Today's News: Our Take


MR. BIG STILL UP IN THE AIR

Even Chris Noth doesn't know if he'll return to the set of HBO's Sex and the City. The actor, who plays the occasional love interest of sex columnist Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker) on the racy series, told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif., he's still waiting to hear from the show's producers and noted published reports that a deal was signed were premature. One thing's for sure — there won't be any spin-offs featuring his character. "Why?" he asked a writer who brought up the possibility. "The Mr. Big Show? I don't get it." read more

Oh, Brother — Not Again


Despite soft ratings and possibly the worst reviews in television history, last summer's reality experiment, Big Brother, wasn't the big letdown the media portrayed it to be, insists CBS. In fact, network execs are considering a second go-round of the house-arrest game — especially since it doesn't have to do Survivor numbers to turn a profit.

"I'm not going to accept that Big Brother didn't do so well," CBS honcho Leslie Moonves said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, Calif. "Big Brother did just fine and, in fact, improved our summer ratings and our summer demographics. And, frankly, the last episode of Big Brother beat the Olympics, so by any stretch of the imagination, that's doing well."

Fair enough, if you're just crunching the numbers, but isn't there room for improvement?

"I don't think it was cast very well, to tell you the truth," Moonves conceded. "I think when you compare the cast of read more

ROYAL COUPLE?

The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, has asked the queen of morning TV, Katie Couric, on a date, US Weekly reports. After a meeting in New York to discuss his charity, Time with Kids, Jackson's people later called Couric to see if she was interested in going out with him. Couric, who is involved in a highly publicized romance with TV producer Tom Werner, graciously declined the offer. It seems like Jackson is getting turned down left and right lately. MTV News reports that Dr. Dre has also declined an offer from Jackson to collaborate musically. read more

SHORT CUTS

Temptation Island premiered last night to even more controversy than expected. Following the discovery that one of the four couples have a child together, Reuters reports that producers of the reality show banished the pair from the island... Kenneth Branagh has jumped aboard A&#038E's upcoming four-hour miniseries Shackleton, based on the life of famed Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton... Lonely no more, MTV News reports Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin is in hot pursuit of sexy songstress Christina Aguilera in his new video for "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely." Martin teamed up with Aguilera to re-record his solo ballad into a sultry dance duet... USA Today reports that controversial rapper Eminem has cut a deal to air his taped Los Angeles concert performance on Pay-Per-View on Feb. 17. The shady rapper will donate the proceeds to charity. — Lauren Kane with Michael Peck read more

MCKAY GOES FOR THE GOLD AT NBC

ABC sportscaster Jim McKay, who covered the 1972 terrorist attack at the summer games in Munich, is playing for rival network NBC's team now. The Peacock network, who seized the Olympic telecasting rights until 2008, has announced it will borrow McKay as a commentator for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. McKay, who has a lifetime contract with ABC, "will be a nightly visitor on our set," according to NBC Sports chairman Dick Ebersol. read more

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

Add former Seinfeld star Jason Alexander's name to the list of entertainment heavies with guest-spots on NBC's Friends among their credits. Set for a February sweeps appearance, the funnyman will play a suicidal guy whom Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) calls while working at a telemarketing firm. The show promises quite a line-up for the month. Oscar-winner Susan Sarandon is also set to show up in a separate episode, playing a Days of Our Lives actress who's canned from the show and must be told by the hapless Joey (Matt LeBlanc). read more

New Survivors: Bigger, Badder, Better Looking


Those tuning into CBS's Survivor: The Australian Outback after Super Bowl XXXV on Jan. 28 are sure to notice many of the new crew are, um, a little easier on the eyes. But as executive producer Mark Burnett and host Jeff Probst told attendees of the Television Critics Association's press tour in Pasadena, Calif., looks can kill. In fact, the latest batch of contestants to vie for the $1 million prize would give the scheming champ from Palau Tiga more than a run for his money.

"Where the first group were virgins, everybody here came to play," Burnett said of the new 16, who had the benefit of watching the first game and seeing which strategies paid off. "Richard Hatch would get eaten alive by this group."

Just how tough are they? To hear the show creator tell it, most are in it for the blood, not the money ? and the aim in choosing them was to find people who'd play the game even if it wasn't on TV. Still, both Burnett and Probst were stunn read more

ED STICKS AROUND

NBC has renewed its critically acclaimed Wednesday night dramedy, Ed, through next season, the network announced today at the Television Critics Association press tour in Pasadena, Calif. The show — which Sunday night picked up a People's Choice Award for favorite new comedy series — stars Tom Cavanagh and Julie Bowen. read more

MOMMY MCBEAL?

Ally McBeal star Calista Flockhart secretly adopted a son, born on New Year's Eve, reports the New York Post. The gaunt actress was recently photographed by the National Enquirer with babe in tow and now rumors are speculating that Flockhart just couldn't wait any longer to have a child. "Calista loves kids and plans to have more," a friend reportedly said. "Someday she'd love to get pregnant. But she doesn't have a man in her life at the moment, so she decided to adopt." read more

Sean Patrick's Boogie Nights


The District's Sean Patrick Thomas had tough dancing shoes to fill portraying the "crown prince" of the hip-hop scene in his latest flick, Save the Last Dance (opening Friday). But now, the actor admits he's the king of the clubs.

"Before we started this movie... I could count on two fingers the number of times that I actually went out dancing," Thomas tells TV Guide Online. "So, I was very intimidated by the whole process of having to dance and have people watch me dance and the pressure of being the 'crown prince' of the hip-hop club.

"Since then, I've been going out to clubs every week," continues Thomas. "It changed my life. I'm a lot more confident with my body. It's been a great experience." He also has nothing but praise for his leading lady, Julia Stiles. "Dancing with Julia is like breathing — it's a pure delight."

When he's not on the dance floor, Thomas says he's happy to be fig read more

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