Today's News: Our Take


HOMETOWN HERO

Bruce Springsteen is donating a portion of the proceeds from three benefit concerts in Asbury Park, N.J., this weekend to help purchase uniforms and instruments for the local high school marching band. read more

THAT'S LIFE

Paris Hilton continues to score — on the small screen, that is. The second installment of her fish-out-of-Barneys series The Simple Life averaged 13.3 million viewers on Wednesday — up from 13 million the night before. So, it comes as little surprise that Fox is already mulling a sequel that would reteam Hilton and pal Nicole Richie. "There is some discussion of that right now," Fox reality guru Mike Darnell tells the New York Daily News. Meanwhile, rumor has it Hilton may make a cameo on Saturday Night Live this weekend. I predict a run-in with Maya Rudolph's Donatella Versace. read more

How the Grinch Stole ChristmasA...

How the Grinch Stole Christmas A Charlie Brown Christmas may be the ultimate holiday special, but I love everything about this Chuck Jones rendering of the Dr. Seuss classic: the ever-devoted Max and his ridiculous antler; the Who hash and the roast beast; all the Whos who were asnooze; how the Grinch's hair curls in evil delight as he hatches his plan and how his eyes turn blue when he realizes the true meaning of Christmas; Cindy Lou Who, who was no more than 2; that 39-1/2-ft. pole. Far superior in every way to the Jim Carrey remake, I watch this cartoon every time I know it's on, but I don't think I have ever enjoyed it more than I did senior year in high school, when my psychology teacher devoted the last class before winter break to watching the video, with a grinning Grinch doll sitting in a front-row desk.

Survivor: Pearl Islands I don't know which appalled me more: Jon's assessment of wicker furniture an read more

WANDA AT UNEMPLOYMENT LINE

Fox has axed Wanda at Large, its sophomore sitcom starring comic Wanda Sykes. After a promising first season, Wanda was banished to Fridays, where it flopped. read more

STRIKING THE BAN

In what Variety is calling a "stunning underdog victory for indie producers and a defeat for corporate muscle," a federal judge temporarily blocked the Motion Picture Assoc. of America's ban on sending screeners to critics groups and Golden Globe voters for awards consideration. The MPAA imposed the ban in order to cut down on piracy and re-gifting during the holidays. read more

RUSH ON THE DEFENSIVE

Authorities in Florida seized Rush Limbaugh's medical records as part of their ongoing probe into whether the conservative blowhard purchased painkillers illegally. Limbaugh denied any wrongdoing on his radio show Thursday, saying that he "suffered extreme pain and had legitimate reasons for taking pain medication." read more

MORE MOVIE KUDOS

In America led this year's Independent Spirit Award nominations with six nods, including best feature. Director Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot) and his two daughters wrote the just-released film, which follows a family of Irish immigrants who befriend an American man with AIDS (Djimon Hounsou). The other contenders in the best feature category are Lost in Translation, American Splendor, Raising Victor Vargas and Shattered Glass. read more

TOUR DE FORCE

Britney Spears will launch her 25-city In the Zone tour on March 2 in San Diego. Other stops include Las Vegas (March 6), Los Angeles (March 8), Seattle (March 12), Chicago (March 19), Miami (March 28) and New York (April 10 or 12). read more

AND THEY'RE OFF!

Clint Eastwood's Mystic River got a major Oscar boost Wednesday when the The National Board of Review named the acclaimed drama the best film of 2003. Sean Penn was chosen best actor for his roles in Mystic and the just-released 21 Grams, while Diane Keaton won best actress for Something's Gotta Give. Supporting kudos went to Alec Baldwin for The Cooler and Patricia Clarkson for Pieces of April and The Station Agent. Edward Zwick was named best director for The Last Samurai. read more

Scarlett Johansson Quiets Down


As moviegoers know, It Girl Scarlett Johansson is scooping up rave reviews for Lost in Translation. But while that film allowed her to wise off and show off her singing talent, she's practically mute in Girl with a Pearl Earring (opening Dec. 12). Set in Holland circa 1665, Girl tells the tale of a young housemaid's romance with her married employer ( Colin Firth). Back then, servants didn't speak until spoken to. So was it difficult for the 19-year-old star to act with so few lines?

"I think that everyone's emotions are conveyed on their face most of the time," Johansson tells TV Guide Online. "Sometimes, words can be sort of deceiving, and even as you're speaking, it's what is showing on your face that gives you away. [The film] was quite a delight, actually. I didn't have to fumble with awkward read more

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