Marc Peyser

Is This the End of 'American Idol'?

After 10 long years of big-footing its way through pop culture, it looks like "American Idol" has sung its last note as the country's No. 1 TV show, music ("music"?) source, Broadway feeder school, and all-around entertainment distraction. With the departure of judges Ellen DeGeneres and (reportedly) Kara DioGuardi, there is no way that "Idol" will continue as the well-oiled machine that it was in the hallowed days of Randy-Paula-Simon.

Angelina Jolie: Spy Master?

Consider: Angie's thriller "Salt" opens in less than a month, and it just so happens that she plays an American woman who is accused of spying for the Russians. Now, if folks are finding it hard to believe that the Russians—decades after the end of the Cold War—had engineered some kind of long-range plan to infiltrate Washington think tanks, is it any less conceivable that yesterday's news was really a ruse created to drum up publicity for a movie?

Babs's Stepson Also Rises

You might call Josh Brolin the Rory Culkin (or Stephen Baldwin or Lorna Luft) of the moment. He's one of those actors who are better known for their bloodlines—dad James Brolin, wife Diane Lane, stepmother Barbra Streisand—than for their own work.

TV: The End of 'The Sopranos'

One of the perks of being a TV critic is that you get to see all the shows before the public does. So you can imagine what my week has been like. Everyone who knows what I do for a living has asked me: "Does Tony die at the end of 'Sopranos'?" One person framed the question like this: "Do we know what happens at the end of 'Sopranos'?" To which I responded: "We can't know because you obviously do not." I know—bitchiness is never becoming, but I couldn't help myself.

Television Was UsTube

When "Davy Crockett" debuted on ABC in 1954, the show was supposed to be a flop. "Crockett" was an earnest series of dramas based on the manly exploits of the American adventurer, starting with "Davy Crockett, Indian Fighter." The show was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself, who devised it to promote Frontierland at his new amusement park, Disneyland.

Newsmakers

Roseanne is back with a one-hour comedy special on HBO. She spoke with Nicki Gostin.I'm trying to get comfortable with aging. It's hard. Reality is really tough.No.

Ready for Prime Time?

One of the disadvantages of being the last TV show to debut on the fall schedule is that your show has already been discussed, dissected and, in some quarters, dismissed before it's hit the air.

Killer Serials

There's a rule of thumb for writers that goes, if you introduce a gun into your story, it had better go off. In the first episode of ABC's "The Nine," the gun appears before the first commercial--and is never seen again.

Starting to Feel 'Lost'

I'm reluctant to question the way that "Lost" unlocks its secrets. The show has changed directions countless times in its first two seasons, and each of the zigzags—discovering the hatches, the second set of survivors, the "Others" and of course the whole mysterious "Dharma" initiative—has only deepened the story and fed fans' obsession with this most willfully inscrutable show.

Televsion: Shark

James Woods has never been Hollywood's most subtle actor--which makes him perfect for "Shark." Sebastian Stark, a.k.a. Shark, is the legal equivalent of flesh-eating bacteria, a high-priced defense attorney who devours anyone standing between him and victory.

Race Baiting

"Survivor: Cook Islands," which premiered Thursday night, received much more than the usual preshow buildup thanks to a controversial gimmick: the four tribes are segregated—and we do mean segregated—by race: black, white, Asian and Latino.

Oh Brother

This is a good time to be a bad guy. Tony Soprano, Dr. House, "The Shield," "Deadwood"—the badder the lead character, the bigger the ratings and acclaim.

Putting a Spell on Us

Aaron spelling was the McDonald's of TV producers--no one ever accused him of being a master chef, but he sold more shows than anyone. Spelling, who died last week of a stroke at 83, was never deluded by where the likes of "The Love Boat," "Dynasty" and "T.J.

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