- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 11, 2005

Holly woos Harmon

Lauren Holly, the movie actress and former co-star of “Chicago Hope” and “Picket Fences,” has a new home on the small screen.

The actress will join the cast of CBS’ “NCIS” as the love interest of series star Mark Harmon’s character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, Reuters news agency reports.

Miss Holly will debut in the first episode of the season as Jenny Shepard, the new boss of the Naval criminal investigative unit where Gibbs works. She also will soon be seen in theaters in the indie feature “The Chumscrubber.”

In other casting news, model-actress Odette Yustman has been cast as one of the leads in the UPN midseason drama “South Beach” in a role played in the pilot by Sara Foster. The series revolves around three young adults with big dreams in Miami. Miss Yustman is no stranger to acting. She had a role in 1990’s “Kindergarten Cop” when she was 5 years old.

Cook sizzles

Comic Dane Cook just cracked the Billboard chart’s top 5 with his comedy CD “Retaliation.”

Now, he’s being wooed to star in a comedy pilot dubbed “Cooked,” Reuters reports.

The Sony Pictures Television project centers on Mr. Cook’s quirky relationship with his friends (Liz Vassey, Joel David Moore) and their exploits. Shooting begins next week. The studio plans to shop the pilot to broadcast and cable networks.

Mr. Cook’s film credits include “Mr. 3000,” “Torque” and “Stuck on You.”

His album’s fourth place spot on the record charts last week marks the first comedy disc to break the top-five since Steve Martin’s “A Wild and Crazy Guy” reached No. 2 in 1979.

Mr. Vassey’s TV credits include Fox’s “The Tick” and ABC’s “Maximum Bob.” Mr. Moore’s film credits include “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”

‘Dallas’ remembered

The makers of a new DVD compilation hope plenty of people still care about the answer to the summer of ‘81’s hottest question — “Who shot J.R.?”

“Dallas — The Complete Third Season,” a five-DVD set out this week, celebrates the watershed season of the most successful nighttime soap opera in American television history, Associated Press reports.

The drama, which portrayed the trials and tribulations of Texas oil family the Ewings, was a hit from the start. But by spring 1981, as its third season was coming to a close, it had become a phenomenon.

“Dallas” star Linda Gray says the third-season finale was when “the crescendo happened. It’s when everybody … in fact, men … started watching, because men didn’t historically watch soap operas.”

By the end of season three, pretty much every character on the series had reason to kill the soulless heir-apparent to the Ewing throne, J.R., played by Larry Hagman. In the last scene of the season, J.R. is gunned down, his fate and his attempted murderer unknown.

That was Friday night. By the following Monday, newspapers around the world showed a still photograph of a dying J.R., with some variation of the headline, “Who Shot J.R.?”

Mr. Hagman had another question on his mind back then, whether he would continue with the show. He was hanging tough for a healthy raise for season four at the time.

The series went on to run for 14½ seasons. Around the world, people identified with the continuing saga of the Ewing clan.

“It was about family, albeit dysfunctional,” Miss Gray says. “But it was about family, and I think that’s what draws people in — the interrelationships, everyone living under one roof.”

Mr. Hagman, 73, and Miss Gray, 62, may have fought on-screen throughout the show’s run, but off the set they were close and remain so today.

Compiled by Christian Toto from staff and wire reports.

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