"Ally McBeal" creator and producer David E. Kelley is pulling the plug on the show, according to Daily Variety. Kelley reportedly told the cast and crew about his decision late Wednesday afternoon.
The hour-long comedy-drama, set in an unconventional law office, was once a ratings winner but has slipped this season -- it ranks 60th in total viewers and 30th among viewers ages 18-49.
According to Variety, Kelley's decision is not "a complete surprise," since industry insiders believed he would end the series so he could focus on "The Girls Club" -- an hour-long show he's developing for Fox.
"Ally McBeal" has won five Emmy Awards, including one for best comedy series in 1999. The win raised some eyebrows, since many in Hollywood regarded the show as a drama with comic elements, rather than a flat-out comedy.
"Ally McBeal" was something of a groundbreaker in commercial TV, as Kelley used fantasy sequences to explore the private thoughts of the title character, played by Calista Flockhart in a star-making role.
In 2001, the show made headlines when Kelley gave Robert Downey Jr. an opportunity to come back from a professional slump caused by the actor's several brushes with the law -- including a series of drug arrests and a jail term for violating his probation. Downey won a Golden Globe Award for his performance as Larry Paul -- a love interest for McBeal -- but he was fired from the show last spring after he was arrested once again on suspicion of drug possession.
In an attempt to perk up ratings, "McBeal" has loaded up lately on high-profile guest stars -- including rocker Jon Bon Jovi, Matthew Perry ("Friends"), Christina Ricci ("Sleepy Hollow"), Heather Locklear ("Spin City") and Lara Flynn Boyle ("The Practice").
British actor Henry Goodman has been fired one month after assuming the top role of Max Bialystock in Broadway's mega-hit musical "The Producers."
Rocco Landesman, one of the producers of the show, said the role of Max will be offered to understudy, Brad Oscar, on a permanent basis. He said Goodman -- who took over the role from Nathan Lane on March 19 -- had proved to be the wrong man for the role, less comic and less in sync with the rest of the cast. Oscar -- who had been Lane's and Goodman's understudy -- took over with Tuesday's performance.
Landesman confirmed to UPI that Goodman had learned of his dismissal, not from the producers, but by telephone from his agent in London last Sunday.
Goodman skirted comment on the less-than-courteous manner of his firing by observing, "You're dealing with the pressure of Broadway, an industry where just giving a good performance isn't enough, where you have millions of dollars on the line, and when you are, you start dealing with people as commodities, not as people."
"I think they're making a mistake," he added.
Oscar, 37, was nominated for a 2001 Tony Award for his performance as Franz Liebkind, the crazy, pigeon-breeding Nazi playwright in "The Producers" but did not win. He said he had no idea he would ever get the Max role.
"I had no idea it was coming," he said. "I still can't believe it, but I'm mighty pleased with the opportunity."
(Thanks to UPI's Frederick M. Winship in New York)
"Tortilla Soup" leads in the movie categories with seven nominations for the 2002 American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Awards, while the Showtime series "Resurrection Blvd." leads in TV categories with eight.
The awards, presented by the National Council of La Raza, honor outstanding achievement by Latinos in film, television and music. The nominations were announced Wednesday in Los Angeles.
"Tortilla Soup" -- the story of a retired Mexican-American chef in Los Angeles who has lost his sense of taste, but not his love for cooking -- was nominated for best picture. It also picked up nominations for best actor (Hector Elizondo), actress (Jacqueline Obradors), supporting actor (Paul Rodriguez), supporting actress (Elizabeth Peña), director (María Ripoll) and screenplay (Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca, Vera Blasi).
Best picture nominees "Spy Kids" and "Piñero" had five nominations each. The other best picture nominees are "Bread and Roses" (four nominations), "Crazy/Beautiful" (three) and "King of the Jungle" (three).
"Resurrection Blvd." -- a family drama combining soap opera elements with primetime production values -- was nominated for best TV series and two of its leads, Michael DeLorenzo and Tony Plana, were nominated for best actor. It was also nominated for supporting actor (Luis Avalos) and director (Norberto Barba), and three of its episodes were nominated for best script.
The other nominees for outstanding TV series are "Oz" (HBO), "Six Feet Under" (HBO) and "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime).
The 2002 ALMA Awards will be presented at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles in May, in ceremonies airing on ABC.
The film and television nominees:
-- Outstanding motion picture: "Bread and Roses"; "Crazy/Beautiful"; "King of the Jungle"; "Piñero"; "Spy Kids"; "Tortilla Soup"
-- Actress in a motion picture: Penélope Cruz, "Vanilla Sky"; Laura Elena Harring, "Mulholland Drive"; Jennifer Lopez, "Angel Eyes"; Pilar Padilla, "Bread and Roses"; Jacqueline Obradors, "Tortilla Soup"
-- Supporting actor in a motion picture: Clifton Collins Jr., "The Last Castle"; Benicio Del Toro, "The Pledge"; Andy Garcia, "Ocean's Eleven"; John Leguizamo, "Moulin Rouge"; George Lopez, "Bread & Roses"; Paul Rodriguez, "Tortilla Soup"
-- Supporting actress in a motion picture: Julie Carmen, "King of the Jungle"; Elpidia Carrillo, "Bread and Roses"; Cameron Diaz, "Vanilla Sky"; Eva Mendes, "Training Day"; Elizabeth Peña, "Tortilla Soup"; Roselyn Sanchez, "Rush Hour 2"; Talisa Soto, "Piñero"
-- Director for a motion picture: Alejandro Amenábar, "The Others"; Leon Ichaso, "Piñero; Luis Mandoki, "Angel Eyes"; María Ripoll, "Tortilla Soup"; Robert Rodriguez, "Spy Kids"
-- Screenplay: "Behind Enemy Lines" (David Veloz, Zak Penn); "Piñero" (Leon Ichaso); "Spy Kids" (Robert Rodriguez); 'The Others" (Alejandro Amenábar); "Tortilla Soup" (Ramon Menendez, Tom Musca, Vera Blasi)
-- Song in a motion picture soundtrack: "Lady Marmalade" ("Moulin Rouge," Christina Aguilera); "Milagros" ("The Princess Diaries," Myra); "Oye Como Spy" ("Spy Kids," Los Lobos); "Polkas Palabras" ("The Fast and The Furious," Molotov); "Siempre" ("Crazy/Beautiful," La Ley)
-- Independent motion picture: "Bro," Joe Cardona/Mario de Varona; "Manito," Eric Eason; "No Turning Back," Jesus Nebot; "The Blue Diner," Jan Ealeson; "The Woman Every Man Wants," Gabriela Taglavini
-- Foreign film: "Amores Perros"; "Devil's Backbone"; Rata, Ratones, Rateros"; "Vengo"
-- Excellence in make-up in television and film: Rebecca De Herrera, "Scary Movie 2"; Ken Diaz, "Training Day"; Rosanna Montes, "Power Rangers"; Mark Sanchez, "The Brothers Garcia" (Nickelodeon); Luis Garcia/Jay Wejbe, "Road Dogz" (HBO/Cinemax)
-- Television series: "Oz" (HBO); "Resurrection Blvd." (Showtime); "Six Feet Under" (HBO); "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime)
-- Actor in a television series: Eddie Cibrian, "Third Watch" (NBC); Michael DeLorenzo, "Resurrection Blvd."; Esai Morales, "NYPD Blue" (ABC); Tony Plana, "Resurrection Blvd."; Freddy Rodriguez, "Six Feet Under"; Charlie Sheen, "Spin City" (ABC); Martin Sheen, "The West Wing" (NBC); Wilmer Valderrama, "That '70s Show" (Fox)
-- Actress in a television series: Jessica Alba, "Dark Angel" (FOX); Rosa Blasi, "Strong Medicine"; Rita Moreno, "Oz"; Judy Reyes, "Scrubs" (NBC); Jamie-Lynn Sigler, "The Sopranos" (HBO); Christina Vidal, "Taina" (Nickelodeon); Lisa Vidal, "The Division" (Lifetime); Lauren Velez, "Oz"
-- Supporting actor in a television series: Luis Avalos, "Resurrection Blvd."; David Barrera, "24" (Fox); Alexis Cruz, "The District" (CBS); Demetrius Navarro, "ER" (NBC); Luis Antonio Ramos, "The Huntress" (USA Networks)
-- Supporting actress in a television series: Lourdes Benedicto, "ER"; Anne Betancourt, "Mysterious Ways" (PAX-TV); Maria Canals, "The Brothers Garcia"; Marita De Leon, "Strong Medicine"; Alex Meneses, "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS); Shelley Morrison, "Will & Grace" (NBC); Jacqueline Obradors, "NYPD Blue"
-- Made for television movie or mini-series: "In the Time of the Butterflies" (Showtime); "The Princess and the Marine" (NBC); "The Way She Moves" (VH1)
-- Actor/actress in a made for television movie or mini-series: Marc Anthony, "In The Time of The Butterflies"; Salma Hayek, "In The Time of The Butterflies"; Marisol Nichols, "The Princess and The Marine"; Edward James Olmos, "The Judge" (NBC); Michelle Rodriguez, "3 A.M." (Showtime); Jacob Vargas, "Road Dogz"
-- Director of a television drama or comedy: Felix Enriquez Alcala, "ER" "Never Say Never"; Norberto Barba, "Resurrection Blvd." "Diez Y Ocho"; Ricardo Matta, "Nash Bridges" "Cat Fight" (CBS); Linda Mendoza, "The Bernie Mac Show" "The Main Event" (FOX); Jesus Treviño, "Third Watch" "Adam 553" (NBC)
-- Script for a television drama or comedy: "Ponderosa" "The Legend of John Riley," Rick Najera (PAX-TV); "Resurrection Blvd." "Bruja" Adam Fierro; "Resurrection Blvd." "Compadres" Dennis Leoni/ Luisa Leschin; "Resurrection Blvd." "La Niña Perdida" Nancy De Los Santos; "Taina" "Quinceañero" Fracaswell Hyman/Maria Perez- Brown
-- Actor in a daytime drama: Maurice Bernard, "General Hospital" (ABC); Matt Cedeño, "Days of Our Lives" (NBC); Mark Consuelos, "All My Children" (ABC); Kamar de Los Reyes, "One Life to Live" (ABC); A Martinez, "General Hospital"
-- Actress in a daytime drama: Miriam Colon, "The Guiding Light" (CBS); Eva Tamargo Lemus; "Passions" (NBC); Eva Longoria "The Young and the Restless" (CBS); Saundra Santiago, "The Guiding Light" (CBS); Sandra Vidal, "The Bold and the Beautiful" (CBS)
-- Correspondent or anchor of a national news program: Jim Avila, 'NBC Nightly News With Tom Brokaw" (NBC); Arnold Diaz, "20/20" (ABC); Soledad O' Brien, "Weekend Today" (NBC); John Quiñones, "20/20"; Geraldo Rivera, "Rivera Live" (CNBC); Rick Sanchez, "America At War" (MSNBC); Elizabeth Vargas, "20/20"
-- Outstanding documentary: "Accordion Dreams," Hector Galan (PBS); "Calle 54," Fernando Trueba (Miramax); "Intimate Portrait: Rita Moreno," Lee Grant (Lifetime); "The Bronze Screen," Alberto Dominguez, Nancy De Los Santos, Susan Racho (HBO)
-- Children's television programming: "The Brothers Garcia"; "Dora The Explorer" (Nickelodeon); "Taina"; "Lizzie McGuire" (The Disney Channel)
-- Performance in a music, variety or comedy special: Christina Aguilera, "The 43rd Grammy Awards" (CBS); Marc Anthony, "Christmas at Rockefeller Center" (NBC); Mariah Carey, "A Tribute to Heroes" (all networks); Los Lobos, "T'was the Night" (HBO); Jennifer Lopez, "Jennifer Lopez In Concert: Let's Get Loud" (NBC); Ricky Martin, "2001 Blockbuster Awards" (Fox)
-- Spanish Language performance in a television special: Alejandro Fernandez/Julio Iglesias, "Latin Billboard Awards" (Telemundo); Paulina Rubio, "Premio Lo Nuestro" (Univision); Juanes, "Noches De Carnaval" (Univision); Lupillo Rivera, "Latin Rhythm Nights" (Telemundo)
A California State Senate committee has approved Gov. Gray Davis' appointment of Clint Eastwood to the state Park and Recreation Commission, and sent the matter on to the full senate. Davis appointed Eastwood to the panel last November.
Eastwood -- the Oscar-winning director and star of "Unforgiven" and the Dirty Harry movies -- formerly served as mayor of Carmel, Calif. As an unpaid member of the Park and Recreation Commission, he will help oversee policy for more than 260 California state parks -- including the Hearst Castle to Humboldt Redwoods State Park.
(The above two items thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)
For the first five episodes of the new Fox show "24," you'll get to see Dennis Hopper playing the kind of role for which he's best suited. The network says that Hopper -- now 65 (how did that happen?) -- will portray a former European strongman dictator who is behind a plot to assassinate an American member of Congress.
There are reports that one of the key players in the show, Keifer Sutherland, lobbied to have the award-winning character play the role.
Over the years Hopper has been a controversial, sometimes troubled actor, famous for his bouts with various excesses. He finally got back on the straight and narrow in time to be nominated for the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as the high school basketball star who became the town drunk in "Hoosiers."
Also, you might remember an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" where he was the subject of a "This is Your Life" episode and could not remember anyone from his past due to "brain burn-out." He could not identify his own mother in the skit. He's all better now.
(Thanks to UPI's Dennis Daily)
NBC-TV is planning a new reality survivor show with teenagers. It'll be called "Endurance," and the teen contestants will be flown to an island in the Pacific to compete for what the news release describes as "the ultimate prize." It doesn't define what that might be.
Tenner Paskal Casting is holding auditions for the show this Friday in Chicago. They're looking for "outgoing, energetic and interesting" 12-to-15-year-old boys and girls.
(Tenner Paskal Casting: 312-527-0665)