Today's News: Our Take


MOB HIT

The mob has regained control of Sunday night. The fourth season premiere of HBO's The Sopranos attracted a record 13.4 million viewers, beating all the broadcast networks. Mediaweek's Marc Berman calls the show's Nielsen performance "amazing." Despite the huge tune-in, viewers remain split as to whether the episode was worth the 16-month wait. According to a TV Guide Online poll conducted Monday, nearly half of those surveyed found Sunday night's installment — yikes! — boring. On the plus side, next week's episode is business as usual (read: it's really good.) read more

BACHELOR PAD

Billy Joel has found a solution to his dating woes: The singer plans to rent an apartment in Manhattan. "I'm not going to meet anyone out here," the Long Island resident tells The New York Times. "The happiest times in my life were when my relationships were going well — when I was in love with someone, and someone was loving me. But in my whole life, I haven't met the person I can sustain a relationship with yet. So I'm discontented about that. I'm angry with myself. I have regrets." read more

NOT VERY GLAAD

Where's Ellen when you need her? According to a report by the the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, the number of gay characters on prime time has declined from 20 last season to just seven this season. Will someone please out Smithers already! read more

FREDDIE'S EXPERIMENT

Matinee idol Freddie Prinze Jr. is moving in on wife Sarah Michelle Gellar's territory. Prinze will make a rare small-screen appearance Thursday night on the season premiere of the WB's Jamie Kennedy Experiment (9 pm/ET). Prinze and Kennedy turn an acting class into a seminar for a robot-worshipping cult. read more

RISK TAKER

Will & Grace's Debra Messing has been tapped to play Ben Stiller's wife in an untitled big-screen romantic comedy from Universal. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stiller plays an anal-retentive, risk-averse man who gets involved in a risky romance with Messing. read more

REEVE PEEVED

An "angry and disappointed" Christopher Reeve is accusing the Catholic church and President Bush of obstructing research which might help him walk again. The paralyzed Superman star tells Britain's Guardian newspaper that Bush caved in on the issue of embryonic stem cell research after the Catholic church expressed opposition to cloning. "If we'd had full government support, full government funding for aggressive research using embryonic stem cells from the moment they were first isolated," he says, "I don't think it unreasonable to speculate that we might be in human trials by now." read more

Everwood: Too Gooey for Its Own Good?


Some critics have scolded the WB's new father-son drama Everwood — which debuted last night following the season premiere of 7th Heaven — of pouring on the sugar a little too thick. Monday's mostly positive TV Guide Online review accused the series of being a "bit excessive and sentimental," but USA Today went a step further, saying it features "every sappy TV clich&#233" under the sun (read: ghosts, narrators, eccentric townsfolk — oh my!)

Not surprisingly, Everwood's leading man Treat Williams, who plays a big-time doc trying to reconnect with his son, scoffs at the namby-pamby charge. "I've seen some shows on TV that I think are impossible to watch," he tells TV Guide Online. "On the contrary, Everwood allows itself to be e read more

SHORT CUTS

ABC has ordered a pilot for a cop drama set in Alaska. The Circle is being targeted for a fall 2003 debut... NBC has greenlit a second, 13-episode season of Crime & Punishment to air next summer... Cheers alum John Ratzenberger has been cast as one of the nine Pennsylvania coal miners in ABC's upcoming TV movie about last July's miraculous Quecreek miner rescue... No Doubt singer Gwen Stefani wed longtime beau Gavin Rossdale Saturday in London... Denzel Washington will be honored by American Cinematheque at its annual dinner Dec. 5. read more

SANFORD STAR DIES

LaWanda Page, who played Bible-toting aunt Esther Anderson on Sanford and Son, died Saturday in Los Angeles from complications of diabetes. She was 81. Page also appeared on Family Matters, Amen and 227. read more

EARLY SHOW

Theatergoers can now get turned away from Hairspray an hour earlier! Beginning in January, Broadway shows — which traditionally start at 8 pm — will now raise curtain at 7 pm on Tuesdays. Producers hope that the stunt, dubbed "Tuesdays at Seven," will boost ticket sales on what is typically the slowest night of the week. read more

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