Wednesday, Aug. 21
So Anna Nicole Smith is now the biggest sensation on television. Or the biggest train wreck, if you believe the scads of bad reviews her new E! series, The Anna Nicole Show , has endured. Angry critics lost their cabezas about the show, claiming that poor Ms. Smith is being duped and laughed at, and that her show would do for reality television what Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle did for the prime-rib business.
But rest assured: There’s happiness and relative calm on Planet Anna! Why, we were just in touch with Anna lawyer/pal/confidante/whipping boy Howard K. Stern, who pointed to the show’s whopper ratings (best premiere in E! history!) and said the Anna Nicole-a-phobes are wasting their heated breath.
“The critics are sort of playing into our hands,” said Mr. Stern, who’s taken quite a pounding himself from the critics. (“Special revulsion should be extended to Smith’s lawyer, Howard K. Stern, who not only advised his client to do this show, but appears weekly as a supporting player,” David Bianculli wrote in the Daily News .)
Mr. Stern, now the second-most-infamous Howard Stern in the world, admitted he was a little taken aback by the volume of criticism he and the show have received. But the only part he objected to really strongly was the notion that an unsuspecting Ms. Smith was being exploited by others.
“The critics make it like she’s naïve to the whole thing and doesn’t get it,” Mr. Stern said. “She knows her life is over the top, and some of the things that we do people are going to criticize. She’s aware that everybody says certain things about her. She’s aware that she’s going to be criticized about her weight. She knows before she does this stuff that the criticism’s going to come, and she also knows that criticism brings ratings. She knows what she’s doing.”
And gadzooks, it’s paying off! Mr. Stern said that Ms. Smith has already received numerous film and television proposals and that “there will be an announcement of a big book and merchandising.”
“Opportunities are there,” Mr. Stern said. “It’s going to be a matter of picking and choosing for her what she wants to do.”
Oh, brother. Ms. Smith herself was supposed to come to the phone to give her take on this, but she was taking a long nap, we were told. Sweet dreams! Tonight on E!, Jules Asner throws probing dart after dart at Sarah Michelle Gellar. Revealed . [E!, 24, 10 p.m.]
Thursday, Aug. 22
Earlier this year, Washington, D.C., was aghast when Beltway insider Ozzy Osbourne had the audacity to escort heavily tattooed hellion Greta Van Susteren to the White House Correspondents Dinner. Wait: It was the other way around, wasn’t it?
Either way, it’s payback time. The Blizzard of Ozz sat for an interview with the Priestess of Law the other day, discussing his roller-coaster life since MTV transmogrified him into Dick Van Patten. Ms. Van Susteren and Mr. Osbourne met in a Washington hotel room, and the results air in tonight’s episode of the zippy Fox news magazine The Pulse (more will run Friday night on Ms. Van Susteren’s On the Record on the Fox News Channel).
Ms. Van Susteren told NYTV that Mr. Osbourne’s chief concern these days is the health of his wife, Sharon, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. Ms. Osbourne is said to be in strong spirits and expects to recover, but her husband is a poor old wreck.
“He’s got a broken heart,” Ms. Van Susteren said. “He is absolutely terrified.”
After Ozzy testified his love for Sharon, Ms. Van Susteren talked to him about a variety of subjects, including his incongruous penchant for Frank Sinatra’s music. But it’s probably going to take some time for Ms. Van Susteren to warm up to all of Ozzy’s oeuvre .
“I have listened to a lot of his stuff out of curiosity, yes,” the Fox News host said. “I like the more melodious stuff.”
Said Ms. Van Susteren: “I like to think of myself as cool, but I’m not that cool.”
But-get this-Ms. Van Susteren has turned into a big NASCAR freak. While researching some stories on the vroom-vroom sport, she got hooked. “It’s not just the race,” she said. “It’s like a soap opera; there are all these different subplots. And the whole business of when to take a pit stop-I never knew any of this stuff.”
So who would Ms. Van Susteren rather take a ride with, NASCAR bad boy Tony Stewart or Fox News bad boy Roger Ailes? “I’ll take the Fifth,” Ms. Van Susteren said. “For some reason, I can’t imagine Roger behind the wheel. I love Roger Ailes, but I’d rather sit in his office with him than sit in a car with him.”
That sounds like an answer! Tonight on The Pulse , Bill O’Reilly says he’s got “a half-mill in gold bullion in coffee tins buried under the house” that The New York Times Money & Business section didn’t notice. [WNYW, 5, 9 p.m.]
Friday, Aug. 23
This week, you can go to bed and wake up with Charlie Rose, and you don’t have to buy him breakfast! The PBS interviewer and 60 Minutes II correspondent-who signs off on his Charlie Rose program ’round midnight-is guest co-hosting the CBS Early Show through Aug. 23.
“I like new experiences,” Mr. Rose said on Tuesday, Aug. 20, a few hours after his second day of Early Show duty. “I have always liked morning television. More and more so, I think it drives the news.”
Though CBS News hasn’t named a replacement for departed co-host Bryant Gumbel, Mr. Rose said he was not angling for the chair. “It’s fun for me to do,” he said of the assignment. “It’s good for me for a week. I’m not here at all to audition for anything.” Mr. Rose said that his two chief priorities continue to be raising money for his PBS show and “getting more air time from [executive producer] Jeff Fager at 60 Minutes II .”
For a guy less than two months removed from open-heart surgery, Mr. Rose sure is busy. This week, in addition to co-hosting the Early Show with Jane Clayson and Mark McEwen in the mornings, he’s working on 60 Minutes II material and then presiding over his famous wooden Charlie Rose table in the early evening.
How’s he feeling? “I feel great,” he said. “Better than I ever imagined. I literally feel better than I ever felt before-and I should, since my heart is now doing the same amount of work with two-thirds of the effort.”
What about those morning-TV hours? “Not a problem,” Mr. Rose said. “I get up early anyway.”
Mr. Rose said he enjoyed and was impressed by the numerous individuals who filled in for him during his respite from his PBS show, among them Sloan-Kettering president and chief executive Harold Varmus and film director Wes Anderson. He said he was thinking of adding an occasional segment where he’ll let a guest interviewer come on and talk to a subject.
As for who’s going to win the upcoming U.S. Open, Mr. Rose, an admitted tennis-phile, had his sentimental picks and his educated choice. “I would like nothing better than to see Sampras win because he’s had such a rough go, or Agassi,” said Mr. Rose. “They’d be my personal favorites.” But he thought Russian power-server Marat Safin had as good a chance as anyone at winning this year.
Bookend your day with Mr. Rose on the CBS Early Show and tonight on Channel 13 with Charlie Rose . [WCBS, 2, 7 a.m.; PBS, 13, 11 p.m.]
Saturday, Aug. 24
Tonight on ABC, semifinal action from the Little League World Series . Phil Mushnick was right to go nuts about this one. It’s the Little League World Series semifinals ! On prime time! Then again, it’s ABC’s prime time, so the little cherubs might slide by unscathed. [WABC, 7, 7:30 p.m.]
Sunday, Aug. 25
Everyone knows you can’t spell SportsCenter without O-l-b-e-r-m-a-n-n! Or something like that. SportsCenter -home of the increasingly passé sportscaster bon mot-celebrates its staggering 25,000th episode Aug. 25, but don’t expect to find prodigal ESPN genius and black sheep Keith Olbermann loping around the Bristol, Conn., campus with a dog-eared Charles Portis paperback. Mr. Olbermann-who left ESPN for MSNBC and, later, Fox-lately has been working for CNN, Salon and ABC Sports Radio, and won’t be part of the SportsCenter 25K back-pat. (Only current staff are involved, and it’s not some big party deal anyway, an ESPN spokesperson said.)
Mr. Olbermann said that barely a day goes by when he isn’t stopped on the street by some Joe who tells him, “That was a great line you had on SportsCenter last night.”
“If you can get them through it, if they do remember enough details about it, it turns out that it was something they saw on CNN, or something they saw on Fox last year,” Mr. Olbermann said. “And this is something I am at peace with: that I am going to be identified with that show as long as I am in the public eye. That is fine.”
Mr. Olbermann said he’s at peace with ESPN. Besides, as an ABC Radio employee, he’s now a Disney employee, under the same skinny mouse arm as ESPN.
Mr. Olbermann said he would have been open to participating in the SportsCenter 25K in some fashion, but he wasn’t expecting to be asked.
“I’m not sitting here going, ‘ Arrrgh -those bastards!’ or, ‘Why aren’t those bastards having me back?’” Mr. Olbermann said. “It’s just: ‘O.K.’”
Hey, let’s pencil Mr. Olbermann in for the SportsCenter 250,000th-episode celebration! Think of how many more wacky commercials they’ll have by then! [ESPN, 28, 11 p.m.]
Monday, Aug. 26
Tonight’s Where Are They Now?: Video Vixens special on VH1 answers the question of what Jeana Tomasina, who drove the car in five ZZ Top videos, is doing these days. Thank you, VH1, we’d been wondering. [VH1, 19, 8 p.m.]
Tuesday, Aug. 27
Tonight on Fox, American Idol . Alright, alright, get it over with. [WNYW, 5, 9 p.m.]
Wednesday, Aug. 28
The Daily Show ‘s Steve Carell has gotten himself a fancy little sabbatical for a couple of months because he has a fancy part in a fancy Jim Carrey movie. Mr. Carell will be gone from the show for about 10 weeks. “He is hopefully going to come back sometime in October,” a Comedy Central spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that Mr. Carell was granted a sabbatical before to do work on the Julia Louis-Dreyfus sitcom Watching Ellie (remember that ?) and that Mr. Carell did do some work for The Daily Show during that period. So expect a call, Steve! [CMDY, 45, 11 p.m.]
Thursday, Aug. 29
Tonight from Radio City Music Hall, the MTV Video Music Awards . Hosted by Imp of the Year Jimmy Fallon. [MTV, 20, 8 p.m.]
Friday, Aug. 30
Tonight on WCBS, riveting preseason NFL Football action as the New York Jets tend to the Eagles, of Philadelphia. [WCBS, 2, 7:30 p.m.]
Saturday, Aug. 31
Tonight on HBO: Glitter , starring Mariah Carey. No joke here-it’s like taking candy from a baby. [HBO, 32, 8 p.m.]
Sunday, Sept. 1
Despite protests that their HBO reality series Project Greenlight didn’t accurately capture the spirit of independent filmmaking-i.e., not enough guerrilla auteur, too much executive-producer bitching and moaning!-Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are giving it another go. The well-scrubbed superduo was in town on Aug. 17 with fellow producer/third leg Chris Moore to discuss their plans for Project Greenlight deux.
Mr. Affleck confessed that he didn’t like the Ben Affleck he saw portrayed on the small screen in PGI . “I became acutely self-conscious and cringed and really couldn’t watch it,” he said. “There [were] times when I come across as someone I wouldn’t want to hang out with.”
All is not lost, fair Ben! First of all, you’re said to be dating that Jennifer Lopez, so no griping from you for the next 500 years. Second, surely there are 10 bazillion wannabe DeMilles out there who will gladly submit themselves to the Project Greenlight hack ‘n’ paste if it means chance encounters at Sundance with the likes of Jake Gyllenhaal, Robin Tunney and Vincent Gallo. Besides, Project Greenlight ‘s real problem was not its unfair portrayals, but its anti-synergy: Mr. Moore said that the film chronicled in the series, Stolen Summer , grossed $134,000, a pocket-lint figure that makes stink bomb du jour The Adventures of Pluto Nash look like Spider-Man.
Project Greenlight 2 will begin accepting submissions on Sept. 19. So get that “Untitled Reese Witherspoon Project” you banged out in the Astor Place Starbucks to Kinko’s soon, buster! There’s a new hitch this year: The team will separately select a first-time screenwriter and a first-time director and pair them to make a film. (Last year that nice redhead, Pete Jones, was allowed to both write and direct, and well …. ) And don’t get so concerned about how you’re going to come off in the TV series. “The day the boom guy shows up in makeup,” said Mr. Moore, “that’s going to be a really bad day.”
Tonight on HBO, Sex and the City . [HBO, 32, 9 p.m.]
Monday, Sept. 2
Fox invites you to make Labor Day a Family Day with a nice early-enough-to-permanently-scar-the-preteens airing of There’s Something About Mary . [WNYW, 5, 8 p.m.]
Tuesday, Sept. 3
Tonight on WABC in the wee-wee post-Koppel hours, the Rosie 2.0, Caroline Rhea, debuts with her Caroline Rhea show . Let the magic begin. [WABC, 7, 1:05 a.m.]
Follow Jason Gay via RSS.