Friday night at 9 p.m. ET the Hallmark Channel airs "Mystery Woman: Mystery Weekend," the first in a series of three films about a woman who solves crimes using ideas and strategies plucked from mystery novels. Also at 9 p.m. ET, on the Food Network's "Inside Dish," Rachael Ray gets the lowdown on what the members of Aerosmith like to eat on the road. Just what you've been longing to know.
"Under the Bridge," a new family musical with book and lyrics by Kathie Lee Gifford, has just opened off-Broadway. Here's what the New York critics had to say about the show by Cody's mom:
"'Under the Bridge' tells the heartwarming story of a spunky group of homeless children who befriend a cranky but lovable old bum. As his hard heart is softened, the urchins and their widowed mother find the home they've long dreamed of. A new family is born. All this in Paris, yet, where gypsies dance in the streets, celebrating their carefree lifestyle in song.
"If that capsule description does a number on your gag reflex -- just typing the words, mine performed the glottal equivalent of a triple toe-loop -- it's best to give the Zipper a wide berth. But even those more forgiving of spoon-fed sentiment may find it hard to warm to 'Under the Bridge.' ... Ms. Gifford does not exactly strive tirelessly to avoid the clichéd." (Charles Isherwood, N.Y. Times)
"Kathie Lee Gifford has taken up writing musicals, and the results probably won't surprise anyone. Her first effort, 'Under the Bridge,' is as blandly sentimental as you'd expect from an entertainer who has titled her forthcoming CD 'Songs in the Key of True.'" (Gordon Cox, Newsday)
"Gifford's lyrics are not without skill. Occasionally, they are adroit, as when the Gypsies sing, 'We're here with the wind and gone with the leaves/ Some call us friends, some call us thieves/ Then call the authorities.' But just as often, they aim for a cleverness that feels strained." (Howard Kissel, N.Y. Daily News)
"You may have a toothache after seeing 'Under the Bridge' ... It's that relentlessly sweet." (Jacques Le Sourd, the Journal News)
The Jackson file: We've heard much of it before -- or at least enough like it to make it sound all too familiar -- but the Smoking Gun has reviewed the documents in the government's child molestation case against Michael Jackson (including some sealed court records exclusively provided to it) and thoughtfully compiled a detailed account of the prosecution's case against the quirky musician. "If the harrowing and deeply disturbing allegations in these documents are true, Jackson is a textbook pedophile, a 46-year-old predator who plied children with wine, vodka, tequila, Jim Beam whiskey and Bacardi rum. A man who gave boys nicknames like Doo Doo Head and Blowhole and then quizzed them about whether they masturbated and if 'white stuff' came out," the editors write. "A man who conducted drinking games with minors and surfed porn with them on a laptop in his Neverland Ranch bedroom, noting that if anyone asked what they were looking at, the kids should just say they were watching 'The Simpsons.' A man who frequently talked sex with his little companions and explained that 'boys have to masturbate or they go crazy.' A man who told one pajama-clad boy that he wanted to show him how to 'jack off.' When the tipsy child declined the demonstration, Jackson announced, 'I'll do it for you,' and buried his hand in the boy's Hanes briefs, size small. And a man who emphasized to his little friends that these activities were 'their little secret' and should not be disclosed to anyone, even if a gun was at their head." And then there was the time Jackson allegedly licked the boy's head like a mama cat licking a kitten ... (The Smoking Gun)
Strange news of the day: Feminist author Germaine Greer has signed on to be a housemate on Britain's "Celebrity Big Brother." She's set to move into a camera-packed house with the likes of underwear model Caprice and celebrity reality show staple Brigitte Nielsen for 18 days. "It's going to be hard for me to remember to have my bits covered," says "The Female Eunuch" scribe, who warns that she likes to sleep naked. "It's going to be embarrassing if I get drunk or if I get off with anyone. I won't tolerate anal intercourse." Certainly good to know your limits going in ... (The Daily Telegraph via News. com.au)
Also: And the nominees for the Directors Guild of America's award for best director are ... Martin Scorsese for "The Aviator," Clint Eastwood for "Million Dollar Baby," Marc Forster for "Finding Neverland," Taylor Hackford for "Ray" and Alexander Payne for "Sideways." Scorsese has been nominated for the award five times before but has never won. (Associated Press) ... A spokesman for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom says speculation that Newsom's now-ending, three-year marriage to Court TV anchor Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom was just a publicity stunt is "a ridiculous rumor." (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Aaron Carter cheated death by escaping from his Cadillac Escalade after it ran over a mattress on the Florida Turnpike and burst into flames. (Page Six) ... Barbara Walters is set for a sit-down with President Bush and Laura Bush at the White House on Wednesday, an interview that will air on "20/20" on Friday at 10 p.m. ET. (N.Y. Post) ... Julia Roberts has bought 32 acres of property adjoining her 80-acre ranch in Taos, N.M., at an estimated $110,000-$125,000 per acre, from her neighbor, Donald Rumsfeld. (People via Washington Post) ... A New York appeals court has thrown out a lawsuit brought by Aaliyah's record company against the production company that arranged the plane trip that killed her; New York does not allow suits to recover damages for the wrongful death of an employee. (N.Y. Daily News) ... Jennifer Garner, reported to be suffering from a virus earlier this week, was in fact suffering from nerve damage sustained from a stunt during the filming of "Alias," but she's said to be recovered enough now to resume her P.R. duties for her forthcoming film, "Elektra." (E! Online) ... It's official: Yesterday, talent manager Brad Grey was named chairman and chief executive of Paramount's Motion Picture Group. (N.Y. Times) ... Amber Frey is opting not to go on "The View" to chat about her new book as scheduled because the show declined to allow her lawyer, Gloria Allred, to appear with her. (N.Y. Post) ... Conservative Christian groups are up in arms over reports that Kid Rock will perform at a youth concert at the presidential inauguration. Inauguration planners insist that the raunchy rocker's performance "has not been confirmed." (N.Y. Daily News)
-- Amy Reiter