Today's News: Our Take


SHE LOVES TV

Jennifer Love Hewitt is rekindling her love affair with TV. The former Party of Fiver has inked a deal with Touchstone Television to star in an as yet untitled half-hour comedy from Freaks and Geeks scribes Gabe Sachs and Jeff Judah. Touchstone is also searching for a small-screen vehicle for Peter Dinklage, the breakout star of the heartwarming indie The Station Agent. read more

LIZ SPEAKS!

In other Jacko news, Elizabeth Taylor is coming to the pop star's defense. On Sunday, the actress dangled a statement to the press saying she believes her good buddy is "absolutely innocent" and will be "vindicated." She ended the statement by begging someone — anyone — to hire her. Poor dear. read more

NO KIDDING

Another week, another Broadway show arrives DOA. The latest Great White Way casualty: Jackie Mason's musical/comedy revue Laughing Room Only, which closes Sunday after just 14 performances. Speaking of Broadway, I caught Rosie O'Donnell's Boy George musical Taboo last week and — shocker! — it was kinda good. Special props to Euan Morton, who was a dead ringer, both physically and vocally, for the former Culture Club frontman. read more

CAT FANCY

Moviegoers put some money in the kitty over the weekend. Despite pans from purrsnickety critics, Dr. Seuss' the Cat in the Hat debuted at No. 1 with $40.1 million — a respectable haul, but far below the $55 million How the Grinch Stole Christmas earned in 2000. Halle Berry's supernatural thriller Gothika also thrived despite spooky reviews, opening in second place with a strong $19.6 million. Rounding out the top five: Elf (No. 3 with $19.1 million), Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (No. 4 with $15.2 million) and the film my brother David and sister-in-law Pam can't stop raving about, Love Actually (No. 5 with $9.1 million). Of course, they hated read more

SANTA SKIPS CHRISTMAS

Tim Allen can't seem to shake the holiday spirit. The Santa Clause headliner has signed on to star in Skipping Christmas, a big-screen comedy based on the John Grisham novel. Allen will play a man who decides to — you guessed it — skip Christmas and go on a vacation with his wife instead. His plan is foiled when his daughter unexpectedly comes home for the holidays. read more

VIEW FROM THE TOP

Poor Rachel Campos. The 32-year-old MTV alum has been passed over once again for that elusive fifth co-host slot on ABC's daytime chatfest The View. Today, Barbara Walters announced that 28-year-old Survivor alum Elisabeth Filarski Hasselbeck (say that three times fast) has been tapped to replace Lisa Ling, who left to do something for National Geographic. Hasselbeck also beat out soap star Erin Hershey Presley, but it's Campos I really feel sorry for. read more

ER's Dead Doc Talking

Forget ripped from the headlines, Thursday's shocking ER was ripped straight from The Wizard of Oz. In case you missed it, a fiery helicopter was dropped on County General's very own Wicked Physician, Robert Romano — marking the one-armed medic's second (and presumably final) run-in with an angry chopper. But forgive us if we're not moved to join in a chorus of, "Ding dong the raging misogynist is dead." For as despicable as the rat bastard was, we'll miss his special brand of bad medicine. So, in honor of the doc's death, we rang up Romano's portrayer, Paul McCrane, for a quick postmortem.


TV Guide Online: What's the deal with Romano and helicopters?
Paul McCrane:
(Laughs) Yeah, just call him Ahab [from Moby Dick]. [Helicopters are] like his white w read more

DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME

Actress Yancy Butler (TNT's Witchblade) was arrested Saturday in Delray Beach, Fla., and charged with disorderly intoxication after she wandered in and out of traffic. According to reports, several cars had to swerve to avoid hitting her. This isn't Butler's first run-in with the law. Last January, she was arrested after a fight at her uncle's Long Island home. She was ordered to complete a 28-day stay in rehab and stay out of trouble for a year. read more

JACKO TALKS!

Michael Jackson has set up a new Web site to speak directly to "fans, friends and family" about the child molestation charges leveled against him. "As you know, the charges recently directed at me are terribly serious," he wrote. "They are, however, predicated on a big lie. This will be shown in court, and we will be able to put this horrible time behind us." Jackson says MJNews.us will serve as "a source of official communications on my case." Conspicuously missing from the site: A certain official mug shot. I'm sure it's just an oversight. read more

EXCITING DEVELOPMENT

Fox has extended a full-season order (that's 22 episodes) to its sublime (yet low-rated) family comedy Arrested Development. The network, meanwhile, is developing a comedy based on the bestselling book The Complete A--hole's Guide to Handling Chicks, Variety reports. read more

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