Today's News: Our Take

Unrest in the Nest

Park Overall, who played feisty, opinionated and down-home nurse Laverne Todd on the NBC sitcom Empty Nest, says she squawked and ruffled quite a few feathers during the show's seven-year run (1988-95).

"I was extraordinarily difficult," Overall admits in a Lifetime Intimate Portrait, airing tonight (7 pm/ET). "But [executive producer] Paul Witt was able to handle me."

Overall let it be known from the get-go that Laverne would not be portrayed as yet another stereotypical Southern country bumpkin. "I had a hard time with what I call "not reality-based stuff" — things that [the writers] would make me do that were just hillbilly stuff, which drives me completely over the edge. I would fight to keep some integrity to the kind of character I was playing and keep it from being Hee Haw, which I did. But it wasn't easy."

Her tenacity paid off, and Laverne emerged as one of the show's most beloved characters — Tennessee acce read more


According to final ratings, the New York Yankees-Mets subway series ranks as the lowest-rated World Series on record.... MTV News reports that Christina Aguilera canceled several concert appearances over the weekend after being diagnosed with a viral syndrome associated with exudative tonsillitis. It's like the flu — duh! — Michael Ausiello read more


Liza Minnelli will likely be released today from a Fort Lauderdale hospital where she has been recovering from viral encephalitis, The Associated Press reports. The 54-year-old entertainer is "still a little weak but feeling well enough to go home," says her publicist Michael Hartman. "She will spend the next few months recovering from home with attendants." read more


Mike Myers is in final talks to star alongside Anne Heche and Helen Hunt in the comedy Timepiece, Variety reports. Myers would star as a director making a documentary about a small town woman (Heche) fighting the nearby big city. In other casting news, Jesse girl Christina Applegate will appear opposite Cameron Diaz in the comedy The Sweetest Thing and Jamie Foxx is in talks to join the cast of the big screen Muhammad Ali biopic Ali, starring Will Smith. read more


The Blair Witch phenomenon is officially dead. Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, the much-maligned follow-up to last year's indie success story The Blair Witch Project, was beaten at the box office over the weekend by the seemingly-unstoppable Meet the Parents. The Robert De Niro comedy spent its fourth consecutive week at No. 1, grossing another $15.1 million. (It's 24-day total stands at $100 million.) Witch 2, meanwhile, opened at No. 2, grossing a paltry $13.1 million. (By contrast, the original earned $29 million during its debut weekend.) Despite the disappointing haul, a spokesperson for Artisan Entertainment tells USA Today that plans are still underway for a Blair Witch 3 — dubbed as a prequel to the original. Two newcomers, the kiddie flick The Little Vampire and the John Travolta dark comedy Lucky Numbers, failed to cast a spell on moviegoers either. Vampire, starring Jonathan Lipnicki, op read more


A candlelight vigil is being held this evening in Los Angeles in honor of actor Anthony Dwain Lee, who was shot and killed over the weekend by a cop during a Halloween party in Beverly Hills. Responding to a noise complaint, an officer fired at Lee after the 39-year-old reportedly pointed what turned out to be a fake gun at him. An investigation is underway. Lee appeared in the Jim Carrey comedy Liar, Liar and guest starred on NYPD Blue. read more


The low-rated Fox series freakylinks will be preempted on Nov. 10 and 17 so the network can test out its new reality show Million Dollar Mysteries, in which viewers can win $1 million by helping solve real mysteries. According to Variety, freakylinks is expected to return to the schedule on Dec. 1. NBC, meanwhile, is expected to give its acclaimed new drama Ed a full season order. read more

Marlon's Scary Makeover

Funny guy Marlon Wayans (Scary Movie) was so eager to get cast as a heroin addict in the acclaimed drama Requiem For A Dream (currently in limited release) that he took the Stanislavski route during the audition process.

"I didn't wash for two days," he tells TV Guide Online. "One of my best friends came up to my house and I had Jimi Hendrix music playing. He said, 'Yo, Dog! You all right?' I opened the door and my eyes were all red and I was smoking, and I don't smoke. He said, 'I don't know what's wrong with you and you stink!'

"I was deep in this character," Wayans adds. "I really wanted the role, so I stayed in the mind set of a heroin addict."

So intent was Wayans on making his portrayal realistic that when filming began, "I started shooting heroin. It was natural," he deadpans, before adding seriously, "I hung out with some kids in my neighborhood. I did everything but try heroin. I watched through other people's experiences. My Mom and read more

Gooding: Money Changes Everything

Four years after wowing audiences as exuberant athlete Rod Tidwell in Jerry Maguire, Cuba Gooding Jr. is still having trouble distancing himself from his Oscar-winning role. Gooding couldn't even escape Tidwell on the set of Jerry Bruckheimer's upcoming WW II epic, Pearl Harbor.

"I was acting my heart out in an intense combat scene in the middle of the harbor," Gooding tells TV Guide Online. "I was surrounded by about 1,200 men, 700 of them playing dead. There were explosions, so much smoke you could barely see, and we were being dive-bombed by Japanese fighter planes. At one point, there was a little lull in the action, and a voice from somewhere cut through all the noise yelling, 'Show me the money!' All the dead and dying extras totally broke up. I'm like, 'Kill that guy!'"

It was just one more reminder to Gooding that those words he uttered in the 1996 hit film, and repeated in his Oscar acceptance speech, will haunt him forever. "Othe read more


Former Seinfeld writer Carol Leifer will serve as executive producer of the upcoming CBS Ellen DeGeneres comedy, Variety reports. The recently-revamped project originally was conceived as a show-within-a-show, but now will feature DeGeneres as a big city woman who moves to a small town. The series is expected to debut at midseason. read more

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