Today's News: Our Take


GIRL, CHARGED

Those "Free Winona" T-shirts apparently didn't sway the Los Angeles District Attorney. On Friday, the D.A.'s office charged accused shoplifter Winona Ryder with four felony counts, including theft, burglary, vandalism and possession of a controlled substance without a prescription. The 30-year-old thesp — who was arrested Dec. 12 at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills for allegedly stealing nearly $5,000 worth of merchandise — is free on bail and scheduled to be arraigned Friday. Ryder's lawyer insists his client is innocent. read more

HAS IT BEEN THAT LONG?

Tonight's Late Show with David Letterman will mark the host's 20th anniversary in late night. Before joining CBS in 1993, Letterman presided over NBC's Late Night. Meanwhile, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the funnyman has begun negotiations with CBS on a new multiyear contract. read more

SLEEPLESS IN MALIBU

Meg Ryan is breathing a little easier today. The 40-year-old actress has obtained a restraining order against alleged stalker John Michael Hughes, who has claimed to be her fiancé. Last month, Hughes was arrested when he broke into a Malibu home he mistakenly believed was Ryan's. Sheriff's deputies later searched his car and found an issue of US Weekly magazine with Ryan on the cover and a night-vision scope. read more

SPEAKING OF KING...

Stephen King's agent is downplaying his client's retirement chatter. "He's spoken about retiring many times in the past," Arthur Greene told The Associated Press. "In my own mind, I think it's unlikely he'll stop working." read more

Malcolm Star's Super (Bowl) Stunt


Sunday's star-studded, post-Super Bowl edition of Malcolm in the Middle promises to answer the age-old question: How does a group of girl-crazy guys win an ice hockey tournament when one of their opposing teammates is none other than supermodel Heidi Klum? Well, according to one of the players — series regular Chris Masterson — they, well... don't.

"The hard part about it is no one is looking at [the puck] when you go to pass to them," explains the 22-year-old actor, who plays older sib Francis in the Emmy-winning Fox comedy. "Everyone on the ice is looking in the same direction — which is her direction; no matter who you pass to, they're not going to catch it. So that's what sort of screwed us up about Heidi."

Well, if the presence of Kl read more

Sesame Street Tackles 9/11


Parents need not worry about next week's special Sept. 11-inspired episodes of Sesame Street frightening the little ones. The installments — which kick off the show's 33rd season and deal with such issues as fire safety, bullying and prejudice — make no mention of the actual attacks. "I know they're getting billed as 9/11-themed shows," laments Rosemarie Truglio, PhD, Sesame Street's vice president of education and research. "They were written in response to 9/11, but through a child's eyes it has no meaning.

"Our pre-school audience is too young," adds Truglio of the show's decision not to reference the tragedies. "Some of the kids have never been exposed to Sept. 11. A lot of parents shielded their children from this, so no, there's no mention of that at all. Sesame Street is about empowering children and providing information to help them navigate and cope with their world."

For example, Monday's season premiere fea read more

Can Playmates Make Bowl Viewers Stray?


As any "football widow" can tell you, not much — if anything — can prompt a red-blooded male to lift his remote-controlling thumb to change the channel once a big game is on. Yet this Sunday, as Fox hosts the biggest gridiron clash of them all — Super Bowl XXXVI — NBC has decided to pull out all the stops in an attempt to consume some of the fourth network's eyeballs: A Playboy Playmate-packed edition of its Fear Factor reality series.

The first segment of Fear's Playmate-apalooza will air during the typically hit-or-miss Super Bowl halftime show, and a complete, hour-long edition will run once Sunday's game comes to an end. So, what exactly are the glamorous gals going to be asked to do? Fear Factor isn't revealing its playbook ahead of time, yet intrigued viewers can rest assured that it will be "the wildest experience," according to Angel Boris read more

SHORT CUTS

Australian supermodel Elle Macpherson is engaged to French-Swiss banker Arpad Busson. This will be her second trip down the aisle... Warner Bros. is developing a sequel to its live-action/CGI smash Cats & Dogs... Miramax is planning a film adaptation of David Auburn's Tony Award- and Pulitzer Prize-winning play Proof. — Michael Ausiello read more

THAT HURTS, BABY

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has denied New Line Cinema's appeal to use the title Austin Powers in Goldmember. MGM/UA, the Hollywood studio behind the James Bond flicks, petitioned the MPAA to ban the title, which parodies its 1964 007 pic Goldfinger. No word on what the third Austin Powers movie will now be called. read more

TRAGEDY FOR THE ACTING COMMUNITY

First Stephen King and now this! Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson is threatening to retire from acting within two years and possibly take up pole dancing. The 34-year-old V.I.P. star tells Extra that, "Within a couple of years, I am just going to bow out. I have a stripper pole in my bedroom. I was thinking that I would just take pole dancing lessons and go on the road with [boyfriend] Kid Rock." Anderson says the career change would allow her to be a full-time mom to sons Brandon and Dylan (with ex-husband Tommy Lee). "I crave being with them," she says. "I really want to stop everything and be with my kids. I have had a lot of craziness and it is just time to simplify." read more

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