Today's News: Our Take


RATINGS ROUND-UP

Buoyed by best-ever ratings for CSI, Without a Trace and Cold Case, CBS won the Nielsen derby last week with an average 14.2 million total viewers. NBC led among adults 18-49, thanks to season-high numbers from Friends and Fear Factor. American Idol-fueled Fox, meanwhile, finished a strong second in that demo and third among total viewers. Where does all this leave ABC? In desperate need of a hit. read more

SOUR NOTE

History was made on American Idol last night when, for the first time ever, two seemingly tone-deaf performers advanced to the finals round. Matthew Rogers and Camile Velasco — also known as the lesser of eight evils — received more than half of America's votes, securing for each a spot in Idol's final 12. They join last week's winners, Fantasia Barrino and Diana DeGarmo. read more

AMERICA'S NEXT TOP BOXER

Survivor guru Mark Burnett is teaming up with DreamWorks and Sylvester Stallone to develop a reality show that goes in search of the next boxing superstar. Burnett hopes to launch a new boxing organization in conjunction with the show in January 2005. read more

WHERE THERE'S SMOKE

Johnny Depp's smoke-free performance in Pirates of the Caribbean earned him a Pink Lung at the ninth annual Hackademy Awards, which are handed out by the American Lung Association. Diane Keaton, however, was given a Black Lung for her gratuitous puffing in Something's Gotta Give. In addition to discolored teeth and bad breath, she'll receive a lifetime supply of Shards O' Glass Freeze Pops. read more

ROUGH SKIES

Michael Jackson's travel agent of three years filed suit against the former King of Pop Wednesday, claiming he failed to pay for the infamous charter jet flight that brought him and his posse from Las Vegas to Santa Barbara, where he surrendered to authorities on molestation charges. Cynthia Montgomery says she was forced to foot the $18,000 bill because "XtraJet would not deliver the jet without payment up front." Meanwhile, a bigger question looms: Who paid for the peanuts and "Jesus juice?" read more

SHORT CUTS

X-Files helmer Rob Bowman is in talks to direct Elektra, the in-the-works Daredevil spin-off starring Jennifer Garner... Soul singer Doris Troy, best known for her hit '60s song "Just One Look," died Monday. She was 67. read more

American Idol Lisa Leuschner was...

American Idol
Lisa Leuschner was robbed!! There is no way that air-hiss-voiced Camile Velasco scored more votes than the busty belter who salvaged Tuesday night's painful performance show with a kickin' Joss Stone tune. Don't make me put my hands on my hips, people! At least Matthew Rogers moved on to the top 12. His sound may be just OK, but he seems really sweet. Like Fred Durst with a happier childhood and fewer tattoos.

That '70s Show
Oh, Alyson Hannigan, you were so cute as Buffy's lesbian witch. But, honey, no matter what role you take from now on, even as a police cadet smitten with Kelso, I will forever see you as the girl who did for band geeks what... well, what most other chicks wouldn't do for band geeks. Or anyone else, for that matter. Fez's gun-range snafu gets extra laugh points, if on read more

Apprentice's Jessie Defends Herself

Talk about bad karma. Last week on The Apprentice, 21-year-old Jessie Connors got the ax days after back-stabbing teammate Kristi in front of Donald Trump and America. TV Guide Online caught up with the young entrepreneur, who defends her bad behavior in the boardroom, explains her irksome negotiation style and rationalizes her exile.

TV Guide Online: You were the youngest contestant. Were you intimidated by the others? Jessie Connors: I don't think intimidated is the right word. I admire some of the players very much. It was awesome just to meet them and to see their resumes and what they've accomplished.

TVGO: Whom did you admire the most? Jessie: I loved Heidi. She's so feisty and honest and blunt. Sam, because he thinks outside of the box. Kristi, because working with her was so much fun. She's a great girl.

TVGO: That said, why did you stab Kristi in the back in the boardroom? read more

NEW VOICE AT TONIGHT

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has tapped Howard Stern's longtime sidekick, John Melendez (aka "Stuttering John"), to serve as its new announcer. He replaces Edd Hall, who is leaving to pursue an acting career. Melendez debuts March 29. read more

Seven Silly Questions for... Barbie

Valentine's Day finally has passed, but we're still down in the dumps — and not just because our mailbox saw less traffic than a multiplex showing a Bennifer film festival, either. We can't get over the fact that Barbie gave the heave-ho to longtime companion Ken! However, we are determined to make peace with the breakup, for ourselves as well as for you, our loyal readers. So, to that end, we rang up the living doll intent on asking what's to become of the broken-hearted.

TV Guide Online: Barbie, are you out of your freakin' mind, dumping Ken?! The guy hasn't gained an ounce in... well, ever! He's buff! He's even shiny! What were you thinking? Is this because he wouldn't marry you? Is it because he's really gay? What's going on?
Barbie:
Oh, I agree; Ken is a wonderful guy! I wouldn't have stayed with him for 43 years if he weren't such a great, dedicated boyfriend. The fact of the matter is that we just finished wrapping our fourth movie tog read more

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