Today's News: Our Take


SHORT CUTS

Annette Bening has signed on to star in a remake of the classic family comedy Freaky Friday... Monday's series finale of Ally McBeal averaged a decent 11.4 million viewers. read more

EXECUTIVE SHUFFLE

Despite NBC's strong performance this season, there are big changes underway behind-the-scenes. Scott Sassa is stepping down as president of NBC's West Coast operations, but will remain on the network's payroll working on "strategic projects." Sassa's responsibilities will be assumed by NBC entertainment president Jeff Zucker. read more

PINK SLIP

Becker co-star Terry Farrell, who plays diner owner Reggie on the CBS comedy, has been let go, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The move is part of a new creative direction for the sitcom, which relocates to Sundays in the fall. read more

THE FAMILY NEXT DOOR

Pop-punk trio Blink-182 will guest star on The Simpsons next season, Rolling Stone reports. The episode has Bart running away from home to live in his own apartment, with the band and pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk as his new neighbors! read more

ROSIE WRAPS

Rosie O'Donnell flung her last koosh ball today as the 40-year-old entertainer's six-year talk show career came to an end. "This is the biggest, gayest celebration since Liza's wedding," cracked guest Nathan Lane. Also stopping by to say farewell: O'Donnell's pal Christine Ebersole and her No. 1 obsession, Tom Cruise. The Mission: Impossible superstar appeared in a taped segment fulfilling O'Donnell's ultimate fantasy: cutting her lawn. read more

PRAYERS FOR BARRY

7th Heaven hunk Barry Watson has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, E! Online reports. The 28-year-old actor, who in March announced to TV Guide Online that he was leaving the WB drama at the end of this season, is expected to make a full recovery. Doctors reportedly told Watson that the disease, a form of lymphatic cancer, has a 95 percent cure rate. read more

SNAPSHOT BACKFIRE

A Virginia photographer is suing rocker Rod Stewart for copyright infringement, The Associated Press reports. She claims the star used photos she took of him — on T-shirts and concert program books — without obtaining her consent. He's countersuing, claiming the shutterbug was paid, but then tried to extort $500,000 from him for the shots. This head-scratcher of a legal debacle also includes her mother, who Stewart says "surreptitiously" took unauthorized photos of him. read more

24 Star: Glad Clock's Still Ticking!


Talk about a cliffhanger! After a months-long wait to see whether 24 would live to see another day, Fox on Thursday renewed the gripping drama, which wraps up its first season tonight. But even more thrilling for cast members — like Leslie Hope, who plays Teri, the most beleaguered wife in TV history — is that despite rumblings, the enterprising series will retain its real-time approach for season two.

"Thank God that they're actually going to keep the format," Hope tells TV Guide Online. "The fact of the matter is, I know it's difficult for the writers to work it, but it jacks the show up to another level. Without [the countdown], you're reduced to being an ordinary TV drama.

"But what I don't know" about 24's next season, Hope adds, "is who from this year will be back."

Indeed, spoilers about read more

The Resurrection of "Quippy Buffy"


Over the course of its first year on UPN, Buffy the Vampire Slayer has gone from wonderfully witty to downright depressing. However, leading lady Sarah Michelle Gellar promises that after the finale (airing tonight at 8 pm/ET), the series will resume — as the title heroine would have put it in cheerier times — making with the funny.

"[This season] was a little dark even for me," she admits to TV Guide Online. "So I think we're going to go back to a much lighter Buffy. This whole arc was, she was buried alive, she got out, and now she realized that she wasn't living and she wants to. So I think it's going to be — and I'm hoping for — the fun Buffy. I miss quippy Buffy."

The rising movie star — who will hit the multiplex next opposite fiancé read more

NYPD Blue's Arresting Love Story


Love it or hate it, the unlikely NYPD Blue romance between Dennis Franz's Andy Sipowicz and Charlotte Ross's much-younger (and prettier) Connie McDowell has people once again buzzing about ABC's nine-year-old cop drama. And judging by the show's solid ratings performance this season — which concludes with tonight's two-hour finale (9-11 pm/ET) — the controverisal couple is winning over viewers as well as each other.

"Not to pat myself on the back, but it was my idea [to pair them up]," exec producer Steven Bochco tells TV Guide Online, "and there was an awful lot of resistance to it [from fellow Blue producers]. But I persisted, and since I'm the boss, they had no choice."

Initially, Boch read more

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