Today's News: Our Take


Universal is employing a new strategy with its ailing Hulk franchise: If at first you don't succeed, try making a film that doesn't suck. According to USA Today, the studio is developing a sequel to last summer's Hulk, due in theaters in 2006. read more


Rocker Meat Loaf underwent heart surgery over the weekend after collapsing on a London stage last week. The 56-year-old "Bat Out Of Hell" crooner was reportedly suffering from Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a defect of the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. read more


Despite lackluster ratings and virtually no critical support, Tru Calling has been picked up by Fox for a full season. I'm baffled. read more


Ex-Witchblade star Yancy Butler was ordered Monday to enter alcohol rehab following her weekend arrest for disorderly intoxication. She's due in court on Dec. 18. read more


The death of 27-year-old actor Jonathan Brandis has been officially ruled a suicide. According to a coroner's report, the SeaQuest DSV star hung himself with a nylon rope in the hallway of his Los Angeles apartment complex on Nov. 11. He was found unconscious that night and rushed to a hospital, where he died the next day. Most recently, Brandis had a starring role in the ABC drama pilot 111 Gramercy Park. read more


More than a dozen indie film companies are suing the Motion Picture Association of America to try to force an end to its partial screener ban. The indies claim the ban will "chill the financing of independent films" by limiting the awards they can receive. read more


Las Vegas hottie Josh Duhamel recently tore his Achilles tendon in what an NBC rep characterizes as a "sports-related injury." As reported in an upcoming issue of ABC Soaps In Depth magazine, Las Vegas producers are writing the actor's injury into the show. Apparently, his security whiz character gets shot in the leg. D'oh! read more


Donald Trump's NBC reality gamble The Apprentice will air Wednesdays at 8 pm/ET beginning Jan. 14. Ed moves to Fridays at 9 pm/ET during January and February, where it will replace a hiatus-bound Miss Match. NBC, however, insists the Alicia Silverstone dramedy will return to the schedule in March. We'll believe it when we see it. read more

Fear Factor Right at the outset...

Fear Factor
Right at the outset of tonight's special family edition, host Joe Rogan says, "The stunts you're about to see are extremely dangerous... and should not be attempted by anyone, anywhere, anytime." That said, doesn't asking your child to dip her syrup-soaked head into live, red worms — so you can then pick the bugs off — count as child abuse?
And, what's up with the Kevan/Dakota father-son pair? Kevan, the father, only gets to see his 11-year-old boy, who is clearly a problem child, four days a month. Yet he spends those precious few days subjecting the kid to nationally televised public humiliation (rude boy got spanked by a girl). That's some parenting right there.

VH1's Monday night lineup
Looks like the music network with no identity is trying to give Skinemax a run for its money. On tonight's schedule: Sexy Single Babes, Britney vs. Christina and Getting Naked: Return to Skin. read more


That whole Reagans debacle aside, CBS enjoyed a rather sweet November. The network is poised to finish November sweeps as the No. 1 network among total viewers and, for the first time since 1980, adults 25-54. What's more, it finished just a tick behind NBC in the all-important adults 18-49 demo. "CBS is declaring a convincing, dominating and historic sweep victory," CBS's typically modest bossman Les Moonves said Monday. CBS was powered by its dominant Thursday one-two-three punch of Survivor, CSI and Without a Trace, as well as strong newcomers Two and a Half Men, Cold Case and Joan of Arcadia. read more

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