Today's News: Our Take


NBC is pondering a plan to combine its network news division and cable channels CNBC and MSNBC, and operate the merged unit out of New Jersey, reports the New York Post. (Nightly News and Today would remain in New York City.) As part of the plan, MSNBC may be renamed the NBC News Channel. read more


Tom Cruise's ongoing media meltdown isn't affecting his status as the world's No. 1 box-office draw. War of the Worlds grossed $21.3 million in its first day in theaters Wednesday. That represented a personal best for Cruise and War distributor Paramount. read more


Yes, the year is only half over, but already awards guru/ host Tom O'Neil is proffering his predix for Best Picture nods at the 2006 Oscars. And guess what? You haven't seen a single one of 'em. Yet. Making O'Neil's shortlist: Steven Spielberg's yet-to-be-titled drama about the hunt for the murderers of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics; Jarhead, a saga about a U.S. Marine serving the first Gulf War, from director Sam Mendes (American Beauty); Memoirs of a Geisha, a lavish epic from Rob Marshall (Chicago); Goodnight, and Good Luck, director George Clooney's take on journo Edward R. Murrow's battle with Sen. Joe McCarthy; and Tommy Lee Jones' first crack at acting/directing, The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, which was a big hit at Cannes. Somewhere, Russell Crowe is reaching for a phone. read more


Cyndi Lauper has lost her bid to have the monthly rent on her Manhattan apartment reduced to $508. But the Grammy winner still came out a winner: On Thursday the New York Court of Appeals upheld an earlier ruling that called for her rent to be lowered from $3250 to $1000 a month. That's what us New Yorkers call a freakin' steal, folks. read more


Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck have made it official. Reps for both actors confirm that the couple tied the knot Wednesday in the Caribbean. This is Affleck's first marriage; Garner was previously wed to onetime Felicity hottie Scott Foley. The celebs' publicists also at long last are confirming that Garner is pregnant with Affleck's child. The little tyke reportedly is due in November — just in time for sweeps. read more


Despite his recent drunk-driving conviction, Backstreet Boy Nick Carter will continue to tour with the group. Carter — who was sentenced to a three-month alcohol program — will likely begin treatment after the tour ends in the fall. Ah, what a great system we have. — Additional reporting by Matt Mitovich read more


Bennifer weren't the only celeb couple to wed in secret. We're just now learning that on June 15, American Idol runner-up Bo Bice married girlfriend Caroline Fisher in Helena, Ala. And how's this for a wedding present? Bice's "Inside Your Heaven" single has replaced Idol winner Carrie Underwood's version at No. 1 on next week's Billboard singles chart. read more


It looks like Law & Order: Trial by Jury has lost its appeal for a second season. Sources confirm that TNT — which had been in talks to resurrect NBC's short-lived spin-off — has officially passed on the show. read more


Brooke Shields is firing back at Tom Cruise for blasting antidepressants on the Today show last week(Entertainment News 6/26). In an op-ed piece published in Friday's New York Times, Shields wrote, "I'm going to take a wild guess and say that Mr. Cruise has never suffered from postpartum depression.... If any good can come of Mr. Cruise's ridiculous rant, let's hope that it gives much-needed attention to a serious disease." And if we're lucky, maybe it'll snap Katie Holmes out of her spell. read more


Wednesday's penultimate episode of Dancing with the Stars — in which New Kid Joey McIntyre wound up on, um, the chopping block — drew a best-yet 18 million viewers. Duking it out in next week's finals: Kelly "Abs of Steel" Monaco and John "Cummerbund of Steel" O'Hurley. read more

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