- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 11, 2006

‘Wing’s‘ modest bow out

Amid all the fanfare surrounding the sendoff of NBC’s “The West Wing,” comes word that NBC has pulled the plug on a special saluting the once beloved show.

Earlier this year, NBC said it would pay tribute to “Wing” in the time-honored manner of other long-running and well-loved series (think of HBO’s “Sex and the City ” or NBC’s own “Friends,” for instance) with a clip-and-interview special airing before the last episode. But late last week the network scuttled the clip show, reportedly because some cast members wanted to be compensated a little more generously, reports Zap2it.com.

According to published reports, the actors (no one is named) refused to take part in a retrospective unless they were paid more than the amount offered to sit and reminisce about the Emmy-winning series. Such appearances aren’t covered in the actors’ contracts for the show — and, notes Variety, some in the cast could command as much as $200,000 per hour.

That’s a lot of cash for a special whose ratings probably won’t be huge. The “West Wing” special was scheduled to air Sunday evening at 7, reports Zap2it.com, a time when TV viewing is usually pretty low. The series finale airs at 8 p.m.

In place of the yanked special, NBC will air the pilot episode of the series, in which White House staffer Sam Seaborn (Rob Lowe) discovers his date from the previous night is a call girl, a bike accident incapacitates President Bartlet (Martin Sheen) at a crucial time and Josh Lyman (Bradley Whitford) makes an ill-considered comment on television.

The series finale of “The West Wing” will focus on the Bartlet administration leaving the White House as new President Matt Santos (Jimmy Smits) is inaugurated, Zap2it.com reports.

Falling Star?

Are rumors about Star Jones Reynolds getting the boot from “The View” greatly exaggerated?

Nobody knows. But that hasn’t stopped the gossips.

While whispers began circulating in March that the former New York prosecutor-turned-talk-show co-host could be asked to leave (following an on-air verbal dust-up with fellow co-host Joy Behar during a discussion about Mrs. Jones Reynolds’ breast surgery), the chatter went from simmer to full boil late last month when ABC announced Rosie O’Donnell as the replacement for departing “View” co-host Meredith Vieira.

It’s no secret that Mrs. Jones Reynolds and Miss O’Donnell aren’t chummy, the Boston Herald noted in Wednesday’s editions. Miss O’Donnell, in fact, criticized Mrs. Jones Reynolds on her blog, www.rosie.com, for bragging about her dramatic weight loss while refusing to confirm she’d had gastric bypass surgery, the newspaper reported.

For the record, Miss O’Donnell denies rumors that she demanded Mrs. Jones Reynolds’ ouster as a condition for joining the popular daytime chat fest. Meanwhile, those in Mrs. Jones Reynolds’ camp vehemently deny she’s been shown the door and that she will be replaced by Gayle King, a former talk show host and best friend of Oprah Winfrey. (Perhaps Miss Winfrey can shed some light on the hubbub when she sits down this morning at 11 (WJLA-TV, Channel 7) for her first-ever “View” appearance.)

On Tuesday, Miss King began her own rumor control, telling the syndicated entertainment show “Extra” that “You can’t believe the things you read in the paper. I certainly haven’t talked to anybody about joining ‘The View,’ and I don’t believe Star Jones is going anywhere. I can’t imagine ‘The View’ without her.”

“The View” echoed that response, “Extra” reported, stating, “Star is part of ‘The View’ family and will be on ‘The View’ as long as she wants to.”

The plot thickens. Stay tuned.

On the road for ‘Code’

Matt Lauer is hitting the road again, but not for one of his “Where in the World?” tours.

Beginning Tuesday, the “Today” show co-host will take a tour through Europe for a series of feature segments tied to the May 19 opening of “The Da Vinci Code,” reports the New York Daily News.

On Tuesday, Mr. Lauer will broadcast live from the Louvre, where he’ll point out spots significant in the movie, which stars Tom Hanks.

The next day, he’ll be at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes, where the film opens that night. On Thursday, Mr. Lauer moves on to the Vatican in St. Peter’s Square. Then, for his final stop on the tour, he’ll hit Barcelona with “a couple very special guests,” the Daily News reports.

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from staff, Web and wire reports.

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