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Mailbag: The abandonment of Meg and "Smith," and other TV atrocities

The readers write:

Please, o guru, do you have an explanation  of the abrupt vanishing of CBS's Smith from the Tuesday lineup?  Have they killed it after only two weeks?  Or. is it on hiatus until something else falters? I kind of liked it but I must have been the only one watching. By the by, I like your column,keep up the good work.

Bob Joslyn

As any good guru can tell you, Bob, you hold the answers within. Yes, you were the only one watching -- well, except for me, and I'm outside the 18-49 demo so I don't count. CBS cold-bloodedly murdered Smith (its decaying corpse will figure in a December episode of CSI: Miami) and its replacement will debut Nov. 14: 3 Lbs., a drama starring Stanley Tucci (The Devil Wears Prada) and Doug Hanson (The West Wing) as neurosurgeons. I'm guessing the title is a reference to the weight of the average brain, though if CBS viewers didn't like Smith, I'm guessing they come in a little light.

Can you tell me why the season premiere of Las Vegas wasn't shown on Oct. 20, as the Miami Herald's TV Book said it would be? Thank you.

John Pitrelli

Because the TV Book is a liar, John. And a thief, too -- several times we've caught it taking spare change off people's desk. We suspect it's on drugs, though we have no concrete evidence. And Rene Rodriguez once said the TV Book gave him a wedgie, but most of us agree he was probably asking for it. Anyway, Las Vegas makes its season debut on Oct. 27 at 9 p.m. and anything the TV Book says to the contrary should be filed under "bovine scatology."

I know you were a big fan of American Dreams; so was I. If I remember correctly, you
wrote that the last episode shown (Meg riding off with her neighbor on a motorcycle) would
not be the last; that a final episode would be shown in the future. Is that correct? If
so, can I see the new episode by ordering it? Did you review the episode?

Alan Spector

Plantation, Florida

In the spring of 2005, with the 1960s family drama American Dreams dangling on the cancellation bubble, NBC shot two versions of the season finale. The hour-long version that aired ended with a cliffhanger: Teenage sweetheart Meg running away to Berkeley with her violent anti-war activist boyfriend. The other version, 90 minutes long, was intended to air if the show was canceled. The final scenes took place several years later, with Meg's mom and dad dispatching her ex-Marine brother J.J. to rescue her from the countercultural underworld of drugs and anti-war terrorism into which she'd fallen.

Meglesley Unfortunately, the second version has never aired, even though American Dreams was indeed canceled that spring. NBC programming chief Kevin Reilly told me the network thought the price tag for the music in the extra 30 minutes (American Dreams brimmed with '60s rock and roll) was just too big. Reilly didn't give me a number, but the rumor in Hollywood was that it was close to $150,000. My guess is that eventually somebody will include the expanded finale, perhaps with a bargained-down soundtrack, in a DVD package of the second and third seasons of American Dreams. If that day ever comes, Alan, trust me that you'll read about it -- many, many times -- in the Miami Herald. Not only did I love the show, but the thought of Meg spending the rest of eternity in a cesspool like Berkeley is taking untold years off my own life.

That's Brittany Snow as Meg on the left, and Michelle Branch as Lesley Gore on the right, by the way. And among the many reasons to mourn the loss of American Dreams is that it was the only show on TV with songs like It's My Party and Judy's Turn To Cry on the soundtrack.

Listen, I'm a Friends FANATIC, and I've heard so many rumors it's coming back on for a reunion. Can you tell me anything maybe a spinoff or anythinggg? You know, it was supposed to be for four one-hour time slots.

Cate

New York

Not gonna happen any time soon, Cate. Even though Friends alumni have had their share of screen catastrophes (Matt LeBlanc with Joey; Matthew Perry with The Full Ten Yards and, it's starting to look like, Studio 60 From The Sunset Strip; Lisa Kudrow and Comeback), nobody is yet ready to surrender to being Rachel or Chandler or Ross or Phoebe for the rest of his or her life. The latest attempt to forge a new identity will come in January, when Courteney Cox's new show Dirt debuts. She's both the executive producer and one of the stars, playing a reporter for a Hollywood gossip rag. Wondering if (okay, okay, hoping) one of the plots will involve publishing nude photos of Jennifer Aniston?

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