PRODUCERS of tonight's Emmy Award show may have shot themselves in the foot with TV audiences by opting to leave the legendary Larry Hagman out of a tribute celebrating small-screen stars who passed away last year.
Although Hagman, who died of complications from cancer at the age of 81 in November, is expected to be mentioned in the memorial reel, industry types and fans alike are riled that his performance as JR Ewing won't be recognised during a special segment honouring late greats including James Gandolfini (who will be eulogised by Sopranos co-star Edie Falco,) and The Bob Newhart Show writer/producer Gary David Goldberg, to whom Michael J Fox will pay homage. All in the Family star Jean Stapleton will be the subject of a speech by Rob Reiner while Robin Williams will remember his Mork &Mindy mentor, comedian Jonathan Winters.
It's the inclusion of Glee star Cory Monteith, however, that seems to have sparked the most furore.
The 31-year-old Canadian, who died from a toxic overdose of heroin and alcohol on July 13, had just one TV credit on his bio compared to Hagman's substantial body of work (Major Anthony Nelson in the classic I Dream of Jeannie, as well as cameos on Knots Landing, Nip/Tuck, and Desperate Housewives.)
Emmy producer Ken Ehrlich, who felt forced to defend his decision last week, didn't appear to calm the controversy when he admitted: "It was a rather personal choice, but Cory's appeal was to maybe a little different generation than some of the others we're honouring. We felt it needed to be represented, that at 31, he passed away under very tragic circumstances." Actress Jane Lynch will do the honours for Monteith.
NO BIRTHDAY DATE FOR DOUGLAS
MICHAEL Douglas should enjoy lots of love tonight when he is tipped to pick up the Emmy for lead actor in a mini-series/movie for his eye-popping performance as Liberace in HBO's Behind The Candelabra.
Douglas, who is expected to beat co-star Matt Damon as well as Toby Jones (The Girl) Benedict Cumberbatch, (Parade's End) and Al Pacino (Phil Spector) for the award might not be feeling the same degree of positive heat come Wednesday as his plans to mark the 44th birthday of estranged wife Catherine Zeta Jones with a conciliatory dinner have reportedly been shot down.
The actor, who turns 69 on the same day, was further blindsided by CZJ's request for him to vacate their Central Park West apartment so she could move back to the city from their Connecticut country house.
Word is the actress is keen to accelerate work on the legal paperwork she plans to file in what could be a $24.5m divorce action. At issue is custody of the couple's two children (Carys, 10, and Dylan, 13) and a prenup that reportedly awards her $1.5m for every one of the 13 years the couple was married. There's also the matter of a $5m fine CZJ can impose if she can prove he cheated.
Douglas, who has been bunking with Wall Street tycoon George Soros, also needs to find a new place to live. Soros, romantic 83-year-old billionaire that he is, is scheduled to marry 41-year-old Tamiko Bolton this weekend.
REVENGE OF THE SPURNED SPOUSES
HOLLYWOOD'S go-to $750-an-hour divorce lawyer Laura Wasser insists she is telling nothing but the truth in her new book, It Doesn't Have To Be That Way: How To Divorce Without Destroying Your Family or Bankrupting Yourself.
Still, some of the anecdotes relayed by the woman responsible for securing happy endings for celebrity clients like Kim Kardashian, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera sound almost too rich to be true. Take the one about the rock star who, Wasser writes, showed up at court four hours late with his dishevelled ex-wife-to-be in tow. "We were shagging in the back of her car," he nonchalantly informed a shocked Wasser who denies the rocker in question was Guns 'N' Roses star Slash.
The fact that Wasser took great care not to tell stories that might reveal her clients' identities hasn't stopped speculation about which of her clients (Keifer Sutherland? Stevie Wonder? Ryan Reynolds?) was the victim of a disgruntled wife who sought revenge by sabotaging his wine collection. "At some tremendous effort, she had managed to steam the labels off all of the several hundred bottles ... rendering the collection worthless in the global wine market."
Or the other resourceful spouse who agreed to let her husband keep the house, but stuffed seafood into the curtain rods before she left. When he couldn't figure out how to get rid of the unbearable stench, the husband was forced to sell the house at a huge loss to the only bidder who, natch, turned out to be (Maria Shriver? Mariah Carey? Patricia Arquette? Laura Dern?) the ex-wife.
NOTHING STEAMY IN THE KITCHEN
WHISPERS that Nigella Lawson is mending her broken heart with help from Anthony Bourdain, her co-star on the US culinary TV show shooting in LA, are being taken with a grain of salt stateside.
Not least because the dashing 57-year-old celebrity chef, and author of the bestselling tome Kitchen Confidential, has a wife named Ottavia who happens to be a professional martial arts fighter .
But also because Lawson, who fled the UK in a heap after the unpalatable meltdown of her marriage to Charles Saatchi, has been looking like a wounded kitten on the rare occasions she ventures out of the Chateau Marmont hotel where even the usually media-friendly staff are behaving very protectively over their paparazzi-plagued guest.
"Anthony has really taken her under his wing and is looking after her ... but it is purely platonic," said one source.