Today's News: Our Take


AND THE FINAL ROSE WENT TO...

Andrew Firestone chose endearing underdog Jen over not-so-endearing frontrunner Kirsten on last night's Bachelor finale. Kirsten's ouster should serve as a lesson for reality singletons everywhere: Don't go on a dating show if you already have a boyfriend. It's not going to go over too well. read more

MATRIX MANIA

The Matrix Reloaded was big — but not as big as Spider-Man. The mega-sequel grossed $93.3 million over the weekend, about $20 million shy of Spidey's $114.7 million debut haul last year. (I blame that endless Zion dance montage.) Still, Reloaded shattered its share of records, including best opening for an R-rated film in history and best four-day tally ever ($135.8 million). Eddie Murphy's Daddy Day Care proved a viable comedy alternative, holding steady at No. 2 with $19.2 million. The new Ewan McGregor-Renée Zellweger '60s spoof Down With Love, meanwhile, had the lo read more

Mad TV's Stephnie: Weir and Wonderful

If there is a funnier woman on the tube than Mad TV star Stephnie Weir, we haven't seen her (and trust us — we watch everything!). In three years, the skitcom scene-stealer has built up a dazzling repertoire of freaks and geeks that can break your heart even as they make you bust a gut. So couch potatoes who don't yet know that her shtick's a treat should — no, must — make it a priority to catch the season finale Saturday at 11 pm/ET on Fox. At the very least, her dead-on Anna Nicole Smith impression will spare you the horror of checking out the merry widow's actual E! reality series. In the meantime, you can give yourself the giggles by listening in as TV Guide Online tries to interview the soft-spoken Texan without begging her to talk like harebrained towhead Dot or master thespian Dorothy Lanier.

TV Guide Online: Stephnie, you crack me the hell up. Where did you get your wacky sense of humor? Were you dropped on your hea read more

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

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

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

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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