Today's News: Our Take


Ruben Studdard got the scare of his life last night on American Idol. The 25-year-old crowd fave — long considered the frontrunner to snag the AI2 title — landed in the bottom two! But it was 23-year-old powerhouse Trenyce who ultimately got the hook, leaving Studdard, Clay Aiken, Kimberley Locke and an extremely lucky Joshua Gracin as the final four. My advice to Josh: Enroll in an anger management class before next Tuesday's show. My advice to readers of this column: If you have a question for Trenyce, send them to me via the link at the bottom of this page. Extra consideration will be given to those folks who correctly name my favorite Snapple flavor. read more


Things are getting back to normal on David Letterman's Late Show set. For starters, longtime director Jerry Foley — who abruptly quit earlier this month amid talk of backstage strife — has returned to his old post sporting a new producer credit, Variety reports. What's more, it can now be confirmed that cue card guy Tony Mendez — who left the show with Foley — is also back on the job. Phew! read more


Aaron Sorkin, creator and exec producer of The West Wing, announced Thursday that he will be stepping down at the end of this season. "This has been the experience of any writer's dreams," Sorkin says. "I had the best job in show business for four years and I'll never forget that." Fellow exec producer/director Tommy Schlamme will also be leaving. In a statement, NBC thanked the two for helping create "one of the finest shows to ever air on television," and added that exec producer John Wells has agreed to "assume a more active role next season." read more


Will & Grace's wiseacre maid Shelley Morrison was charged with misdemeanor theft Tuesday in connection with her shoplifting arrest last week. The 66-year-old — who faces a maximum penalty of a year in the county jail — allegedly stole $446 worth of costume jewelry from a Robinsons-May department store in Los Angeles. Prosecutors declined to file a more serious felony charge due to Morrison's clean record and a rumored promise from Megan Mullally that she'll flash 'em her rack. read more


Up-and-coming newsman Richard Engel, who made a name for himself covering the war in Iraq for ABC News, has been snatched by rival network NBC. The 27-year-old will work out of NBC News's Baghdad bureau starting in May. read more


Katie Couric — who will swap jobs with Tonight Show host Jay Leno on May 12 — isn't the only Today staffer playing the trading places game. On May 14, Ann Curry will switch careers with soccer champion Mia Hamm. Curry will partake in a soccer scrimmage while Hamm — an aspiring broadcaster — will interview Today show guests. There's no word yet on who Matt Lauer and Al Roker will be swapping jobs with. read more

Idol Chatter with Carmen Rasmusen

Carmen Rasmusen sure put up with a lot of crap during the final weeks of her American Idol adventure. Critics — namely, judges Simon and Randy — all but accused the 18-year-old Utah native of hijacking the competition on the strength of her all-American girl looks as opposed to her singing ability. Heck, even Paula Abdul — the master of accentuating the positive in the worst of circumstances ("My, what pretty socks you're wearing!") — struggled at times to give props to the teen. But if this season's American Idol taught us one thing, it's this: Never — ever — underestimate the staying power of an underdog. That said, all the good will in the world couldn't keep poor Carmen from getting the boot last week. It also couldn't keep TV Guide Online from asking the aspiring pop star the tough questions when she read more

Survivor Alex's Slithering Alliance

Triathalon trainer Alex Bell may have had the physical endurance to go the distance on Survivor: The Amazon, but when it came to knowing whom to trust (read: Rob), the dude was a dunce!

"Rob's a snake," Bell exclaims to TV Guide Online. "I knew he screwed me over, but I didn't know he screwed everybody all the way along. I didn't know he was a liar from Day One. Had I known, I wouldn't have trusted him. He took me for a ride. He took us all for a ride.

"But I have no hard feelings at all," he adds. "It was a game and he played really well."

While Bell has made peace with Rob's betrayal, the Jeff Probst look-alike still has some unresolved feelings about alliance members Heidi and Jenna. Specifically, he thinks the spoiled sorority girls are getting a "bit of a bad rap" from viewers. "It's really too bad. It's made for good TV, but I think at the same time read more


My Big Fat Greek Wedding will make its broadcast premiere on ABC in early 2005... Rocker Tommy Lee and fiancée Mayte Garcia have split, reports E! News... Eight new episodes of the Brit comedy import Absolutely Fabulous will air on Oxygen network early next year. read more


Fox's Mr. Personality stumbled in its second outing Monday night, falling 33 percent from last week's premiere. Here's what you all missed: Producers hired a group of female escorts, I mean, sexy gals to tempt the guys into straying. Afterwards, Monica Lewinsky awkwardly scolded one of the alleged cheaters for not playing the game like a man when he tore off his mask and quit. I then jumped in the shower to wash off all the irony. read more

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