"The West Wing" opened its new season last night, with John Goodman stepping in as prez to keep Bartlet from going bonkers over his daughter's kidnapping. Then Goodman, playing a Republican wild man, goes bonkers saying if the first daughter dies he'll "blow the hell out of somethin.'" ((Heather Havrilesky) According to the N.Y. Times, this may not be the last right-wing outburst on the otherwise leftie show, now that Aaron Sorkin is out and John Wells is in as head writer. Wells has hired a couple of consultants, including conservative columnist John Podhoretz who has been quoted as saying about Sorkin (who was arrested in 2001 on a drug charge): "I don't know about you, but I don't need any lessons on theology, destiny, public service, job creation, pay equity or conservative ideology from a crack addict." (N.Y. Times)
Madonna used to look like the shrewdest lady out there, but lately she's seemed a tad sad -- especially when she keeps trying to act all the time. Word is that she'll star in a musical comedy written by her brother-in-law Joe Henry. She should forget the kiddie books, the movies and even the singing for now, and just do a cooking show with guest chefs on Food Network. It's the hottest place to be and she'd blow Emeril out of the water. (MSNBC)
Reports are that last night's Dave Matthews Band show in Central Park was a success. According to Rolling Stone's reporter David Fricke it was a Matthews-fan's delight, was relatively free of AOL sponsorship hype and even the weather was good for the 85,000 attendees. Maybe now some of the schools that have cut music programs can reinstate them and help create the next generation of rockers, eh? (Rolling Stone)
OK, "K Street," the jig is up. The show is alternately boring and confusing. Now this, from The New York Observer, helps explain why: "Executive producer Mark Sennet, a former Time magazine photojournalist, said they are pitching 'K Street' as a new political forum on a par with 'Meet the Press,' only without ... the journalists. 'Even though we're not news -- but we are news, but also a drama -- you have to see it as a way to get your message out," he said. Huh?
Jon Stewart has his nightly moment of Zen; this column will occasionally have one too. Today it is a reminder of what President George W. Bush said recently about newspapers: "I glance at the headlines" but "rarely read the stories." (N.Y. Times)
-- Karen Croft
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Is hell a contentious, multicourse dinner party hosted by Martha Stewart and attended by Christopher Hitchens, Tom Clancy and a dead firefighter, among others? Certainly possible. That's the way playwrights Theresa Rebeck and Alexandra Gersten-Vassilaros have portrayed it in their play "Omnium Gatherum," which opens this week off-Broadway. The character based on Hitchens, who gets increasingly sloshed throughout the proceedings, natch, gets in one of the evening's best lines: "I drink to make other people interesting." Don't we all, darling?
Then again, hell could be a California gubernatorial debate in which Arnold Schwarzenegger, Arianna Huffington and Cruz Bustamante mix it up. Huffington got in last night's sliest jab when Schwarzenegger repeatedly interrupted her: "This is the way you treat women, we know that. But not now." (Associated Press)
And speaking of hell, Jerry Springer has this to say about the prospect of heading into Hades: "At least, I'll know everyone there, I guess." Always looking on the bright side, that Jerry. (Liz Smith)
Doris Roberts to Matthew Perry in a note on a box of chocolates after the Emmys: "Thank you for the kiss. I'm still on cloud nine!" (N.Y. Post)
Best of the Rest
Page Six: The top dogs at the Actors Studio, Al Pacino, Harvey Keitel and Ellen Burstyn, come under fire for tossing out old folks who audit classes at the "method acting" school founded by Lee Strasberg; "K Street" creators George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh have no idea where D.C.'s real K Street is; Halle Berry and Fred Durst stay close after locking lips in Durst's new video "Behind Blue Eyes."
Rush and Molloy: Scott Peterson's former mistress Amber Frey fights to have nude photos of her removed from porn Web site; Yankees star Derek Jeter plays the field; David Geffen says, "I have no interest in making money anymore. Everything I make in the entertainment business will go to charity"; Ethan Hawke checks into Chelsea Hotel after Uma Thurman boots him out; Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck buy new pickup truck; Gen. Wesley Clark and Tom Selleck run into each other at hotel, chat.
Boldface Names: Michael Musto and Dick Morris judge beer-babe "Miss Rheingold" contest; young "Sopranos" star Robert Iler doesn't show; Morris comments: "There is a process that every celeb goes through ... You watch your own caricature develop in front of your eyes. Now the key is not to become your caricature."
-- Amy Reiter