Today's News: Our Take


COMING ATTRACTIONS

Diana Ross's most hotly anticipated on-camera performance in decades debuts this Friday. Despite protests from Ross's attorneys, a judge on Tuesday ordered the release of a police videotape shot during the 58-year-old singer's Dec. 30 DUI arrest. However, when the tape comes out Friday, it will be sans audio. The video was shot while police questioned Ross and gave her a field sobriety test. read more

SLUMMING IT

ABC has announced the lineup for its upcoming Survivor-esque reality series I'm a Celebrity — Get Me Out of Here!, and it's a pretty scary group! The C-list castaways include: model Tyson Beckford, "Downtown" Julie Brown, Olympic champ Bruce Jenner, Robin Leach, Melissa Rivers, actress Alana Stewart and Howard Stern's infamous sidekick, Stuttering John. An eighth cast member will be announced at a later date, which probably means producers are still trying to coax Andrew Shue out of retirement. The show, which will be set Down Under, will air live over 15 consecutive nights next month. read more

QUEEN PLEADS

Chicago star Queen Latifah pleaded no contest Tuesday to misdemeanor reckless driving to avoid facing trial on two charges of DUI stemming from her November arrest in Los Angeles. The rapper-turned-actress was sentenced to three years' informal probation and ordered to pay $300 in fines. She also must participate in a 12-hour alcohol education program. read more

CASTING SCOOP!

7th Heaven is looking to score a perfect 10 with viewers this February. TV Guide Online has learned that Bo Derek will guest star on a Valentine's Day episode airing Feb. 10 playing the mother of Kevin and Ben (George and Geoff Stults). Meanwhile, series regular Jeremy London will get a visit from his twin brother Jason in the Feb. 3 episode. It's the first time the siblings will appear side-by-side on TV. read more

ORDER RESTORED

Harry Potter fanatics can simmer down now! Bloomsbury Publishing announced today that Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the long-awaited fifth book in the boy wizard series, is due in stores on June 21. "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is absolutely superb and will delight all J.K. Rowling's fans," raved Bloomsbury chief Nigel Newton. "She has written a brilliant and utterly compelling new adventure." The book includes 38 chapters and 255,000 words — a third longer than the last book, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. read more

IT'S RAINING MEN

Attention husband hunters! ABC's third Bachelor installment kicks off March 26 — and the show's latest lady-killer will be "the son of one of America's most affluent and prominent families." (Hopefully, he's an actual catch, not just another Joe Millionaire dude.) Meanwhile, on the blue-collar front, look for Tim Allen Presents a User's Guide to Home Improvement sometime this Spring. Basically, Tim Allen shows fave clips and bloopers from his 1991-1999 hit, then does Q&#038A with a live audience. read more

SINGLE SENSATIONS

New reality fare dominated the ratings race last week, with Fox's Joe Millionaire and ABC's The Bachelorette finishing No. 7 and No. 10 respectively. CBS's revival of Star Search also performed well, ranking No. 24 on Wednesday and No. 25 on Thursday. Overall, the Eye Network — buoyed by another first-place finish from CSI — won the week with an average 12.7 million viewers. NBC was a distant second, followed by ABC and Fox. read more

Mutants and Monsters and Babes... Oh, My!


Good news, guys — we're finally being guaranteed some action! (Sorry, not that kind.) Starting Saturday with Control Factor, a brain-scrambling government-conspiracy thriller starring Firefly roughneck Adam Baldwin and Elizabeth Berkley, the Sci Fi Channel will premiere two high-octane, low-budget original pictures per month on Saturdays at 9 pm/ET.

"Sci Fi has always done what we refer to as 'mayhem every seven minutes' — very fast-moving flicks that have aliens, creatures, monsters... any form of threat," network president Bonnie Hammer explains to TV Guide Online. "The movies generally have some moral dilemma involved, but the truth is, they [exist] purely for the sake of the chaos. And we've done extraordinarily well with them."

How extraordi read more

It's My Big Fat Greek Sitcom!


Looks like the next Peloponesian War is to be waged on American TV! The tube version of My Big Fat Greek Wedding — which has grossed over $228 million domestically — debuts Feb. 24 on CBS. Star Nia Vardalos has tweaked the title to My Big Fat Greek Life, and that's not the only change she and executive producer Rita Wilson are making. Still, the indie movie's feisty family feuding remains the same. "I really do have 27 first cousins and a loud, always-eating Greek family that loved me to the point of suffocation," Vardalos joked to reporters at the Television Critics Press Tour in Hollywood. "On a scale of one to 10, let's say I just kind of turn it up to 11." Here's the rest of the scoop on these souvlaki servers ...

First off, Nia Vardalo read more

NYPD Blue Gal Meets Psychic Detectives


Andrea Thompson — the NYPD Blue actress turned TV newswoman — is speaking out about her exit from CNN Headline News. "One of the things that was frustrating for me," she told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Hollywood, "is we were taking subjects like suitcase bombs and biological attacks, and trying to fit them into a two-and-a-half-minute interview.

"Basically," she added, "you just give the viewers enough to scare the hell out of them, and not any real valuable information. And we saw so much of that after Sept. 11 that I thought was, frankly, irresponsible."

So has Thompson doffed her press fedora to resume an acting career? "It's not as though I've left the world of journalism," she said, but reminded us that the non-compete clause in her CNN Headline News contract prevents her from read more

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