Today's News: Our Take


Ryan Seacrest is finally getting what he's always dreamed of — a TV show where it's all about him. Twentieth Television confirmed Wednesday that the American Idol emcee will host his own syndicated talk/variety show beginning in January. "There's a huge audience of entire families across the country that are as hooked on pop culture as I am," he says. "The bottom line is that there isn't a daily, live show that satisfies that craving." Translation: Expect a heavy emphasis on looking pretty. read more


The Matrix Reloaded continues on its record-setting pace. As of today, the mega-sequel has taken in $151.9 million — the biggest first-week tally in box office history. That breaks the record set last summer by Spider-Man, which grossed $151.6 million in its first full week. read more


Marilyn Manson's new CD The Golden Age of Grotesque debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's album chart with 118,000 copies sold. 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin' slipped to No. 2 with 107,000 copies. read more


The Dixie Chicks got a decidedly cool reception at last night's Academy of Country Music Awards. Not only did the embattled country trio go home empty-handed (they were up for three awards), but the George Bush-lovin audience booed the mere mention of their name. At one point during the CBS ceremony, Vince Gill urged the crowd to "stop it," adding, "You know who gets blessed when you forgive? You." Meanwhile, the night's big winners included Alan Jackson (album of the year for Drive), Toby Keith (entertainer of the year) and Brooks & Dunn (best vocal duo). read more


The 2002-03 TV season came to a close Wednesday night and CBS crossed the finish line as the most-watched network. NBC came in second, followed by ABC, Fox, the WB and UPN. Among adults 18-49, NBC was once again tops, but Fox — fueled by reality phenoms Joe Millionaire and American Idol — ranked a strong No. 2. CSI, meanwhile, replaced Friends as the country's most popular show. read more


Warner Bros. has tapped Tim Burton to direct its long-gestating remake of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston will produce the pic under their newly formed partnership with Brad Grey (The Sopranos). read more


Hollywood heavyweights Bryan Singer (X-Men) and Dean Devlin (Independence Day) are teaming up to produce an eight-hour mini-series about the Bermuda Triangle for the Sci Fi Channel. "It will involve people who've gone through a number of different experiences with the Bermuda Triangle," Devlin tells Variety, "who come together and decide to confront the mystery." read more


The country embraced American Idol's velvet teddy bear last night. In an extremely close vote, Ruben Studdard defeated reformed geek Clay Aiken to win the second Idol championship. Roughly 130,000 votes (of a record 24 million) separated the two in the final count. (Host Ryan Seacrest initially said the split was 1,335, but Fox later corrected that.) Studdard's new single "Flying Without Wings" — which he performed for the first time Tuesday night — will be released June 10. Nielsen, meanwhile, estimates that an average 33.7 million viewers watched the two-hour climax, giving Fox its best Wednesday ratings in history. For the lowdown on last night's grand finale, click here. read more


Everybody Loves Raymond's Peter Boyle has been cast as evil Old Man Wickles in Scooby-Doo 2, Entertainment Tonight reports. The sequel will hit theaters in the spring. read more


Michael Jackson was briefly hospitalized in Indianapolis on Wednesday shortly before he was scheduled to give a deposition in a copyright lawsuit. The singer's attorney told The Associated Press that his client "doesn't like lawsuits, and it makes him ill to have to cope with litigation that people seem to heap on him." I really want to feel sorry for him, but... nope, can't do it. read more

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