Today's News: Our Take


SPEAKING OF THE ACADEMY AWARDS...

Oscar producers are threatening to give winners the hook if they start thanking everyone from their pharmacist to their shrink. According to reports, winners will be limited to thanking just five people — unless you're a big star, in which case you can do anything you darn well please. read more

BADA BLING — ROUND TWO

The battle between Sopranos star James Gandolfini and HBO is about to get uglier. According to reports, the cabler is expected to file a countersuit against the actor, claiming he would cost the network $100 million by failing to show up for work on the show's fifth season. "We are exposing the frivolous nature of [Gandolfini's] claims," says HBO attorney Bert Fields. "If he doesn't show up by March 24, he's going to owe a huge amount of money." Gandolfini sued HBO last week over a contract technicality. Some say the whole thing is nothing more than a negotiations ploy. And to that, I say: "Duh!" read more

REV THAT PUBLICITY MACHINE

The April issue of W magazine features a 44-page photo spread of Madonna striking a series of unnatural poses with a pole. If I didn't know better, I'd think the Material Girl had a new album coming out or something. read more

GRADUATION DAY

Former Saturday Night Live wire Will Ferrell, whose new film Old School is shaping up to be a big hit, will pocket a cool $4 million to star in the DreamWorks comedy Action News. Ferrell — who co-wrote the script — will play a pompous newscaster in the 1970s. read more

Bachelorette Hottie: Addicted to Reality?


Fans of reality TV did a double-take last month when Charlie Maher from The Bachelorette materialized just days after the show's Feb. 19 finale on an episode of Blind Date on TNN! No, his Trista Rehn-induced broken heart did not mend in record time. Turns out, that particular installment was taped three years ago.

"There's a skeleton that got out of the closet," laughs the 28-year-old financial analyst from Hermosa Beach, Calif. "I knew as soon they found out I was on Bachelorette they would start [re-running] the hell out of that thing again.

"It was right after I turned 26," he adds of the Date. "I did it because [a scout] approached me down at the beach. I figured, 'Hey, what the hell. This would be fun... Kind of a gas.' But as you saw, the girl was not very quality. Of course, they decided to set me up with somebody they thought I would have massive friction with... [so] it would be good television."

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HE IS A CARTOON CHARACTER

Howard Stern is reportedly developing an animated series for cable network TNN that would focus on his high school years. Only this time around, all of his classmates will be lipstick lesbians. read more

THE BRITISH ARE COMING!

The Clash, the Police, Elvis Costello and the Attractions, AC/DC and the Righteous Brothers were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night in New York. The ceremony airs Saturday on VH1. read more

GOOD VIBRATIONS

Marky Mark's gonna be a papa! Rapper-turned-actor Mark Wahlberg and his model girlfriend Rhea Durham are expecting their first child in the fall, the New York Daily News reports. read more

PAGING PETA...

Here's a sentence I never thought I'd have to write: An airborne sheep's head hit a concertgoer and fractured his skull at a show for metal band Mayhem in Norway on Thursday. Apparently, the group was carving up a dead sheep on stage when the animal's head flew off frontman Maniac's knife and struck Per Kristian Hagen. The 25-year-old fan — who filed involuntary assault and battery charges against the band — is expected to make a full recovery. The same can't be said for the sheep. read more

THE SHOWS GO ON!

Broadway musicians reached a deal with producers today, ending a work stoppage that shut down 18 musicals since Friday. "We have great news," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Broadway is no longer dark." Theaters were expected to reopen tonight. Now that this whole thing is resolved, and tourists trek back to midtown Manhattan between the hours of 6-8 pm, I have one small request to make of Joe and Jane Sightseer: Please don't stop in the middle of a busy sidewalk to take a picture of the bustling metropolis that is New York during rush hour. For those of us heading home after a long day of work, it's really rather annoying. And contrary to popular belief, we will trample you. read more

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