Today's News: Our Take


IDOL NEWS

Fox will debut its kiddie version of American Idol, titled Junior Idol, on June 3. The spinoff will air in AI's Tuesday-8 pm timeslot. In related news, Variety reports that American Idol 3 will kick off in January 2004. read more

LESS IS MORE

ABC is shortening its prime-time shows by 2 1/2 minutes to make room for war updates. "By asking our producers to deliver shorter episodes, we've addressed the need for news updates while also protecting the integrity of our prime-time content," an ABC rep tells Reuters. Good, because I was beginning to worry that no one was protecting the integrity of According to Jim. read more

PEACE PIPES

Rocker Lenny Kravitz has recorded a peace anthem with Iraqi pop star Kadim Al Sahir titled We Want Peace. The tune is available at www.RockTheVote.org. read more

Oscar Bleeps Nicole Kidman


The mystery surrounding Nicole Kidman's Academy Awards acceptance speech has been solved! Producers cut to a commercial break before the Oscar winner was finished with her thank yous, leaving the telecast's 33 million viewers wondering, "What'd we miss?" Turns out, the Hours star gave a shout-out to her acting coach, Susan Batson.

"They drowned me out," Kidman says. "They heard it in the [Kodak Theater], but they didn't hear it on television." (Unlike fellow Aussie Russell Crowe, who threw a hissy fit when the BAFTA folks gave him the hook in 2002, Kidman's, er, nose was not out of joint about the slight.)

Well, with that head- read more

D-DAY

Las Vegas was the place to be Tuesday night as newly-shorn diva Celine Dion debuted her much-hyped $30 million stage show "A New Day" at the 4,100-seat Colosseum at Caesar's Palace. During the 100-minute extravaganza, the 35-year-old singer belted out 20 tunes, including such classics as "Fever," "At Last" and "I've Got the World on a String." Under the terms of her contract, Dion is expected perform five nights a week, 40 weeks a year until 2006 — or until the locals stage an uprising against her. read more

JUST BETWEEN YOU AND ME...

Connie Chung — whose career just hasn't been the same since she urged Kathleen Gingrich to whisper sweet somethings into her ear during a 1995 interview — is out of work again. On Tuesday, CNN abruptly axed her prime-time show Connie Chung Tonight. Although CNN asked her to stay on in another capacity, Maury Povich's other half declined. read more

BATTLE FOR VIEWERS

In the war over cable news leadership, Fox News Channel has outdrawn CNN in the ratings during the first five days of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Through Monday, Fox has averaged 4 million viewers to CNN's 3.57 million. But don't count CNN out yet: Word has it the network is considering sending Bill Hemmer into the field shirtless. read more

BELATED THANKS

Oscar-winning filmmaker Roman Polanski issued a statement from France Tuesday saying he was "deeply touched" to be honored with the best director Oscar for his Holocaust drama The Pianist. Polanski, who fled the U.S. in 1978 after being sentenced to prison for having sex with a 13-year-old girl, faces arrest if he returns. read more

THE TRADITION CONTINUES

ABC has rescheduled Barbara Walters's annual Oscar special, featuring interviews with Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Renée Zellweger, for Tuesday at 10 pm/ET. The network, meanwhile, has postponed its one-hour special Tim Allen Presents: A User's Guide to Home Improvement from April 1 until later this season. The delay is due to the ongoing war coverage. read more

FITTING TRIBUTE

Republican Rep. Jeff Habay plans to introduce legislation that would rename the Highland Park Bridge in suburban Pittsburgh after late TV icon Fred Rogers, who died last month of stomach cancer. read more

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