WALTERS SCORES ROBERT BLAKE INTERVIEW
Blake talked with Walters for close to two and-a-half hours after Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca finally dropped his refusal to allow the Emmy-winning actor to be interviewed. Walters persuaded Baca to drop his objection after she pointed out she had conducted interviews in the past at the jail where Blake is awaiting trial for allegedly killing Bonny Lee Bakley.
Blake's lawyer, Thomas A. Mesereau Jr., said Monday he will continue to defend Blake, even though he disagrees with his client's decision to give an on-camera interview. Mesereau said he is concerned prosecutors will try to use Blake's public statements against him.
The 69-year-old actor -- best known as the star of the '70s cop show "Baretta" -- has pleaded innocent to killing Bakley in 2001 as she sat in their car outside a Los Angeles restaurant where they had just eaten. He has been held without bail since his arrest last April.
ABC plans to televise Walters' interview with Blake on Feb. 28.
(Thanks to UPI's Pat Nason in Los Angeles.)
CIVIL WAR RE-ENACTORS TAKE OVER CENTRAL PARK
More than 100 Civil War re-enactors were set to descend on Manhattan's Central Park Wednesday to celebrate the upcoming release of "Gods and Generals."
The history buffs, representing military units from both the North and the South, were expected to re-enact the charge of the 124th New York, which took place May 3, 1863, at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia and was immortalized in Stephen Crane's novel "The Red Badge of Courage." The re-enactors, along with "Gods and Generals" star Jeff Daniels, hoped to create a tableau of 19th century life on the battlefield, complete with pup tents and campfires set up in the park's East Meadow.
"Gods and Generals," the screen adaptation of Jeff Shaara's best-selling novel, is a dramatic look at America's bloodiest conflict, in which 620,000 lives were lost. Written and directed by Ronald Maxwell, the film is based on real events. It has 158 speaking roles and employs 7,500 professional battlefield re-enactors. The three-and-a-half-hour film, which opens Friday, is the sequel to the immensely popular film and mini-series, "Gettysburg."
RATINGS SOAR WITH SIMPSONS, BUNDYS
They may be losers on television, but the Simpsons and the Bundys were winners in the ratings department Sunday.
The 300th episode of the animated sit-com, "The Simpsons," attracted 21.2 million viewers to Fox Sunday, while a "Married... With Children" reunion special kept the attention of 19.2 million fans of the long-canceled comedy.
The popularity of the programs gave the network its biggest non-sports Sunday in three years, reports TV Guide Online. ABC's remake of the musical "Meredith Willson's Music Man" suffered as a result. Only 13.1 million viewers tuned in to sing along.
Speaking of ratings...
The two-hour finale of "Joe Millionaire" Monday night gave Fox further reason to celebrate. The sexy reality show was seen by an average of 34.6 million people. Somewhere between "Survivor" and "The Dating Game," "Joe Millionaire" featured a construction worker posing as a multi-millionaire and the women fighting over who gets him.
In the show's final episode, Evan Marriott chose substitute teacher Zora, then revealed he was worth a fraction of what he said he was. For those who missed the installment, Zora stood by her man. Although the pair will not have Marriott's imaginary $50 million to live on, Fox gave them $1 million as a parting gift.
ACADEMY NERVOUS ABOUT EMINEM
Oscar organizers reportedly are worried Eminem might misbehave at next month's Academy Awards ceremony.
The controversial rapper is set to perform his Best Song nominee, "Lose Yourself," from the film "8 Mile." But People.com says Eminem's reputation for spouting expletives has the event's organizers in a state of anxiety.
Oscarcast producer Gil Cates has assured reporters Eminem will perform an "airplay version" of the song.
Calling the Academy Awards "a show for the family ... and we're very much aware of that," Cates said, "We would not knowingly have anything on the show which would be offensive."
The entertainment Web site recalls how the Academy found itself in a similar predicament three years ago when the song "Blame Canada," from "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut," was nominated in the same category. Riddled with more four-letter words than an episode of "The Osbournes," "Blame Canada" was considered not ready for prime time. The solution was to have Robin Williams, who delivered the song during the ceremony, gasp instead of blurting out the questionable phrases.