Today's News: Our Take


TO RENEW OR NOT TO RENEW

This is a nerve-wracking time in the TV biz. This week, network execs will determine the fate of nearly two dozen series hovering between renewal and cancellation. The results will be made public beginning May 12, when ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, the WB and UPN announce their fall schedules. Among the shows on the bubble: The Practice, Ed, Boomtown, Fastlane and My Big Fat Greek Life. Meanwhile, fans of the WB's Angel — another "bubble" show — aren't letting the cult series go down without a bloody good fight. The acclaimed Buffy spinoff topped the list of shows viewers most wanted to see return in the fall, according to USA Today's sixt read more

HAIR GEL ALERT!

Paramount Pictures remains hopelessly devoted to its Grease franchise. The studio is developing a third installment of the musical film series that would be set in the late-'70s and revolve around the children of John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's characters. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Travolta and Newton-John have both been offered roles in the pic. However, rumor has it that Maxwell Caulfield and Michelle Pfeiffer have been barred from coming within 100 miles of the set. read more

SHORT CUTS

Actor Rainn Wilson, currently playing mortuary intern Arthur on HBO's Six Feet Under, has joined the cast of Janeane Garofalo's ABC midseason comedy pilot Slice o' Life... Resident Jackass Johnny Knoxville has signed a deal with Paramount to star in and produce an untitled comedy about a war that develops between two hot dog vendors in downtown Los Angeles. read more

TINA TANKS

Tina Brown's TV career got off to a disastrous start Wednesday night. The debut of the publishing diva's CNBC talk show Topic A with Tina Brown attracted a miniscule 74,000 viewers. To put that number in perspective, anything less than 200,000 is considered to be utterly humiliating. read more

JOEY WEDS!

Rachel should have made out with Joey while she had the chance. Friends star Matt LeBlanc married his longtime fiancée Melissa McKnight Saturday on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. According to Extra, all of LeBlanc's Friends were in attendance with the apparent exception of Matthew Perry. Also suspiciously MIA: a certain actor/chimpanzee/third baseman named Ed. read more

WEATHER BULLETIN

The forecast for Al Roker's daughter looks hazy with periods of unprovoked giddiness and sudden cravings. According to the New York Post, Courtney Roker — the 15-year-old daughter of Today's incredible shrinking weatherman — was suspended from her Westchester high school last week after she confessed to her dad that she smoked pot on school grounds. Two of her pals were also busted. read more

MUTANTS RULE!

The mutants of X2: X-Men United overtook the planet this weekend, grossing $85.9 million in the U.S. and another $69 million overseas. That ranks as the fourth-best debut in history, following Spider-Man and the first two Harry Potter films. Tween superstar Hilary Duff also seems destined for world domination; her Lizzie McGuire Movie opened at No. 2 with a better-than-expected $17 million. Rounding out the top five: Identity (No. 3 with $9.5 million), Anger Management (No. 4 with $8.5 million) and Holes (No. 5 with $6.5 million). read more

West Wing Creator Quits! What Now?

Talk about political upheaval. Late Thursday, West Wing's creator and exec producer Aaron Sorkin sent shockwaves through the TV industry when he announced that he would be stepping down as the show's Emmy-winning commander-in-chief. And what's more, he's taking his No. 2, exec producer/director Tommy Schlamme, with him. Although insiders speculate that Sorkin was driven out in part due to the show's declining ratings, all parties insist the split was an amicable one. That's a sentiment pretty much shared by fellow WW producer John Wells, who in this exclusive interview with TV Guide Online, sets the record straight about the surprising behind-the-scenes shake-up at NBC's fictional White House.
TV Guide Online: Why is Aaron leaving?
John Wells:
He's been threatening to for the last three years, and each year we've been successful in getting him to stay. [But] this year, he said he really needs to read more

Chicago Producers See Red


Everybody loves Lucille Ball. And Craig Zadan and Neil Meron — the Oscar-winning producers of Chicago — are no exception. The successful duo, whose recent TV biopics include Martin and Lewis and Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows, cover the famous redhead in Lucy (Sunday at 8 pm/ET on CBS). But will they be kind?

"We've truly loved the people that we have done biopics on," says Meron. "We truly want to honor them, and we want people to understand why they were great. I hope that we've been successful in that, because in no way shape or form would we ever want to malign these people."

The three-hour teleplay explores the comedienne's pers read more

Heather Donahue Files Suit


The Hollywood parody New Suit (opening Friday) is highly unlikely to make movie-goers forget how much they loved — and loved to hateHeather Donahue as The Blair Witch Project's other scary villainess. But that's just fine with the level-headed up-and-comer. She never aspired to be a sensation, never mind an overnight one.

"I want the same career I've always wanted, which is sort of long, slow and respected, at least by myself," she tells TV Guide Online. "That's how I always imagined things going — working my way up, getting a part here and a part there, then gradually just being a working actor. I love making my living as an actor — to me, that's a minor miracle.

"In fact, the whole Blair Witch experience came as a huge, not-entirely-pleasant shock," she adds, noting that after the pi read more

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