Entertainment Today: Showbiz news

By United Press International  |  March 20, 2002 at 6:02 AM
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The attorney representing the family of actor Robert Blake's late wife has told Los Angeles television stations that police have found new witnesses who supposedly implicated Blake in his wife's death nearly a year ago.

LA police declined to comment on statements made Tuesday by lawyer Cary Goldstein and denied that an arrest was imminent. Goldstein, however, said he had been told by sources that two new witnesses told detectives that Blake had solicited his wife's murder.

Bonny Lee Bakley was shot and killed last May 4 while sitting in Blake's parked car shortly after the two had left a restaurant near Blake's Studio City home. Blake told investigators he had left Bakley alone on a quiet street in the vehicle while he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a pistol he had left behind.

The 44-year-old Bakley and Blake, 67, had married the previous November after a paternity test determined he had fathered Bakley's daughter, Rosie. The couple reportedly was not close and lived separate lives, which fueled speculation that Blake was anxious to rid himself of Bakley.

Blake's defenders have argued that Bakley's past history of petty frauds -- including a "lonely hearts" scam in which she sold nude pictures of herself through the mail -- had earned her a number of enemies who might be inclined to kill her.


Bill Maher says the days are numbered for his late-night ABC show "Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher" -- and he's known it since he set off a controversy just days after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. when he used the word "cowardly" to describe U.S. policy on retaliating for terrorist attacks.

Maher also says "Nightline" is on its way out the door at ABC.

Speaking with the Seattle Times, Maher said that "Nightline" anchor Ted Koppel has never been willing to promote "Politically Incorrect," which follows "Nightline" on the network's late-night schedule. "Suddenly, (Koppel)'s not a sacred cow," said Maher. "He's a slaughtered cow."

After David Letterman announced that he would remain at CBS -- rejecting overtures to jump to ABC -- Koppel's network said it wants to work things out with "Nightline," but has been quiet about "Politically Incorrect."

Adding to speculation about the future of Maher's show, ABC announced Monday that it will follow the Academy Awards telecast Sunday with a special, late-night edition of its daytime talk show "The View." "Politically Incorrect" had filled that spot for the past two years.

"After Party at 'The View"' -- a one-hour special airing live after the Oscars show and local news -- will feature a guest appearance by two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda.

(Thanks to UPI Hollywood Reporter Pat Nason)


A British actor virtually unknown to American theatergoers took over Tuesday from comedian Nathan Lane the hottest role on Broadway -- Max Bialystock in "The Producers."

Henry Goodman, 51, is one of London's most employed actors. A native Londoner whose career began in East End dance hall musicals and progressed to West End theater district, Goodman has appeared only once previously on Broadway as a replacement actor in the long run of the play "Art" several seasons ago.

But many of the roles he has played in London have been in American plays. He was Nathan Detroit in "Guys and Dolls," Roy Cohn in "Angels in America," Billy Flynn in "Chicago," and Charles Guiteau in Stephen Sondheim's "The Assassins." The Guiteau role won him the prestigious Olivier Award for best performance in a musical.

Goodman said he had no qualms about taking over the role of the oily Max, a feckless producer who is out to bilk his investors with a show called "Springtime For Hitler."

"New York's a tough cookie," he observed, "but it's so supportive if it likes you."

Goodman not only will be stepping into Lane's shoes but also is inviting comparison to the late great Zero Mostel, who played Max in the movie from which the Mel Brooks musical was adapted. He says he remembers seeing Mostel in the role and thinking, "God, I'd like to play that role some day."

Matthew Broderick -- who plays Max's straight man sidekick, Leo Bloom -- also has left the show. He's been replaced by television star ("Wings") Steven Weber.

Goodman's takeover of the Lane role and Broderick's replacement by Weber doesn't seem to have had any effect on ticket sales, according to a spokesman for the show. "The Producers" is still the most difficult ticket to come by on Broadway, with most performances nearly sold out until late in the year.

(Thanks to UPI's Frederick Winship in New York)


TV Land and the city of Minneapolis is honoring seven-time Emmy Award winner Mary Tyler Moore with a statue depicting the actresses' legendary tam toss from the opening credits of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."

The eight- foot bronze statue will be unveiled May 8 at the Nicollet Mall, the very site from which she sent her tam skyward.

Gwendolyn Gillen of Hustisford, Wis., created the statue. Her entry was selected over 19 other submissions to the Minneapolis Office of Cultural Affairs (OCA). The decision was made by an Artist Selection Panel, comprised of various artists, city officials and representatives from TV Land, as well as Moore herself.

TV Land will pay tribute to Moore on-air on May 9 (8-11 p.m. ET/PT) with four classic episodes of "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" as well as a repeat of the 2001 TV Land original special, "Inside TV Land: The Mary Tyler Moore Show." "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" airs twice daily on TV Land (at 10 a.m. and 4 a.m. ET/PT).

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