Today's News: Our Take


South Park's Creators Speak Out!

How many 80-year-olds can say they've helped inspire a potty-mouthed preteen? Maybe just one, TV legend Norman Lear, whose beloved All in the Family bigot Archie Bunker was the prototype for South Park's Eric Cartman. So, it should come as no surprise that Lear's been collaborating with Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the Comedy Central cult hit's thirtysomething co-creators, on the show's seventh season and 100th episode (which airs April 9, at 10 pm/ET). What's the real secret to their friendship, which dates back to 1998, when Lear's then 10-year-old son Benjamin introduced him to the show? A lot of laughs, and just a little liquor, appar read more

Happiness Creep Stuck in the Pitts


Since starring in 1998's Happiness, actor Dylan Baker has made 11 major feature films. But people just can't seem to forget his indie-movie turn as a psychiatrist and family man who's secretly a predatory pedophile. Fortunately, his unsavory — however critically praised — image often proves a blessing in disguise. It sure helped when he auditioned to play Chris Rock's presidential campaign manager in Head of State.

"I walked in to meet with Chris Rock and [screenwriter] Ali LeRoi, and they were giggling away!" says Baker. "I thought my fly was down. They said, 'You're that guy from Happiness.' They were laughing and giggling like read more

STOP THE PRESSES

Fred Durst and his Limp Bizkit bandmates are in agreeance: Capitalization and spacing are way overrated. Durst announced on the group's website that the band will now be known as limpbizkit. thatisfreakinbrilliant. read more

HEAD OF THE CLASS

Moviegoers elected Chris Rock's political spoof Head of State the most popular film in the country over the weekend. The comedy, co-starring Bernie Mac, opened at No. 1 with $14 million. Bringing Down the House slipped to second with $12.5 million, followed by new action flick The Core (No. 3 with $12.4 million) and John Travolta's latest career killer Basic (No. 4 with $12.1 million). Oscar winners Chicago and The Pianist, meanwhile, received nice boosts. Chicago (No. 5 with $7.4 million) was up 20 percent from last weekend, and The Pianist (No. 9 with $2.4 million) entered the top 10 for the first time. read more

DEAL GOES SOUTH

Trey Parker and Matt Stone have inked a deal with Comedy Central to produce another three years of South Park. The show's 100th episode airs April 9. For an exclusive Q&A with Parker and Stone, click here. For a glimpse of my adorable mug, scroll to the top of this page. read more

THE KONG SHOW

Lord of the Rings filmmaker Peter Jackson has signed on to helm Universal's upcoming remake of King Kong. According to Variety, Jackson will begin work on the update after he completes the third Rings installment, Return of the King. My spies, meanwhile, report that Sopranos don James Gandolfini has expressed interest in playing the title role. read more

DAVE'S BACK!

David Letterman returns to Late Show tonight after a month-long medical leave. The gap-toothed funny man — who was recovering from shingles — had been relying on a series of guest hosts since Feb. 26. (Megan Mullally? Great. Paul Shaffer? Not so great.) Among tonight's guests: Billy Crystal and 18-year-old world whistling champion Michael Barimo. read more

NOW THIS WE SAW COMING...

Court TV's TheSmokingGun.com is having a field day with this season's American Idol criminals, er, contestants. Follwing last week's report that Trenyce has a rap sheet, Gun has learned that fellow finalist Corey Clark faces trial next month on charges he assaulted his teenage sister and battled with cops while resisting arrest. The 22-year-old bad boy — who in his Fox.com profile claims to "get along with everyone" — was arrested last October following a disturbance in his family's Topeka, Kans., home. It's not known whether Fox was aware of the incident, but to me, this seems a lot worse than Frenchiegate. Meanwhile, I would like to extend a plea to the sleuths at TheSmokingGun.com: If you guys find any dirt on personal faves Ruben Studdard or Clay Aiken, please bury it. I'll pay you. Better yet, my grandmother will pay you. read more

GREAT COMEBACK?

Embattled rock band Great White will perform a benefit concert on April 29 in Los Angeles to raise money for a memorial fund in honor of guitarist Ty Longley. This is the band's first gig since a Feb. 20 nightclub fire in Rhode Island killed 99 people, including Longley. read more

FRIENDLY FIRE

Peter Arnett stirred up a little shock and awe of his own over the weekend — and now he's out of a job. NBC fired the Baghdad-based correspondent Sunday after he gave an interview to Iraqi TV and essentially said America botched the initial phase of the war. "It was wrong for Mr. Arnett to grant an interview to state-controlled Iraqi TV, especially at a time of war," NBC spokeswoman Allison Gollust said. "And it was wrong for him to discuss his personal observations and opinions in that interview." On the Today show this morning, the news vet — who covered the first Gulf War for CNN 12 years ago — said, "I want to apologize to the American people for clearly making a misjudgment." Hopefully, NBC will replace Arnett with someone who has a little more journalistic integrity. Or at the very least, someone much younger and sexier. read more

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