Today's News: Our Take


IN DEFENSE OF JEN

Sir Elton John is weighing in on Jennifer Hudson's shocking ouster from American Idol last week, calling the whole thing "incredibly racist." John — who rubbed elbows with Hudson and Co. earlier this month as an AI special guest — says "the three people I was really impressed with, and they just happened to be black, young female singers, and they all seem to be landing in the bottom three." No word yet on what Eltie thought of Camile Velasco's ghastly cover of his "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road," but I hear he's mulling a lawsuit. read more

CASTING ABOUT

Oscar winner Charlize Theron is in talks to star in Jinx, Universal's in-the-works adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis' bounty-hunter-themed comic book. Queen Latifah, meanwhile, has signed on to headline a remake of the 1950 comedy Last Holiday. The original starred Alec Guinness. read more

HONORING THE FALLEN

On Friday's Nightline, Ted Koppel will read aloud the names of the 523 American servicemen and women killed in combat in Iraq since the start of the war. Each name will be accompanied by a photograph. "[This] is our way of reminding our viewers — whether they agree with the war or not — that... those who have been killed have names and faces," says exec producer Leroy Sievers. read more

COSTLY FRIENDS

NBC will fetch roughly $2 million per 30 seconds of commercial time for Friends' May 6 finale, a record for a sitcom. The previous benchmark — $1.7 million — was set by Seinfeld's 1998 swan song, which attracted nearly 80 million viewers. Meanwhile, as previously reported right here, Friends' one-hour capper will be available on DVD on May 11. Well, now we've got some scoop about the extras! In addition to the broadcast version of the episode, the special disc will also feature a DVD-only version with extra unaired footage, in addition to the hitcom's 1994 pilot episode. read more

PAGING ANGELINA JOLIE...

Mel Gibson's Icon Productions is developing a feature that kinda sounds like a lesbian Braveheart. According to Variety, the pic centers on Boudica, the 9th-century diva who led Britain against Roman conquerors and was posthumously named Britain's first queen. To friends, she was known simply as Xena. read more

OPEN HOUSE

Mary Richards' Minneapolis crib from The Mary Tyler Moore Show has been put on the market for $1.7 million. Exterior shots of the 112-year-old Victorian house were regularly featured on the classic sitcom, although Mary Tyler Moore herself never actually stepped foot in it. The owners didn't say why they are selling, but we can only assume it has something to do with that annoying landlady Phyllis. read more

STORK REPORT

Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden gave birth to twins last Thursday in New York. The 44-year-old actress and her hubby, Thaddaeus Scheel, had a boy, Hudson Harden Scheel, and a girl, Julitta Dee Harden Scheel. They also have a 5-year-old daughter, Eulala. read more

SHORT CUTS

The Beastie Boys have been tapped to perform at the 2004 MTV Movie Awards, which will tape June 5 and air June 10... Cable giant Comcast withdrew its unsolicited $48.4 billion bid to buy Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday after the Mouse House refused to open negotiations (Zzzzz.....) read more

MORE TROUBLE FOR CBS

Mohamed al Fayed, the father of Princess Diana's late boyfriend, Dodi, is suing CBS for emotional distress caused by last week's 48 Hours, which showed a photo of the dying Princess immediately after the August 1997 accident in Paris. CBS says the suit is "meritless and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves." read more

MOVING ON

Robert Downey Jr. officially filed for a divorce from actress-singer Deborah Falconer Monday, clearing the way for him to marry current fianc&#233e, producer Susan Levin. Downey and Falconer tied the knot in 1992 and have a son, Indio. read more

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