Today's News: Our Take


SCENE-STEALER

CSI's Marg Helgenberger has joined the cast of Synergy, the latest big-screen comedy from American Pie auteurs Paul and Chris Weitz. She'll play the wife to Dennis Quaid's character, a 50-year-old businessman who learns that his daughter (Scarlett Johansson) is having an affair with his 26-year-old boss (Topher Grace). read more

DEPP DIVES IN

Oscar-nominee Johnny Depp is in talks to star in Universal's upcoming adaptation of Jean-Dominique Bauby's autobiography The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. The flick centers around the late editor of France's Elle magazine who suffered a stroke in 1995 and used his left eye to blink out a memoir — letter by letter. read more

PASSION PLAY

Mel Gibson's Passion is expanding. Increased demand has led Newmarket Films to open The Passion of the Christ on 2,800 screens next Wednesday — up from 2,000. read more

PAGING SAM SOLOVEY...

Taking a page from The Apprentice, NBC's Today show kicked off a weeklong series Friday morning called "The Intern." Of the eight contestants, four will win the grand prize: a special assignment with Katie, Matt, Ann and Al. The rest will get fired and shipped over to CBS' The Early Show. In related news, Katie Couric has landed an exclusive sit-down with disgraced former New York Times reporter Jayson Blair. It'll air March 5 on Dateline. read more

SHORT CUTS

Fresh off her Grammy windfall, Beyoncé Knowles scored a leading four nominations for the 18th annual Soul Train Music Awards. Winners will be announced March 20... The judge presiding over the dispute between Rosie O'Donnell and the publisher of her now-defunct mag, Rosie, ruled Thursday that neither side was entitled to damages. The two-week trial ended in a draw last November. read more

SECOND ACT

Veteran newsman Bill Moyers, who currently hosts PBS' weekly magazine Now, will retire from broadcasting after the November elections. Moyers, 69, will segue into publishing with a book about Lyndon Johnson. read more

DREAM TEAM

New Line Cinema has purchased a script for a film that would team CBS sitcom giants Ray Romano and Kevin James. Men Don't Quit focuses on two friends who team up as door-to-door meat salesman. read more

BUH-BYE

Two more reality stars officially joined the has-been ranks Thursday night when 25-year-old New Yorker Rob Cesternino got the boot on CBS' Survivor: All-Stars (Damn you, Boston Rob!) and 36-year-old stockbroker Tammy Lee found herself on the receiving end of a pink slip (way to go, Trump!) on NBC's The Apprentice. TV Guide Online spoke to both G-listers just hours after their respective ousters, so keep an eye out for those Q&A's in this week's Insider. read more

TROUBLE IN NELLYVILLE

A Missouri casino faces a possible $50,000 fine for allegedly giving rapper Nelly special treatment when it allowed him to bet more than the legal limit. The President Casino in St. Louis hosted a late-night birthday party last November for the "Hot in Herre" crooner and his posse. Nelly publicist Juliette Harris insists her client didn't intentionally break the rules. read more

ANGEL UPDATE

Angel may be dead, but the show's fans sure aren't. Less than a week after the WB drove a stake through the Buffy spin-off, more than 45,000 Angel addicts have signed an online petition at PetitionOnline.com to keep the toothy drama alive. Campaigns to save the show are also being organized at numerous fan sites, including SupportAngel.org. But does any of this really matter? "It [helped] Roswell," says a WB rep. "It was as good as gone and the big fan campaign brought it back." In other words, the ball's in your court UPN. read more

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