Today's News: Our Take


IDOL SHOWDOWN

American Idol champ Ruben Studdard and runner-up Clay Aiken are going head-to-head again — this time on the album charts. RCA plans to release both of their upcoming as-yet-untitled albums on the same day, Aug. 19, Billboard.com reports. If single sales are any indication, Aiken will likely come out on top; his "Bridge Over Troubled Water" trumped Studdard's "Flying Without Wings" 393,000 copies to 287,000 copies. read more

Ryan Seacrest-Frenchie Davis Reunion?


American Idol host Ryan Seacrest wants to make one thing clear about his upcoming as-yet untitled syndicated series. "It's not a spinoff of American Idol," he insists of the five-times-a-week live "entertainment news magazine/variety show hybrid," which launches next January in tandem with AI3. "Obviously that's a very popular piece of pop culture that we will incorporate, but we're not going to be all American Idol, all the time."

Still, Seacrest reveals that he may hire some Idol alums to serve as correspondents. Among the folks under consideration: booted belter Frenchie Davis. "She's a genuine star," he says, adding that he wants to "grab a handful of young [reporters] that bring something different to the table. I'm also thinking of doing a nationwide search for a pop culture junkie that could be a part of that team."

Ironically, the well-groomed smooth-talk read more

MAGICAL DAY

Aspiring wizards, start your broomsticks! Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the long-awaited fifth book in the kid wizard series, arrives in bookstores at midnight tonight amid very enthusiastic reviews. "It was worth the wait," raves The Associated Press, a sentiment shared by USA Today. "The book richly deserves the hype." Meanwhile, author J.K. Rowling is already hard at work on the sixth novel, Scholastic confirms. She hasn't been given a deadline, which means it will likely hit stores in early 2019. read more

Mutant X-Symbol Talks About Sex


Kim Cattrall's self-help book Satisfaction: The Art of the Female Orgasm should come with the following disclaimer: May cause performance anxiety in the actress-author's Sex and the City bedmates. "I found out about [the book] halfway through shooting," says Mutant X adonis Victor Webster, who plays a sleazy stockbroker seduced by Cattrall's sexually voracious alter ego Samantha on Sunday's season premiere (9 pm/ET on HBO). "I was like, 'If this was real-life, I would be very intimidated.'"

After his Sex stint reached its climax, Webster nonetheless had the cajones to not only purchase Cattrall's graphic guide to pleasure, but read it cover to cover! His reaction? "She's got a pretty good understanding of t read more

ABOUT FACE

Fox is having second thoughts about Cedric the Entertainer Presents. The network confirms that it has stopped production on the sketch comedy — just one month after renewing it for a second season. Yet, and here's the confusing part, the show is still returning in the fall. According to the Los Angeles Times, viewers will see original episodes produced last season. The unaired installments will run through December, at which point the show will be put to rest. read more

THE COUNTDOWN BEGINS...

Martha Stewart's trial for securities fraud has been set for Jan. 12, a federal judge ruled on Thursday. The lifestyle diva is accused of lying to investigators about her curiously timed sale of ImClone stock. If convicted, she could face up to 30 years in prison and $2 million in fines — neither of which would be a good thing. read more

NOT SO LUCKY

Oops, Britney Spears's star is fading. The singer failed to make this year's Forbes Top 100 Celebrity List after nabbing the top spot last year. Replacing her at No. 1 is Friends star Jennifer Aniston, who earned $35 million in 2002 and was plastered on more magazine covers than any other celeb. Rappers Eminem and Dr. Dre tied for the No. 2 spot. read more

THEY'VE ARRIVED!

The news isn't all bad for Britney. The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce unveiled its annual list of Hollywood Walk of Fame inductees on Thursday — and Spears made the cut! Other celebs getting the star treatment in 2004: Kevin Costner, Halle Berry, Glenn Close, Anthony Hopkins, John Singleton, Ted Turner, Journey and wonder twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. read more

BABY CROWE

Actress Kate Hudson, 24, and rocker-hubby Chris Robinson are expecting their first child early next year. Curiously, the baby announcement coincides with the release of Hudson's latest romantic comedy, Alex & Emma — which means her publicist is a freakin' genius! read more

PLUM PARTS

Renée Zellweger has signed on to star in and produce Piece of My Heart, a big-screen biopic on late rocker Janis Joplin. Filming is expected to get underway in early 2004 after Zellweger wraps the sequel to Bridget Jones's Diary. In other casting news, Angelina Jolie is in talks to play Catherine the Great in Disney's upcoming historical epic Love and Honor. read more

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