BUCHWALD ON VIDEO: "I JUST DIED!"
A startling video obituary of columnist Art Buchwald has appeared on the New York Times website, beginning with an appearance of Buchwald himself on camera, saying with a smile. "Hi, I'm Art Buchwald and I just died." The newspaper said that the video was taped in Martha's Vineyard last July after Buchwald had revealed that he was suffering from kidney failure and was likely to die in a few months. (He died on Wednesday.) In the interview, he humorously expresses the desire to be cremated and that his ashes be dropped by a Blue Angel navy plane "over every cocktail party on Martha's Vineyard." The Times indicated that it plans to offer additional video obituaries in the future and has already taped ten interviews with celebrities, including one former president, that will be embargoed until after their deaths. Buchwald also left behind a final column, distributed Thursday by the Tribune Co., in which he remarked that he had selected the song lyric "What's it all about, Alfie?" as "my way of saying goodbye."
COLBERT AND O'REILLY IN FRIENDLY MATCH-UP
Reminiscent of the golden-age-of-radio days when "enemies" Jack Benny and Fred Allen often turned up on one another's shows, Bill O'Reilly was the guest on Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report on Comedy Central Thursday, and Colbert was the guest on O'Reilly's The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel later the same evening. ("Parody met its inspiration," commented Jake Coyle in the Associated Press.) By most accounts, Colbert had the upper hand. Alessandra Stanley wrote in the New York Times. "Mr. O'Reilly deserves credit for being a good sport, because his was the thankless role. The imitation was a lot funnier -- and sharper-edged -- than the real thing." She further remarked that the appearances "provided Mr. O'Reilly with a chance to show that he has a sense of humor. Mostly, he proved he could take a punch." He took a particularly hard one after remarking at one point, "I'm not a tough guy. This is all an act" -- to which Colbert retorted, "If you're an act, then what am I?"
COURIC TO GET SUPER-BOWL EXPOSURE (NOT JANET JACKSON KIND)
Hoping to give Katie Couric the kind of exposure that it gives the shows that air following the Super Bowl, CBS said Thursday that Couric will contribute a feature about the Pittsburgh Steelers' Hines Ward to the pregame show on Feb. 4. "It is the biggest event of the day and it makes sense for us to showcase what she does before the biggest audience of the year," CBS News and Sports President Sean McManus said. When she was at NBC Couric also contributed to that network's Olympics coverage. Couric will also anchor the CBS Evening News from Miami, site of the Super Bowl, on Friday, Feb. 2.
ABC CONDEMNS REMARKS BY GREY'S ANATOMY STAR
ABC issued a strong statement Thursday deploring the comments of Grey's Anatomy costar Isaiah Washington at the Golden Globes, when he denied that he had called co-star T.R. Knight a "faggot" on the set of the show last October. Several cast and crew members had said that they had heard Washington use the homophobic epithet and Knight has said that it led to his decision to acknowledge that he is gay in an interview with People magazine. "We take this situation very seriously," the network said in a statement. Washington's actions, it said, "are unacceptable and are being addressed." Washington himself issued a statement later, apologizing to Knight, "the fans of the show and especially the lesbian and gay community." He said that he "can also no longer deny to myself that there are issues I obviously need to examine within my own soul, and I've asked for help."
ANOTHER IDOL SEASON; ANOTHER RAP SHEET REVEALED
The launch of another season of American Idol has once again been accompanied by revelations of criminal charges that had been leveled against a contestant. In the latest case, the website TMZ has reported that singer Thomas Daniels was convicted of drunk driving in 2004. The following year he was arrested again after failing to appear in court for an arraignment on a hit-and-run charge. The website said that Daniels called both incidents "young and dumb" situations. He declined to say whether he had revealed them to American Idol producers.
BOLLYWOOD STAR TRIES TO CALM UPROAR OVER U.K. SHOW
Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty appeared to douse an international diplomatic conflagration Thursday when she remarked that comments by a fellow participant on the British reality show Celebrity Big Brother were racially motivated. After the incident touched off demonstrations in India and comments from top Indian and British officials, Shetty was shown telling Jade Goody, "I take that back," referring to her previous remarks. "I don't think that is true. People say things in a fit of anger. ... I don't feel that there was any racial discrimination happening." Meanwhile, the British TV regulator OFCOM said that it had received more than 40,000 complaints about Goody's remarks, the most that have ever been filed against any program in British history.