WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
The American Film Institute insists that its annual lists of the 100 top U.S. films in given categories -- comedy, action, etc. -- are meant to provoke argument about which films were unfairly left off the list and which ones made the list but shouldn't have.
So here goes.
The list of the all-time greatest love stories might have -- but did not -- include "Some Like It Hot," or "Tootsie" or "Forrest Gump." All three are incredibly romantic stories about the power of love to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
For that matter, the list could have -- should have? -- including "E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial," a tender love story about a boy and his alien. Hey, "King Kong" made the list of 100 -- why not "E.T."?
Another epic, though unconventional, love story that did not make the final cut is "Shane" -- a powerful American movie that glorifies the selflessness of love.
While we're at it, how about "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Life Is Beautiful" and "Saving Private Ryan"? They're all powerful stories that demonstrate how painful love can be, and yet how necessary that pain often is.
You could even make a case for "Four Weddings and a Funeral" and "Groundhog Day," two comedies that prove if you just hang in there, you can end up with Andie McDowell.
The AFI voters showed that they are in closer touch with Oscar voters than they were with paying customers.
The top 100 love stories of all time include 14 that won the Oscar for best picture, and 33 more that were nominated for the top prize. However, only two of the all-time top 50 U.S. blockbusters of all time, "Titanic" and "Ghost," made the cut -- although if you adjust for inflation, you could include "Gone with the Wind" in that number.
Finally, the AFI ranking of the greatest 100 U.S. love stories ever filmed is notable for a strange anomaly. It is one of the few movie lists -- possibly the only one -- that does not feature a single entry that was written, produced or directed by Steven Spielberg or George Lucas.
ANOTHER CARTOON CLASSIC HEADED FOR BIG SCREEN
Plans are under way in Hollywood to adapt the '60s cartoon series "Underdog" as a live-action feature for Disney.
The animated show featured the voice of Wally Cox ("Hollywood Squares") as a puppy who was accidentally exposed to an experimental substance -- and turned into a superhero every time the beautiful TV reporter Sweet Polly Purebread got in trouble. Along the way, Underdog got the upper hand each week against such villains as Simon Bar-Sinister and Riff-Raff.
HEF REVIVING EARLY PLAYBOY HIT
Hugh Hefner has plans to host an updated version of "Playboy After Dark" -- the latenight variety series he introduced in 1969 that was widely credited with taking the Playboy Empire to a new level.
The new version is envisioned as a weekly one-hour show, or possibly a series of special telecasts.
FERGIE ON THE REBOUND
Sarah Ferguson -- better known to British subjects as the Duchess of York, and popularly known as Fergie -- is making plans to host a daily TV talk show.
Universal Television Enterprises president Steve Rosenberg told Daily Variety Fergie has signed a deal to make a pilot for a one-hour show.
"Sarah is an amazing person and a one-of-a-kind talent who is perfect for television," said Rosenberg. "She is the person next door whose inspirational stories of survival make her so incredibly appealing to viewers and stations."
Ferguson married England's Prince Andrew in 1986, in a highly-publicized ceremony. The couple divorced in 1996 after tabloids published pictures of Fergie -- topless -- playing around with a Texas millionaire.
She had a talk show in England, but it did not succeed. In the United States, she had more success as a pitchwoman for Weight Watchers and the author of several children's books.
Producers of NBC's Emmy-winning medical drama "ER" plan to let viewers program the show for five weeks this summer -- by casting online votes for their favorite episodes.
The top five choices will be televised in ascending order on consecutive Thursdays beginning July 11, with the top finisher airing on Aug. 8. Voting will be conducted June 13 through July 4 at NBC.com/ER.
Visitors to the Web site will be able to choose from 17 vintage "ER" episodes -- including "Motherhood," from the show's first season, in which Dr. Benton (Eriq La Salle) sees his mother die. Another contender is "Union Station," the episode in which Dr. Greene (Anthony Edwards) tries to catch Dr. Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) to tell her he loves her before she leaves town.
Other possibilities include "Random Acts," in which Greene is attacked by a patient's angry relative, and "Fathers and Sons," in which Dr. Ross (George Clooney) and Greene travel cross-country to identify the body of Ross' father.
There's also "Be Still My Heart," in which Lucy (Kellie Martin) and Dr. Carter (Noah Wyle) are stabbed by a deranged patient, and "The Dance We Do," where Abby (Maura Tierney) finds that her manic mother (guest star Sally Field) has disappeared.