Pre-Weekend: My husband [“General Hospital’s” Wally Kurth] and I are subscribers to the Mark Taper Forum – though we go on Wednesdays. We see a play at least once a month. But if we didn’t subscribe, we wouldn’t go. We’d just say, “Oh, I wanted to see that.” This way we say, “We have to go – we already have tickets.”
GENERAL HOSPITAL’s reliable and dependable Ned, played to perfection by Wally Kurth, is going through a time of transition in his off-screen life. He and wife Rena Sofer, who have been married for five years, have separated, but he recently stated at a fan gathering that he “and Rena are trying to work things out.” They have a three-year-old daughter named Rosabel Rosalind whom they both adore, and while Sofer was filming a new TV pilot, Kurth was watching their little girl.
Donald Stern (Jon Polito), editor of the World Chronicle, isn’t about to weigh down his New York City-based supermarket tabloid with what the establishment considers real news. “If people want to be bored, they can read the Times,” he tells Tucker Burns (Chad Willett), a new reporter trained in respectable journalism at Columbia University. So the front page screams, “There’s Demon in My Toilet” and “Angry Siamese Triplets Tell Off Sister.” But as Tucker discovers to his surprise, Chronicle stories tend to be true. The premise of The Chronicle holds such promise—evoking fond memories of the ’70s cult series Kolchak: The Night Stalker—that I confess an inclination to accentuate the positive. And in fact there’s lots to enjoy in the July 14 pilot, including the assignment meeting (“Brooklyn bloodsucker—who wants it?” the editor snaps) and a hair-raising elevator ride to the Chronicle archives, where Donald introduces Tucker to Sal (Curtis Armstrong), the strangely porcine research assistant. “One of our reporters found him in a sty,” the boss explains. It figures. Aggressive reporter Grace Hall (Rena Sofer)—a former alien abductee—and jazzed-up photographer Wes Freewald (Reno Wilson) make good foils for the skeptical Tucker. But the show needs to guard against needlessly convoluted plotting (as seen in the July 21 episode) that will only distract viewers from the funny central conflict between Tucker’s mind-set and the Chronicle’s mission.
All the News That’s Fit to Destroy Mankind: At one point in “Men in Black,” Tommy Lee Jones buys a fistful of tabloid newspapers and informs Will Smith that they represent the only journalism that can be trusted. From that throwaway line comes “The Chronicle,” a new series on the Sci-Fi Channel debuting at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Originally developed at NBC as “News From the Edge,” “The Chronicle” follows a beleaguered aspiring journalist named Tucker Burns (Chad Willett) who can only get a job with the tabloid that provides the series with its title. The rundown tenement in which the paper is housed belies the technology within its walls; the staff includes the reincarnation of Mother Teresa, a pig-boy in the research department and a UFO abductee/ace reporter (Rena Sofer) who scores interviews, however unrevealing, with the Antichrist.