Today's News: Our Take


Her scandalous ouster from American Idol sure hasn't hurt Frenchie Davis's career. She begins appearing in Broadway's Rent on May 16. Davis will sing the popular "Seasons of Love" solo, plus play three or four small character roles in the Tony-winning AIDS-themed musical. read more


As if reality TV weren't soda-saturated enough — American Idol's endless Coke plugs give my colleague Daniel "Party Boy" Coleridge gas — now Pepsi is in on the act. Comic Drew Carey has been tapped to host Pepsi Play For a Billion, a two-hour special airing this fall on the WB. All summer, viewers will check cans of Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Sierra Mist for sweepstakes entry codes, which they'll enter on a website for a chance to appear on the show and win $1 billion. read more

Idol Chatter with Trenyce

In late March, when it was revealed that American Idol finalist Trenyce, like so many of her competitors, had a rap sheet, we naturally assumed that her fate had been sealed: She would be forever known as the poor man's Tamyra Gray. But a funny thing happened on Trenyce's way to obscurity. In the weeks that followed, the artist formerly known as Lashundra Cobbins gave one arresting performance after another. ("She's so friggin good, there ought to be a law!" we can well imagine her fellow singers complaining.) By the time she was eliminated last week, the Memphis belle proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a diva in her own right. The kid belongs on an album cover, yo, not a mug shot. Still, we're pretty sure that a crime has been committed. How else could we explain why it was the rising star who called TV Guide Online Tuesday afternoon for an exit interview and not Joshua Gracin?
TV Guide Online: read more


London police cleared Pete Townshend of kiddie porn charges today, but warned the Who guitarist not to access a website containing indecent images of children. Townshend was arrested in January as part of an FBI-led crackdown on Internet child pornography. At the time, the rocker said he believed he had been sexually abused as a young boy, and accessed the site as research for his autobiography. After a four-month investigation, London's Metropolitan Police concluded that the rocker "was not in possession of any downloaded child abuse images." read more


Welcome Back, Kotter star Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs — he played Freddie "Boom Boom" Washington — was arrested Sunday in Venice Beach, Calif., for investigation of misdemeanor domestic battery. The former child star, who is now 49, allegedly pushed a woman to the ground during an argument. He was released late Monday on $20,000 bond. read more

Deaf Survivor's Amazon Adventure

Competing on Survivor: The Amazon is a tough task for anyone. Factor in the extra obstacle of hearing impairment, and it seems impossible. But that's the challenge last week's castoff, Christy Smith, chose to take on. Hey, you've gotta hand it to this 24-year-old adventure guide for the deaf, who quickly learned to adapt — and made it to the final six without any special consideration.

"I went into the show to be treated fairly, like everyone else," Smith tells TV Guide Online. "I think all of us had our own disadvantages, and we had to deal with them."

Perhaps there was one advantage to being deaf in the Amazon — she wasn't bothered by all the whining and lying that went on behind her back! "Watching the show now, I realize that I didn't need to hear everything," she admits. "Maybe if I had heard stuff, I would have butted in and caused problems, because I am a very opinionated lady."

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Leonardo DiCaprio was questioned last Thursday in a $45 million lawsuit stemming from a five-year-old case that claims he ordered friends to rough up actress Elizabeth Berkley's ex-boyfriend, screenwriter Roger Wilson. The March 4, 1998, incident — which Wilson claims left him with a broken larynx, among other injuries — took place outside the trendy Asia de Cuba restaurant in midtown Manhattan. DiCaprio's lawyer said he expects the charges to be dismissed against the actor. read more


A country-music station in Colorado has suspended two disc jockeys for playing Dixie Chicks music in violation of a ban imposed after lead singer Natalie Maines dissed President Bush. KKCS DJs and free speech supporters Dave Moore and Jeff Singer will be out for a couple of days. read more


An autopsy has confirmed that Gimme a Break! actress Nell Carter died Jan. 23 of natural causes. She was 54. read more


A New York surgeon is suing rapper 50 Cent claiming he owes more than $32,000 for treatment of gunshot wounds nearly three years ago... Wal-Mart is pulling men's magazines Maxim, Stuff and FHM from its stores, claiming customers were uncomfortable with the racy covers. read more

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