Today's News: Our Take


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"It's the saddest holiday ever. It's an unwelcome time for me, very unwelcome. I generally have a Christmas party but this year I'm only having a small family party." Martha Stewart discussing the impact her legal woes are having on her holidays in an interview on CNN's Larry King Live. read more

MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED

American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken graduated Saturday from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte with a bachelor of arts degree in special education. The ceremony was marred by controversy after school officials decided to limit graduates to seven guests each due to Aiken's popularity. read more

SPECIAL FX

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has announced the seven films in contention for the visual effects Oscar, and they are The Hulk, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Master and Commander, Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Terminator 3 and X2. Surprisingly, neither The Matrix Reloaded nor The Matrix Revolutions made the cut. On the bright side, both films are considered shoo-ins for best original screenplay nods. Final nominations are announced on Jan. 27. read more

Kelly Clarkson Against the World


Forget ambassadors of good will. The United States is sending Kelly Clarkson, the original American Idol winner, to represent in a sing-off against Idol victors from 11 other countries in Fox's World Idol. (The competition airs Christmas Day at 8 pm/ET, and the winner is announced New Year's Day at 9 pm/ET.) But before she goes to face the music in the United Kingdom, we found out what Miss Independent thinks about her global showdown, her movie misfire and whether she's destined to be a Broadway Baby.

TV Guide Online: Think you've got an edge over the other Idols, having been on a world tour?
Clarkson:
There's actually a few of us that have gone to other countries, so everybody has that benefit. I have been around in the U.K. and other countries in Europe for quite some time, but in Australia read more

BOB SINGS THE BLUES

The producers of The Bachelor are suing their latest star, Bob Guiney, for breach of contract for making public appearances in connection with his new CD, 3 Sides. Bachelor contestants are prohibited from promoting any other products — particularly bad CDs — without permission from producers. Guiney's record company, Wind-up Records, is also named in the suit. read more

Elijah Wood's Extreme Stunt


Elijah Wood returns as the diminutive hobbit Frodo Baggins in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (currently in theaters). Of course, while he's small in stature, that doesn't mean he's afraid to take some big risks. During his time in New Zealand, where the epic Rings trilogy was filmed, Wood and several castmates did extreme sports in their free time.

"I did paraponting, which is awesome," he enthuses. "It is running off a hill with a parachute and catching thermal [pockets of air]. I basically parachuted over Queenstown, [New Zealand]."

In Rings, Frodo braves the terrifying depths of Mordor in an effort to rid Middle Earth of a notoriously troublesome ring. But in real life, Wood's courage only takes him up to a point! He left some of the more reckle read more

SHOW OF SUPPORT

Hundreds of Michael Jackson supporters — including friends, family and MC Hammer — converged on Neverland Ranch Saturday to show their support for the embattled pop star. The party marked the first time Jacko returned to Neverland since being arrested last month on child molestation charges. Teenypopper Aaron Carter — who last week revealed that he once saw Jacko "totally make out with a girl" — was also in attendance. Hopefully, he brought his camera this time. read more

REMEMBERED

Actress Hope Lange, who earned an Oscar nod for her supporting turn in the 1957 film Peyton Place, died Friday in Santa Monica, Calif. She was 70. According to reports, Lange — who also picked up a pair of Emmys for her role in the TV comedy The Ghost and Mrs. Muir — died after suffering an infection caused by an intestinal inflammation known as ischemic colitis. read more

NEVERENDING STORY

For all those who didn't want Fox's reality romp Paradise Hotel to come to an end last summer, this show is for you: Fox has greenlit Forever Eden, a Truman Show-esque series in which single men and women shack up together in a posh resort for eternity. Casting is already underway, so Toni, call your agent now. read more

IN RELATED NEWS...

Aiken's Idol "rival" Ruben Studdard has settled his lawsuit against hip-hop clothing maker 205 Flava Inc. Ruben sued the company in August, claiming the owners unfairly profited by using his image to sell those 205 jerseys. Details of the settlement were not disclosed, but rumor has it the Velvet Teddy Bear was seen driving away from his lawyer's office in a new Hummer. read more

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