Today's News: Our Take


Has the Seinfeld curse been lifted? Well, maybe not, but this is certainly a good sign: Viewers turned out in droves to catch Julia Louis-Dreyfus's new single-camera comedy Watching Ellie Tuesday night. According to preliminary Nielsen data, Ellie won its 8:30 time period with a 12.4 rating and an 18 share. By comparison, The Michael Richards Show debuted in 2000 with a 10.5/15 and Jason Alexander's ABC train wreck, Bob Patterson, notched a 7.1/10 when it bowed last fall. read more


Tom Cruise, Oscar nominee Halle Berry and Sex and the City's Sarah Jessica Parker have agreed to be interrogated by Barbara Walters for the ABC newswoman's annual pre-Academy Awards special on March 24. read more


Russell Crowe's pre-Oscar PR blitz hit a snag over the weekend. Shortly after Sunday's British Academy Film Awards, where the Beautiful Mind thesp won best actor, Crowe allegedly shoved and cursed a TV exec after his acceptance speech was edited out of the tape-delayed BBC broadcast. (Left on the cutting-room floor was Crowe's recital of a poem by Patrick Kavanagh.) "Who on Earth had the... audacity to take out the best actor's poem?" Crowe allegedly yelled to award show producer Malcolm Gerrie. "I'll make sure you never work in Hollywood." DreamWorks — the studio behind Mind — reportedly apologized to Gerrie. read more


West Wing creator Aaron Sorkinwho complained that NBC Nightly News anchor Tom Brokaw's Jan. 23 special, The Bush White House: Inside the Real West Wing, was a "Valentine" to President George W. Bush — has apologized to Brokaw. In the current New Yorker, Sorkin groused that, "The White House pumped up the president's schedule to show him being much busier and more engaged than he is and Tom Brokaw let it happen." Well, after learning that Brokaw prefaced the show by saying Dubya's schedule was loaded up for the occasion, Sorkin spoke to Brokaw and said he was sorry. read more


NBC now confirms that Late Night host Conan O'Brien's show will remain at the Peacock for four more years, through December 2005. "By my thirteenth year," O'Brien quips, "we should really know if this thing works or not." The new deal reportedly doubles his salary to $8 million a year. read more


Looks like überproducer John Wells has cooked up one of those "crossover events" for his NBC dramas ER and Third Watch. On ER's April 25 episode, a family emergency will summon Dr. Lewis (Sherry Stringfield) to New York, where she works with Third Watch paramedics Molly Price, Jason Wiles, Kim Raver and Amy Carlson. Lewis's storyline concludes on Watch's April 29 episode. read more


R&B superstar Alicia Keys was the big winner at the 44th annual Grammy Awards, picking up five trophies including Song of the Year ("Fallin'") and Best New Artist. The O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack — which also won in five categories — was named Album of the Year. Frontrunner U2 scored four trophies, including Record of the Year ("Walk On"). For a list of the major winners, click here. Meanwhile, CBS's telecast of the Grammy Awards averaged 19 million viewers, off roughly 20 percent from last year's show. read more


Long Island Lolita Amy Fisher will get into the ring with ice vixen Tonya Harding in an hour-long celebrity boxing special for Fox on March 13, USA Today reports. A second bout will feature classic TV rivals Danny Bonaduce (The Partridge Family) and Barry Williams (The Brady Bunch) trading punches. What about a third with Alyssa and Shannen? read more


Music legend Bob Dylan — whose latest album, Love and Theft, is up for three Grammys tonight — is in talks to return to the big screen for his first major film role in 15 years, Variety reports. The drama, tentatively titled Masked and Anonymous, would find the 60-year-old superstar playing "a wandering troubadour who is brought out of prison by his former manager for one last concert." Dylan's last major acting role was in the 1987 pic Hearts of Fire. read more

Buffy Alum Soldiers On

This is a big week in the career of actor Marc Blucas. Tonight, after a year-long absence, he reprises his role as Buffy Summers's wholesome ex-beau Riley Finn on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (8 pm/ET on UPN). And come Friday, he can be seen on the big screen opposite Mel Gibson in the brutal Vietnam drama We Were Soldiers.

"[The back-to-back gigs are] nice for me and my family," Blucas admits to TV Guide Online, "but the verdict's still out on whether anyone else thinks it's nice or not."

Well, as far as his small-screen comeback is concerned, the modest 6'2" hottie need not worry about receiving a warm reception: Buffy fans have been drooling for Riley's return ever sinc read more

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