Today's News: Our Take


MICKEY'S NEW FRIENDS

Is the Walt Disney Company big enough for Minnie Mouse and Miss Piggy? It better be now that Disney has acquired rights to the Muppets. In addition to Kermit and Co., the deal — announced late Tuesday by Disney and the Jim Henson Company — includes the entire Muppet film and television library as well as Bear in the Big Blue House. The pact doesn't, however, include Sesame Street characters such as Big Bird and Ernie. Those guys are owned by Sesame Workshop. read more

SHORT CUTS

Pop diva Tina Turner has signed on to appear in the upcoming Merchant Ivory film The Goddess. The 65-year-old music legend reportedly will play the Hindu goddess Shakti... Sopranos star Edie Falco and Chloe Sevigny (Boys Don't Cry) will make their sitcom debuts when they play a pair of lesbian real estate moguls on the March 11 Will & Grace, USA Today reports... CBS' The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn celebrates its 1,000th episode tonight with comedian John Cleese and Arrested Development actress Portia de Rossi... Selma read more

Apprentice's Jessie Defends Herself

Talk about bad karma. Last week on The Apprentice, 21-year-old Jessie Connors got the ax days after back-stabbing teammate Kristi in front of Donald Trump and America. TV Guide Online caught up with the young entrepreneur, who defends her bad behavior in the boardroom, explains her irksome negotiation style and rationalizes her exile.

TV Guide Online: You were the youngest contestant. Were you intimidated by the others? Jessie Connors: I don't think intimidated is the right word. I admire some of the players very much. It was awesome just to meet them and to see their resumes and what they've accomplished.

TVGO: Whom did you admire the most? Jessie: I loved Heidi. She's so feisty and honest and blunt. Sam, because he thinks outside of the box. Kristi, because working with her was so much fun. She's a great girl.

TVGO: That said, why did you stab Kristi in the back in the boardroom? read more

NEW VOICE AT TONIGHT

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has tapped Howard Stern's longtime sidekick, John Melendez (aka "Stuttering John"), to serve as its new announcer. He replaces Edd Hall, who is leaving to pursue an acting career. Melendez debuts March 29. read more

HIGH STAKES

Angel fans may be deeply divided as to whether or not a certain slayer should play a part in the show's series finale in May, but exec producer Joss Whedon isn't: He wants Sarah Michelle Gellar back. "We'll put out some feelers [again] to see if there's some interest there," he told TV Guide Online last night. "We'd certainly love to have her." But Gellar nixed an earlier offer to guest-star on Angel this season and Whedon says he isn't "banking" on her changing her mind. Still, we had to ask: If the Chosen One were to reappear in the Buffyverse, which of her undead loves would she be returning for — Spike or Angel? "You think I'm going to tell you that? I'm not going to tell you that," Whedon says. "If she were to come back it would be to answer that question." read more

MEA CULPA

On Tuesday's Late Night, Conan O'Brien offered a self-deprecating (and bilingual) apology for a recent segment with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog that poked fun at the French-speaking people of Quebec. "People of Quebec, I'm sorry," he said in English. A translator then recited it in French, with English subtitles, "People of Quebec, I'm an albino jackass." O'Brien added, "I was a stranger in a strange land and I was very insensitive." That translated into, "I have a small penis." read more

SEX AT THE MOVIES

Here's some good news for Sex and the City fans dreading Sunday's series finale: Carrie and Co. are already plotting their comeback. According to Variety, HBO is in the process of making deals with Sarah Jessica Parker, Cynthia Nixon, Kristin Davis and Kim Cattrall to reprise their signature roles on the big screen. Exec producer Michael Patrick King is currently at work on a script. read more

MORE HIGH STAKES

In other Angel news, rumors that the axed WB drama could follow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's footsteps and put down stakes at rival network UPN are just that — rumors. "We've talked about the possibility," Whedon says, "but it's a long shot." A UPN spokeswoman had no comment, but an Angel insider confirms that execs at Twentieth Century Fox (Angel's producer) are putting together a proposal for UPN. read more

LOVE AND LAW

Courtney Love appeared in a Beverly Hills courtroom Tuesday for a hearing on charges of possessing two prescription painkillers. Last week, Love skipped the hearing because she said she didn't have a professional bodyguard. That led the judge to issue (and later withdraw) a warrant for her arrest. Love's due back in court on March 16, when she'll learn if she must stand trial. read more

NOT SO FAST

William Petersen might want to investigate the terms of his CSI deal. As reported here yesterday, the actor hinted in the current issue of Playboy magazine that he might leave his gig on TV's No. 1 show "at the end of next year." But before you could say "negotiations ploy," a CBS source presented TV Guide Online with some rather damning evidence: Petersen is contractually bound to play Gil Grissom through the 2006-07 season. read more

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