Today's News: Our Take


KNIGHT'S NEW TALE

Oscar-winning filmmaker Oliver Stone has cast Heath Ledger as Alexander the Great in his upcoming indie about the Macedonian conqueror, Variety reports. The project — aptly titled Alexander — is slated to begin filming on Oct. 16 in India. read more

END QUOTE

"It is like packets of cereal. There are too many of them, and too many of them are just average and mediocre." — Elton John, lamenting the abundance of pre-fab pop bands in a BBC interview. — Michael Ausiello with Daniel R. Coleridge read more

JAMES BROWN UPDATE

A day after ruling that soul singer James Brown's company wrongfully fired former employee Lisa Ross Agbalaya, a Los Angeles jury awarded her $40,000 in damages on Wednesday. The jury had rejected the woman's claim that she was sexually harassed by Brown. read more

SHORT CUTS

Alan Jackson's Drive reclaimed the No. 1 spot on Billboard's album chart. Last week's best-seller, Jennifer Lopez's J to the L-O, fell to No. 3... A&E has axed its courtroom drama 100 Centre Street. The series will wrap up its second and final season next month. read more

NUPTIAL FEVER!

There must be romance in the water at Dawson's Creek! Both James Van Der Beek and Kerr Smith have gotten engaged to their actress girlfriends. Van Der Beek's fiancée is ex-Party of Fiver Heather McComb. Smith got engaged to Canadian thesp Harmoni Everett over the holidays. (May we suggest a Dawson's double wedding to boost the teen sudser's lackluster ratings?) read more

SPACED OUT?

Yippie-Yi... Nay! 'N Syncer Lance Bass's dream of becoming a space cowboy will have to remain just that for now — a dream. A spokesperson for the Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos tells Reuters that the 22-year-old boy band member is not in talks to hop on a Soyuz rocket and journey to the International Space Station in November. "It is as if I said I had bought Australia," the rep says, adding there was no agreement between commercial space exploration company Mircorp and Rosaviakosmos. "Mircorp has no right to sell these flights. They have no link to Rosaviakosmos, we have no contract linking us." read more

WHO'S THAT GIRL?

We thought Mariah Carey had a lock on this one: A relative unknown has scored the coveted female lead role in T3: Rise of the Machines, the upcoming third installment of the Terminator franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Kristanna Loken — who has a recurring role on ABC's Philly — will play T-X, "the latest and most indestructible Terminator ever created." read more

That Shocking '70s Split


Are That '70s Show sweethearts Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) and Jackie (Mila Kunis) headed for permanent splitsville? Yes... at least if Malcolm in the Middle's Chris Masterson has anything to say about it.

"My plan is to sort of infiltrate that relationship and make her my own," laughs Masterson, whose multi-episode arc as Jackie's "dorky" cheese shop manager-slash-suitor kicked off last night. Next week, his polyester-clad character's plot to steal Kelso's main squeeze intensifies.

Explains the actor: "Basically, I'm pretty conniving. I'm like, 'Wow! Kelso was late picking you up again! That's three times this week!' And Jackie and I end up getting together be read more

The Alternate Universe of Queens


If Doug Heffernan (Kevin James) lived his blue-collar, everyman existence in the real Queens, N.Y., and indeed worked for a parcel delivery service, we venture to guess that his life would have changed somewhat since Sept. 11. However, The King of Queens takes its comedy seriously, says co-creator and executive producer Michael Weithorn, and as a result, won't be tackling terrorism-related plots anytime soon.

"I always feel like for most comedy shows, there's an unspoken contract with the audience that this is a nicer world in a lot of ways than the [one] we live in," Weithorn says. "Even though a show may be based in reality in terms of the dynamics of the relationships, there are certain things that just don't happen in this universe."

"Really horrific things that have no comedic side or angle to them," he adds, "just aren't part read more

SURVIVOR SCANDAL

A CBS spokesperson confirms that Survivor: Africa producers committed a major gaffe during the second-to-last Immunity Challenge that may have altered the show's outcome — leading the network to pay three contestants as second-place winners. Here's the scoop: When asked which female player has no body piercings, Kim J. won by answering "Kelly." Turns out, when Lex answered "Lindsay," he also was right! As a result, CBS awarded $100,000 each to runner-ups Lex and Tom. The first and second-place winners — runner-up Kim J. and $1 million champ Ethan Zohn — will keep their winnings. "It was an honest mistake," the rep tells TV Guide Online, "and the producers feel horrible." read more

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