Today's News: Our Take


HE'S BACK

It's official: Everybody at Everybody Loves Raymond is rich and happy again — including Brad Garrett. The disgruntled Emmy winner has resolved his salary dispute with CBS and is slated to return to work today. Garrett — who has been on strike since the start of the new season — accepted CBS's $250,000 per-episode offer; he had been earning roughly $166,000 an episode. Additionally, he'll get a small ownership stake in the show, also offered to co-stars Patricia Heaton, Peter Boyle and Doris Roberts. Garrett will now be written back into the show's second episode; his Robert character will be absent from the season premiere. read more

O.C. IS A-O.K.

Fox's The O.C. continues to pick up steam in the ratings. The prime-time soap's third episode attracted 8 million, its largest audience to date. read more

NEW SCREAM QUEEN

Former 7th Heaven star Jessica Biel has been cast in Blade: Trinity, the third installment of the big-screen vampire saga. The actress — who stars in the upcoming remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre — will play the daughter of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), according to The Hollywood Reporter. read more

CHARGING ADMISSION

Ever dream of visiting Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch? No? Well, he's inviting 500 deep-pocketed guests to do just that on Sept. 13, when he'll host a carnival-like dinner party on his $12.3 million estate in California's Santa Barbara County. Tickets for two will cost $5,000, with $1,000 from each sale going to children's charities; the other $4,000 will be applied to Jacko's Visa card debt, um, I mean will cover party expenses. read more

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Here's some more "TV News" scoop from the current issue of TV Guide magazine: Former Kid in the Hall Mark McKinney is joining Fox's Wanda at Large this season as Wanda's station manager/boss. He replaces Jason Kravits, who left to do something other than appear in the sitcom. read more

HE'S GOT MAD LEGAL TROUBLE, YO

Litigious folks everywhere have called open season on Sean "P. Diddy" Combs! A Queens, N.Y. woman is suing him, alleging that a bouncer at his Manhattan restaurant threw her to the ground and dragged her on the pavement, in order to break up a physical dispute she was having with a friend. Earlier this month, two men also sued the rapper, claiming his security roughed them up unnecessarily. "This lady is in for a rude awakening," his lawyer told The New York Post, "because unlike other superstars, Puffy fights these lawsuits." Puffy? P. Diddy? See? Even his own mouthpiece still doesn't know what to call the guy. read more

NBC has made it official, to the...

NBC has made it official, to the surprise of absolutely no one. Friends may be over come May, but the end will mark just another beginning for Joey Tribbiani, aka Matt LeBlanc, who'll headline the most significant TV spinoff since Cheers begat Frasier 11 years ago. When Joey premieres a year from September, no doubt in Friends's current Thursday time period, will it be a repeat of Frasier's unexpected success, or will it launch a "Friends curse" on the order of the sorry track record of Seinfeld alums Michael Richards, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus? It's way too early to tell, but only a complete curmudgeon would wish Matt or Joey anything but good luck. Spinning off Joey makes perfect sense to me, both creatively and realistically. It will be hard to say goodbye to this show and its phenomenal ensemble, but the bitter will be sweetened by the foreknowledge that Joey will still be around to amuse us. read more

COUNTRY KUDOS

Tuesday was country crooner Toby Keith's lucky day. He leads this year's nominations for the Country Music Association Awards with seven nods, including best entertainer, male vocalist, and album of the year for Unleashed. Johnny Cash snagged four CMA nods — two for his cover of the Nine Inch Nails song "Hurt." Brooks &#038 Dunn and Brad Paisley also received four each. And despite all their Dubya drama this year, the Dixie Chicks still got two nods, including best album for Home. read more

QUEER BOOK DEAL

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's Fab Five have landed a $1 million deal with Random House to publish an illustrated makeover book, the New York Post reports. The how-to tome — which will hit bookstores in February — will contain "edgy yet practical advice" from Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, Thom Filicia and Kyan Douglas. There's no word what fifth wheel Jai Rodriguez will contribute, but sources say it will be completely useless. read more

NOW FEAR THIS

Time to stock up on those barf bags: NBC has reached a deal with Endemol USA to keep Fear Factor on the air for an additional three years, through May 2007. read more

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