Television

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Kotter's comeback

The 1970s TV series Welcome Back Kotter - which I remember chiefly as a celebration of the Afro hairdo and for the bad joke that ended each episode - is being made into a film, due for release next year, with Ice Cube in the title role. The orignal Kotter, Gabe Kaplan, has been a mainstay of "celebrity" specials on US TV in the past decade or so and is a professional poker player - but he never quite had the career that his co-star, John Travolta, enjoyed. Interestingly, according to imdb.com, Kaplan and Travolta only appeared in 66 of the 95 episodes made. Marcia Strassman, who played Kotter's wife and went on to star in the ungrammatically titled Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, was in 71 of them. While Kaplan was in the last show, Strassman was not, and the set piece where Kotter tells a joke to his wife in bed substitutes her with a teddy bear.

Kyle deal throne out

My heart goes out to Kyle Sandilands and his bride-to-be Tamara Jaber. New Idea has reportedly pulled the plug on a $200,000 deal to cover their nuptials. It's suggested that the lack of a star-studded guest list is the reason - which is odd, given that Sandilands promotes himself as a friend of the famous. I'd suggest it's because New Idea knows that Sandilands - who will reportedly enter the ceremony on a throne (pass the vomit bag, please) - is a polarising figure. In other words, any edition featuring Kyle on the cover might tank.

Croc of ages

The UK media is picking up on the Australian 60 Minutes profile of the Irwin family. I think it's fair to say that this piece in The Independent could be described as cynical. I didn't see the show, but I think what Terri Irwin is doing with her children is scary in many, many ways.

Reality wears thin

"I feel personally that I raped reality television and I'm happy about that."

So says "reality" TV star Jon Dalton, whose great claim to fame is telling fellow Survivor contestants that his granny had died, so he could get their sympathy. He says his aim was not to win the show, but to create a character called "Jonny Fairplay", which still earns him money through personal appearances (and a bizarre stoush with former child star Danny Bondauce). When will this nonsense all go away? Somebody please tell me it's a bad dream, and the quality sitcoms, dramas and documentaries will return as soon as I wake up.

Fancy a bit of Laurie?

British actor Hugh Laurie has reportedly signed a deal worth 5 million pounds (more than A$10 million) a year to star in the drama House for the next four years. Laurie, who used to star alongside Stephen Fry in the sketch show A Bit of Fry and Laurie, will earn 220,000 pounds for each episode of the show. Good luck to him, but isn't that just crazy money? Especially when shows like House are apparently turning us all into hypochondriacs.

Osmonds' second chance

Donnie and Marie Osmond are being offered another shot at fame via a US TV special called Rediscovered. The idea behind the show is to give former child stars a second chance at the big times. Sounds marginally better than Idol, but that's not saying much.

Gimme little more sign

They may not be Posh and Becks, but Australian-raised two-or-three-hit wonder Peter Andre and his wife, former Page 3 girl Katie "Jordan" Price, are having more than their 15 minutes of fame here in the UK. You may have to wait to see it in Australia, so here's a link to the web page promoting their new series.

UK Big Brother a goner too?

The Sunday Mirror reports that the UK version of Big Brother may be axed due to low ratings for this year's finale. The story doesn't mention the fate of the Australian version, but I'm sure it's in the back of the producers' minds. I'd like to think this is the beginning of the end of "reality" TV worldwide - but it's so much cheaper to make than drama or comedy, so I think it will be around for a while in one form or another.

Joan's secret of success

How do you sustain a long career in showbiz? By constantly reinventing yourself. Joan Collins has been doing it for at least 40 years. From big-screen bombshell to small-screen bitch, she's now a newspaper columnist. She has a gig with the revamped, all-colour Sunday Telegraph. The story is here.
PS: When Foxtel had its Brisbane launch in the mid-1990s, the British star was the guest of honour. But she wasn't the only Joan Collins in the room. Also there was the wife of Australia's "Mr Movies", Bill Collins.

Britney's secrets revealed

Britney Spears started drinking at 13, lost her virginity at 14 and was experimenting with drugs at 15. All this comes from her mother, apparently, in a new book. Somebody should get Terri Irwin a copy.

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