Today's News: Our Take


Traci Lords "Boared" to Death!


Traci Elizabeth Lords, a party dress and a crossbow — that's really all we needed to hear to know that we'd be tuning in to Sci Fi's adaptation of James Axler's post-apocalyptic best-seller, Deathlands: Homeward Bound (Saturday at 9 pm/ET). But the actress, a veteran of such far-out fare as Blade and The Tommyknockers, offers TV Guide Online a few other compelling reasons to watch. For instance:

1. Her character, the deliciously avaricious Lady Rachel Cawdor, is more than just another wicked witch. "She's not really bad, she's just drawn that way," snickers the blonde bombshell, who also played villainesses on Profiler and Melrose Place. "She really believes that she is the ultimate queen of the deathlands and that her husband [and stepson] Harvey is a nitwit. She's got a bit of a Napoleon complex, I think, and she's sure that Harve read more

Meet This American Dreamboat


When Will Estes stood us up for our interview last week, we were ready to write him off as just another Hollywood hunk who's more concerned with his little black book than his day planner. But after finally connecting with the 24-year-old former child star — and accepting his profuse apologies — we had to do some editing on our story. Turns out, the L.A. native is perfectly cast as American Dreams's J.J. Pryor, the endearingly earnest Vietnam-era teenager at the heart of this week's season finale (airing on NBC Sunday at 8 pm/ET). Read on, and see if you don't agree.

TV Guide Online: So, Will, how much does it suck to be you? I mean, American Dreams just got renewed, but in tomorrow's episode, your character enlists in the Marines! You've got to be worried about job security 24-7!
Will Estes:
(Laughing) Exactly. [Executive producer Jonathan Prince] has a way to kill off all of us, I think. The dad could have a heart at read more

ALL-AMERICAN GIRLS

Besides Alicia Keys, American Idol champ Kelly Clarkson and Destiny's Child hottie Beyonce Knowles are both in negotiations to guest-star as 1960s pop idols on American Dreams next season. No word yet on whom the singing sensations will be playing. read more

The Lowdown on the Network Upfronts


Is there anything more fun than watching big stars grovel for dollars and network executives deflate their own egos? Thought not. That's why, despite the boring ratings charts, we love the Upfronts. Every time the six broadcast channels converge on Gotham for this weeklong, annual ritual, in which the networks unveil their new fall shows for advertisers, we get dizzy watching spin doctors try to convince the deep-pocketed advertising community that, no matter what the pesky numbers say, last season was their best ever, and next year is guaranteed to produce more Judging Amys than Watching Ellies. Go ahead and laugh, folks, 'cause it is funny. Read on, as TV Guide Online picks the best and worst moments from Hype-a-Palooza '03, and see for yourself:

Best Opening
CBS's riff on "All That Jazz." The Eye saw clear to hire the cast of Broadway's Chicago for a, um, refocused version of the showstopper. The clever lyrics of "All read more

SUDDENLY A MOTHER

Brooke Shields gave birth to a baby girl Thursday in New York. This is the first child for the 37-year-old actress and her TV writer/producer Chris Henchy. There's no word on the baby's name, but I personally hope they go with Emmeline. read more

IN A LATHER

As the World Turns, General Hospital and comedian Wayne Brady were the big winners at last night's Daytime Emmy awards. ATWT was named best soap, while GH picked up statues for best actor (finally, Maurice Benard), best supporting actress (Vanessa Marcil) and best writing team. Brady, who emceed the three-hour ceremony, scored a major upset by snagging the outstanding talk show host trophy over heavily favored Dr. Phil. Talk about tough love. read more

WATCH AND WASTE

Disney is testing out a new disposable DVD to be sold in nontraditional retail outlets like supermarkets and drugstores. The discs — which will go for around $5 a pop — will self-destruct 48 hours after they're opened, turning into nothing more than a drink coaster. Rumor has it, Jennifer Lopez films will come with an instant self-destruct option. read more

UPN Needs a Good Laugh


Buffy-less UPN is raising its comedy stakes this fall. The little network that couldn't climb out of last place this season is adding four comedies to its lineup, three of which will air as part of a new Tuesday sitcom block. The goal: To stem a steep 17 percent ratings slide brought on by a slumping Enterprise and poorly performing dramas (buh-bye Platinum, Twilight Zone and Haunted), and to better capitalize on its one real success story — its Monday laffers. Here's a night-by-night analysis of UPN's new lineup:

Monday
UPN isn't about to mess with a good thing, so it's leaving this night mostly intact. The Parkers will continue to kick things off at 8 pm, followed by the new twentysomething comedy The Opposite Sex, starring hip-hopper Eve. (It replaces One on One, which moves to Tuesday.) Some of Sex's raunchy gags had folks visibly shifting in their seats at the network's Upfront prese read more

CAGE'S RIGHTS

Nicolas Cage has signed on to star in a film version of the popular video game Dead to Rights, Variety reports. Cage will play a disgraced cop hunting for the person who murdered his father. read more

Crazy Like a Fox This Fall


Fox is sticking to its high-concept roots with the three dramas and four comedies it plans to launch next season. That's particularly notable, considering the network's competition seems to be playing it safe, avoiding the inventive and edgy. Fox carries only 15 hours of programming each week, nearly a third of which will be filled with new shows this fall — that's what you call a major overhaul. Here's a night-by-night look at the schedule:

Monday
Major changes here. The night kicks off at 8 with the return of Joe Millionaire in the spot occupied for the last four seasons by Boston Public, which will move to Friday. Fox Entertainment President Gail Berman isn't giving any details on Joe 2, other than to allow that manservant Paul Hogan will be back. After Joe's limited run, it will be replaced by Wonderfalls, a drama its creators Bryan Fuller (Star Trek: Voyager) and Todd Holland (Malc read more

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