Today's News: Our Take


THE NAME GAME

The Game Show Network will change its name to GSN in March as part of its ongoing mission to branch out beyond game shows. In related news, UPN is considering changing its name to FREE PORN as part of its ongoing mission to stay on the air. read more

IT'S SHOWTIME

Newly single pop tart Britney Spears will headline a live concert special for Showtime on March 28. The concert will take place at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, one of the stops on Spears' upcoming 25-city tour. read more

THE CRITICS SPEAK

There's no disputing The Lord of the Rings' victory at Saturday's Critics' Choice Awards, where Return of the King snagged wins for best picture, best director, ensemble cast and composer. Other winners included Sean Penn (best actor for Mystic River), Charlize Theron (best actress for Monster), Tim Robbins (best supporting actor for Mystic River) and Renee Zellweger (best supporting actress for Cold Mountain). In the past, the event served as a good barometer of Oscar success, which has to suck for poor Diane Keaton. read more

PARTY TIME EXCELLENT!

Michael Jackson's family, friends and fans are organizing a support rally to coincide with the pop star's arraignment Friday on child molestation charges. Busloads of supporters will be dropped off at the courthouse in Santa Barbara, and by supporters I mean soap fans who thought they were spending the day with Cruz and Eden. read more

HEADING WEST

Kevin Costner is sticking to what he does best: making Westerns. The Dances With Wolves/Open Range star has signed on to direct and star in the upcoming Disney Western Horizon. read more

PAGING SAMMY JO...

ABC has greenlit a two-hour telepic that will chart the behind-the-scenes rise and fall of the classic '80s sudser Dynasty. But the network insists the project — slated to air during May sweeps — will not be a juicy tell-all like last season's Three's Company dishfest. "We realized we can't do that; it's been done," ABC longform VP Quinn Taylor tells Variety, noting that there wasn't much friction on the set, anyway. "Linda Evans was baking cookies for the cast." The fact that they were laced with Liquid Drano and all intended for Joan Collins is neither here nor there. read more

SHRINK WRAPPED

The doctor is out — and I mean it this time. Really. NBC has decided that this will indeed be the final season of Frasier. Peacock execs had been in talks with Paramount (the show's producer) about a 12th season of the Cheers spin-off, but such a deal would have proven too costly for the network. NBC President Jeff Zucker made the announcement to members of the Television Critics Association (like me!) at a previously scheduled farewell press conference on Monday. read more

GO FISH

Tim Burton's family fable Big Fish duked it out with Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King for top box office honors over the weekend. According to early estimates Fish — expanding to wide release — may have hooked the No. 1 spot with $14.5 million, although rival studios accuse Columbia of spinning a tall tale with that figure. New Line says LOTR remains the champ with $14.1 million to Fish's $13.7 million. (Final numbers are due later today, at which point we'll find out who's lying.) Elsewhere, January rejects My Baby's Daddy and Chasing Liberty parlayed their atrocious reviews into equally atrocious sixth- and seventh-place rankings. read more

RUMOR PATROL

A Friends rep is denying a report that NBC has agreed to pay Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer $2 million apiece to shoot a 90-minute reunion special to air in November 2004. The rumored get-together was supposedly going to be taped right after production wrapped later this month on the hitcom's final episode and show the gang getting together for Thanksgiving dinner. read more

SundayNFL Playoffs: Colts at Chiefs,...

Sunday

NFL Playoffs: Colts at Chiefs, Packers at Eagles
I nearly owed my fellow Eagles fans an apology. You see, I realized years ago that my teams always lose whenever I actually watch the game, so out of altruism I've skipped truly important matchups to neutralize my curse. Crazy? Syracuse lost to Indiana by one point in the 1987 NCAA hoops championship. I watched. I purposely didn't in 2003, but couldn't resist and turned the game on near the end. Sure enough, the Orangeman damned near blew the lead and that was only because I wasn't tuned in long enough for my bad mojo to build up a full head of steam. Then there was the Phillies' loss to the Bluejays in the 1993 World Series, which, again, I watched.

So despite wanting to skip the Packers-Eagles game, I selfishly decide not to incur my boss' wrath and do my job, thus choosing career over fandom, and the Birds squeak it out in overtime. I almost killed it for everyone, just read more

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