Variety may be the spice of life, but can it give life to a struggling network? NBC sure hopes so: The fourth-place broadcaster is toying with the idea of bringing back the dormant variety-show format, putting it on multiple nights in prime time with different hosts. As first reported on EW.com, Rosie O'Donnell is engaged in preliminary talks with Peacock execs to emcee one of those hours, which an insider describes as a ''cross between The Ed Sullivan Show and The Carol Burnett Show.'' Exiting Tonight Show host Jay Leno also remains a possibility, albeit a slim one, as he's expected to defect to another network after his late-night reign ends next year. A third personality is said to be in the mix as well.
NBC declined to comment, but a key insider believes a twice- or thrice-weekly talk-ish show at 8 or 10 p.m. would ''definitely make sense in this day and age. Viewers are coming to their TVs [at different times], and a talk show is a join-in-progress type of program.'' Unless, of course, Rosie has Elisabeth Hasselbeck on, in which case it's join-in-NOW!
Attention, aspiring actors/supermen: Heroes is looking for someone to play the role of a homeless man grossly disfigured by a suspicious explosion. Interested parties must be able to convey ''vulnerability and pain'' under heaps of prosthetic makeup. For free coaching, contact Grey's Anatomy's disfigured Jane Doe, Elizabeth Reaser.
Q: Law & Order: SVU scoop, please! Samantha
A: Is this the season Benson and Stabler finally go there? You know: there there? Look, I'm talkin' about the sex, damn it! ''We're going somewhere,'' responds SVU's cagey boss, Neal Baer. ''Somewhere without clothes.'' Um, care to elaborate? ''In the first eight episodes, circumstances put them in a very interesting place.'' That clarifies things a bit. Emphasis on ''bit.''
Q: Will House continue to neglect Chase and Cameron this season? Jacob
A: Not according to exec producer Katie Jacobs, who says an episode that just wrapped deals almost entirely with the presumably-still-in-love MDs. ''We want to tell the Chase and Cameron story,'' she says. ''It's been so long overdue.'' Something else that's been a long time coming: A House-Cuddy hookup. Jacobs hints that they'll ''probably get a little closer'' this season, adding, ''It's season 5.... It's [going to] be hard for them to stay away'' much longer. Yep, they're going there. Oh, don't make me explain myself again.
Q: Does EW's Gossip Boy have anything on Gossip Girl? Claire
A: Spotted: Serena and Blair fighting over a flashlight. No, the sworn frenemies aren't going camping (heaven forbid!); they're preparing for their first New York City blackout, slated to take place in this season's third episode. As Gossip Girl will undoubtedly opine, ''It's always darkest before the dawn.''
Ausiello reveals fresh behind-the-scenes info each day at EW.com.