Today's News: Our Take


FAREWELL

Actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan, whose movie star appeal and affinity for the TV cameras led him to be dubbed "The Great Communicator," died Saturday at his home in Bel Air, Calif., after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93. The nation's 40th president, Reagan announced five years after leaving office in 1994 that he had been diagnosed with the brain-wasting disease; he remained in virtual seclusion ever since. Last month, his wife, Nancy, hinted that the end was near for her husband, saying, "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him." Reagan's body will be flown to Washington to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. The funeral will be at Washington National Cathedral. read more

HE'S GIGLI SICK

Ben Affleck was hospitalized in London this week with severe bronchitis, forcing him to miss the UK premiere of Jersey Girl. The 31-year-old actor is now recuperating at his Boston home. read more

PLACE YOUR BETS, FOLKS

Serial wedder Jennifer Lopez reportedly married Latin pop star Marc Anthony Saturday in a small ceremony at her Beverly Hills home. The nuptials come six months after Bennifer went kaput and just five days after Anthony's divorce from former Miss Universe Dayanara Torres became final. Vegas handicappers, meanwhile, have placed 2-1 odds on the marriage ending by the time I'm done writing this item. read more

LIVE LIKE MARTHA

Martha Stewart's childhood home in Nutley, N.J. — so often idealized in the pages of Martha Stewart Living — is for sale at an asking price of $549,000. The embattled domestic guru lived at 86 Elm Place from age 3 through high school. And even though Stewart's mom sold the three-bedroom abode to its present owners back in 1987, the place still reflects Martha's green thumb, boasting fig trees and a holly bush planted and pruned by the diva herself. But sorry, all you looky-loos: There'll be no open house, and only pre-qualified buyers will be shown the home's interior. Presumably, the mortgage closing costs would include property taxes and the fee for an exorcist. read more

FAREWELL

Actor-turned-president Ronald Reagan, whose movie star appeal and affinity for the TV cameras led him to be dubbed "The Great Communicator," died Saturday at his home in Bel Air, Calif., after a long struggle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 93. The nation's 40th president, Reagan announced five years after leaving office in 1994 that he had been diagnosed with the brain-wasting disease; he remained in virtual seclusion ever since. Last month, his wife, Nancy, hinted that the end was near for her husband, saying, "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him." Reagan's body will be flown to Washington to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda. The funeral will be at Washington National Cathedral. read more

FAMILY CRISIS

Remember little Andy Keaton from Family Ties? No? Well, listen up anyway. His now 22-year-old portrayer, Brian Bonsall, was busted by cops in Boulder, Colo., last week on suspicion of DUI. I blame Mallory. read more

THE CRITICS SPEAK!

The Television Critics Association (of which you-know-who is a member) announced the nominees for its annual tube awards Thursday and Fox's Arrested Development, Comedy Central's The Daily Show, NBC's The Apprentice, and HBO's The Sopranos and Angels in America will duke it out for Program of the Year. Arrested was also singled out in the Best New Series slot, along with HBO's Deadwood, CBS's Joan of Arcadia, Fox's The O.C. and the late, great Wonderfalls. I voted for HBO's Carnivale, which shows you how much pull I have in this club. The winners, meanwhile, will be announced July 17. read more

Pepsi SmashI don't know which...

Pepsi Smash I don't know which was more disturbing: An almost orange Jessica Simpson's herky-jerky performance of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" (or as Simpson sings it, "Take My Bweaf Away") or getting an eyeful of a puffy and not-so-gracefully aging Robert Smith of The Cure. Dearest Robert, the makeup and big hair may have been cool 20 years ago, but for a moment there I thought Liz Taylor was onstage singing "Love Song." And is the whiny-voiced lead singer of New Found Glory also Quentin Tarantino's long-lost son? The resemblance is uncanny. Not to mention unsettling.

National Spelling Bee I'll admit it: I purposely ignored the hype surrounding last year's surprise hit documentary about young spelling-bee competitors, Spellbound, but not for the reason that most people might think. You see, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a budding contestant just like these kids. Well, not read more

Pepsi SmashI don't know which...

Pepsi Smash I don't know which was more disturbing: An almost orange Jessica Simpson's herky-jerky performance of Berlin's "Take My Breath Away" (or as Simpson sings it, "Take My Bweaf Away") or getting an eyeful of a puffy and not-so-gracefully aging Robert Smith of The Cure. Dearest Robert, the makeup and big hair may have been cool 20 years ago, but for a moment there I thought Liz Taylor was onstage singing "Love Song." And is the whiny-voiced lead singer of New Found Glory also Quentin Tarantino's long-lost son? The resemblance is uncanny. Not to mention unsettling.

National Spelling Bee I'll admit it: I purposely ignored the hype surrounding last year's surprise hit documentary about young spelling-bee competitors, Spellbound, but not for the reason that most people might think. You see, once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, I was a budding contestant just like these kids. Well, not read more

Meet Harry Potter's Hagrid


In the Harry Potter movies, Hagrid — the gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — stands well over eight feet tall. This dude makes Shaq look downright petite! However, fans of the books and films know he's a gentle giant. And actor Robbie Coltrane, 54, is a big softie, just like his character. Especially when he talks about the cast of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (opening tomorrow), whom he considers extended family.

"It was like going back home for Thanksgiving," Coltrane says of reuniting with his co-stars. "It's like, 'Hi, how are you? What have you been doing?' It is very nice."

Coltrane's sentimental side really came out while making the series finale of Frasier. The producers had been after him to guest star for a while, but their timing always conflicted with his Potter gigs. At last, he was cast as Daphne's mumbling brother, Michael. "God, I love t read more

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