Today's News: Our Take


SAD NEWS

Director John Schlesinger — an Oscar winner for 1969's Midnight Cowboy — died on Friday morning in Palm Springs, Calif. The 77-year-old, who suffered a stroke in 2000, has faced deteriorating health in recent weeks; he was taken off life support at Desert Regional Medical Center on Thursday. Schlesinger's diverse body of work includes Billy Liar, Darling, Marathon Man, Sunday Bloody Sunday and Cold Comfort Farm. His final film was 2000's The Next Best Thing. The out and proud gay director is survived by his lover of 30 years, photographer Michael Childers. read more

LEGAL BRIEF

David E. Kelley has recruited another movie star to help resuscitate The Practice. In what The Hollywood Reporter is calling his "first major television commitment," Chris O'Donnell has signed on to do a three-episode arc on the ABC legal drama. He'll play Brad Stanfield, a man who stands accused of murdering his pregnant wife. (Hmmm... where have I heard that before?) The O'Donnell news follows the casting of Sharon Stone, who will also appear in a multi-episode story arc this season. read more

MISSY RULES

Hip-hop diva Missy Elliott's "Work It" snagged eight nominations for the MTV Video Music Awards, airing Aug. 28. Justin Timberlake got seven nods — five for "Cry Me A River" and two for "Rock Your Body." And, in a surprising twist, country music old timer Johnny Cash got six nods for "Hurt." read more

MODELING DRAMA

Rapper Eve, 24, is being sued by Wilhelmina, her former modeling agency, TheSmokingGun.com reports. According to court papers, Eve — who stars in a self-titled UPN fall sitcom — signed lucrative shoe endorsement deals with Reebok and Candie's after cutting ties with Wilhelmina last year. However, the agency claims to have originally put those deals in motion and wants its cut. read more

HANK LIVES

Hank, Peggy and the other animated yokels of Arlen, Tex., can breathe a sigh of relief. Fox has renewed King of the Hill for a ninth year, through the 2004-2005 season. read more

HOST HUNT BEGINS

Barbara Walters is finally getting around to replacing Lisa Ling on The View. Beginning in early September, Walters and her View crew will kick off two months of on-air tryouts featuring up to 20 contenders. Up first: Real World alum Rachel Campos, who was a finalist for Ling's slot the first time around. read more

SHORT CUTS

Brit director Mike Newell (Donnie Brasco) is in talks to helm the fourth installment of the Harry Potter film franchise, Harry Potter and Goblet of Fire... The team behind Broadway's Hairspray will bring another John Waters film — 1990's Cry-Baby — to the Great White way, Variety reports. read more

Joey's All the Rage at NBC Press Tour


NBC kicked off its portion of the Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Hollywood, Calif., on Thursday by announcing that it had struck a deal with Matt LeBlanc to star in Joey, a Friends spinoff centered around TV's most lovable dimwit. "I spoke to Matt last night, and he is over the moon," Peacock entertainment prez Jeff Zucker told reporters, "Needless to say, we are too." But before you could shout, "How you doin?", reality set in: Since Jennifer Aniston is not taking part in the show, doesn't it essentially rule out a happy ending for Joey and Rachel — not to mention spoil a story that has galvanized viewers for the better part of two years? For answers to those questions — as well as scoop on read more

TUESDAY ROMANCE

CBS is moving Cupid from Wednesday nights to Tuesdays at 9 pm, right after Big Brother 4, starting Aug. 5. Produced by Simon Cowell, the reality show follows advertising copywriter Lisa Shannon's quest for a husband and $1 million. read more

Which Sex Symbol's Bound for the City?


We'd bet our monogrammed handcuffs that when Sex and the City climaxes in early 2004, Carrie (Sarah Jessica Parker) will shag off into the sunset with her elusive longtime lover, Mr. Big (Chris Noth). Nonetheless, the HBO hitcom is determined to try to keep us guessing by introducing our bed-hopping heroine to a new lust interest, to be played by not just an A-lister, but an A-plus-lister. (And no, it's not David Duchovny; turns out, the X-Files grad will only be passing through next month.) "Why would we bring in a major name," argues executive producer Michael Patrick King, "if [Big] was already [the clear winner]?" Um, did we mention that they'd like to keep us gu read more

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