Award-winning guest stars are often rushed into the emergency room at County General Hospital at crucial points in the season. Oscar winner Sissy Spacek and recent Emmy winner Cynthia Nixon are the latest lauded thespians to draw rotations on NBC’s “ER,” making appearances during the crucial November sweeps period.

Spacek will be up first, dropping by on Feb. 10 as a woman from Dr. Weaver’s (Laura Innes) past. In addition to her 1981 Academy Award for “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Spacek has picked up Oscar nods for “Carrie,” “Missing,” “The River,” “Crimes of the Heart” and “In the Bedroom.” She has also earned Emmy nominations for the telefilms “Last Call” and “The Good Old Boys.”

One week after Spacek’s visit, Nixon will show up as a soccer mom brought to the emergency room after suffering a stroke. Although the character will be incapable of communicating with the doctors, the show will take viewers inside her mind to hear her clear thoughts.

Nixon was nominated for three Emmys for her work as Miranda on HBO’s “Sex and the City,” winning last year. The actress has also been seen in the classic HBO miniseries “Tanner “88” and in its recent sequel “Tanner on Tanner.”

Internet gambling betting on gay character on ‘The Simpsons’

With speculation continuing to swirl about which character on “The Simpsons” will come out as gay, an Internet gambling company has begun taking bets on the character’s identity.

Fans of the long-running, much-loved Fox animated series have been speculating about which character would come out of the closet since last summer’s Comic-Con gathering in San Diego, where executive producer Al Jean teased an episode in which cash-strapped Springfield legalizes gay marriage.

Early guesses centered on Mr. Burns lackey Waylon Smithers, but given the numerous hints the show has dropped over the years about Smithers being gay – not least of which is the monumental crush he has on his boss – that seems almost too obvious. And in the odds being offered at – which, by the way, is based in Canada and Costa Rica – Smithers isn’t the favorite.

Instead, the odds-on leader is Marge’s sister Patty, who has never found love – even fleetingly, as her fellow spinster Selma did with actor Troy McClure – in the show’s 16 seasons. is laying 4 to 5 odds on Patty, with Smithers next at 4 to 1. Bart’s friend Milhouse is the No. 3 favorite, followed by Selma and Homer’s fellow nuclear technician, Lenny (oddly enough, Lenny’s best buddy, Carl, is farther down the list).

Fox hasn’t set an airdate for the gay-marriage episode of “The Simpsons.”

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