possible programming decisions we can," Berman said.

    Di Bona, producer of ABC's long-running "America's Funniest Videos" series and Fox's upcoming reality series "Meet the Marks," added: "Vertical integration doesn't give you the great idea - that's where we come in."

    Bright, one of three original exec producers on "Friends," noted that writers and other creative types are chafing under the bottom-line mentality that became the rule as the TV industry underwent a wave of consolidation during the past decade.

    "It's frustrating for a producer that when you sign up with a production company, there's such a lack of stability in who's running that studio," Bright said. "Consolidation adds to the pressure on executives to deliver. There are more people who don't understand the business now involved with the (development) process." __ The Hollywood Reporter (May 31, 2002)

    Room To Grow
    It's been a year of big changes for Sela Ward. Her L.A. home is expanding--and so is her life. The actress, artist, philanthropist, entrepreneur and soon-to-be author talks about the latest chapter in her life

    By Leslie Marshall

    At 8:30 on a Sunday morning in Los Angeles, a barefoot Sela Ward wanders into the kitchen of her home with an attitude as easy as the plaid flannel pajamas she's wearing. "Hi, y'all. Anybody hungry?" she asks. Her smooth drawl, decidedly different from the voice she uses as Lily Sammler on TV's Once and Again, imparts the delightful flavor of her native Mississippi. She fixes herself a bowl of oatmeal and bananas, then wanders off, bowl in hand, to take the pulse of her home.

    "Austin, have you had breakfast?" she asks her 8-year-old son, who is sitting on his father's lap in the playroom watching basketball on TV. She checks in on Anabella, her 4-year-old daughter, who is in her bedroom, awake but not quite up. Padding back into the kitchen Ward affectionately pokes her toes at the family dogs, Nibbles (a Cavalier King Charles spaniel) and Joey (a mixed breed), who are dozing on a big doggie bed, and allows herself a contented sigh. It's a mellow moment. Almost.

    Ward looks up toward the fireplace at the far end of the room and stops mid-chew. Her eyes narrow and her jaw sets. "I have to find the right painting for that wall," she declares, with a determination reminiscent of another famous raven-haired Southern beauty. When it comes to her house, frankly, my dears, Sela Ward gives a damn. "My passion right now is all about this home," says the 45-year- old actress of the sprawling house she and husband Howard Sherman, a venture capitalist, moved into last August. The couple took one look at the property--with its huge yard, tennis court and pool--and fell in love with it. "I wanted our kids to have a yard big enough to kick around a soccer ball or build a tree house," she says. "It's a reward for years of hard work, of striving toward something. A picture in my mind of what life could be."

    The idea of enjoying life to the fullest is especially poignant for Ward now. She has just returned from Mississippi, where she buried her mother, Annie Kate, who died after a long battle with ovarian cancer. Sela, her father, and her three siblings were all at Annie Kate's bedside in the final hours. "This has been the hardest week of my life. Unbelievable," Ward says, brushing away tears. "I'm glad she's not suffering anymore, but it was incredibly difficult. But beautiful things took place. The moment she died we blew her kisses, then sang 'Amazing Grace.' It was a wonderful sense of closure to be there and help her let go."

    The profundity of this experience keeps other big changes in perspective. Ward accepts with a wise shrug that Once and Again may not be picked up for a fourth season. "I'll miss the creativity of the show terribly. But I won't miss the 12-hour days. This phase of my life is about learning to slow down and simplify--to create some kind of order."

    Clearly Ward sees this house as the ideal canvas to express a slower, more simplified style. "I'm starving for a cleaner look--less clutter and more color," she says. Dressed now in Lucky Brand blue sweatpants and a white jacket, Ward gives a tour of the main house, as well as a new addition, which will include a conservatory, screening room, gym and guest room. Design standards are high in the thoughtful mix of antiques (picked up on trips and at auctions) and new pieces in the large, airy rooms. But equal emphasis falls on comfort and streamlined function. "I love banquettes. We had that one made," says Ward, nodding toward a built-in banquette in a bay window of her kitchen. "This is my greatest luxury," she says later as she steps from the master bath, with its large tub and fireplace, into her huge walk-in closet--replete with skylight, accessories island, and built- in ironing board. "Sometimes I sit in here for quiet get-away time."

    Although Ward is a self-proclaimed "house horse," not a clotheshorse, her home is hardly a hands-off showplace. There are signs everywhere that real people are in residence. The library is a warm, wood- paneled room with a fireplace (one of seven in the house) and built- in bookcases ("I went through a phase," says Ward, nodding toward the self-help books on the shelves). The kitchen has its share of children's art. And the tennis court, with its playhouse and kids toys, doubles as a playground. In the driveway is Ward's own childhood "toy": her first car, a 1969 red Plymouth Barracuda her father gave her for her 15th birthday.

    In fact Ward's roots remain dear to her. She has a second residence (a "family compound" of nearly 500 acres) just miles from where she grew up and takes her kids there as often as she can. Her own childhood could have been lifted from a Norman Rockwell print--pole fishing at the catfish pond, marshmallow toasts, hayrides. But Ward had a strong case of wanderlust. After graduating from the University of Alabama, she was a successful model in New York before moving to Los Angeles to try acting. It was more than a decade before she got her big break, when, in 1991, she nabbed the part of Teddy, the black- sheep sibling on Sisters. Eight years later she was playing Lily, a divorced mom diving back into the dating pool on Once and Again. Both parts earned her an Emmy and made her a kind of role model, proving 40-plus women could be, well, babes. She has even been dubbed the Anti-Blonde.

    "Would it be too much to say I think Sela's a goddess?" asks Edward Zwick, coexecutive producer of Once and Again. "Few people possess such an interesting combination of qualities. She has the grace and manners that are a legacy of a Southern upbringing, yet she's urbane and sophisticated."

    He's not the only guy who has fallen hard. Ward met Sherman in 1991 on a blind date. "When I asked my friend what Sela was like, I got 'beautiful, kind, smart,'" Sherman recalls. "So I asked, 'What does she do?' When I heard she was an actress, I said, 'Stop right there.' I grew up in Southern California. Every pretty woman wanted to be an actress, and that wasn't what I was looking for. But I was 36 years old and wanted to get married. I thought, What the heck? So we went out, and I learned that Sela wasn't the typical actress."

    Maybe not, but that doesn't mean she's immune to a little drama. Consider Sherman's proposal to Ward--and Ward's response. "We were sitting in a cafe in New York," says Sherman. "I handed Sela a box with a ring inside and said, 'I am giving you this because I want to spend the rest of my life with you.' She was supposed to say, 'I love you so much! Yes!' Well, the scriptwriter must have been on vacation for that scene, because all I got was a blank stare."

    Turns out, no rewrite was needed. Ward had her own surprise: a watch engraved with "I Love You. Yes." "I'd been carrying it for three months, waiting for him to propose," she says. "He is the love of my life. He's creative, kind, considerate. Trust me--I paid my dues. The relationships I went through? I deserve every moment of Howard. I was a slow learner, but I finally got it right."

    Sherman is clearly one big reason Ward calls her 40s "the best chapter of my life." But there are others as well. "It's when everything--the drive, the struggle to figure it all out--comes together and you go 'Aha!' You know, it's laughable to think your sexuality disappears when you get older. You're just starting. A lot of women lose themselves in the middle of taking care of everyone else. But if you stop pursuing things that are meaningful because you feel it's selfish, you lose yourself. Sexuality is about being alive and passionate. You need to find something you care about, whether it's growing roses or reading."

    Among the many passions that fuel Ward: creating Hope Village, a home for neglected and abused children in Meridian, Miss.; writing a book for HarperCollins on what home means to her; and launching a spa-salon franchise with Sherman, younger sister Jenna (who formerly ran the spa at Miami's Delano hotel), and Los Angeles hairstylist Ken Paves. In her downtime Ward likes to take art workshops; two of them took place in Italy, where she spent long days sketching the picturesque sights.

    All of which leaves Ward's friends in awe. "Sela is an amazing woman on every level," says Carrie Wiatt, who arranged Ward's blind date with Sherman. "She has been under such pressure--her mother dying, the new house, the show. But she handles it amazingly well. And she's raising great children. I'm tempted to use the word 'superwoman,' but that implies someone unreal. Sela is the most real person I've ever met."

    As dusk falls, Superwoman sits in her kitchen, fingering the collar of her sweatshirt (the red cape, apparently, is at the dry cleaners) as she listens thoughtfully to her husband noodle on the piano in the study. Anabella and Austin, who are at a birthday party, will be home soon. The calm before the welcome storm. "At times it seems like my life is about 100 miles an hour," she says. "There's so much going on. But by the time I'm 60 I'll welcome just sitting on the porch and swinging. No regrets." __ InStyle (May 2002)

    ABC: The Law of Unintended Consequences

    by Lisa Schmeiser

    Q. What do you get when a network runs its breakout hit game show into the ground, cancels all its good shows, incites a media frenzy with an ill-timed attempt at poaching late-night talent, and somehow makes football a ratings liability?

    A. ABC

    It's no secret that ABC's in trouble; for months, the most riveting thing about the network has been reading about its assorted vagaries in the business section: the hit the network took after it belatedly realized that nobody wanted to be a millionare badly enough to watch four nights a week; the firings of Stu Bloomberg, co-chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group, and Steve Bornstein, president of ABC Television; the embarrassing attempt to woo David Letterman away from CBS -- much to Ted Koppel's very public surprise; the recent revelation that ABC has somehow managed to lose nearly every desirable demographic to another network. Watching ABC screw up is more entertaining than watching any of the network's shows.

    Of course, that's not hard, given ABC's habit of pulling the plug on its best material. Remember, this is the network that yanked Gideon's Crossing, Cupid and Relativity after one measly season. This year, they sacrificed the sleek, tongue-in-cheek Thieves and the brutally funny The Job -- easily two of the three most watchable shows on the network. (The third show, of course, was Alias, which seemed to be less a reflection of any ABC programming savvy and more a lucky fluke.)

    I have no explanation for this persistent cancellation pattern: perhaps those annoying anti-TV blowhards have somehow infiltrated ABC's inner offices and are deploying an insidious scheme to destroy television from the inside out. Perhaps ABC kills the good shows early so we don't have time to notice how bad the rest of the network's programming is. The point is, if you're working on a good show that's been picked up by ABC, you can go ahead and make reservations for a winter vacation because you'll surely have the free time.

    ABC's explanation for killing the cream of the crop is, inevitably, "low ratings" -- this was the reason the Zwick-Herskovitz vehicle Once and Again got killed this year despite a near-fanatical following and universal kudos from the critics -- which seems suggest that the network is actually run by five-year-olds hopped up on Pixie Stix; there is no patience for cultivating a show and, by extension, a new demographic, nor is there any evidence of human reasoning beyond the capacity for faulty syllogism: the show isn't getting ratings, ratings mean a show is good, therefore the show isn't good.

    And ABC wonders why its ratings are in the toilet. Most of the show on its schedule were unwatchable (I still have half a Philly review on my hard drive, because it took me three separate tries to sit through an episode, and I haven't been able to piece together anything cogent from notes that read "GAH! Brain hurts!"), there was better material on elsewhere much of the time, and a segment of the audience is probably wondering why they should bother tuning into the Already Been Cancelled network.

    It doesn't help that ABC has no idea who's watching them anyway. While other networks have aggressively profiled and sought certain demographics -- NBC is targeting affluent, urbane professionals; Fox goes for the 18-45 male and UPN goes for the leftovers; the WB is hoping to capture the 18-45 female audience; and CBS just sits back and chortles because sooner or later, all those other audiences will fit into its core audience -- ABC just mewls that it's the "family" network. Unless they're targeting families composed entirely of individuals not in any of the other demographic segments listed above, it's going to be an uphill battle for the network.

    Naturally, the Alphabet is not making it any easier on itself in 2002-2003. Let's look at what the Alarmingly Bad Crap network is showing the American public this fall.

    Mercifully, they will not be showing us Philly, Spin City or Dharma and Greg, as all three shows have been cancelled. Unfortunately, neither Drew Carey nor NYPD Blue met the same fate, so we're still not free of allegedly comedic gimcrackery or the Former Teen Heartthrob Rehabilitation Project.

    Although ABC's president Susan Lyne claimed the network was reclaiming the "smart family comedies that reflect our viewers' lives" throne, the network will be showing the ham-handed George Lopez Show and introducing 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter. The new show stars John Ritter (thus retiring him from the guest-star circuit for a while, undoubtedly to John Larroquette's relief) as a "loving, rational dad" (ABC's words, not mine) who seems surprise and appalled that teenaged girls have minds of their own. It's based on a book by W. Bruce Cameron, who may very well be blameless when it comes to the televised interpretation of his opus, but I still can't help but wonder if this entire show could have been prevented by handing someone, anyone, a copy of Reviving Ophelia.

    8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter will be airing on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m. EST/PST, opposite Gilmore Girls, JAG and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I'm just saying.

    Tuesdays will also include Life with Bonnie (9 p.m. EST/PST) and Less Than Perfect (9:30 p.m. EST/PST) -- opposite Frasier, The Guardian, Smallville and 24. Life with Bonnie is a vehicle for the underrated Bonnie Hunt; I can only hope the promotional copy is lying when it says, " Bonnie writes, directs and stars with the same comic flair she brought to her film, "Return to Me," because I don't recall "Return to Me" (or, as the husband and I call it, "Give Me Back My Dead Wife's Heart!") having an especial comic flair. Or, for that matter, any flair. Anyway -- Life with Bonnie is another star vehicle. I'll hope that it's more smartly executed than ABC's previous star vehicles (Bob Patterson and Geena) were. As for Less than Perfect, I suspect headline writers across America will be having a field day when coming up with the title of reviews for this: it's about a "perky" secretary to a network anchor and the scheming office politics which she must endure.

    On Wednesdays, The Bachelor returns. I understand one of the authors of The Rules is now available; perhaps she can participate on the show and put her money where her mouth is. ABC is also showing Meds, a medical drama set in San Francisco going up against CBS's medical drama set in San Francisco (Presidio Med) -- it makes you wonder if several network programmers are off their meds -- and Law and Order, which is not set in San Francisco. Meds is apparently about "two renegade doctors [who] bend the rules and find the loopholes in a constant quest to treat their patients. Together they practice medicine with a take-no-prisoners attitude and don't-take-no-for-an-answer tactics." There is literally nothing I can add to that.

    Dinotopia was apparently enough of a success for ABC to warrant picking it up as a series to be broadcast on Thursdays at 8 p.m. This is clearly the big family gambit, as dinosaurs and kids are a natural mix. Were I anywhere in the age 4-9 bracket (when I passionately wanted to be a paleontologist), I'd watch this series. Since I'm not, I won't be. But I can tell you, based on the book (which I own) and the miniseries (of which I caught an hour), the show will likely be a continuation of the interspecies utopia where the biggest problems tend to be of a charmingly antique nature -- rogue dinos, natural disasters, the odds the modern world will discover the place -- while skipping over other historical dilemmas like the odds that Compsognathidae corallestris become Marxists or a giant comet throws the ecosystem out of whack.

    Following Dinotopia, Push, Nevada hopes to attract anyone who really wants to spend their nine p.m. on Thursdays watching a show set in Nevada where there are mysteries to be solved and obtuse dialogue to be spouted. For those of you wondering how Push, Nevada will differ from CSI -- broadcast television's other show set in Nevada where there are mysteries to be solved and obtuse dialogue to be spouted -- this one is brought to you by the Project Greenlight team and is focused on setting up and solving a central riddle, kind of like "Who killed Laura Palmer?" except it's apparently a reality TV show with money involved, as opposed to smartly-dressed midgets. Either Push, Nevada will end up being one of the most inventive things to come along in years, or it's going to be unwatchable. It may well be both.

    ABC's last new offering, That Was Then, airs on Friday night at 9 p.m. EST/PST. It's apparently a lot like "Back to the Future" or "Peggy Sue Got Married", i.e. predicated on the depressing premise that high school is, like, the most important thing ever and grown adults with problems can trace the origins of their woes back to their senior year of high school. Anyway, That Was Then is about a loser who can trace the origins of his woes back to high school, travels back in time to fix them, and ends up in a future not unlike the last few episodes of Felicity, where we all get reminded of the law of unintended consequences.

    Frankly, it wouldn't kill ABC executives to watch this show, given the state of their own network. Let's just hope they spend the year critiquing their network and learning from their mistakes, instead of trying to build a time machine to go back to a time when they showed good programming. Knowing ABC, though, I'd put my money on the time machine.__ (May 23, 2002)

    Time for network report cards: Few new shows make the grade as season ends

    By Tim Goodman

    The 2001-2002 broadcast television season ends today, and the carnage is everywhere. Hey, look, there's "Emeril." Over here the burnt husks of two reality shows about chairs that were licked with fire and ice. "Bob Patterson" -- we hardly knew ye. And is it really necessary to eulogize "Men, Women and Dogs"?

    There were a lot of dogs, of course. There always are in the competitive world of network television, where the failure rate for new shows is inching close to 90 percent. But there were surprises everywhere as well -- the buzz of "24," a "Friends" revival, "Survivor" staying relevant, "The Bernie Mac Show" wooing the nation.

    It looks as if NBC will certainly win the demographics crown -- nobody had better numbers overall in the coveted 18-49 range. But the Peacock could also pull off the elusive double victory, winning in overall viewers as well. Look for it to barely beat CBS. Which crown is more important? Who gets bragging rights as top network?

    Frankly, we don't care. That's not how we grade. What follows are marks foreach of the six major broadcast networks based on returning series, new series, how each treated viewers, how much each dabbled in silly reality programming and a slew of personal, subjective expectations -- because we can.

    ABC: Grade: D. It would be nearly impossible to mismanage a network any worse than ABC executives did this season. Now two -- Stu Bloomberg, co- chairman of the ABC Entertainment Television Group, and Steve Bornstein, president of ABC Television -- have been fired and a restructuring is under way. Ratings took a precipitous drop based mainly on an over-reliance on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," which imploded and was canceled.

    ABC gave away its core family audience and couldn't muster much in the way of quality new fare. "Alias" worked well and "The Bachelor" brought some buzz, but there's little quality here.

    The network is still embarrassed by its David Letterman courtship and "Nightline" disaster. It has removed Bill Maher's "Politically Incorrect" and aging series like "Spin City" and "Dharma & Greg" -- 11 shows were yanked -- but ABC gets no extra credit for next fall since the new offerings look bleak.

    On top of that, loyal viewers were annoyed by the cancellation of "Once and Again" and "The Job." For a network that wants to re-embrace families, not programming Saturday nights (movie reruns) shows little effort. [rest snipped] __ San Francisco Chronicle (May 22, 2002)

    For NBC, it's a night to remember

    By Matthew Gilbert, Globe Staff, 5/20/2002

    If I knew a person who was as baldly manipulative as network TV, I would either commit him to McLean Hospital or nominate him to be king of the world. It's consistently amazing to watch the big four (NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox) brazenly fight to control the habits of TV viewers - almost as amazing as it is to see their methods work so thoroughly. The meek may inherit the earth, but in the meantime the networks will scarf up the Nielsen goodies like so many sharks at a sushi bar.

    To wit: Must See TV, an NBC construct that has hooked millions of American viewers every Thursday night for 20 years. Tonight at 9:30 on Channel 7, NBC is airing an immodest special called ''20 Years of Must See TV,'' a tribute to itself for creating the most famous programming block in TV history. And indeed, despite the recent ratings insurgence of CBS's ''Survivor'' and ''CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,'' NBC has been phenomenally clever in its ability to own the most important night on TV, the night when studios pay high ad rates to promote movies before Friday premieres. With a host of promotional tricks and some savvy juggling of series, NBC has successfully kept us on the couch from ''Hill Street Blues'' to ''ER,'' our brain in the passive mode, our remotes in the relaxed position.

    Of course, the Must See phenomenon would never have thrived for 20 years without some top-notch TV series. ''Hill Street Blues'' looks dated now (reruns air daily on Bravo), but with its flawed heroes, it broke many of the tired dramatic conventions of its time. ''The Cosby Show'' helped universalize the idea of family, while ''Seinfeld'' turned single life into a unique comedy of manners. ''Family Ties'' made light of an important post-boomer cultural shift, and, despite its feeble final hours, ''Mad About You'' both upended and defined yuppie marriage. And the talents who have been involved in the Must See canon, from Steven Bochco to Michael J. Fox, are now among entertainment's elite.

    But excellence doesn't automatically find an audience. So much depends on a network's decisions regarding time slot and lead-in show. We have seen some of the medium's most deserving moments, particularly the faceted family dramas from Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, such as ''Once and Again,'' fail miserably due to network mishandling and executive disinterest. There's no overestimating the power of programming blocks, where the networks take a hit series and work to build a hit night around it. In the 1990s, with ''Friends'' at 8, ''Seinfeld'' at 9, and ''ER'' at 10, NBC was able to make viewers stay put no matter what, even when it aired dross such as ''Stark Raving Mad,'' ''The Single Guy,'' and ''Inside Schwartz.'' If you moved ''Once and Again'' to NBC and put it between ''Friends'' and ''ER,'' it would probably be a top 10 show.

    Ultimately, ''20 Years of Must See TV'' is a rather odd little special. NBC seems to have produced it in response to the possible decline of Must See TV, as ''Friends'' approaches its final season, ''Survivor'' thrives, and ''CSI'' continues to gain popularity. It's as though NBC desperately wants to remind us that its Thursday-night lineup is absolutely historic, in case we were thinking of defecting. There's a subtle defensive air to it.

    Also, the show has a self-admiring tone that quickly becomes gnawing. Do we really need to hear ''Will & Grace'' star Debra Messing remind us that we ''depend'' on Must See characters? What's the point in having the makers of ''Friends'' note that ''you never really know what's going to come out of'' Phoebe, or that ''Rachel is delicious''? It's all vanity matter that, despite likable host Eric McCormack (Will from ''Will & Grace'') and some amusing clips, is the equivalent of a 90-minute infomercial. __ Boston Globe (May 20, 2002)

    The Awful Truth (item on Sela Ward)

    Someone I'd wager might share similar feelings of loyalty was the evening's host, Sela Ward.

    As the charitable soiree's theme was "Peace and Love," I asked the star of the canceled Once and Again just how much peace and love she was feeling toward her network.

    Looking amazing, quelle surprise, in a Saturday Night Fever-inspired Dolce & Gabbana white suit, the charming dark-haired star didn't exactly ooze benevolence.

    "Unfortunately," she explained (peacefully enough), "I'm not released from my contract until they announce the fall schedule next week."

    Damn! Mere hours later, S.W.'s lips were unsealed--sure that would have been a pumpkin of a press release.

    Nevertheless, sometimes the simpler answers say so much. Which made me wonder what, exactly, would S.W. like to erase from her life.

    "The frenetic pace," she answered with barely a second's hesitation. __e!online (5/16/02)

    Series Finales: Not As Easy As They Look

    by Rick Porter

    LOS ANGELES ( - The good thing about TV -- whether you're a viewer, a showrunner, or a network executive -- is that there's always next week.

    Fans of a television show can shrug off a bad episode or relish the cliffhanger of a good one. Actors, writers and producers can look for new ways to tell a story or give extra dimensions to an already developed character. Even when a season ends, those people can look forward to next fall.

    Eventually, though, the next weeks and next falls end. For some shows, cancellation comes swiftly and harshly, and there's no chance to wrap up stories. Thus, the world is left to ponder the question "What About Joan?" and will never find out just what, exactly, was "Inside Schwartz."

    The luckier ones have some advance warning as to their final airdate. Extremely lucky ones get to go out on their own terms. When that happens -- as it does with five series this season -- writers and producers are faced with a different problem: In a medium that is made for open-ended storytelling, how do you tie everything up in one last episode? Or should you even try?

    "One of the challenge of a series finale is there's a kind of pressure to resolve so many things," says Matt Reeves, co-creator of "Felicity," which ends its four-year run on The WB on Wednesday, May 22. "One of the things about an ongoing drama series is that you resolve certain things, but [others] are left open, and that's why people come back to watch what's next."

    "Felicity" and FOX's "The X-Files" and "Ally McBeal" will all say their goodbyes in the coming week. The finales of ABC's "Once and Again" and UPN's "Roswell" have already aired. If they all manage to pull off satisfying finales, it will be something of a surprise.

    In recent TV history, more series have gone out with a whimper -- or been dragged off, screaming -- than with a bang. For every well-done finale like that of "St. Elsewhere" -- in which the audience is led to believe that Dr. Westphall's (Ed Flanders) autistic son may have imagined the entire story -- there's a "Seinfeld," whose brilliant legacy was marred somewhat by a final show that tried to do too many things.

    Series with complex back stories probably face the biggest challenge in wrapping things up, and no show in recent memory is more Byzantine than "The X-Files," which for nine seasons has built a web of conspiracies and intersecting storylines based around a government coverup of the existence of alien life on earth.

    Whispers that this season, "The X-Files'" ninth, would be the last were audible even before the season began and the show took a ratings hit. Creator Chris Carter and FOX confirmed suspicions in January with the announcement that the series would conclude this month.

    Carter says he began thinking about ending the show for several months before the announcement, and therefore had some time to figure out how to bring the far-flung mythology to a conclusion.

    "We got to really plan and count down through the episodes we had left to figure out what we wanted to do," Carter says. "Anytime in television that you get to plan, it's a luxury."

    Marshall Herskovitz, who co-created "Once and Again" with Ed Zwick, had less time to figure out a final episode. His show was on and off the schedule this season. Herskovitz and Zwick had an idea that their season finale might also be a series finale, but they weren't sure until a few weeks before the last show aired on April 15.

    "We had some conversations with the network, and they indicated it would be prudent for us to come up with an episode that could serve as either a season or a series finale," Herskovitz says.

    What they came up with was an episode in which Rick (Billy Campbell) and Lily (Sela Ward) each got attractive job offers, he in Australia, she at home. After a protracted argument, love -- and Lily's pregnancy -- won out. The show ended with cameras pulling away and the crew applauding.

    "We wanted to do justice to the stories and hint at the direction [of the characters]," Herskovitz says.

    That's the goal of the final episodes of "Felicity" as well, according to Reeves. Like "Once and Again," "Felicity" faced some uncertainty during the season as The WB tried out the Kevin Williamson-created "Glory Days" in its timeslot.

    "We were hedging our bets about whether we'd get picked up for a full [22-episode] season," Reeves says. "We didn't know if we were going to have 17 episodes or 22, so knowing that this would most likely be our last year, we thought we should definitely have a graduation finale."

    Which the show did -- except the graduation episode aired four weeks before the finale. The final episodes shows send Felicity back in time, where she chooses Noel (Scott Foley) over Ben (Scott Speedman) in an effort to change the course of her life.

    The high-concept ending was born partly out of necessity -- "We didn't want to risk the change that we'd only have 17 [episodes] and be planning the graduation episode as [No.] 22," Reeves says. Once word from The WB came that they were getting a full season, the time-travel idea came up immediately.

    "I don't know if everyone will think it's a good or bad finale, but for us it was very satisfying creatively," he says. "We got to do graduation, then this other thing that was incredibly fun and in many ways referenced the whole evolution of the show."

    "The X-Files" appears to be taking a look back as well. Carter, who wrote the two-hour finale, isn't revealing much, but we do know that Agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny, who left the series after last season) returns to face a military tribunal in the last show. A number of characters who helped build the show's ongoing story will make appearances.

    "It's not overly complicated," Carter says of "X-Files" mythology. "I think people will see that when we wrap it up -- I think we gave it a beautiful logic."

    That desire to wrap things up goes hand-in-hand with a desire not to leave a show's fans hanging. After the final shot of "Once and Again," cast members reminisced to the camera about their time together. "Felicity's" time traveling was a nod to fans of the show who wanted Felicity and Noel to be together, Reeves says. "The X-Files," too, should please fans, Carter says.

    "I think it will be really satisfying," Carter says. "Whether you've been a casual viewer or a hard-core viewer, it will play to who's ever watched."

    Faced with no more new episodes, the show's fans can only hope he's right. (May 15, 2002)

    Repurposing's Still the Rave for Nets


    As more cable and broadcast programmers seek out financially viable models for original-series development, the concept of repurposing programs on cable channels continues to gain momentum.

    The shift toward repurposing -- or replaying a new broadcast-network program on a cable service within a short window after its premiere -- has initially centered on the migration of established shows. But in the future, industry observers said, cable networks and broadcasters are more likely to collaborate on new programs.

    Some operators are concerned, though. They fear a glut of repurposed fare would inevitably diminish the value of cable programming to the consumer.

    Networks and broadcasters continue to seek opportunities to repurpose current series, as well as variety programs. In just the first quarter, three networks signed repurposing deals for several established shows.

    E! Entertainment Television and NBC inked a deal that puts the late-night talk show Last Call With Carson Daly on the cable channel hours after its 1:30 a.m. debut. Comedy Central has signed a similar arrangement with NBC for Late Night With Conan O'Brien. And A&E Network secured rights to re-run ABC's women-skewing morning gabfest, The View.

    Those programmers joined USA Network, Turner Network Television, Lifetime Television, ABC Family and FX in the fraternity of cable networks that offer quick repeat airings of broadcast network shows. Networks who've already invested in repurposing said the returns have been positive thus far.

    But the repurposed fare hasn't lit up the Nielsen Media Research meters, in terms of transferring broadcast-sized numbers to cable.

    "Before repurposing was actually done, there was some speculation that offering a 6- to 8-rated broadcast show onto a 2-rated cable network would get you a huge rating," said Lifetime Television senior vice president of research Tim Brooks. "But it doesn't work that way."

    Instead, repurposed shows have benefitted cable networks by increasing viewership within their core audiences. For instance, TNT's secondary airings of The WB's Charmed averaged a modest 1 rating in April, but the show posted significant increases in the network's targeted demos.

    Episodes of the series -- which air on TNT one week after their The WB debut -- posted significant ratings increases for TNT among adults 18 to 34 -- a 63 percent jump from last April. Turner Entertainment Networks president Brad Siegel said the show draws the greatest concentration of 18-to-34 viewers of any TNT program.

    Results were also strong among adults 18 to 49 (ahead 49 percent) and adults 25 to 54 (up 46 percent).

    "It's definitely done what we wanted to do: It's attracting our target audience and attracting advertisers who are looking to reach that demographic," Siegel said. "It's bringing in a desirable younger audience to TNT's Tuesday-night lineup."

    Once and Again -- recently canceled after four years on ABC and Lifetime -- wasn't a huge ratings hit for either network. But the drama did draw more 18-to-39-year-old women to Lifetime's 11 p.m. slot than what had aired previously, said Brooks.

    "Getting new women 18 to 39 is always a challenge, and the opportunity for us with Once and Again was to get a show with an extremely loyal, very female, 18-to-49 audience," Brooks said. "We were able to bring new viewers to the network to sample Lifetime programming."

    But repurposing hasn't worked for everyone. FX has not experienced the ratings and demo push it expected from Fox's 24.

    The network's 12-week Monday night run of 24 -- six days after its debut on Fox -- averaged a 0.43 rating, said the network. What's worse, the show only pulled in a 0.26 rating among FX's target demo audience of adults 18 to 49.

    As a result, the network moved 24 up one hour, to 11 p.m., on March 18, a slot where the Kiefer Sutherland-vehicle has registered modest growth both on a household and demographic basis. FX president Peter Ligouri said serial dramas like 24 -- which follows Sutherland's character, a CIA agent, through each hour of a single, tension-filled day -- are a tougher sell than shows like Law and Order, where the main storyline isn't woven into each episode.

    "When you have a show with complicated storylines and somewhat greater serialization, it makes repurposing a greater challenge," Ligouri said.

    From an economic perspective, both cable and broadcast executives see repurposing as an opportunity to drive down the expensive costs of producing original shows.

    As production costs for even marginal series easily average from $600,000 to $700,000 per episode, executives argued, repurposed shows will generate more revenue for broadcast networks through rights fees and additional advertising revenue.

    For E!, which boasts a lineup that's almost 100 percent original, producing a late-night talk show similar to Last Call With Carson Daly would be cost-prohibitive. While the network would not reveal specific figures, E! president Mindy Herman said its deal with NBC for Daly has provided a quality show with a loyal audience that helps it augment its target of adults 18 to 49.

    "Repurposing created an economic model that allowed us to show Carson Daly," said Herman. "Without it, we wouldn't be able to offer that type of show."

    Unlike most repurposing deals, which are based primarily on rights fees paid to the networks, Turner is packaging TNT and The WB's airing of Charmed to advertisers in an effort to draw more advertisers and dollars to cable.

    TNT has successfully pulled in most advertisers who'd already bought time on The WB during Charmed, said Siegel. But the network isn't collecting the same advertising rates for the show as The WB. On a CPM (cost per thousand) basis, TNT is only getting 70 percent of the WB's price for Charmed, a ratio upon which Siegel hopes to improve. "[Advertisers] are buying [Charmed] on both The WB and TNT … it's a package deal, and we feel we should be getting the same price that The WB is getting on a CPM basis," Siegel said.

    "We're delivering a similar concentration of audience and there's no duplication in audience. While we haven't been 100 percent successful, we're still getting a very good premium above our normal pricing on TNT," he added.

    But at least one advertising executive isn't convinced of the added benefits of repurposing.

    "Anyway you cut it, you're still reaching less households with a show on TNT than you are with that same show on The WB," said the executive.

    Nevertheless Turner Broadcasting System Inc. chairman and CEO Jamie Kellner believes the repurposing model is more fiscally viable for networks, and more attractive to viewers.

    "The current model [of airing a program once and waiting six months to repeat it] doesn't work [economically] in the network television business today," he said. "You can either try to cut everybody's salary, which nobody wants, or you can find other ways to exploit the programming where you can generate more revenue for advertisers."

    Not all operators are convinced that repurposing is good for cable. Some MSO executives lament its widespread adoption, fearing that potentially brand-defining original shows may be replaced with less-expensive, repurposed options.

    "I think too much repurposed programming limits the value of cable to the majority of consumers," said one executive with a top-10 MSO, who wished to remain anonymous. "The consumer expects original programming like The Sopranos from cable -- repeats of Charmed or Law And Order with a shorter window may appeal to a niche audience, but it conceivably takes up space that could be devoted to more popular original programming."

    Millenium Digital Media senior vice president of marketing and programming Peter Smith said there's a fine line between the value of repurposing and repeated programming.

    "We all know that reruns are part of what hurt broadcast networks historically during the summer, and I'd hate to see us do the same thing to cable programming, which has historically stayed fresh and not relied on running something that's already run," Smith said.

    But Herman defended the practice, saying that one or two repurposed programs will not turn away viewers who seek original product from cable. Those extra runs also shouldn't devalue that show's worth in the syndicated market, she added.

    "Having an extra run on cable has not shown itself to be a detriment to the show or to the cable operator, but instead is a benefit for the viewer," Herman said.

    The arrangement actually benefits both cable and satellite operators, said Siegel. "If the consumer is watching it on The WB, then my affiliates are providing them a benefit because they're promoting to their subscribers, through us, another opportunity to show a first run show later that week.

    "A repurposed version of Charmed fills one hour of a 168 hours a week," he added. "I don't think in any way it diminishes the promise that TNT and TBS makes to the cable operator or subscriber. We're not cutting back on our originals or broadcast premieres or our sports.

    "It's a mixture of programming that's part of trying to deliver the highest ratings that we can while trying to keep our programming costs in check."

    But Millenium's Smith argues that operators should also share in whatever economic benefit repurposing reaps for the networks.

    "From an economic standpoint, we would be a lot more comfortable with the idea of repurposing if we thought there was some economic benefit for us as an operator," he said. "If we're being asked to shoulder, in some cases, double-digit rate increases for product that includes a healthy percentage of programming from an sister outlet, then we have a problem.

    "If there are economies of scale for the programmer, then there should be economies for the operator as well," Smith added.

    Rather than pull back on repurposed programming, network executives said they're looking for more opportunities.

    Siegel said he would like to see two or three hours of repurposed programming on the Turner networks in a given week. TNT still has an interest in repurposing other The WB shows -- like Gilmore Girls and Smallville -- but no viable deals are in place.

    The network is also looking at several other shows, he added, but he declined to reveal specifics.

    "The beauty of repurposing deals with The WB is that [the broadcast network] goes off the air at to 10 p.m., so we can still run a show in primetime," Siegel said. "It still has to be the right show, but I would like to do it two or three more times."

    E!'s Herman and Comedy senior vice president of programming Kathryn Mitchell said their respective networks would also be interested in another repurposing arrangement, but added that there aren't many current broadcast or cable shows that play well to the networks' niche audiences.

    Mitchell did say that the network, which is slated to air NBC's Late Night With Conan O'Brien next September, would consider working with a broadcast network to jump-start a new series through repurposing.

    Hallmark Channel has picked up rights to re-air Paramount Domestic Television's syndicated Life Moments one week after its the daily show's initial episodes run. And it would like to get in on this action even more.

    Hallmark officials have sat in on broadcast-network story pitches, looking to get in on the ground floor for shows with repurposing potential, said executive vice president of programming David Kenin.

    In such a scenario, the cable and broadcast networks could share in the production costs of new series, then air them on both platforms to maximize awareness and viewership.

    TNT is already exploring the upcoming lineup of The WB and Warner Bros. pilots to determine whether a repurposing arrangement could be worked out, said Siegel.

    "We'll be looking at all The WB pilots and Warner Bros. pilots to take what may make sense for a multiplex or repurposed run," Siegel said. "That's really our desire.

    "I think you can take a show like Smallville or Gilmore Girls that's been on for a couple of years, but I think you can start from day one with a show." (May 13, 2002)

    Mothers channel the times

    By Joanne Ostrow

    Sunday, May 12, 2002 - On Mother's Day, we count our blessings.

    Thank goodness we don't have Margaret Chenoweth for a mom. She's the boozy, vicious, gigolo-chasing, self-involved therapist played by Joanna Cassidy on HBO's "Six Feet Under" who is incestuously involved with her psycho son and newly infatuated with her estranged husband.

    Better moms should err on the picky Emily Gilmore side of annoying, like Lorelai's status-conscious mother, nailed by Kelly Bishop.

    Television mothers have always served as social barometers, exaggerated reflections of contemporary American mores.

    The sincerest depiction of contemporary motherhood in all its juggling aspects was Lily (Sela Ward) on "Once and Again," a striving, intellectual, sexual, emotionally attuned and incidentally great-looking mother and step-mother. She worked hard, not always successfully, and while questioning her decisions, never measured herself against the flat '50s prototypes. She wasn't aiming to be a Harriet Nelson-June Cleaver domestic efficiency expert; she wanted connection and fulfillment. __ Denver Post (May 12, 2002)

    On TV, mom's the word

    BY MISHA DAVENPORT staff reporter

    Mothers--where would we be without them? They bandage our cuts, make us laugh, guide us with words of encouragement and love us unconditionally. And that's just in the world of television.

    Moms in the real world do even more and today is the day we recognize that. As we're showering gifts on our moms, it's only fitting we take a moment to thank some TV moms past and present.


    Lily Manning-Sammler (Selma [sic] Ward)

    "Once and Again"

    Television history repeated itself in 1999--albeit with more complexity--with "Once and Again." Lily was a recently separated mother of two who fell for a divorced guy named Rick with kids of his own (sound familiar?). Granted, it took three seasons and a looming cancellation in 2002 before they would exchange nuptials, but Lily still had to make peace with Rick's kids for the whole thing to work. __ Chicago Sun-Times (May 12, 2002)

    'Bachelor' Leaves Us at the Altar

    Marvin Kitman

    Today I want to discuss something really important for a change: ABC's major contribution to American culture, "The Bachelor."

    In case you missed it, "The Bachelor" was a romance-reality TV show about the ordeals of the nation's "most eligible bachelor," as the host described the network's hand-picked Lothario. He was required to choose one of 25 gorgeous, hot women to propose marriage to at the end of six weeks of painstaking analysis. Decisions, decisions. I am still recovering from the shocking finale on April 25.

    "The Bachelor" was the worst program of the year, if not the century. I know I've said that before, as recently as ABC's other winner, "The Chair." But "The Chair" was just TV looking at itself. You sit in the chair and get tortured.

    "The Bachelor" was truly the most sleazy, smarmy, humiliating, nauseating, appalling program, one that could make you cringe, an excuse for the FCC to give away the airwave spectrum to more cell phones and pagers.

    Nevertheless, I watched it with interest. As a former bachelor and a media critic of renown, I found fascinating this six-part miniseries exploring the state of relationships in contemporary society.

    Sure, it was denigrating to women, depicting 25 wind-up dolls, some with master's degrees, who lowered their self-esteem to be humiliated by some geek who thought he was God's gift to womankind, all for their 15 seconds of fame as also-rans in a Miss Making Total Fools of Themselves on National TV contest.

    But what on TV isn't denigrating to someone? It would be just as degrading if it had been the reverse, 25 men competing for one woman. TV is denigrating to TV viewers.

    I guess I'm just a sleazy, smarmy kind of closet viewer. The part that really was upsetting to me was the denouement, what ABC described as the spectacular conclusion.

    For six weeks, the lucky guy wracked his brain pondering which woman of his dreams would win his heart. It was said in the premiere episode on March 25 that he would be going down on one knee and popping the question.

    And after all that video cogitation, instead of awarding the lucky winner the MRS degree, he wound up basically asking Amanda for a date.

    What was the big agonizing decision? Why were women having panic attacks? (One had to call an ambulance; after she was eliminated by the bachelor, she couldn't breathe.)

    This is why he had to take the girls to his parents, to their parents, to decide he's going to date someone?

    He did everything but call in Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat to decide if he was going to go out with someone? That's reality TV for you.

    There are six syndicated dating shows on TV right now ("Elimidate," "Fifth Wheel," "Shipmates," "Rendez-view," "Change of Heart," "Blind Date") in which they do this. They decide in a half-hour whom they are going to go out with. What's the big deal?.

    And Bachelor No. 1 needed six weeks? Give me a break.

    It left me with the same bad taste in the mouth as that other socio-cultural study, "Temptation Island." Remember, that farce was to end with this one leaving that one for the other one. And nobody left anyone.

    They were only playing to the camera. I felt ripped off. It was as if you went on a big money game show and won. But instead of giving you the money, they say, "We owe it to you."

    Which would have been OK, if they said upfront this was just another, fancier dating show. I don't think all of us sleazy, smarmy, self-degrading TV viewers would have tuned in.

    "The Bachelor" was what in a less corrupt society would be called blatant fraud. It was a sham. It would have been one thing if the happy-go-lucky hunk confessed in the last episode, "Look, I really didn't care for any of them that much." He was harder to please than ABC producers imagined. That happens in real life with aging bachelors.

    Instead, he sent Tristan packing. "Loved meeting you. Goodbye." Then he picked Amanda as the one he wanted to get to know better. That was it, after all this build-up?

    So what?

    I was amazed viewers didn't march on West 67th Street, where the ABC executives hide, to throw the scalawags out. Maybe viewers are so used to being deceived they are as quiet as the mice who run Disney.

    "The Bachelor" had the ring of truth of an annual report from the corporate parent. Nevertheless, it was the smash new hit of the season. That says something about the state of original programming at the network that still had blood on its hands for killing another relationship show, "Once and Again."

    "The Bachelor" had all the right demographics. It was popular with young adults, young women, young men, teens, sub-teens, toddlers, newborns, whatever.

    The person who thought up this fake reality TV show is considered a genius in Beverly Hills. "A genius in Beverly Hills," as Woody Allen, in his new movie, "Hollywood Ending," says, "is only a low normal in New York. We have a different rating system."

    You didn't have to be a Mensa member to have known that the unscripted "Bachelor" might work. Real genius in TV takes writing.

    "The Bachelor" was a non-program. "Once and Again" was a program. Maybe if Sela Ward had to compete against 24 graduates of the Space Cadet Corps for Bachelor Bill, the show would have made it.

    The big issue now is will ABC find a way to ruin its latest hit. It managed to do it to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Among the final answers: Dumb down contestants; use old questions from "Greed" that no one could possibly answer; make sure nobody could win. And that was the end of the show. It did save a lot on prize money, a bonus to Disney stockholders.

    There are lots of ways to ruin "The Bachelor." Not that ABC needs any help from me. It is off to a good start. Having no real payoff is not an incentive to watch "The Bachelor 2."

    Another good technique would be to run it six times a week to make sure it's fresh. As the next bachelor, get a guy on parole, an escaped felon or somebody who is already married, which happened on "Temptation Island."

    ABC is well on its way to crushing a potential hit. Let me give you an example of how great minds at ABC work.

    Here they have this hit show. No other network has it. But it's a concept that any other network could rip off. You'd think ABC would want to bring back "Bachelor 2" ASAP. The mouse network is not exactly a house of hits.

    It turns out the first copy will be coming out May 23. Fox's new reality relationship series, a side-wise "The Bachelor," is called "I Want a Husband: Alaska," a six-part miniseries about a woman who gets to pick a man to keep her warm from a six-pack of bachelors.

    By the time ABC gets into gear - "Bachelor 2" is scheduled, my sources say, for October - it will be old hat.

    Will the mouse ears be red when they hear that other networks have stolen ABC's gimmick? Not that it was such a big idea to start with. He who steals my trash, as the old network TV saying goes, steals trash.

    May I be the first to put a black cloth around my TV set and mourn "The Bachelor." RIP. __ Newsday (May 12, 2002)

    Once and Again mentioned on David Letterman May 10, 2002

    LETTER #4: From Jennifer Huff, South Bend, Indiana

    "Dear Dave, What are you going to get your mom for Mother's Day?"

    Can Stephanie find South Bend? It's the home of Notre Dame University. Stephanie finds South Bend. Stephanie is four for four, good for 20 points. Over the phone, Stephanie sounds both excited and proud.

    Congratulations, Steph.

    Since it is Mother's Day weekend, we at the Late Show invited a special guest to be with us tonight. It is Alia, Osama bin Laden's mother. She enters:

    ALIA: "Glocks down! Glocks down! East Coast dog in the house! I gotta give a quick 'shout out' to my other kids. What up Najwa, Sunni, Naji, Laila, Latakia, Hafez, Ahmad, Rula, Suleiman, Houssameddine, and Peggy."

    DAVE: "You certainly have a lot of children."

    ALIA: "Nothing to do in those caves 'cept get freaky. Know what I'm saying?"

    DAVE: "I'm afraid so and that certainly is a lovely sentiment for Mother's Day."

    ALIA: "Speaking of which, I want to thank Osama for the lovely Mother's Day gift." (Alia holds up a green piece of paper with the work 'MOM' on it) "He made it with chunks of his beard. Thank you, Osama."

    DAVE: "Do you have any idea where Osama is?"

    ALIA: "I don't know where he is, but Dave, I just want to clarify one thing. I may be Osama's mother, but believe me, he's always been a 'vpvl'sucker! I'm out! ABC, please don't cancel 'Once & Again.'"


    And that was mailbag. ___ (May 11, 2002)

    Moms with attitude

    Forget Donna Reed. Today's TV mothers - though still caring and nurturing - are bolder, smarter and tougher.

    By ERIC DEGGANS, Times TV Critic

    Everybody has their list of favorite TV moms, those on-screen paragons of nurturing and love that seemed so together you couldn't help wondering why your own family couldn't measure up.

    But this critic isn't interested in the Donna Reeds and Florence Hendersons of yesteryear. My list of fave TV moms focuses more on the stuff that makes a great modern-day matriarch -- which includes equal helpings of chutzpah and tough love with all the sentiment and caring.

    So step aside, Carol Brady and Shirley Partridge: Here are the 10 best TV moms for the new millennium.

    10. Carmela Soprano (The Sopranos) -- Okay, she lets her mafioso husband cheat on her and hasn't handled son A.J.'s delinquency much better. But Edie Falco's Carmela is a steely realist who can twist New Jersey's biggest mob boss around her finger whenever she needs to.

    9. Lily Sammler (Once and Again) -- Open and caring, even when her new husband's ex gets in her face, Sela Ward's Lily handled merging her two kids with her new hubby's two children without even mussing her mascara.

    8. Edith Bunker (All in the Family) -- Surprisingly perceptive underneath her dingbat exterior, Jean Stapleton's Edith brought a big heart to counter bigoted husband Archie's blustery insults.

    7. Claire Huxtable (The Cosby Show) -- Beautiful, nurturing and no-nonsense, Phylicia Rashad's Claire was a down-to-earth counterpoint to hubby Cliff Huxtable's loveable nonsense.

    6. Debra Barone (Everybody Loves Raymond) -- More than just the typical sitcom "hot mom," Patricia Heaton's Debra Barone can go toe to toe with husband Raymond's overbearing mother and spare enough compassion to help her daughter get over losing a pet hamster.

    5. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne) -- Roseanne Barr's working-class mom was the undisputed ruler of her household -- taming unruly kids, a burly husband, her unhinged sister and abrasive mom with heaps of sarcasm hiding an expansive heart.

    4. Lois (Malcolm in the Middle) -- Surly, vindictive, bullying and aggressive, Jane Kaczmarek's Lois would be the worst mother in the world -- if she wasn't such a perfect match for her equally dysfunctional family.

    3. Florida Evans (Good Times) -- Strong enough to raise a family of three kids in Chicago's toughest housing project, Esther Rolle's Florida still shone brightest when standing beside her proud, hardworking husband, James.

    2. Marge Simpson (The Simpsons) -- Don't let the gravelly voice and blue hair fool you; this animated mom is strong enough to wear down bratty son Bart, out-think brainy daughter Lisa and corral her excitably moronic husband, Homer.

    1. Sharon Osbourne (The Osbournes) -- This mom and rock star manager may let her kids cuss up a storm and wear more piercings than a sideshow geek, but watch five minutes of MTV's reality hit and you'll have no doubt who runs the show in this family, on or off stage. How else do you think the Prince of Darkness avoided the career obscurity that has swallowed so many of his former bandmates? __ St. Petersburg Times (May 9, 2002)

    Billy Campbell turns over bad new leaf

    Star of ABC's Once And Again gives new meaning to "spousal abuse" in the film Enough, portraying a vicious husband who punches out wife Jennifer Lopez for daring to object to his marital infidelities.

    By Jamie Portman

    Nice guy Billy Campbell isn't so nice in his upcoming new movie, Enough. In fact he's downright nasty.

    The star of ABC Television's Once And Again gives new meaning to the phrase "spousal abuse" in the film opening May 24, portraying a vicious husband who punches out wife Jennifer Lopez for daring to object to his marital infidelities. Worse, he considers her his personal property, making clear that he'd rather see her dead than allow her to leave him. So when she does flee and sets up a new life under a new identity for herself, he launches a murderous pursuit.

    "I think my Once And Again fans may be freaked out by this portrayal," chuckles Campbell.

    Whereas his portrayal of the gentle, warm-hearted Rick in the TV series has made him a much-loved figure among TV viewers, his work in Enough will leave people cringing. In fact, journalists who have already seen his portrayal of a warped psychopath in the film were greeting him with the words "Hello scumbag!" when he arrived for interviews at a recent media weekend in New York.

    Campbell says doing the film was physically demanding, especially during the climactic battle between himself and Lopez. Even though the scene had been choreographed in advance, Campbell still managed to clip his glamorous co-star accidentally.

    "But she clipped me harder than I clipped her. It was only a couple of days into the fight. I clipped her on the arm and bruised her, and then she stuck an elbow in my ribs and bruised them. I was in pain for a good deal of the time."

    But Campbell says he didn't find it emotionally upsetting to play such an appalling human being.

    "It was just a role," the 43-year-old actor says, shrugging. "I'm not really a method kind of person. I might be a better actor if I was, but when the camera stops rolling it's pretty much over for me. I don't carry my work off set."

    On the other hand, Campbell admits that the actual character of Mitch in the film did give him the willies. "It's frightening to me that these people exist. They have no idea of the consequences of their actions with regard to other people. Mitch is psychopathic. He's someone who hasn't lost touch with reality but who still behaves aggressively with no regard for anyone else."

    Meanwhile, Campbell is feeling a bit aggressive himself these days over ABC Television's decision to cancel Once And Again after three seasons.

    The decision has prompted a flood of protests from angry fans, and Campbell himself says the network's behaviour has been confusing. In fact, he says, "we don't even know if Once And Again is off the air. On the day the network cancelled the show, they also called the production office and told it not to break the sets down and not to release the actors and to work up a tentative budget for a possible year four."

    Campbell suggests such continuing uncertainty isn't fair either to the actors or viewers.

    "They can't even kill us with dignity," he complains. "We've had seven time spots in three seasons, and then they cancel us publicly and on the same day order the sets to remain. I say -- either drive a stake through the show's heart, or don't. I don't know what to say except that network programming is perhaps the ultimate demonstration of the inefficiency of doing anything by committee."__ Charlottesville Guardian (May 8, 2002)

    Producer: Take my 'Millionaire' off ABC sked

    NEW YORK (AP) -- With television networks poised to announce their fall plans next week, Michael Davies finds himself in a rare position: a producer begging ABC to keep his show off the schedule.

    Davies, executive producer of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire," said Tuesday he's lobbying ABC to return the show to its roots as a periodic special aired several nights in a row.

    The game show with Regis Philbin as host currently airs twice a week, a mere shadow of the ratings juggernaut it once was.

    Davies said he wanted to focus viewers' attention on the half-hour syndicated "Millionaire" that will start in September. Meredith Vieira was named as that show's host on Tuesday.

    "We're just going to confuse the audience if you have a regular prime-time show and a syndicated show," he said. A spokesman for ABC's entertainment division, Kevin Brockman, said executives are in the midst of screening potential new series and wouldn't comment on its scheduling choices. ABC announces its schedule on May 14.

    ABC's prime-time struggles may make it hard to grant Davies' wishes. The network has lost about a quarter of its prime-time audience this season and is likely to have a schedule full of holes. "Millionaire" represents an easy, inexpensive alternative.

    At the same time, the network will have to strongly consider the opinion of a show's creative force.

    "Millionaire" averages 10.4 million viewers this season on Monday nights, ranking 42nd among prime-time shows. The Thursday edition averages 9.7 million viewers and is ranked 58th, according to Nielsen Media Research.

    That's a stunning drop from the previous season, when the show aired four times a week, each episode averaging 17 million to 20.1 million.

    During the 1999-2000 season, three editions of "Millionaire" were the three highest-rated shows of the year. Each averaged between 27.1 million and 28.5 million viewers a week.

    The question, "Is that your final answer?" was a national catchphrase, Philbin seemingly was on the cover of every magazine, and ABC was the prime-time ratings champ. It's now a distant third to NBC and CBS. Most critics believe "Millionaire" sank from overuse, and the tendency to air too many celebrity editions instead of using real people with the chance to make a big score.

    "They ran out of ideas and ways to promote the show," Davies said. "That was one of the real problems."

    Bringing the show back as a special event will enable producers to try different ideas, including increasing the prize money, Davies said.

    All six broadcast networks announce their fall schedules next week, starting with NBC on Monday. Hollywood is filled with anxious producers awaiting the verdicts of network executives.

    A handful of once popular shows are on the fence to return next year, including "Providence" on NBC and "Dharma & Greg" on ABC. (May 8, 2002)

    This is so cool

    Kelly Carter USA TODAY

    HOLLYWOOD -- What's Tinseltown coming to when Sarah Michelle Gellar and Elijah Wood are honored as veterans?

    The pair won the ''Hottest, Coolest Young Veteran Awards'' at Sunday's Movieline Young Hollywood Awards.

    ''I guess now that I'm a veteran I'm too old to play opposite Sean Connery, so what am I going to do next?'' joked Gellar, 25.

    Wood, 21, said, ''The hottest and the coolest? I didn't even know I was cool. Thank you, Movieline.''

    A true veteran, Kevin Spacey, took home the ''role model'' award. ''If you have been successful in whatever profession, then it is your obligation to recognize that your only responsibility is to send the elevator back down,'' said Spacey, who brought his mother.

    If there was an award for most bizarre acceptance speech, it would have gone to Breakthrough Performance winner Shannyn Sossamon (40 Days and 40 Nights), who stood speechless at the microphone for several seconds before saying, ''Hi. Ummm. I don't like microphones. I feel like they make my voice sound really ugly. It's like a really microphony, weird, psychological (expletive).''

    A tense moment occurred when Thora Birch, accepting an award for her charitable work, asked the crowd, ''Bored yet?'' She then proceeded to speak in a monotone. Afterward, her presenter, Billy Zane, stepped to the microphone and said sarcastically, ''The beautiful and charming Thora Birch.''

    Others honored: Christina Applegate for her work with breast cancer (news - web sites) and PETA; Mandy Moore and Shane West (superstars of tomorrow); Colin Hanks, Mila Kunis, Evan Rachel Wood and Gregory Smith (ones to watch); Brittany Murphy and Jason Behr (standout performance); Selma Blair (next generation); Jake Gyllenhaal (breakthrough performance); and Legally Blonde director Robert Luketic (hottest young filmmaker).

    Afterward, the young celebs partied on the rooftop at a Sony PlayStation 2 (news - web sites) bash. Murphy tore up the dance floor while Hanks and Ali Landry battled it out on video games.

    Billy Campbell of now-canceled Once and Again enjoyed himself as he hung with the youngsters. ''Both of my kids won tonight,'' he said, referring to his on-screen children, Wood and West. ''I just came to support them.''__ USA Today (5/7/02)

    Interview with Billy Campbell for Enough

    LR: On Once and Again you play a wonderful caring husband and in ENOUGH you play this ass-hole, was the transition hard to do?

    Bill: No, you know not, Um its like-- again you know (laughs) sometimes I think if I was a better actor it might be difficult but I'm just not that kind of person you know? I'm not that kind of actor. You know I think the difficult work is already done, its done by the writers. The writers do all the research, the writer does all the--Everything necessary to make the scenes possible; to make the situation possible; make the dialogue possible. So that's really the work right there.

    When asked that he sounded like Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in this movie, this is Bill's response.

    Bill: Yeah! In fact Anthony Hopkins himself, I did a movie with him and I asked him what his preparation was in Dracula (1992) and he was playing Van Helsing. He said to me "I read the script" and I said "OK and what else?". He said, "I read the script and I read the script and I read script and I read the script and I read the script. And I'm like "what several times?" he said "hundreds of times". I said "that's it you don't do anything else?" and he is like "no I simply read the script".

    LR: Fans who saw you on the show, do you think they will accept you playing such a dark role?

    Bill: You know what I don't know. I think they might be freaked out, Um but then again we don't know if ONCE AND AGAIN is off the air. I found out through Sela (Sela Ward) herself, that on the day that the network publicly cancelled the show, they also called the office and told them not to break the sets down, not to release the actors, and to work out a tentative budget for a possible year 4. So you know I'm like--I don't know my ass from the hole in the ground. So yeah it could come back.

    When asked if he actually hit J-LO. Here is what Bill said.

    Bill: YEAH! And she clipped me; She clipped me harder than I clipped her. It was only a couple days into the fight, and you know I clipped her in the arm and bruised her and then she stuck an elbow in my ribs and bruised my ribs. I was hurt for a good deal of the fight.

    When asked about touching THE BUTT! Here is what Bill said.

    Bill: HaHaHa (outburst of laughter) that's wonderful, you know I don't remember ever actually touching THE BUTT. But let me tell you something the girl…. she is so beautiful. She has the most beautiful skin that I've ever met. I couldn't stop looking at her face. She is just beautiful.

    LR: Any future projects?

    Bill: Not that I know of.

    LR: What about ROCKETEER 2?

    Bill: OH man, wouldn't that be great. I will love that.

    When asked what is his favorite Restaurant, here is what Bill said.

    Bill: El Faro Restaurant, it means THE LIGHTHOUSE. It's a Spanish restaurant; it's on the west village off on Horatio St. I used to live on Horatio, the food is great. The restaurant has been there since the early 1920's I think and it hasn't changed. Al Capone use to eat there. The kitchen is downstairs in the basement and they bring the pot directly from the stove and they put them on your table. It's the most wonderful little place that I know of. (May 2002)

    A Kiss Before Dying

    Auditioning with director Michael Apted to play Jennifer Lopez's abusive husband in the upcoming thriller Enough was a breeze for Billy Campbell. It was meeting the diva in her LA home for final approval that wracked his nerves. "I had no idea what to expect", says Campbell, 42. "I was afraid that I was going to sneeze on her white carpet. I thought she'd come sweeping down the stairs and bite my head off." So, in an attempt to seem at ease, says the Once and Again star, "I began to play with her little dog. I was down on my hands and knees, trying to appear as if I was enjoying myself. Andy she said, "Careful, he's a licker.' And in my nervousness I said, 'That's okay, I'm a licker too.' Then I'm dying inside thinking. ' What did I just say? God, I can't look at her. I just have to pretend I didn't even say that.'" Maybe the pooch smooch impressed Lopez because he landed the role. Says Campbell: "She must have thought, 'Anybody this bizarre must be a good actor.'"__ People Magazine (posted May 5, 2002)

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