TV Mothers In Cat Fight | Jacko Inspired Lots Of 'Doubt' | Time: Obama Is Person of Year; Stars Xmas Bling

TV Mothers in Cat Fight

It wasn’t fun and games this week on the set of ABC’s new midseason replacement sitcom, "In the Motherhood."

I’m told that stars Megan Mullally (of "Will & Grace" fame) and Cheryl Hines are recreating the famed relationship once shared by Cybill Shepherd and Christine Baranski on the ‘90s sitcom, "Cybill."

In other words: they’re already at war.

Sources say that at a table reading the other day, Mullally pretty much had a meltdown. She didn’t like the script and didn’t mind saying so.

"She was circling other people’s lines and redistributing them to other characters," says a source close to the production.

More importantly, Mullally apparently already doesn’t like Hines, who’s so popular from HBO’s "Curb Your Enthusiasm." Mullally apparently announced at the reading: "There’s no talent here."

If that wasn’t enough, she told Hines: "Nobody watches HBO." Of course, Mullally just may have been employing her trademark sarcasm. If so, insiders didn’t quite get it.

"In the Motherhood" is unusual in that it started on the internet as a miniature series with Jenny McCarthy, Chelsea Handler, and Leah Remini as a trio of moms who share their trials and tribulations. It’s a little unclear why the producers didn’t just stick with this casting, but I’ll bet they wish they had now.

Jacko Inspired Lots of 'Doubt'

I told you when I saw the movie 'Doubt' a couple of weeks ago that the story reminded me of Michael Jackson.

Well, now John Patrick Shanley tells me that I was right, in part. When Father Flynn is revealed in the award winning play to have given a 12-year-old boy liquor, the incident was inspired by Michael Jackson having given "Jesus Juice" to children at Neverland.

Shanley mentioned this yesterday at the Four Seasons, where Miramax toasted him, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Viola Davis with a lunch celebrating the film’s opening this Friday.

The timeline works: This column first revealed on November 19, 2003 that Jackson would be accused of plying his alleged victim with "wine and pills." A month later, the National Enquirer reported that Jackson had given kids "Jesus Juice," or liquor in soda cans. In January 2004, Vanity Fair reiterated the Jesus Juice story.

"Doubt" opened on Broadway in November 2004. The following March, during Jackson’s child molestation trial, the whole "Jesus Juice" business was discussed in testimony. Nevertheless, Jackson was acquitted in June 2005.

On Sunday night, the film version of "Doubt" premiered to an all-star crowd at the Paris Theater, followed by dinner at the swanky Metropolitan Club just across Fifth Avenue. Shanley, Hoffman, Davis, and Amy Adams were all there to accept massive kudos.

But star Meryl Streep literally poked her head in the door of the Paris, and then headed home. As luck would have it, the "Doubt" premiere has been clouded for her by a terrible cold.

If only she hadn’t missed all the excitement, she would have heard the amazing Viola Davis — who’s very likely to be nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar — tell me what it’s like to work with the legendary Streep.

"I’m afraid of her!" said Davis, who first came to prominence in Denzel Washington’s "Antwone Fisher."

"She doesn’t realize it, but I still answer with one or two words. I don’t know what to say."

Streep and Davis – who’s a Juilliard School of Acting graduate — share a memorable, award-making scene in the middle of "Doubt" that should not be missed. It was shot outside, in the Bronx. Davis says there were countless "takes" to get it right. "It seemed like it took forever," she told me. The whole sequence required a week’s work.

"And you can’t imagine how relaxed she is between takes," Davis continued. "She knits, she laughs, she sings. Me? I’m completely neurotic, a bundle of nerves. And Meryl is just as interested in what you’re going to do in the scene as what she’s doing."

"Doubt," which Shanley directed from his 2004 play, seems like an Oscar slam dunk for nominations in Best Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Screenplay, and Director. Ironically, it’s set in 1964, but considering the Jackson connection and scandals concerning priests and the Catholic Church, as Shanley says, "It couldn’t be more timely."

One other thing about John Patrick Shanley, a native New Yorker whose most famous work other than Doubt is Moonstruck. I asked him if he’d ever gone inside one of those "Moonstruck" diners that popped years ago in tribute to his and Norman Jewison’s now classic film. Maybe he could get a free bowl of soup?

"Never been there," Shanley said, shaking his head. "I learned a long time ago, nothing is really free."

Time: Obama Is Person of Year; Stars Xmas Bling

It’s not much of a surprise, but Time Magazine has chosen Barack Obama as Person of the Year. Sources say that the editors’ big problem right now is "finding something fresh to say" about Obama, after writing so much about him for the past few months. I have no doubt this will all work out, when the Time Person of the Year issue hits stands at the end of next week…Obama, by the way, has received over 500,000 votes on time.com. Runner up: Sarah Palin, with 100,000, followed by Tina Fey, Michael Phelps, and George W. Bush.

…One person absent from a dinner for the Italian movie, "Gomorra," on Sunday night at the Plaza’s Oak Room: Roberto Saviano, author of the non-fiction book upon which the movie is based. He had a good reason: there’s a "hit" out on his life. "Gomorra," which won the Cannes Film Festival, is a harrowing look at the Mafia and brutally violent gangs in southern Italy. By comparison, The Sopranos is like Mary Poppins. Director Mateo Garrone just made the dinner. He’d arrived three hours earlier from Copenhagen, where "Gomorra" picked up six European Oscars. It’s Italy’s entry for the Oscar. …

…What are the stars wearing this Christmas? You can check out their jewelry choices at blingjewelry.com, a Web site that offers styles inspired by those donned by the big names. The irony is, many of the stars already get their baubles from sites like blingjewelry.com and overstockjeweler.com. Actors, you know, are the biggest tightwads around…

… And speaking of Christmas shopping, there’s lots of unhappiness in Manhattan this season about which vendors got which slots at the Holiday Fairs. Case in point: super popular designer to the stars Catherine Joseph lost her nine year old spot indoors at Grand Central and was forced to relocate to a makeshift location in Bryant Park. Joseph’s many fans are hopeful that director Connie Breslin will find a spot for Joseph indoors before this weekend. It’s a little embarrassing having celebrities trying on new jackets and shirts with just a space heater and no privacy. …