Today's News: Our Take


Peter Jackson has tapped his Lord of the Rings contortionist Andy Serkis to give the Gollum treatment to King Kong in the director's upcoming remake of the 1933 classic. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Serkis will provide "motion capture reference" for the big hairy beast, who will eventually be realized as a completely CGI creature. read more

Whitney Rocks Punk'd!

If you read the above headline and thought you were going to get some dish on Whitney Houston, ha! You've been punk'd! But don't blame us, blame Whitney Cummings, the fast-talking 21-year-old Ashton Kutcher recruited to bring stars down to Earth on his hit MTV prankfest (airing Sundays at 10 pm/ET). After talking with the mischievous actress about the practical jokes she's played on everyone from Julia Stiles to The Rock, we couldn't resist trying out a scam or two of our own. Besides, if you think you feel cheated, just wait until she finds out that she was being interrogated by TV Guide Online and not doing a pre-interview for Inside the Actors Studio.

TV Guide Online: Which celebrity has reacted best to being punk'd?
Whitney Cummings:
Probably Chris Klein, as far as the most satisfying reaction. He bought it hook, line and sinker.

TVGO: No, I mean who was the best sport?
Oh. In that c read more


Whitney Houston received a lifetime achievement award at the inaugural Women's World Awards Wednesday in Germany. The event honors "women whose unique achievements have contributed to a better, more peaceful and humane society." It's not clear what award Houston got. read more


Actress Rosanna Arquette will guest star on the WB beach drama Summerland, TV Guide Online has learned. She'll play the estranged mother of surfer girl Erika (Taylor Cole). And word is, Mommy has a very serious health concern. Arquette's episode airs July 20. read more


Eric Bana — the hottie from Hulk and Troy — has been cast in Steven Spielberg's as-yet-untitled film about the 1972 Munich Olympics, Variety reports. The pic will begin filming in Europe later this summer. read more


Red-hot comedian David Chappelle is in negotiations to play Rick James in a film based on the singer-songwriter's upcoming book, Memoirs of a Super Freak. The role won't be a stretch for Chappelle, who has impersonated James on his Comedy Central smash, Chappelle's Show. read more


Republicans, beware: Broadway's Tony-winning puppet show Avenue Q is headed to Sin City. In lieu of a national tour, producers have struck a deal to stage the musical at the new Wynn Las Vegas Resort and Country Club beginning in fall 2005. read more


Jimmy Kimmel has apologized for joking that Detroit Pistons fans would burn down the city if their hoops team beats the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals. ABC, fearing that Kimmel would take more pot shots at Detroit on Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, scrapped an original episode and aired a repeat instead. ABC's Detroit affiliate retaliated by banning the show altogether, running The Wayne Brady Show in its place. Man, Detroit is out of control when it gets angry. read more

Bette Midler's Reality Check

Bet you didn't know this: Joan Cusack backed out of The Stepford Wives remake (opening today) to spend time with her ailing father. Her role was recast with Bette Midler, who happily rose to the occasion. However, the 58-year-old legend had never seen the original 1975 cult classic about a suburban hamlet where disobedient wives are swapped for robots.

"When I got cast, I rented it," Midler recalls. "I was surprised at how sad it was. It was so tragic. All [the heroine] wanted to do was be a photographer. The poor girl. That was what was considered threatening in 1975? Imagine."

While she's pleased that women's lib has come far since the '70s, the Divine Miss M wonders if it's gone too far. "There are so many things happening in the media that are hard to absorb," she laments. "I never thought I would see the day when someone [like Paris Hilton] could make a pornographic film and survive it. I remember when, if you got arr read more


A woman filed a $10-million lawsuit Thursday against the producers of Extreme Makeover, claiming they stole her idea for the plastic-surgery show. Diane Locke claimed she pitched a concept similar to Makeover but was turned down. read more

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