Today's News: Our Take


AND THE ACTOR GOES TO...

In what could be a preview of Sunday's Oscars, The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won the top prize — best performance by a cast — at last night's Screen Actors Guild Awards. Individual honors went to Charlize Theron (best actress for Monster), Tim Robbins (best supporting actor for Mystic River), Renee Zellweger (best supporting actress for Cold Mountain) and, in the night's biggest upset, Pirates of the Caribbean's Johnny Depp — who beat out Sean Penn and Bill Mur read more

THE WRITE STUFF

A pair of quirky indies dominated the Writers Guild of America's 56th annual awardsfest Saturday. Sofia Coppola won best original screenplay for Lost in Translation, and Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer snagged the best adapted screenplay prize for American Splendor. On the TV side, trophies for best comedy and drama writing went to Frasier and 24. read more

UNWELCOME

Turns out not everybody loves Raymond on the big screen. Ray Romano's live-action feature debut, Welcome to Mooseport, opened in fourth place at the weekend box office with a disappointing $7 million. (That noise you hear is Romano giving CBS the go-ahead for an eighth season of Raymond.) Fellow newcomers Eurotrip and Against the Ropes also crashed and burned, grossing less than $10 million combined. 50 First Dates, meanwhile, held on to the top spot with $21 million, bringing its 10-day total to $72.3 million. read more

YO, ADRIAN!

It didn't take long for reality guru Mark Burnett to find a home for The Contender, his latest unscripted experiment that's basically American Idol set within the boxing world. NBC agreed to shell out a record $2 million per episode for the show, beating out rival bids from ABC, CBS and Fox. As we reported here Thursday, The Contender — which Burnett is producing with DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg and erstwhile Rocky, Sylvester Stallone — aims to find America's next boxing superstar. read more

EVERY LITTLE STEP BACK

Singer Bobby Brown is back home — behind bars. Whitney's hubby-turned-albatross was jailed in Atlanta over the weekend for an unspecified parole violation stemming from his prior drunken driving conviction. He's expected to remain in the slammer until a court hearing on Friday. read more

NEW BLOOD

This may be the year Scrubs and Gilmore Girls get some long-overdue Emmy props! In a bid to freshen up a competition that finds the same shows winning year after year, the TV academy will allow voters to check off 10 names/shows per category when ballots arrive in May — that's double the current five. The number of final nominees per category, however, will remain at five. Says an Emmy rep: "This gives the approximately 12,000 academy members a chance to expand the field of nominees." Translation: The West Wing's three-year reign is about to come to an end. read more

SundaySex and the City: A Farewell,...

Sunday

Sex and the City: A Farewell, Sex and the City Finale
Looking for 60 minutes of off-the-scale self-aggrandizement, self-stroking and self-importance? Me neither, and it's even more galling that I'm paying 20 bucks a month extra to see it in this retrospective. There's so much going on, in fact, that there's hardly any room for the outside observers to kiss up. Speaking of which, who've we got commenting? Former Average Joe hostess Kathy Griffin and Star Jones. That's some lineup. What, Kato Kaelin and Linda Tripp weren't available? Still, the touching high point of the look back was absolutely the tribute to the crew. And one other thing I got from this: No one in the biz hands out good-sport awards, as far as I know. But when they create one, Kim Cattrall should get the first.

Overall, this show has always been a like-'em, like-'em-not affair, wit read more

BOWLED OVER

Not to be outdone, fervent Ed fans took out a full-page ad in today's Variety begging NBC to renew the show for a fifth season. "This was above and beyond," says exec producer Rob Burnett of the $5,000 gesture. "We were touched that people would actually spend their own money for something like this." NBC recently told TV Guide Online that Ed's Feb. 6 season finale was likely the show's swan song. read more

Hilary Duff's Rival Speaks


Art apparently imitates life for Disney starlet Lindsay Lohan. In Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen — opening today — she copes with a spoiled high-school rival. Off screen, the 17-year-old actress has clashed with another teen diva, Hilary Duff. The young women reportedly have been feuding over pop singer Aaron Carter, whom they've both dated. For Lohan's part, the Hilary tiff is so yesterday.

"I have no problem with her," Lohan tells TV Guide Online. "I don't think she should [have a problem with me]. She doesn't need to. Her career is going great and her CD is doing well. I wish her the best of luck."

Their spat hit the media last year, when Duff and her mother allegedly tried to have Lohan kicked out of the New York premiere of Duff's movie, read more

Chris Isaak's American Tribute


When reflects on his career mistakes, his idol — the late, great '60s rocker Roy Orbison — comes to mind. "I got a call from Roy Orbison years ago, when I was out playing some hole-in-the-wall," Isaak says. "He wanted me to play on a special and I said, 'Yeah, I'd love to do it!' My manager said, 'We already booked a gig and they're depending on you.' And from wherever the hell I'm from, I went, 'You're right, they're depending on me.' Now, I realize I should have said, 'Screw them, I'm playing the Roy Orbison thing!'"

It's too late for Isaak to do a gig with Orbison, but thanks to the magic of television, he can go back in time to share in his legacy. The rockabilly guest-stars on Sunday's American Dreams to sing "Pretty Woman" — as Orbison himself.

"That [song is] so much Roy, I u read more

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