Today's News: Our Take


SOLEMN ANNIVERSARY

NBC will commemorate the first anniversary of Sept. 11 with "Concert for America," a two-hour musical and performing arts tribute hosted by Tom Brokaw. First Lady Laura Bush will be on hand for the event, which will air Sept. 11. read more

SO LONG, FRIENDS

Reality is setting in at NBC when it comes to the future of Friends. At the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., on Monday, the network's entertainment president Jeff Zucker all but confirmed that Must-See TV as we know it is about to come to an end. "I would say in all candor that it's probably the final season of Friends," he said. "And I'd be surprised if it weren't. But I wouldn't 100 percent put the nails in the coffin yet." However, later in the day, the show's producers seemed to do just that. "We are approaching this season like it is our last," said Marta Kauffman. Added partner David Crane: "If this were not going to be our last season, we'd have to know that right now. Everything is planning toward that... it's not something that can be a last minute decision." read more

WILD ABOUT HARRY

Harry Connick Jr. has emerged as the frontrunner to play Debra Messing's latest suitor on NBC's Will & Grace. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Connick is in talks to appear in 12 episodes next season. read more

SHORT CUTS

Sean Young will appear on the first two episodes of NBC's Third Watch this fall... Former 24 star Leslie Hope will play a married woman who falls in love with another woman in the Lifetime movie This Much I Know... Sunday's season premiere of Sex and the City attracted nearly 8 million viewers... Conan O'Brien has officially been named host of this year's Emmy Awards... Sopranos offspring Jamie-Lynn Sigler is writing a tell-all book titled Wise Girl, Variety's Army Archerd reports. read more

MUPPET MANIA!

NBC has lined up an all-star cast for A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie, the first-ever made-for-television Muppet film. Whoopi Goldberg, Joan Cusack and David Arquette will join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and the rest of the gang in the pic, which airs in December and finds America's favorite frog fighting to save the Muppet Theater from a Scroogish bank owner. Look for cameos by Sir Michael Caine, William H. Macy, Snoop Dogg, Carson Daly, read more

MORE KUDOS

With five nods, R&B singer Ashanti led the list of nominees for the eighth annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards. The late Aaliyah received four and Alicia Keys three nods. The event takes place Aug. 24. read more

HEALTH UPDATE

Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson is putting her career on hold to battle hepatitis C. Anderson revealed on CNN's Larry King Live on Tuesday that she plans to take injections of powerful antiviral drugs to treat the sometimes fatal liver disease. "There's lots of side effects," she said. "It's going to be a year of basically having the flu. Your hair falls out. It's [like] chemotherapy... I want to do it for my kids, because I don't want to die, basically." The actress says she contracted the disease after sharing a tattoo needle with ex-husband Tommy Lee. read more

UP, UP AND AWAY!

'N Sync's Lance Bass has jumped another hurdle in the neverending saga that is his space quest. The singer has signed an initial deal to join a Russian mission to the International Space Station in October. "All he needs to know is how to put on his suit and what not to touch," one space expert told Reuters. "We could even train a monkey to do this." At 23, Bass would become the youngest space cadet ever. read more

ART IMITATES LIFE

Producers of Fox's Malcolm in the Middle have decided to incorporate Jane Kaczmarek's real-life pregnancy into the show. "The plan is to do some episodes [with Lois] not pregnant, and then some pregnant," Kaczmarek told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Responds a Fox rep: "I cannot confirm or deny upcoming storylines." read more

CONTROVERSY IS A GOOD THING

NBC is fast-tracking a TV movie on Martha Stewart's life in light of recent events. The pic — which is being tweaked to include the stock scandal and "is bound to stir the pot," says NBC president Jeff Zucker — could air as early as May sweeps. Casting is underway. read more

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