The Fix

Gov. Arnold wants a "smoking plaza," Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" snatched back from commercial brink, and Miss Piggy and Mickey Mouse get cozy. Plus: An "Angel" gets its wings -- and fans mourn.


Salon Staff
February 18, 2004 6:13PM (UTC)

Afternoon Briefing:

Drudge in the White House? On next Wednesday's episode of "The West Wing" a plot line has the Drudge Report "revealing" a New York Times investigation into a possible sex scandal involving the vice president. A reporter publicly discredits Drudge, then privately assumes it's true. Lawrence O'Donnell wrote the script in late 2003, so any resemblance to the Kerry rumors Drudge published last week are purely coincidental. (N.Y. Observer)

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The man in black is rolling over in his grave: Merle Kilgore, who co-wrote Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" with June Carter Cash, says he didn't mean any harm when he almost let a TV producer use the song for a hemorrhoid commercial; he thought it was funny. Luckily, Cash's daughter Roseanne stepped in and nipped the idea in the bud. (BBC)

Miss Piggy joins the Mouse: The Walt Disney Co. just bought the rights to most of Jim Henson's creations. But they'll have to do without Big Bird and Ernie, unless the Sesame Workshop wants to let them go. (TV Guide)

Baldwin the comic: Alec Baldwin is having fun with his best supporting actor nomination (for "The Cooler"). The actor jokes that Djimon Hounsou and Ken Watanabe can't win because they're foreign born and that he talked Tim Robbins into voting for him. And as for Benicio del Toro, Baldwin quips, "We looked into some records and we found out that he didn't show up for four months of service in Texas in the National Guard. So he is questionable as Oscar material. I think I'm standing alone in the pile!" (IMDb)

Cigar aficionado: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger likes his pumped-up stogies, so he's proposed turning an inner courtyard in the state's capitol into a "smoking plaza." In response, the director of Stop Tobacco Abuse of Minors Pronto said huffily, "He could do more good by championing our cause rather than trivializing it." (Washington Times)

-- Karen Croft

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Just when you thought it was safe to go back in your TV fan chat room...

Last week, loyal watchers of WB's "Angel" were shocked to learn that their beloved show had not been picked up for next season. As fans of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" know, "Angel" was the follow-up effort from "Buffy" creator Joss Whedon, who told Salon in an interview last year that "TV's like whitewater rafting: Without rocks, there wouldn't be rapids, and it wouldn't be as much fun."

But on Saturday, Whedon posted a note to his fans on the Whedonite message board the Bronze Beta admitting that he was as surprised as anyone to learn that his latest raft had hit a killer snag and was going down.

He wrote:

"Some of you may have heard the hilarious news. I thought this would be a good time to weigh in to answer some obvious questions: No, we had no idea this was coming. Yes, we will finish out the season. No, I don't think the WB is doing the right thing. Yes, I'm grateful they did it early enough for my people to find other jobs.

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"Yes, my heart is breaking.

"When 'Buffy' ended, I was tapped out and ready to send it off. When 'Firefly' got the axe, I went into a state of denial so huge it may very well cause a movie. But Angel ... we really were starting to feel like we were on top, hitting our stride -- and then we strode right into the Pit of Snakes 'n' Lava. I'm so into these characters, these actors, the situations we're building ... you wanna know how I feel? Watch the first act of 'The Body' [a "Buffy" episode in which the blond vampire-killer comes home to find her mother dead from an aneurysm].

"As far as TV movies or whatever, I'm not thinking that far ahead. I actually hope my actors and writers are all too busy. We always planned this season finale to be a great capper to the season and the show in general. (And a great platform for a new season, of course.) We'll proceed ahead as planned.

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"I've never made mainstream TV very well. I like surprises, and TV isn't about surprises, unless the surprise is who gets voted off of something. I've been lucky to sneak this strange, strange show over the airwaves for as long as I have. I don't FEEL lucky, but I understand that I am.

"Thanks all for your support, your community, and your perfectly sane devotion. It's meant a lot. I regret nothing (except the string of grisley murders in the 80's -- what was THAT all about?) Remember the words of the poet:

"'Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the road less traveled by and they CANCELLED MY FRIKKIN' SHOW. I totally shoulda took the road that had all those people on it. Damn.'

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"See you soon.

"-j."

But at least the Robert Frost-paraphrasing Whedon can take comfort in his fans' unwavering support. A poster who goes by the name "Princess of Darkness" responded to his thoughts on "Angel's" untimely demise as follows:

"Joss,

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"I am soooo sorry! *hugs* I have to fight not to start crying. Buffy and Angel so totally changed my Life and Im so not ready to let Angel go. Im sick of networks to cancel the best shows. I want to fight for our show! I want to fight for you! Watching Buffy and Angel was the best thing that could have ever happened to me! Without the shows i would never have found this guys! Is this really the end? No way to get the Show to another network? **** now I am crying! *hugs*

"Anyway I want to thank you guys from the bottom of my Heart. You guys made me laugh and cry and everything in between!

"Can anybody please hug me?"

Joss? Anybody?

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-- Christopher Farah

Morning Briefing:

Never mind the handcuffs: Courtney Love avoided arrest yesterday by showing up in court for a hearing related to the two felony counts of drug possession she's facing, but because she was late, the hearing was pushed back for the fourth time. It was rescheduled for March 16. (NME)

She read the book: Laura Bush says she wants to see Mel Gibson's controversial film "The Passion of the Christ": "I think it sounds very interesting," she told reporters on Tuesday. (Reuters)

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Some topics never Di: NBC is said to be planning to air audiotapes of the late Princess Diana talking about Prince Charles' reaction to her suicide threats in the early years of their marriage: "He [Charles] said I was making alarm," she's reported to say on the tapes. "I picked up a pocket knife from his dressing table and cut myself on my breasts and thighs and there was a lot of blood. He showed no reaction." (News24)

He shoots, she scores: Star Jones' boyfriend, Al Reynolds, proposed to her -- offering up a shiny engagement ring -- during the second half of the NBA All-Star game on Sunday in L.A. So much for a nice private moment. (Associated Press)

Hold the poop: Conan O'Brien has issued an apology of sorts to French Canadians for letting Triumph the Insult Comic Dog poop all over them during a visit last week. He did so with the help of a French "translator," who translated O'Brien's "People of Quebec, I'm sorry" as "People of Quebec, I'm an albino jackass" and got more creative from there. (Toronto Sun)

-- Amy Reiter

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