Today's News: Our Take


EMMY'S THERE FOR FRIENDS

After eight years, Emmy was finally there for Friends. The top-rated NBC sitcom — which is heading into its final season — picked up its first-ever best comedy series trophy at the the 54th annual Emmy Awards. Speaking of long overdue honors, Friends star Jennifer Aniston was named best lead actress in a comedy. The West Wing, meanwhile, buried the drama competition — namely, HBO's heavily favored mortuary soap Six Feet Under. NBC's White House saga won five awards, including best drama series, best actress (Allison Janney), best supporting actor (John Spencer) and supporting read more

GOOD HAIR DAY

Barbershop cut through some tough competition to stay at the top of the box office for a second week in a row. The Ice Cube comedy grossed $13.3 million and beat out newcomer The Banger Sisters, which opened at No. 2 with $10.3 million. My Big Fat Greek Wedding slipped down one spot to No. 3, but brought in another $10 million. The new Antonio Banderas action flick Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever debuted at No. 4 ($7.11 million) and snuck in just ahead of Heath Ledger's new war epic The Four Feathers (No. 5 with$7.10 million). And read more

SHORT CUTS

Ron Eldard (Black Hawk Down, ER) will star alongside Jennifer Connelly and Ben Kingsley in House of Sand and Fog, according to The Hollywood Reporter... At age 66, Luciano Pavarotti is about to come a proud papa again. Pavarotti's girlfriend, Nicoletta Mantrovani, 33, is pregnant with twins. The tenor has three daughters from a previous marriage... Yoko Ono is in court today, reports the Daily News. Ono is set to testify against the man she alleges stole memorabilia belonging to her late husband read more

Celebs Defend Emmy Backstage!


So, the Emmys are irrelevant, eh? Try telling that to Michael Chiklis.

A Sunday Los Angeles Times exposé — timed to coincide with the 54th annual Emmy ceremony — described TV's biggest night as "the Rodney Dangerfield" of award shows because, well, they don't get no respect. Clearly, this particular Times writer hasn't clocked many hours backstage during the annual kudocast. Because if he had, he'd realize that the Emmys are much more than Oscar's annoying little stepsister.

Take this year's celebration, for example. TV Guide Online witnessed first-hand countless examples of Emmy's importance — beginning with the aforementioned Chiklis, a lead actor winner for read more

RATINGS ROUNDUP

Fox's John Doe got off to a good start on Friday with 9.6 million viewers, according to Variety. The mystery series won its timeslot while its lead-in, Firefly — from Buffy creator Joss Whedon — finished third. The WB premieres of What I Like About You and Greetings from Tuscon brought in the best ever Friday night ratings for the network. read more

BIBLE STUDIES

Dust off your old textbooks for this one: Braveheart director Mel Gibson is planning on filming his next project entirely in Latin and Aramaic, reports Variety. His upcoming feature The Passion, about the final hours of Jesus Christ, is set to star Frequency's James Caviezel, who will be performing in the two dead languages. Gibson also hopes to release the final version of the film without subtitles. Yikes! read more

THERE SHE IS...

Erika Harold, a 22-year-old Harvard-bound law student from Illinois, was crowned Miss America 2003 on Saturday. As usual, there were lots of tears, hugs and confetti. In other pageant news, the New York Post reports Miss Universe, Oxana Federova from Russia, has been fired. Federova was canned for refusing to fulfill her obligations to the title. There is also speculation that she is secretly married, which is against pageant rules. Miss Panama Justine Pasek will take her crown. read more

Leo to Play Bisexual Emperor?


It looks like Leonardo DiCaprio is playing gay for pay again. The upcoming Gangs of New York star — who canoodled explicitly with David Thewlis in 1995's Total Eclipse — is in talks to portray Alexander the Great in Baz Luhrmann's upcoming big-screen epic. And according to screenwriter Ted Tally, the movie will take full advantage of the young conqueror's sexually adventurous side.

"[Alexander]'ll be bisexual," the Oscar-winning Silence of the Lambs scribe tells TV Guid read more

Curb Star Pumps Up the Volume


If you thought the blowhards on ABC's The Practice engaged in far too many shouting matches, you should check out HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David and his band of grumpy sidekicks do so much screaming that it's amazing they have one voice box left among 'em. (Unlike The Practice, however, Curb isn't all bark and no bite.)

This Sunday's Curb episode features several Excedrin moments, the most notable of which involves comedian Wanda Sykes (playing herself) accusing the Seinfeld creator of adding a few extra dollars to a black man's tip — a practice she hysterically dubs "tip profiling." "It's just one of those stereotypes that hangs out there, although I haven't experienced it myself," the Comedy Cen read more

THAI FOOL

As expected, Mark Burnett threw a curve ball at viewers Thursday night during the premiere of Survivor: Thailand. In a break from tradition, producers didn't divide the 16 contestants into two teams. Instead, that job was left to the two oldest members, who alternated between men and women until everyone was picked. One thing that remained the same: Someone was voted out. In this case, it was 40-year-old pastor John Raymond. "Well, I get the distinguished honor of being the first one voted out," he later said. "This is quite a surprise for me. I didn't think there were any alliances on the team, but I guess there was, and I just wasn't a part of it." Smart cookie this one was. Meanwhile, there's clearly still a lot of life left in the Survivor franchise. Thursday's debut averaged 22 million viewers — on par with last season's two editions. And among young adults, it was up 16 percent over the premiere of read more

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