ABC GIVES MAHER WALKING PAPERS
In what appears to be a case of the other shoe dropping, ABC has given Bill Maher the boot and brought in comedian Jimmy Kimmel to take over the late-night slot currently occupied by Maher's long-running "Politically Incorrect."
Speculation about Maher's future with the network began last fall, when the outspoken comedian had to go on a hastily arranged promotional tour to explain comments he made on the air following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Some advertisers abandoned the show in reaction to Maher's remark that U.S. military pilots who attacked targets by firing missiles from a sage distance were cowardly.
Kimmel will drop his Comedy Central project, "The Man Show," to host the half-hour comedy show on ABC.
RETURN TO STEPFORD
Paramount Pictures is working on an updated version of "The Stepford Wives" (1975), about a suburban town where the men try to find utopia by replacing their wives with robotic replicas that will do all the cooking and cleaning without complaint or question.
According to published reports in Hollywood, the studio is in talks with Frank Oz ("The Score," "Bowfinger") to direct the movie from a screenplay by Paul Rudnick ("Addams Family Values"). Oz and Rudnick collaborated once before on "In & Out" (1997).
The 1975 feature was written by William Goldman ("Misery," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), based on the novel by Ira Levin ("Rosemary's Baby," "The Boys From Brazil").
HONORS FOR HARRISON FORD
Harrison Ford was at the New England Aquarium Monday, picking up an award from Harvard Medical School's Center for Health and the Global Environment for his work with the board of the Washington-based Conservation International.
"I hope that my participation here will in some way bring attention to the necessity of biodiversity and conservation," said Ford, "or bring attention to the center or help in the global environment and the very important linkage between those two and to help increase awareness of the need for stewardship of the Earth's resources."
Ford has also leant his talent to the cause -- as narrator of New England Aquarium's IMAX film, "Lost World: Life in the Balance."
Conservation International works in more than 30 countries to protect and promote plant and animal diversity in tropical wilderness areas and marine ecosystems.
LEGENDARY DISNEY WRITER BILL PEET DIES AT 87
Bill Peet, credited with writing the animated classics "101 Dalmatians" and "Sword in the Stone" for Disney, died Sunday due to complications from several long-term illnesses. He was 87.
John Canemaker, animation historian and author of the "Walt Disney's Nine Old Men" said Peet deserved much of the credit for the best of Disney's storytelling.
"Bill Peet was Walt Disney's greatest story man and considered to be on a par with Walt himself in terms of telling strong stories with vibrant characters," said Canemaker, who is also animation director for the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
"Walt trusted Bill's storytelling powers so much that he assigned him to write the studio's first script for an animated feature," said Canemaker, referring to "101 Dalmatians."
Peet joined the Disney studio in 1937 at 22, working as an apprentice animator on "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." He moved to the story department the following year, and contributed to such Disney classics as "Pinocchio," "Fantasia," "Cinderella," "Peter Pan," "Alice in Wonderland," "Sleeping Beauty," and "The Jungle Book."
In 1959, he published his first children's book -- "Hubert's Hare-Raising Adventure." He left Disney after "The Jungle Book" to devote himself to writing children's books, turning out such titles as "How Droofus the Dragon Lost His Head," "The Spooky Tail of Prewitt Peacock," "The Whump World" and "The Whingdingdilly."