PRODUCER-WRITER PAUL MONASH DIES
Emmy-winning writer-producer Paul Monash ("Carrie," "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid") died in Los Angeles Tuesday following a brief illness. He was 85.
Monash won an Emmy in 1958 for his "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars" teleplay "The Lonely Wizard." He was nominated for an Emmy in 1993 for writing in a miniseries or special, for the HBO movie "Stalin." In 2000, the Writers Guild of America West honored Monash with the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement.
Born in New York City June 14, 1917, Monash earned a master's degree from Columbia University. Later in life, he said he "suffered delusions of grandeur, fully expecting to write the great American novel by the age of 21." Instead, he said he bummed around, lived as an expatriate in Paris, studied art and eventually wrote for live TV.
He wrote the pilots for the series "The Untouchables," "The Asphalt Jungle" and "Twelve O'Clock High," and went on to become executive producer of "Judd for the Defense" and "Peyton Place," the TV series based on the novel and the movie of the same name.
Monash moved into feature film producing, and came up with "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969) for his second project. He went on to produce "Slaughterhouse Five" (1972), "The Friends of Eddie Coyle" (1973), "The Front Page" (1974) and "Carrie" (1976).
He returned to television, writing several movies for HBO -- including "Stalin," "Kingfish: The Life of Huey Long" (1995) and "George Wallace" (1997). He shared a Humanitas Prize for "George Wallace" with co-writer Marshall Frady.
GOING, GOING, 'GONG'
The WB is planning an updated take on "The Gong Show," the no-talent show that -- for better or worse -- made Chuck Barris a TV star in the 1970s.
Barris is enjoying a popular revival these days, with the release of "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" -- the movie version of his autobiography. According to Daily Variety, no host has been named yet for the new "Gong Show," which will actually be the show's fourth incarnation -- counting the 1980 feature, "The Gong Show Movie" and a syndicated version of the show that ran in 1988-89.
Barris hosted a daytime version of the show -- which he created with Chris Bearde ("The "Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour") -- featuring an apparently endless parade of people with talents ranging from the non-existent to the truly bizarre. A panel of celebrity judges -- including Jamie Farr, Rex Reed, Jaye P. Morgan and Dr. Joyce Brothers -- evaluated the performers and decided whether to gong them off the stage or reward them with insultingly small sums of money.
Contestants included a dentist who played "Stars and Stripes Forever" on his drill, a man who blew a trumpet through his navel and a man who literally stood on his head and spit out wooden nickels. There were also some regulars, including "Gene-Gene the Dancing Machine" and the Unknown Comic -- a guy who told bad jokes with a paper bag over his head.
How about a reality series that takes a regular guy, trains him intensely as a boxer, and puts him in the ring with bad-boy former heavyweight champ Mike Tyson?
The Hollywood Reporter, citing sources, said Triage Entertainment ("The Victoria's Secret Fashion Show") has had talks with Tyson's camp -- and has attracted interest from several TV networks -- about the project.
Tyson -- who won the heavyweight boxing championship in 1987 -- served three years in prison (1992-95) for rape, but he is probably more infamous for taking a bite out of Evander Holyfield's ear during a 1997 bout in Las Vegas. Tyson was denied a boxing license in Nevada last year because of the near-riot that broke out during a news conference to promote a fight with Lennox Lewis.
ROBERT BLAKE LOSES ANOTHER LAWYER
Actor and accused wife-killer Robert Blake is in the market again for a new defense attorney, now that a second lawyer has asked to leave the case.
The lawyer, Jennifer Keller, said Blake has been speaking with ABC's Barbara Walters about setting up a jailhouse interview. Keller said she and a co-counsel only learned about Blake's meeting with Walters when the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department notified them about it.
Harland Braun had been representing Blake until last fall, when he withdrew from the case because Blake had tried to set up media interviews.
Blake is charged with shooting and killing Bonny Lee Bakley in May 2001 as she sat in their car outside a Los Angeles restaurant where they had just eaten. He was scheduled to be deposed Wednesday by lawyers in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by Bakley's family, but his lawyers have said they have advised him not to answer any questions at the deposition.
A preliminary hearing in Blake's criminal case is scheduled for Feb. 26.
CBS GOES BIG TIME FOR TV MOVIE
CBS says feature film veteran Roger Spottiswoode will direct the TV movie "Ice Bound," starring Susan Sarandon as a heroic doctor at the South Pole.
Spottiswoode's big screen credits include Arnold Schwarzenegger's "The 6th Day" (2000) and the 1997 James Bond picture "Tomorrow Never Dies." He also directed the TV movies "The Matthew Shepard Story" (2002), "Noriega: God's Favorite" (2000) and "And the Band Played On" (1993).
"Ice Bound" -- based on Dr. Jerri Nielsen's best-selling book "Ice Bound: A Doctor's Incredible Battle for Survival at the South Pole" -- features Sarandon in the story of Nielsen's well-publicized battle with breast cancer while she was stranded at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station.