Today's News: Our Take


OSCAR RACE TIGHTENS

Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count on Me and Stephen Gaghan's Traffic were named the best screenplays of 2000 by the Writers Guild of America over the weekend — increasing the odds that both scribes will walk off with Oscars on March 25. On the TV side, NBC's The West Wing and Frasier won top drama and comedy honors. Meanwhile, Gladiator's Douglas Wick and Branko Lustig won the producer of the year trophy at the Producers Guild of America's 12th annual Golden Laurel Awards. read more

LOVE FOR SALE

A Sotheby's online auction of Marilyn Monroe's possessions netted over $400,000, Reuters reports. The coveted items included John F. Kennedy's official letter of thanks to the actress-singer (who was his alleged mistress) for singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President" at his 45th birthday party. read more

WRITER'S SHOCK

Aspiring filmmaker Pete Jones has been selected the grand prize winner of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck's "Project Greenlight" screenwriting contest. Jones — who won for his script Stolen Summer, about two young boys trying to understand what it takes to get into heaven — will receive $1 million from Miramax to make his film. Damon and Affleck launched the contest last fall through their website Liveplanet.com and received more than 7,300 screenplays. A behind-the-scenes documentary will air on HBO in early 2002. read more

See Arquette Stretch


Breaking from his usual potty humor in films like Ready to Rumble and See Spot Run (opening today), David Arquette will next flex his dramatic muscles in Screenland, an indie pic based on a real-life murder in America's last silent movie house. Arquette will play James Van Sickle, who was charged with hiring a hit man to murder his 74-year old gay companion, theater-owner Larry Austin, after Austin had named Van Sickle his sole beneficiary.

"It's sort of a homage to movie's lost art," Arquette tells TV Guide Online. "It's such an interesting story that explores so many different elements of human behavior. I found it incredibly sad, but it succeeds in honoring a good man."

On January 17, 1997, "good man" Austin was gunned down in The Silent Movie theatre in Los Angeles' Fairfax district. The seedy tale received much media attention and captured the interest of actor Bill Pullman (Independence Day), who's producing read more

Brad and Jennifer: So Happy Together


The Mexican star Brad Pitt is confident he's found the perfect mate in his new bride, Jennifer Aniston. "What surprised me was this kind of sense of pride I have in our relationship," the actor tells TV Guide Online. "I look at my wife and realize that we're embarking on this thing together. We are a team, no matter what happens. It's very, very exciting and I'm very content."

Summing up their marital bliss in his own wacky way, Pitt adds: "Every relationship you've been into, until the one you're in right now, technically is a failure because they've all ended in a split up. I'm not so hung up on happily ever after but, in the meantime, I'm doing naked cartwheels."

Speaking of getting naked, Pitt says he won't be in The Mexican, which co-stars Julia Roberts as his kidnapped lady love. "After all, I'm a married man now," he deadpans. "But Julia and I had a great time together making this little low-budget run-and-gun movie. She's such a la read more

WRITER'S BLOCK

The Writers Guild of America's contract negotiations have collapsed due to differences over residuals and creative rights issues. A strike is expected if an agreement is not reached by the time the WGA's current contract expires May 1. read more

MOORE HONORED

This fall, the TV Land network will erect a life-sized sculpture of The Mary Tyler Moore Show's Mary Richards in downtown Minneapolis, Minn. "Mary Richards is an American icon who captured the hearts of millions while playing an enormous role in redefining women in the workplace," says TV Land exec Larry W. Jones. This is the net's second "TV Land Landmark." The first was a bronze statue of The Honeymooners's Ralph Kramden (as played by Jackie Gleason) placed at the entrance to Manhattan's Port Authority Bus Terminal. read more

Frasier and Buffy Cliffhangers Go into OT


As of this moment, Frasier and Buffy are officially homeless. By yesterday's midnight deadline, neither NBC's Frasier nor the WB's Buffy the Vampire Slayer had successfully renegotiated their contracts to remain on their respective networks. As a result, Paramount (owner of Frasier) and 20th Century Fox (Buffy's keeper) are now free to shop their coveted properties elsewhere — although NBC and the WB retain the right to match the first offer made.

"I don't think NBC wants the show to go somewhere else, but you never know," Frasier star Kelsey Grammer hedges to TV Guide Online. "The machinations of the network mind... Who knows about them?" The former Cheers star — who reportedly is demanding the Peacock renew his series for three more seasons (thereby ensuring it will run as long as Cheers, the show it spun off from) &# read more

CRUISE CONTROL

Superstar Tom Cruise has been named the most powerful celeb on the planet by Forbes magazine. Coming in at No. 2 on the list — which combines earning and star power — was golfer Tiger Woods. Last year's No. 1, Oscar-nominee Julia Roberts, dropped to 16th. read more

THEY'RE BACK...

Two popular past guest stars will revisit their NBC homes-away-from-home during May sweeps. Jean Smart reprises her Emmy-winning role on Frasier as bitter ex-prom queen Lorna Lindley for a few episodes. In the first, titled "Semi-Decent Proposal," Frasier escorts Lorna to her surprise birthday party. Also, SNL alum Molly Shannon pops up for an installment of Will &#038 Grace as "loon-a-chick" Val, who stalks Jack (Sean Hayes) like an obsessed fan after he relaunches his forever-flopping cabaret show. read more

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