Today's News: Our Take


SCHOOL'S OUT

Boston Public's school year has been cut short. Fox, which ordered only 15 episodes of the show this season, has opted not to pick up additional installments. The network has yet to decide whether the show will be back next season, but I'll go out on a limb and say it doesn't look good. read more

BAD HAIR DAY

Donald Trump can wipe that smug look off his face. His hit NBC reality show The Apprentice got clobbered in the ratings last night by Fox's American Idol. Clobbered. In its first Wednesday outing opposite Simon Cowell and Co., The Apprentice attracted 12 million viewers to Idol's 29 million viewers. The Apprentice had been averaging 20 million viewers on Thursday nights. In other Apprentice news... read more

SAM STRIKES AGAIN

Apprentice loon Sam Solovey — who finally got pink-slipped by The Donald on last night's episode — popped the question to his girlfriend this morning live on the Today show. "I have to do everything big," he joked before placing the ring on Laurie's finger. (Believe it or not, she said yes.) For Sam's thoughts on his ouster, read Bruce Fretts' Q&A with him in today's Insider. read more

The Apprentice Oh, Sammy. We hardly...

The Apprentice
Oh, Sammy. We hardly knew ya'. Well, actually, we did. We just didn't like you. Nor did your Versacorp cohorts, apparently. Maybe it was because you were so weasely while managing the shopping project. Then again, it could have been that ridiculous cowboy hat. Needless to say, your firing was less of a surprise than the fact that Trump has one nightmare of a black-and-yellow couch in his lobby. As far as strategies go, though, I beg to differ with Katrina. Life isn't too short to be a bitch. Just look at Omarosa.

American Idol
You know, I tell my office administrator that her sweater makes her look, um, chesty, and I get in trouble. Simon calls some poor kid "musical food poisoning" and he gets to be on TV. What is wrong here?! The Houston auditions were as scary as the couch in Trump's lobby, made only slightly bearable by the out-of-nowhere fight between Randy and read more

KUDOS KING

The Chicago Film Critics Association has chosen The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King as the best picture of 2003. Bill Murray (Lost in Translation) and Charlize Theron (Monster) won top acting honors. read more

DON'T JUDGE A BOOK...

Paris Hilton is getting all literary on us. The Simple Life star is reportedly shopping around a proposal for Tongue in Chic: Confessions of an Heiress, a book that contains tips on how to be rich and useless. read more

JACKPOT!

Red-hot Las Vegas star Josh Duhamel has landed the lead role in Disney's upcoming big-screen epic Antarctica. The project is based on the true story of a group of explorers fighting for their lives in the bitter cold. Duhamel's latest film, Win A Date with Tad Hamilton, opens Friday. read more

Blaxploitation King Returns!

In 1969, NFL star Fred Williamson — called the Hammer for his defensive moves — left football for Hollywood and became a head-busting king of '70s blaxploitation flicks. Today, Williamson, 65, is an independent producer-director, ruler of his own direct-to-video movie empire and, he says, still the man. On Jan. 20, MGM released a couple of his early masterpieces, Hammer and Hell up in Harlem, along with several other blaxploitation films, on DVD. Here, TV Guide Online tries to nail Williamson — but the Hammer hits back.

TV Guide Online: You don't like the term blaxploitation?
Fred Williamson:
I could never understand [it.] At the time I was making my films, Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood were making theirs. No one dubbed them whitexploitation. So what did it mean? Who was being exploited? All the black actors were being paid more money than they ever were before, playing characters we respected. Audie read more

Debra Messing's Graceful Pregnancy


Debra Messing isn't too lucky in love on Will & Grace, where her estranged TV spouse has gone off to Cambodia. And she's no prize in Along Came Polly — currently in theaters — as Ben Stiller's cheating bride. Off camera, however, she and husband Daniel Zelman are quite happily married and eagerly awaiting the birth of their first child.

"I feel wonderful," sighs Messing, 35. "I am beside myself with happiness. [Having a baby] is something I wanted my whole life, and it is everything that I hoped for. I can't wait to meet our child."

In case you're wondering, Messing's baby bliss will stay out of her story line on Will & Grace. With Grace's marriage to Leo crumbling, it was bad timing for the sitcom's writers to incorporate a child. After all, the show's supposed to be a comedy, not a tragedy! But was the idea ever considered?

"For, like, a second," she acknowledges. "It just very quickly became a read more

Bebe Back for Frasier Finale?


Harriet Sansom Harris may already have made her final appearance on Frasier as the limelight-loving radio shrink's outr&eacute agent, Bebe Glazer. But, like us, she's still holding out hope that, before the NBC hitcom ends its run, she will once again dine on some nice, chewy scenery. "Oh, I hope she comes back!" the Broadway veteran exclaims to TV Guide Online. "I really, really do! I feel like there's another story left in her.

"My getting to do that character was really responsible for a lot of the good luck I've had in Hollywood," she continues, too humble to mention that she's landed leads on such series as The Five Mrs. Buchanans, Union Square and the current ABC laffer It's All Relative. "Frasier was one of the very first jobs I got out here. So I have great affection for Bebe."

Harris thinks she does? We, er, viewers delight in her over-the-top antics. In fact, the episode in which the nicotine ad read more

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