Babylon 5, Grease & Taxi Star Jeff Conaway Dead At Age 60 UPDATED: Dr. Drew Speaks on Conaway’s Death (VIDEO)

Jeff Conaway: 1950 - 2011

It is with great sadness that we report that it has been confirmed that Jeff Conaway, star of Taxi, Babylon 5 and the classic film Grease has passed away at the age of 60 due to complications from pneumonia and an apparent overdose of prescription pain killers which he suffered on May 11th.  He was taken to a Los Angeles area hospital that day and put into a medically induced coma.  Based on the advice physicians who had described his situation as “hopeless” for several days, his family made the decision to remove him from life support.  Conaway’s history of substance addiction was well-documented in the media and on the VH-1 reality series Celebrity Fit Club and Celebrity Rehab.

Conaway’s manager, Phil Brock, said this to the media:

“We loved Jeff as a person, respected him as a consummate performer and entertainer. Somewhere in heaven, somebody is getting a hickey from Kenickie.  On a darker side, we’re happy his personal struggles are now over. We do not have memorial plans yet. The family has asked for forbearance and privacy today. It’s a very difficult time.

Our staff has been with him through his struggle over the last few years. He is one of the nicest, kindest people. The most gentle person, and that may have been his downfall in the long run. He was a really nice guy in general, a person who would give the shirt off his back for anyone. He loved and lived to be on stage and entertaining others.

Jeff Conaway on Babylon 5

On a personal note, I shared a flight with Conaway and a female companion (not his girlfriend, Vickie, who appeared on Celebrity Rehab) in 2006 to Burbank on my way to appear on a game show in Studio City.  Phil Brock’s statement mirrors my impression of him.  He was a very kind and gracious man and very accessible. I spoke at length with him both during and after the flight and completely enjoyed my limited time with him. Although, even I could see that he was someone who had a long history of drug and alcohol use despite the fact that he was sober on that flight, he was nothing like the persona that was portrayed on VH-1 and I hope that people realize how greatly reality television distorts our perception of people, celebrities and otherwise.  Yes, Jeff Conaway had his demons that he could never exorcise, but he was a truly decent human being.

Noel Gallagher of Oasis: Pretentious Limey Prick

In closing, not only would we like to thank Jeff for the years of entertainment he provided (especially on Babylon 5) and the wonderful conversation I had with him on that flight but I’d also like to thank him for doing what someone should have done a long time ago: Conaway pulled a knife on Oasis’ Noel Gallagher backstage at a Marilyn Manson concert in 2008 for mocking him.  We really don’t care why he did it, we’re just glad it was done and for his efforts, he posthumously earns The TV-Tastic Bad-Ass Seal of Approval, ‘The Walken.’  Thanks Jeff, you’ll be missed.

RETRACTION: The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!

Yesterday we reported that Cheryl Cole had been replaced by the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger as a judge on FOX’s upcoming singing competition show, The X Factor. Everything in the piece itself was accurate however our headline, “The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!,” was not.  Simon Cowell had nothing to do with Cole’s departure and did not suggest that her accent was too thick for American audiences and in fact it’s been reported that he fought desperately to save her.

The Hollywood Reporter is citing sources who claim that the decision was a decision by the network itself and the accent issue was theirs alone.  Prior reports implied that it was show producers that had the issue with her accent and were responsible for the decision to replace her.  Since Simon Cowell is the main producer of this show, we assumed that these were his sentiments and that this was his decision.  This obviously was a mistake.

We have also issued the retraction made the correction on the original piece.

HBO: New True Blood Season Four Trailer Released

Although we feel this series jumped the shark last season, we are compelled to present the latest trailer for the upcoming fourth season of HBO’s vampire sex and gore-fest, True Blood because despite our misgivings, you know we’ll be sucked into it again as we are invested now.  Looks like they are adding witches and zombies this season.  When pressed by The ‘Tastic as to who they will be adding as an adversary for the vampires of Bon Temps for season five, Alan Ball replied that they are seriously considering Godzilla arch-rival, Gamera, and casting Russell Brand as the witty, local giant turtle expert.  Ball stated that if the audience will buy fairies as an integral part of a plot on a show revolving around vampires, there’s not a whole lot they won’t buy so they’ll just continue to do what’s worked in the past for them as far as the writing is concerned: smoke a lot of pot and go with the idea of the guy in the room who is the most wasted.  Season four of TB premieres on HBO on June 26th.  The top one is of better quality however, the bottom one is longer.

Dexter: Lights Out‘s Billy Brown To Join Cast For Season Six

Well, the prospects of a Lights Out rescue by another network just got a little slimmer as it’s been announced that Billy Brown, who played Richard “Death Row” Reynolds on the critically-acclaimed albeit short-lived series, has been added to the cast of Showtime’s hit drama, Dexter, in a major role as a Chicago detective who has recently transferred to Miami Metro and is already ruffling feathers.

As we noted two days ago, Edward James Olmos (Battlestar Galactica, Miami Vice), Mos (fka, Mos Def) and Colin Hanks (The Good Guys) are also joining Michael C. Hall on this talent-heavy cast for its sixth season.

More Fall 2011 Cast Shakeups – FOX: Saffron Burrows Leaving Bones Spinoff, The Finder… Damon Wayans, Jr. Leaving New Girl

Before their pilot episodes will even air this Fall, two lead cast members from two of FOX’s new series are leaving their respective shows.  Saffron Burrows, who played Ike on the Bones back-door pilot for the new series The Finder is exiting as producers are re-imagining the character.  In related news, Damon Wayans, Jr.’s role on the Zooey Deschanel comedy, New Girl will also have to be recast as Wayans’ other show, ABC’s Happy Endings, was renewed for a second season.

Check out the FOX 2011- 2012 schedule, here, and check out the our Preview – Reviews for all of FOX’s new shows, here, along with all the new trailers.

ALERT! The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says FOX Execs: ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!

We reported two weeks ago that Paula Abdul had signed on as a judge alongside her former American Idol co-judge, Simon Cowell on his highly anticipated singing competition show, The X Factor, along with Cheryl Cole and L.A. Reid.  TMZ is reporting that Cheryl Cole, who was a judge on the U.K. version of the show, has been replaced by the Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger citing concerns over American audiences having difficulty understanding her because of her thick British accent and a lack of chemistry with Abdul.  Producers now want Cole to return to the U.K. version of the show but sources say that she is so angry about how the situation was handled that she may sever ties with the franchise entirely. We doubt it.  We wouldn’t even know who she was if not for this so she needs all of the exposure she can get.

We look at this two ways: first how bad could her accent possibly be?  If American audiences can sit through Ewan MacGregor’s Scottish brogue in Trainspotting:

… then we can certainly handle this:

Now of course, the best part of the clip above is that if you listen closely, she pauses in the middle of that to squeak out a little fart.  G’head… go back and play it again, we’ll wait.

See, we told you.

Now aside from the obvious issues of farting on the air and how that probably isn’t something that will be embraced by American audiences (except us), the ultimate irony here is that Simon Cowell is concerned that American audiences aren’t going to be able to understand My-Fair-Lady/the-rain-in-Spain-falls-mainly-on-the-plain up there but he doesn’t have any concerns about two or three nights per week of this in primetime:

Steve Jones: Limey Stud

Obviously, though, if the other issue was chemistry with Abdul, it was simply a no-brainer that Cole would be the expendable judge.  Scherzinger was originally cast to co-host the show with Steve Jones but now with the move, he’ll be doing it alone.  Don’t feel bad folks, we don’t know who he is either however, apparently he’s quite popular in the U.K. and in order to get this gig he had to initially promise not to nail his fellow co-stars and no, we aren’t kidding. Just for that alone he gets our endorsement.  But seriously, how hard can it be? Seacrest has been doing it for a decade and he hosts a daily radio show and that dopey show on E!

EDITOR’S NOTE – RETRACTION:  Our headline, “The X Factor: Cheryl Cole OUT! Simon Cowell Says ‘Too British Sounding.’ Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger IN!,” was not correct.  Cowell had nothing to do with Cole’s departure and did not suggest that her accent was too thick for American audiences and in fact it’s been reported that he fought desperately to save her.

The Hollywood Reporter is citing sources who claim that the decision was a decision by the network itself and the accent issue was theirs alone.  Prior reports implied that it was show producers that had the issue with her accent and were responsible for the decision to replace her.  Cowell is the main producer of this show, we assumed that these were his sentiments and that this was his decision.  This obviously was a mistake.

See the full retraction, here

ALERT! Christopher Meloni Leaving Law & Order: SVU, Will Not Return This Fall

Yesterday we reported that House regular, Lisa Edelstein would not be returning for the show’s eighth and final season due to not agreeing to a pay-cut requested by producers that the other cast members (Sean Robert Leonard and Omar Epps) accepted in order to cut costs and close the deal to bring the show back this Fall on FOX.

Well, it looks like House isn’t the only show suffering from a budget crisis.  Yesterday, NBC confirmed that that Chris Meloni, who has played Detective Eliott Stabler for 270 epsisodes on NBC’s only consistent show for the last decade, Law & Order: SVU, would not be returning this fall.  NBC cites an inability to come terms with Meloni over a new contract as the reason for the departure from the series.

This makes the situation very tricky for the series as Meloni’s co-star for the last twelve seasons, Mariska Hargitay, just signed a contract extension for another season, albeit in a limited role appearing in about half the season’s episodes, with her character, Detetective Olivia Benson, promoted to a supervisory position.  Obviously, it was expected that there would be a new female co-star for Meloni but his unexpected departure means a shakeup for the whole show with two all-new leads.  So, expect big changes on SVU this Fall.

ALERT! Lisa Edelstein NOT Returning For Eighth Season Of House This Fall

As we reported last Monday, FOX finally came to terms with Universal Media over the rights for the eighth and final season of House.  The holdup was over production costs and in particular cast salaries and what we didn’t know at the time that we know now is that what made the deal happen is that when season seven ended, many of the cast members contracts had expired and Edelstein, Omar Epps  and Robert Sean Leonard were all asked to take pay cuts.  Epps and Leonard agreed, however Edelstein declined and will not be returning this Fall.  Yes, we know this news is a little late, however, we had more important stuff going on last week with the upfronts and the like.

So, the highly anticipated Cuddy/House romance is officially over after barely getting out of the starting blocks.  We wonder how they’ll explain her departure.  We suggest meat-packing plant accident.  Your thoughts?

ALERT! Edward James Olmos Joins The Cast Of Dexter

EJO: Won't Be In A Viper Anytime Soon

Well, Nuggets, don’t expect any role-reprisal cameos by an older Admiral William Adama on SyFy’s new BSG prequel series Battlestar Glactica: Blood & Chrome.  The Hollywood Reporter reports that Emmy and Golden Globe award-winning actor Edward James Olmos will be joining the cast of Showtime’s hit Dexter for its sixth season as a “brilliant, charismatic professor of religious studies.”  This intrigues us to no end as the moral and ethical implications of Dexter Morgan and his “dark passenger” have never really been touched upon to any extent and it has always seemed like there was an opportunity to address the spiritual/metaphysical with this show. Although we have no idea what the sixth season will be about, it only stands to reason that with such a prominent addition as Olmos to the cast in that role, that’s exactly where they’re headed.

Also joining the cast this season are Colin Hanks (The Good Guys) and Mos, the artist formerly known as Mos Def (The Boondocks).  No word on when season 6 will premiere yet, however, expect it around the third our fourth week of September again.  We’ll keep you posted on this and any more news about Dexter and all of our favorite shows as we find it out.