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"Ellen' gets a kiss tonight _ and parental advisory tag

ABC, after a week of heavily promoting "The kiss! The kiss!" on tonight's episode of Ellen, said it will put a "due to adult content" parental advisory on the 9:30 p.m. out-of-the-closet sitcom.

That's the same advisory that two weeks ago triggered an angry, resignation-threatening response from series star Ellen DeGeneres. In that show, ABC imposed the advisory for a girl-girl kiss with a heterosexual friend. Tonight's episode takes TV's leading lesbian lady into the dating scene, in which she kisses a potential girlfriend on the lips. The kiss reportedly amounts to a peck, not a lip-lock.

DeGeneres did not respond to a call on Monday, but two weeks ago contended that her show was singled out for the advisory while other ABC shows with heterosexual love scenes, graphic violence, and even same-sex kisses, carried none.

ABC spokesman Kevin Brockman said there was no reaction to the latest advisory from Ellen producers and reiterated that ABC decides on advisories on a case-by-case basis.

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Giving its lead character breast cancer may have seemed the best way to push Murphy Brown into risky territory, where it had not strayed in years. The upcoming marijuana episode of Murphy Brown also drifts into uncharted waters. Both executive consultant Diane English and executive producer Marc Flanagan say the show does not endorse "casual use." Yet, English does argue that marijuana eases nausea for the rare number of patients who, like Murphy, do not respond to drugs for that symptom. The American Cancer Society has been a vocal supporter of the show's cancer story line, but it is conspicuously at odds over the marijuana episode.

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A couple of familiar TV faces will be joining the cast of ER beginning in November. John Collum, best remembered as barkeep Holling Vincoeur on the quirky comedy-drama Northern Exposure, will be added to the team. The same episode will see the arrival of Bonnie Bartlett, whose portrayal of Ellen Craig, the patient wife of the rather cranky Dr. Mark Craig was one of the great counter-balances of the classic 1980s medical drama St. Elsewhere. Both have signed on for recurring roles on the popular show.

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Carroll O'Connor is going to make sure a television movie about his family will be told his way. The actor signed a development deal Tuesday with USA Network to make The Carroll O'Connor Story, based on his relationship with his son, Hugh, who shot himself in 1995 after struggling with drug addiction. O'Connor will direct the film and play himself. The Partnership for a Drug Free America will contribute public service announcements to run during the movie.

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