Today's News: Our Take


LITTLE ROCK

Actor-comedian Chris Rock, 35, and his wife of five years, Malaak Compton-Rock, 31, are expecting their first child. No word on when the baby is due. read more

SENTENCED

Former Baywatch babe Yasmine Bleeth was sentenced Wednesday to two years probation on a cocaine-possession charge. In November, Bleeth pleaded guilty to possessing less than 25 grams of cocaine and to driving while impaired. Cops discovered the drugs in her purse while investigating a car accident on Sept. 12 in a Detroit suburb. As part of her plea deal, the 33-year-old actress also must undergo regular drug tests, serve 100 hours of community service and pay court costs. read more

MORE PEACOCK NEWS

SNL alum Colin Quinn has been tapped to head up New York Live, his own tentatively titled half-hour primetime series featuring a monologue and comedy sketches... Starting Feb. 28, the new comedy Leap of Faith — starring Jack &#038 Jill alumna Sarah Paulson — will fill the cursed Thursday night post-Friends timeslot previously occupied by Inside Schwartz.... Rosie O'Donnell appears on Will &#038 Grace as the mama of Jack's son on Jan. 31. Matt Damon visits the sitcom the following week on Feb. 7... Meanwhile, look for Michael Keaton on an upcoming Frasier after the Olympics concludes. read more

CLEAN BILL OF HEALTH

&#220berproducer Aaron Spelling is cancer free, Variety columnist Army Archerd reports. Last August, Spelling underwent radiation therapy for a cancerous lesion in his throat. read more

SHORT CUTS

NYPD Blue's Charlotte Ross has broken off her engagement with her CAA agent-beau Jeremy Plager, TV Guide Online has learned... Newcomer Sharif Atkins has been upgraded to series regular status on ER... Nicole Kidman will play flamboyant Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine in Court and Spark, a film based on the life of the 12th-century monarch, according to The Hollywood Reporter... Hank Azaria's poorly reviewed NBC comedy Imagine That got off to a lousy start Tuesday night, drawing just 7.7 million viewers... read more

JACKO CONTROVERSY

A new generation of R&B singers — Alicia Keys, Destiny's Child and the late Aaliyah — were the big winners at Wednesday's American Music Awards, picking up two awards each. Country singer Tim McGraw also received two trophies at the annual popularity contest. Michael Jackson — on hand to accept his Artist of the Century award — thanked actor Marlon Brando, calling him "my second father." A tape of Jacko performing "Man in the Mirror" was supposed to air during the three-hour ABC telecast, but reps for the onetime King of Pop reportedly demanded show producers pull it at the last minute. Insiders speculate that Jacko's camp feared airing the tape would have jeopardized his chances of performing at next month's Grammy Awards. It's just the latest wrinkle in the read more

THEY'RE TALKING

Bringing Friends back for a ninth season is "our No. 1 top priority," NBC Entertainment president Jeff Zucker told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., Wednesday morning. And despite past dustups over the sextet's soaring salaries, NBC West Coast prez Scott Sassa insisted "we're in discussions and there's no acrimony." read more

SEVEN FIGURES FOR SIX SCRIBE

Oscar-winning scribe Alan Ball has signed a seven-figure pact with HBO to continue as executive producer of Six Feet Under for two more seasons. "I feel like I'm the luckiest guy in town to be able to do this show the way I want to do this show," Ball told Variety. "I love working at HBO, and I hope to keep doing so for a long time. I feel like it's the best place to work in television." read more

MOVE OVER LAW & ORDER...

CBS is prepping a CSI spinoff series based on an episode set to air later this season. The new show would revolve around forensic experts in a different city, possibly Miami. read more

GOING FOR THE GOLD

Awards website GoldDerby.com is pegging The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring as the favorite to win best dramatic film at the Jan. 20 Golden Globes. GoldDerby — which is now partnering with renowned Vegas oddsmaker America's Line to size up the top kudofests — puts Lord's odds at 3-to-4. Ron Howard's A Beautiful Mind is close behind with even odds. read more

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