Today's News: Our Take


HBO has partnered with Vibe magazine to develop a six-hour miniseries that chronicles the history of hip-hop through the lives of three fictional characters, Variety reports. The project is based on Alan Light's book Vibe History of Hip Hop. read more


Television and film actor Merlin Santana was shot to death Saturday in Los Angeles while sitting in a parked car. He was 26. No arrests were immediately made and police have not yet determined a motive. In addition to appearing in the Eddie Murphy pic Showtime, Santana had recurring roles on The Steve Harvey Show and The Cosby Show. read more


Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson was arrested and charged with drunkenly assaulting a security guard at a Carolina Hurricanes hockey game Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C. The 24-year-old actor allegedly grabbed the 40-year-old guard around the neck and struck him. Jackson posted $1,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in court on the misdemeanor charge on Dec. 4. A Creek crew member was also arrested and charged with being disruptive and possessing marijuana and drug paraphernalia. Creek films in nearby Wilmington. read more


CBS is developing an hourlong drama series described as a modern-day take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde... The Madonna flop Swept Away will not be released in Britain following the film's disastrous performance in America... Cheech Marin has been tapped to play the patriarch of The Ortegas, NBC's upcoming family comedy. read more


If you haven't watched last night's Sopranos yet, stop reading now! Ralphie Cifaretto — the wiseguy played by actor Joe Pantoliano — finally met his maker on Sunday's episode. And in case you were wondering, Tony (James Gandolfini) did the deed. Incidentally, while chatting it up with Conan O'Brien on a recent Late Night, Pantoliano bet the host $10,000 that his alter ego would survive the season. No word if O'Brien plans to collect. read more


Laverne & Shirley alum Penny Marshall is returning to the small screen. The actor-director has signed a deal with Universal Television to develop, produce and star in a new comedy series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Marshall also has plans to produce a drama project for the studio. read more


A copy of Winona Ryder's "pre-conviction report" containing information about her financial status, medical history and other personal information was stolen from L.A. County's Probation Department, authorities confirmed on Friday. Police suspect someone swiped the report to sell to the tabs. In other Winona news, newly released court transcripts reveal that the actress was suspected of stealing from Barneys in New York and Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills prior to her arrest at Saks Fifth Avenue last December. Ryder was convicted Wednesday of felony grand theft and vandalism in the Saks incident. read more


Liza Minnelli and hubby David Gest are lashing back at VH1 over the demise of their planned reality show. In a statement released Friday, the couple accused the show's crew of mistreating them and ruining their Manhattan crib. Late last month, VH1 announced that it was axing Liza and David because producers weren't given the "cooperation and access" they were promised. To that, Minnelli responds: "We didn't hide anything... Listen, I came out of the womb and somebody slapped me on the ass, and I've been in the public ever since." read more


Online video rental service goes live today with 170 titles available for download. Backed by five major studios, the site represents Hollywood's latest effort to squash movie piracy. read more

Tide Turns for TV's Jake

Having done just about everything right so far, NBC's critically acclaimed freshman drama Boomtown makes yet another smart move Sunday night: Producers have wisely plucked hunky '80s TV crimefighter Joe Penny (Riptide, Jake and the Fatman) out of semi-obscurity to guest star as a washed-up actor who, ahem, once played a popular TV cop in the '80s. How closely did art imitate life in this case?

"I have to admit, it was a pretty ballsy move on my part," Penny tells TV Guide Online of accepting the job. "I thought, 'Are people going to think that I am a washed-up actor too — especially if I do it well?' But I said, 'That's their problem.' That stuff doesn't bother me.

"Once I saw the part, I really wanted to be involved in it," adds the 46-year-old, who, save for recent roles on The Sopranos and in the CBS telepic Two Against Time, ha read more

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