Jerry O’Connell

HOLLYWOOD — NBC has added “Mockingbird Lane,” the reboot of “The Munsters,” to its fall schedule, and cast Jerry O’Connell as Herman Munster, originally played by Fred Gwynne. Jerry, whose last series was “The Defenders,” lived across the street from me before he married Rebecca Romijn (Mystique in the “X-Men” films) and moved into a house. He and his brother Charlie O’Connell, who was “The Bachelor” in 2005, are two of the nicest guys around.

Portia De Rossi will play his wife, Lily, originally played Yvonne De Carlo, while Mason Cook of “Spy Kids 4” and “The Lone Ranger” will play Eddie, their wolf-boy son. Eddie Izzard, who starred in the series “The Riches” with Minnie Driver, will play Grandpa, originally played by Al Lewis. NBC is sure to have a hard time turning a handsome guy like Jerry O’Connell into a Frankenstein monster … even for laughs!
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The USA Network has lined up an all-star cast for its six-episode series “Political Animals.” It has signed Sigourney Weaver of “Aliens” fame, Carla Gugino (“Night at the Museum” and “American Gangster”), Roger Bart (“Desperate Housewives”), Oscar-winner Ellen Burstyn (for “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”), Adrian Pasdar (“Heroes”) and “Judging Amy’s” Dan Futterman. The mini-series will premiere Sunday, July 15.

Oscar-winner Vanessa Redgrave (for “Julia”) will be featured in a rare guest appearance as fictitious lesbian Supreme Court justice Diane Nash. She’s the only British actress to win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony, Cannes Film Fest, Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award. In l967, I watched as she shot “Camelot,” as Guinevere, walking amongst knights and thousands of dollars of synthetic snow … until it snowed for the first time in 10 years in Burbank, gumming up the fake snow and forcing filming to shut down. Talk about men in armor and irony!
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Not long ago, Paramount Pictures closed down “The Lone Ranger” with Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp because of a $250 million budget. Depp, director Gore Verbinski and producer Jerry Bruckheimer agreed to cut their upfront salaries, costly action locations and sequences. They trimmed the budget to $215 million, which was more acceptable to the studio, and filming resumed.

Why should a Western cost $250 million? Maybe because they’re trying to do for Westerns what “The Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise did for pirates. After all, “True Grit” cost only $38 million and received 10 Oscar nominations. Now “The Lone Ranger”, which shoots through August, already has passed the $250 million mark. Bruckheimer will have to find more money somewhere.

And wait until you see Depp as Tonto — he looks more like a witch doctor than an American Indian. If costs keep ballooning, they’ll have to call this film “The Loan Ranger”!

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© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.