Today's News: Our Take


OSCAR WATCH

Paul McCartney will perform his Oscar-nominated song "Vanilla Sky" at the 74th Academy Awards Sunday night, it was announced Wednesday. Meanwhile, John Travolta has been added as a presenter. read more

BLAME MARIAH

Sluggish record sales have led EMI Group to slash nearly 1,800 jobs in its music division. Earlier this year, EMI's Virgin Records paid Mariah Carey $28 million to end their contract. You do the math. read more

POP LIFE

Fox is planning to launch an American version of the British TV phenomenon Pop Idol in June, Variety reports. The show features industry judges and at-home viewers selecting one person as the Next Big Thing. The winner snags a recording contract as well as a fistful of cash. read more

Cop Confesses: L&O Steals the Show


Over and over, Law & Order has made news by fictionalizing cases that are ripped from the headlines. And while this approach has its detractors, it also boasts an eloquent supporter in S. Epatha Merkerson, who has played Lt. Anita Van Buren since 1993.

"The show is very topical and provocative, and I do believe that's why we've been on for 12 years," she tells TV Guide Online. "We've always found a way to take a news story and find a twist to it. Sometimes it gets very close."

Close, indeed. A recent L&O plot inspired by Chandra Levy's disappearance understandably displeased Mrs. Gary Condit, whose screen counterpart was revealed to have murdered her husband's mistress. Naturally, she, for one, wouldn't agree with Merkerson's suggestion that the show "does a service."

"Probably not, but you k read more

TRUE DRAMA?

Rosie O'Donnell is "shocked and appalled" at reports that the producers of Artists and Orphans: A True Drama, the Oscar-nominated documentary she narrated, allegedly have ties to an anti-gay cult. According to the New York Daily News, O'Donnell is demanding that the film be disqualified from Oscar consideration and also wants her voice removed. On today's Rosie O'Donnell Show, the funny lady fumed: "What is my luck... I choose to help this little nerdy theater group do a little thing to help poor kids and [it turns out to be] a cult." read more

Isaac Hayes's Oscar Triumph


At Monday's 17th annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony — airing tonight at 9 pm/ET on VH1 — R&B legend Isaac Hayes finally gained admittance into the music biz's elite club. While the evening will no doubt rank as one of the soul man's finest hours, the 59-year-old performer admits that his career pinnacle thus far remains the 1972 Academy Awards — where he became the first African-American to win best original song for the "Theme from Shaft."

"When I was selected, everyone thought I would take a fine chick with me," he recalls. "But I took my grandmother as my date. This was the most important moment of my life, and I wanted her to be there.

"When we were growing up, we had it rough," adds Hayes, who is courting a new generation of fans as the voice of Chef o read more

'TIS THE SEASON

Today may be the first day of spring, but in Hollywood, it's still pilot season. Here are the latest castings: Oscar-nominated Gosford Park actress Helen Mirren has landed a lead role in CBS's Washington D.C. drama Georgetown; former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jennie Garth is joining the cast of an untitled WB comedy set in Manhattan; and ex-Murphy Brown regular Grant Shaud will play an unlucky dad in the Fox sitcom Oliver Beene. Finally, Billy Baldwin (the cute one) is poised to make his TV series debut in the CBS cop drama R.U.S.H. read more

Denis Leary's Oscar Picks


Denis Leary is breaking one of Hollywood's golden rules: He's going public with his 2002 Oscar picks. And not surprisingly, the foul-mouthed comic-turned-actor — who's among the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences's 5,700 voting members — sided mostly with the underdogs.

In the acting categories, the star of ABC's The Job (airing tonight at 9:30 pm/ET) reveals to TV Guide Online that he "voted for [I Am Sam's] Sean Penn for best actor, [Monster's Ball's] Halle Berry for best actress, [In the Bedr read more

OSCAR WATCH

Paul McCartney will perform his Oscar-nominated song "Vanilla Sky" at the 74th Academy Awards Sunday night, it was announced today. Meanwhile, John Travolta has been added as a presenter. read more

LIVE WITH... WHO?

Live with Regis and Kelly made history on Tuesday: For the first time in the show's 20-year run, neither host was present. Regis Philbin was on holiday and Kelly Ripa was sick. Dharma & Greg's Thomas Gibson and red carpet guru Joan Rivers filled in. "I thought for sure they were going to have to shut down New York," an on-the-mend Ripa joked during today's show, "but life went on brilliantly." Well, let's not push it. read more

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