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Barbara Walters returns to 'The View'

Barbara Walters returned to "The View" on March

(Credit: AP)

Barbara Walters, looking, well, pretty darned good, retuned to "The View" Monday morning, revealing a scar on her forehead and relating a story about an unnamed star who gave her the chicken pox that kept her off the air for the past month and change.

And yes, this does sound like a story.

She shared her tale with viewers:

"I'll tell you more than you want to know:


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'American Idol' introduces 'Supervote'

"American Idol" -- Performing in the pimp spot,

(Credit: Fox)

Conceding that rabid fans know how to bloc-vote for their favorites anyway, "American Idol" will introduce a new voting system tomorrow that will allow viewers to cast 50 votes automatically for their choice. 

 Here, via Fox, are the specifics: 

Viewers will be able to SuperVote -- cast multiple votes at one time -- via any of these AT&T AMERICAN IDOL VOTE...

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Heidi Klum named fourth judge of 'America's Got Talent'

Heidi Klum has been named the fourth judge

(Credit: AP, 2012)

And Heidi Klum makes four -- four judges of "America's Got Talent" who will try to indeed determine whether America's got talent and (more importantly) reverse last season's ratings dip.

"Heidi Klum brings huge experience to 'America's Got Talent' from her background as a model, designer, actress, TV host, producer, and successful businesswoman. She knows what it takes to be...

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'Downton Abbey' adds Harriet Walter, Kiri Te Kanawa in guest role; Shirley MacLaine returns

Maggie Smith, left, as the Dowager Countess and

(Credit: Carnival Films)

Shirley MacLaine will return to 'Downton Abbey' in next season's finale while renowned stage actress Harriet Walter and opera star Kiri Te Kanawa are joining in guest roles, the show announced yesterday. Joanne David, another big English TV star, is also joining in a guest role. 

  Walter's especially intriguing because she's an esteemed Shakespearean actor, and well-known on British TV, now about to get some exposure to U.S. audiences. (She's also been on Broadway, recently in "Mary Stuart.")  New Zealand born Te Kanewa is an opera great - a household name to opera buffs for decades (her role's expected to be brief, more along the lines of a cameo, than recurring.) Julian Ovenden is yet another very big get for the show.

 For a bit of perspective, some of these names may not be all that well-known to U.S. TV viewers, but they certainly are in the U.K., so this is all reasonably important casting news

Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, an old family friend of the Crawleys who visits the family as a guest for a house party

Nigel Harman as Green, a valet

Dame Harriet Walter as Lady Shackleton, an old friend of the Dowager

Joanne David in a guest role as the Duchess of Yeovil

Julian Ovenden as aristocrat Charles Blake

Dame Kiri Te Kanawa as a guest who sings in the house

Report: NBC mulls 'Tonight Show' change (but NBC says no)

From left, Jay Leno and Jimmy Fallon, now

(Credit: MCT)

Will Jay Leno be making an exit -- a final one -- from "The Tonight Show" in 2014?

A report in the Hollywood Report says (perhaps) so, and while couched with official network denials and "maybes," there appears to be a certain degree of firmness to this story, which indicates a "May announcement" -- obviously the upfront -- saying the 2013-14 season will be Jay's last. 

Here's the takeaway line in the THR story by Kim Masters: Sources expect the network to move Jimmy Fallon from his Late Night spot into the coveted 11:35 time slot with a soft launch during the summer of 2014 before a formal fall kickoff.

Nevertheless, NBC is telling reporters the story is wrong, or per the network's top spokeswoman, "we are categorically denying [it.]"

There has certainly been speculation about this for months (hey, years!), dating to another story, which broke in Deadline, that Jay had agreed to significant budget cuts and layoffs, possibly to avert an end run by corporate to install Jimmy Fallon in his place. (Fallon, coincidentally, joked with First lady Michelle Obama the other night that he was "in the running" for "Tonight" after she said she'd like to take Jay Leno's place someday.) 

If there's any truth to this, one wonders whether Leno woud go quietly this time or whether fans would let him: They staged a Nielsen revolt when Conan arrived in part because Jay has long been a far more comfortable presence for most longtime "Tonight" viewers; Jay returned and numbers bounced up. He's under contract through '14, and so is David Letterman. (Jay leave before Dave? Banish the thought.) 

But of couse the other concern is Fallon, himself a big star with a devoted audience. He's hot right now, and so was Conan all those years ago when another NBC executive gave him "Tonight" -- after other networks sent out feelers. Are "other networls" sending out feelers to Jimmy, perhaps making NBC nervous? More fun speculation...

Bonnie Franklin, 'One Day at a Time' star, dead at 69

"One Day at a Time" star Bonnie Franklin died this morning following a short illness  -- the 69-year-old actress had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer  just last September.

Over its near-decade run, Franklin became a big star, and a beloved one for millions of fans, and something of a proto-feminist too, insofar as she was a single-mom (divorced) raising two teen daughters without the assistance of a father or husband; this Norman Lear sitcom never, if memory serves, indicated her job was a breeze -- the title was, after all "One Day at a Time" -- even though Franklin was tough, funny and optimistic.

 Meanwhile, one her co-stars, Valerie Bertinelli, released this statement:  "My heart is breaking. Bonnie has always been one of the most important women in my life and was a second mother to me. "The years on One Day at a Time were some of the happiest of my life, and along with Pat [Harrington Jr.] and Mackenzie [Phillips] we were a family in every way. "She taught me how to navigate this business and life itself with grace and humor, and to always be true to yourself. I will miss her terribly."

Some clips... The first one will quickly re-orient you to this long-ago hit (1975-1984) but be sure to check out the second, which lays out the show's influence, as well as Franklin's...

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