Today's News: Our Take


Rosie O'Donnell's court battle against Gruner + Jahr USA over the demise of her Rosie magazine is scheduled to get underway today in a Manhattan courtroom. To keep things light and bouncy, Rosie plans to cut away to John McD and the DLT during the lulls. read more


Rob Lowe may want to see if there are any job openings at The West Wing. NBC has pulled the ex-Brat Packer's new drama The Lyon's Den off the schedule for November sweeps. A second helping of Law & Order: Criminal Intent will air in its place. The show is expected to return in December, but for how long? (That was a rhetorical question.) On a more positive note, the Peacock has picked up freshman sitcoms Whoopi and Happy Family for a full season. read more


A Washington doctor believes the latest Harry Potter book may be messing with kids' heads. In a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Howard Bennett wrote that he has seen three children complain of headaches while reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. In each case, the headache went away only after they finished the novel. The moral of this story, kiddies? Reading bad. TV good. read more


Ben Affleck has signed on to play legendary college hoops coach Don Haskins in the Disney feature Glory Road, Variety reports. Haskins made history in 1966 when he led the all-black Texas Western team to the NCAA championship, where they beat an all-white team from Kentucky. The project reunites Affleck with his Armageddon/Pearl Harbor director Michael Bay, who is producing the flick. (Let's hope he does a better job with this one.) read more


Lionel Richie isn't dancing on the ceiling this morning. The R&B singer's wife, Diane Alexander, filed for separation Wednesday after nearly seven years of marriage. They have two kids, a 9-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. read more


ABC has extended full season, 22-episode orders to all of its freshman comedies: Hope & Faith, I'm with Her, It's All Relative and Married to the Kellys. In addition, new dramas 10-8 and Threat Matrix have also been picked up. And what about Karen Sisco? An ABC rep tells me four more scripts of the show have been ordered and "we are talking to the studio." Translation: If those ratings don't spike soon, it's a goner. read more


Disney's big-budget re-telling of The Alamo has been delayed from Dec. 25 to April to give director John Lee Hancock more time to complete the movie. The film stars Billy Bob Thornton and Dennis Quaid. read more


Ashton Kutcher better hope he's not getting Punk'd by A.C. Nielsen. The second-season premiere of Kutcher's celeb prank-a-thon on Sunday drew 3.6 million viewers — its best ratings ever. (Was it just me, or did Missy Elliott quickly figure out she was getting punk'd?) read more


Britney Spears's North American tour will kick off March 3 in a city yet to be announced... The Adventures of Indiana Jones — The Complete DVD Movie Collection sold 1.1 million units during its first week in stores to become the best-selling film boxed-set of all time... TNT has acquired off-network rights to CBS's Without a Trace for $1.35 million an episode. The cabler can begin airing Trace reruns once a week next fall... The season finale of The Joe Schmo Show attracted 3.4 million viewers, giving Spike TV its highest-rated show ever. read more


Fox's 24 kicked off its third season Tuesday night with 11.6 million viewers. Although the real-time drama was down 14 percent from last year, it still managed to lead the hour among adults 18-49 (tied with ABC's combo of According to Jim and Less Than Perfect). Ironically, the night's big winner was a lovable loser named Charlie Brown. ABC's telecast of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown attracted 13.2 million and scored the best kids rating for a broadcast program since Fox's finale of American Idol last May. Way to go, Chuck! read more

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